Friday, October 15, 2010


It has been such a long time where I've been so impressed with dinner. Recently, my dinner excursions have been good, but very casual. But sometimes it's nice to just go somewhere a bit more refined.

The restaurant itself, looks incredible. A basement space with crystal lighting features on the ceiling creating a sense of occasion. The attention to detail is impressive - from the entrance in the lift where the lighting is immediately dimmed with just artifacts glowing - I believe this is because the restaurant is dark so the dimming of lights is in anticipation of your arrival, to allow your eyes to adjust.

The space itself, the seating, the tableware all impressive. The seats were incredibly comfortable and we easily and casually ate our way through four hours (unknowingly, but then again, I'm fantastic company, really I am).

We opted for the Arabesque set menu, which allowed us to choose 2 entrees, 2 mains, 2 sides and the full selection of desserts which would be plated separately at the table. What a fantastic choice.We started with some raw vegetables and oil/molasses with some spice rub. Nice, but raw vegetables are...raw vegetables.

For entrees, we opted for the spiced calamari and the special of chicken wing and liver terrine.I could not fault either of these dishes at all. The spiced calamari was amazing. It is difficult to describe, but the complexity of flavours is the first thing that hits you, texturally superb with the fritters and crunchy calamari giving it the crispness of the dish.The terrine was equally impressive but out of the entrees, the spiced calamari was the hero.

For mains, we selected a duck pastry and loin of lamb. Unfortuneately, I was so into my food I forgot to take a photo of the lamb dish. The pastry had a light dusting of icing sugar which added another layer of sweetness to the dish. The lamb was incredibly yielding but so well seasoned and balanced with the giant cous cous. Often, with "degustation" or "set menus", there is one or two dishes that don't hit the highs as some of the others. There was not one dish I would not happily eat again and again.

Dessert was interesting, in a good way. A green apple and turkish delight souffle, Pinenut icecream with blood orange jelly and saffron meringue with persian fairy floss (that was green!), and an incredibly rich bittersweet chocolate tart. Of course, there was also a plate of fresh fruit and sorbet. The blood orange was unbelievable, and for a moment, we were more interested in the fruit than the rest of the dessert!!

The impressive component of Momo is how the dishes are composed. The souffle for example, when eaten by itself, without the turkish delight at the bottom tasted more like egg, but when you get a mouthful of the turkish delight the dish is transformed into something far more complex. The meringue, pinenut icecream and blood orange jelly was interesting. The flavours were quite confronting, for me, it was the saffron meringue. Pinenuts are often associated with savoury dishes, but in this instance it was used in the ice cream. Again, tricks on the palate!

Rich chocolate tarts are always rich chocolate tarts. Quite difficult to finish, but still satisfying. The fruits were interesting with blood orange that was one of the sweetest blood oranges I've had for a while and the darkness of the fruit was fantastic. I can't seem to find blood oranges that dark at the markets.

We finished with some coffees and of course petit fours, and being a middle eastern restaurant, you really can't expect anything less than impressive turkish delight (those cigar things were great too).

Overall, love it.


MoMo, 123 Collins St (Grand Hyatt Hotel), Melbourne

MoMo Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 10, 2010


A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...medicine go down...medicine go down.

Well, I'll let you figure that part out.

But onto Coda. I tried making reservations earlier in the week but they were fully booked but encouraged us to arrive early and get some seats at the bar which are solely reserved for walk ins. BRILLIANT IDEA!

I mean, I love how restaurants are willing to take reservations and also accommodate walk ins. I don't think in Melbourne, having one or the other works. Think of my mamasita experience(s),  as from here on end, everytime I have to wait from now to forever for seats  I will compare it to mamasita.

Getting seats at Coda on a Saturday night at 6pm was painless. No queues, no wait. The place is on Oliver lane, off Flinders Lane, which unlike the restaurant across from it (Yu-u) is well signed and easily identifiable. It sits at basement level,which is deceptive given the entrance doesn't require you to go down a flight of stairs.
We let the waiter choose 4 of our dishes to start with. A procession of morsels of food, which was focused primarily on Vietnamese dishes, with a cross over to other asian regions. Usual suspects of "rice paper spring rolls", "Hanoi rolls", "Betel leaf with stuff" featured. Other interesting dishes included quail with a rif raf of stuff san choi bao style.

The Vietnamese influence is pronounced, but to say it is influenced purely by that cuisine is not quite corerct. Accents of other asian cuisines make it onto the menu.

