Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Riverside Teppanyaki by Kobe Jones (by invitation), Docklands by Bureaucrat

Right!  Ready, set…go!  An invitation to try out the express teppanyaki lunch menu at Kobe Jones meant that I was keeping a beady eye on the clock. 

The express menu aims to cater to those looking for a premium food experience within the constraints of a lunch hour.

The restaurant has two dining rooms - the teppanyaki room is on one side, and on the other is the regular dining room which has views of the Yarra River.

There are four options for the teppanyaki lunch – beef, chicken, fish of the day and vegetarian.  With each option comes a generous sized salad, which was crisp and had a tangy and spicy dressing. 

I chose the grain-fed beef tenderloin and asked for it to be cooked medium well.  Part of the experience of teppanyaki is that you get to watch the chef display his or her dexterous skills at wielding the various cooking utensils and accessories.  As there were a number of people who were also having the express lunch, it meant that you didn’t necessarily have the chef cook right in front of you.  The chef did do some juggling and clanging of his utensils but it’s not a full blown act.  I’m assuming that that is reserved for those who order from the proper teppanyaki menu.

The beef was quite tender and had a simple but tasty butter and garlic sauce.  There was a nice amount of veggies that came with it, but it was a tad salty.

Along with the steak and salad, you also get a bowl of garlic fried rice (which was also cooked in front of you) and miso soup.  While the fried rice had a nice 'wok hei' to it and it was fragrant, I had hoped that there would be egg in it.  The miso soup was piping hot and had several pieces of seaweed which I quite liked.

I also got a glass of lemonade to go with my meal.

Food - 7
Ambiance - 6.5
Service - 7
Price - 7
*Scores are notional as I was a guest of Kobe Jones.

Stop the watch!  So did I finish within the lunch hour?  Yes!  Impressively, all the components of my meal was presented to me within 15 minutes of being seated.  You're then left to enjoy your meal at a leisurely pace.

The express teppanyaki menu definitely offers something different for a work day lunch.  It's reasonably good value as the servings are quite generous for the salad, main dish, soup and rice - I wasn't able to finish all the food. 

The express teppanyaki lunch is $25 per person.  While it's probably a bit pricey for an everyday work lunch, it's definitely a contender if you're wanting something a bit more special (e.g., a team lunch or celebration).  There are also other lunch deals on the menu which are easier on the pocket.

Service is friendly, however, they could do with another staff on the floor.  While the waitress was very capable, she had to do everything and the place got a bit busy during my time there.

In terms of the ambiance, the teppanyaki room is a little dark and smoky, and could do with a bit more light and ventilation - my clothes and hair smelled like a BBQ after I left.  However, I did look at the other dining room which looks much nicer.

Riverside Teppanyaki by Kobe Jones
World Trade Centre 
38 Siddeley St
Docklands 3008  
Telephone: 9329 9173

Riverside Teppanyaki by Kobe Jones on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 29, 2014

Suda, Melbourne CBD by Big Fil

Suda is one of the growing number of Korean or Korean influenced eateries appearing around Melbourne.  At dinner time the menu is Korean inspired tapas (or maybe tapas inspired Korean), but we were looking for a quick and convenient lunch.  We’d recently been to Mr Nice Guy, and while we considered the interesting looking 68 Degrees (crab laksa!), Suda it was.

Given its location in Healeys Lane, the Laneway where promising eateries go to die, it was a bit concerning to see just how quiet Suda was when we entered.  A few more turned up looking for lunch while we were eating but still quieter than you’d really expect for a Thursday lunch.  

Nice looking place though, lots of light coloured wood and industrial lighting, with the kitchen towards the back.  Our friendly server handed us the fairly straightforward menus so it didn’t take us long to order – Snooze the fried chicken on rice, me the bulgogi bibimbap.

Hmm, fried chicken at a Korean Café or restaurant or dinner is definitely one of the finer things in life.  Suda’s was good, juicy and flavoursome if not necessarily the best going around.  The item that Snooze complemented the most was the sesame topped rice (I think from memory, as I didn’t try it).  

Unfortunately though we didn’t like the fried dumpling served with this meal.  I’ve only had Korean style dumplings (Mandoo) a handful of times, so it may not be a comprehensive sample, but my impression is that the steamed version is better than the fried.  It’s to do with the texture of the dumpling skin.  I like the combination of softness and crispness or Japanese and Chinese dumplings, but fried mandoo have a very different texture, for me almost like cardboard.

I decided on the beef bulgogi bibimbap, a dish of rice served in a bowl with lots of different types of vegetables and grilled meat.  Before eating you mix all the ingredients together.  Some places offer the option of a stone bowl version of this dish which is my preference, often served with an egg over the top which cooks in the heat coming off the bowl.  At the bottom of the bowl the rice crisps up, kind of like a good paella.  This version though was served luke warm, and while I enjoyed it I can’t say I was overwhelmed by it.

Cute place for lunch, good enough without being outstanding.  It’s clean, it’s comfortable, the staff were friendly and prices are reasonable.