It is really hard to talk about a place where the offering is something that I have been exposed to all my life. Growing up in a family with diverse south-east asian influences means much of the flavours, herbs and spices used were all so familiar. Something as obscure as the paddy rice herb, which isn't the easiest thing to find in markets, was something I remember seeing my grandmother grow from nothing more than cuttings and water.

I often say this to people that claim I eat out too much - I always tell them, it is not just about the food when you go out to dine, whether it be a casual bar/restaurant or a three hat restuarant with an impressive list of accolades it is always about the package - the space, the style, the experience. Coda for what it is, a schmick basement joint pumping out good food, you really can't go wrong. This is on my list of venues to definitely return to.

Coda, Basement 141 Flinders Lane (cnr Oliver Lane), Melbourne CBD

Coda on Urbanspoon

Bar Lourinha revisited.

I don't think I've done this place justice on my blog.

I want to start by saying, this is one of my favourite places to visit, especially after work for a drink and a bite. Although, to be fair,  I don't visit it as often as I have places like MoVida, I don't know why...maybe it's the creme caramel that calls to me at MoVida. But other than that, this place is the quintessential bar come restaurnat come awesome!!

To cut the story short, we had a procession of fantastic dishes (a majority of which were vegetarian, as my dear friend "Betty" doesn't eat animals). I don't dare name her on this blog, I am in fear for naming her as now bad things will happen.

Cracked green olives, cabbage salad, chickpea salad, padron peppers (more on these later), poulet eggs, lamb and chicken with couscous were all generally really good. Funnily, the green olives were fantastic and just full of juice. How good would they be in a martini?!

We started with the padron peppers, which allegedly, meant to be 90% mild and 10% hot. That is 1 in every 10 peppers were meant to be damn hot. Well, I think I got more than 1 in 10!! What bullshit!

Desserts were excellent, I had the burnt orange crema and my friend had the churros. But by the end I was fairly sick - over eating doesn't pay, it never does.


Bar Lourinha, 37 Little Collins St, Melbourne CBD

ps. I take crap photos and this place was not a place that I really wanted to take photos!

Bar Lourinhã on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Paladarr Thai Issan

Well, it has been a good 3 years or so since my last visit to Paladarr Thai Issan. In all fairness, it is located in an inconspicuous location in Alphington (yeh, where f*** is Alphington I hear you ask - it's sort of near Ivanhoe/Heidelberg).

Anyway about the restaurant. Solid front of house staff that is much more efficient than your typical suburban thai restaurant, but before I start my ranting, I feel that I need to be upfront and put it out there that I am, generally, not a fan of thai just doesn't do it for me nor do I sit at home at midnight and think to myself, damn I could do with some Thai right about now! So read on with caution.

We opted for the "King's Banquet", which started off with a DIY appetizer. That didn't really win any points with me - you have to understand how I work. I am not a fan of DIY when I go out to eat. Not a fan at all.
It was sort of like a betel leaf with some rif raf and a syrupy dressing. Not bad...but honestly DIY? Maybe for some it's fantastic, but I repeat, I am not a fan of DIY!!!. Can you tell I hate DIY?

A procession of entrees such as grilled beef, papaya salad, and pork mince in coconut milk and tom yum soup were served to begin the meal which, in general, had good and solid flavours (but if I haven't raved about my own papaya salad before I definitely will soon). What I felt was lacking was balance. The soup was aromatic, but it was incredibly strong and far too salty. If I were to have it at home, I would've had it with some glass noodles or something to just take the edge off.

Most of the mains, however, were excellent, especially the curries which were full of intense flavours without being too rich. One or two dishes, however, were quite strong which again, could have done with a bit of restraint in seasoning and saucing. However, perhaps it is more our (my) palate/s rather than the success or failure of the dishes. To be fair, nothing was wrong with the dishes...after all, we ate almost everything.

Perhaps an example is of the dessert where we all had vastly differing opinions. I was not a fan of the warm custard, yet everyone else seemed to love it. Maybe it's just me, but this is my blog, so I don't really care what anyone else thinks!! To me, it tasted like steamed egg that is tethering between sweet and savoury...

Overall, I wasn't left feeling wow. I wasn't left feeling very much, but I think I also had a bit too much to drink so I couldn't really think clearly....I would return but probably not anytime soon, but then again, I only have thai about once a year.


Paladarr Thai Issan
7 Rowe St, Alphington

Paladarr Thai Issan on Urbanspoon