Food – 7
Ambience – 7
Service – 7.5
Price – 7

Healeys Lane, 550 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9942 6422

Suda on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Theobroma Chocolate Lounge and Emily's Place, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

There are coffee drinkers, tea drinkers and then there are hot chocolate connoisseurs.  In my pod at work, hot chocolate reigns supreme.

Theobroma Chocolate Lounge is located in a slightly out-of-the-way part of Melbourne Central.  I remember the spot used to be a giftware store (MoMA) which I quite liked.  But ever since TCL took up residence, I never was curious enough to go in there to check it out.

First impressions is that TCL is a less luxe version of Max Brenner.  There are similarities - there’s handmade chocolates, drinks and snacks on offer.  But the fit out and little details aren’t as nice – think more utilitarian tables and chairs, handwritten labels that lack presentable penmanship, and it definitely feels more like a franchise than a decadent den of delicious chocolate experience.

However, the hot chocolate here was better than I expected.  I got the chilli hot chocolate.  Proper melted chocolate in the cup, piping hot, a nice warming buzz from the chilli and most importantly (for me, at least) it wasn’t sickeningly sweet.

The other drinks we got included a milk hot chocolate and chocolate spider milkshake.

And, on this occasion, we were joined by Little Miss P who got a baby hot chocolate and a macaron.  While we were all expecting the baby hot chocolate to be mostly milk, it seemed like it had more (or at the very least, the same amount) of the melted chocolate in the cup than the regular sized hot chocs.  So much so, that Mr P had to spoon out some of the melted chocolate to minimize the sugar high that Little Miss P was thoroughly enjoying.

A week a so later, we headed out to Emily’s Place, which is also in Melbourne Central.  It’s a cute little café serving up small meals and hot chocolate.

The hot chocs here were a bit more average – more what you typically get in most cafes.  Made from powder it lacked the smooth richness of a hot choccie made from actual chocolate.

For Theobroma Chocolate Lounge
Food – 7.5
Ambience – 7
Service – 7
Price – 7

For Emily’s Place
Food – 6.5
Ambience – 7
Service – 6.5
Price – 6.5

Of the two places, TCL is the better one for hot chocolates.  Although TCL doesn’t appear to be as luxe as Max Brenner, I’d definitely rate its hot chocs ahead of the [hot] chocolate by the Bald Man.

The service is friendly at TCL and seems to be run by a family.  While there’s a nicer interior at Emily’s Place (you could easily pretend you’re somewhere in Europe) the service is a bit abrupt.

Theobroma Chocolate Lounge
North side
Melbourne Central
211 LaTrobe St
Telephone: 9662 2778
Theobroma Chocolate Lounge on Urbanspoon

Emily’s Place
Melbourne Central
211 La Trobe Street
Telephone: 9654 7971
Emily's Place on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Huxtaburger, Melbourne CBD by Big Fil

Part of the dude food revolution which hit Melbourne a couple of years back, until a week or so ago I never knew there was a Huxtaburger outlet just a few minutes walk from work.  It is kind of hard to spot if you are just walking around like I normally do, it was only a few scattered outside tables that gave the hint that there might be something to see there. 

Entering you find yourself in a small but very cool dinner style space, all neon and shiny metal with bottles of amusingly named beer on the front counter, hipsters behind it.  One thing I didn't notice, not until Ruby Grapefruit pointed it out.  Other than one of the servers, she was the only non-dude in the place.  I suspect it was only a coincidence, but caused us both to chuckle a bit about a dude food place full of dudes!

Unfortunately the lighting meant that it was hard to get good photos of what were pretty decent burgers.  Ruby went with the Denise, with jalapeno and sriracha mayo.  On the good side the bold flavours were wonderfully punchy without being overly spicy, largely complements of the tangy mustard and mayo used on every burger.  And the burger was nicely cooked, just a touch a pink in the middle.  

There were a couple of negatives though, one minor and one major.  I have a bit of a thing about the use of sweet buns on hamburgers, it was fun when it started but having since become so widespread I must admit to be a bit over it.  While I thought the mustard prevented the sweetness from becoming overly strong, even so it was strong enough for Ruby to point out.  More importantly, it was a bit of a case of the disintegrating bun, which towards the end made the burger a bit hard to eat.

I decided to go with the more manly Bills, with bacon, egg, pineapple and beetroot.  This was tall, to the extent that I ended up eating the pineapple and tomato separately, just to make it more convenient to eat.  Again a nicely cooked burger, with punchy flavours from the accompanying mustard.  Unlike Ruby my bun managed to hold together pretty well so maybe that was a one off thing.  Could probably have done without the pineapple as for me it doesn't really add much to the burger, unlike the semi-mandatory bacon and onion.  All up I was pretty impressed with the burger and its full flavoured approach.  

The accompanying crinkle cut chips though were a definite disappointment, soft rather than crispy.  The original service was friendly but we seemed to wait a long time for our burgers to arrive and I suspect that the chips were hanging around for a while waiting for the burgers.

Quite a mixed experience, with service friendly but slow, burgers good but chips not up to par.  All fixable things which were more annoying rather than something which stopped us enjoying our lunch here or wanting to return.

Food - 7
Ambience - 8
Service - 6
Price - 7

Fulham Place
Off Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9417 6328

Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon
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