Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Church St Enoteca

Today I shall talk about Church St Enoteca, a restaurant located on Church St, Richmond. I will have 13 pictures today. Which reminds me, I had an idea today for my blog: “13 days, 13 dollars, 1 restaurant a day. The aim, to try and find the most worthwhile restaurant to eat sashimi for 13 dollars.” For example, I could go to Sushi Ten and have a bowl of salmon/tuna/mixed don for 13 dollars. Or I could go to Don Don and get a bowl of sashi don for 8.50 and then top up the remainder with sushi rolls. OR, I could go to one of the random sushi stalls around the city and order a pack of sashimi (15 pieces) for 9 dollars, and top up the rest with sushi rolls again. Something like that.

But I digress.

Church St Enoteca.

13 pictures.

Here we go.


The view from opposite the road. Perhaps it looks like a church.


And the menu.


The bar, seen from where we were sitting. This made the restaurant quite a bit noisier than I’d have liked it to be. Classy food should be eaten in silence. Well, relative silence, that is.


The customary free bread, which I love. My first encounter with bread with salt sprinkled on top. And I love salt. Still not the best free bread I’ve had though. Best bread I’ve had was in Bluestone, on Flinders Lane. Unfortunately, the pictures I have from that meal are too dark to be able to do anything with.


I seem to be ordering tuna at all the restaurants I’ve been to lately. That’s semi seared tuna at the top, raw tuna on the bottom, anchovies hidden around the plate, a dollop of cream(?I forgot what it was), sprigs of green sprinkled over the top, and that might have been a scallop as well. It wasn’t a very memorable dish. Only 4 slices of fish. Four! I can get 15 slices of sashimi for 9 dollars in a random sushi shop in the city.


This was a hit. Warm octopus slow cooked in olive oil, salad of chorizo and kipflers, parsley, garlic,  and lemon. Tasty. Substantial. Chorizos. Octopus. Excellent.


Veal, stuffed with sweetbread. Asparagus on the side, cloves of garlic lying around, and some pureed (?)potato to go with it. This was melt in your mouth stuff. Cutting it like a slice of cake, you could feel the fat melt in your mouth, and then the coarser meatloafy texture of the sweetbread in the middle. Amount-wise, it was good as well, but nothing compared to this:


500g of T bone steak. Hmm. Doesn’t look as big here as it did when we were there. I remembered it being huge. Half a slice of lemon, and a ball of spinach. A ball of spinach. The steak came with:


Mashed potatoes (which was better than the pureed potato) and pesto sauce (which was not better than the mustard).

We had problems with the steak though. Ordered it medium rare, on the outside it was nearly well done, called the waiter, who came with the front of house guy over, and they peered at the steak, and said “that looks medium rare to me". Preposterous! And then they told us to cut towards the middle and the bone, which we did, and it was at least medium, to my opinion. Then they started to explain why that was medium rare, and the type of grill they used, etc etc etc. We didn’t push the issue further though (didn’t want to wait another 20 minutes, dislike confrontations, didn’t want to spoil our meal, coward, not confident that I wasn’t wrong, etc etc etc).

After about 5 minutes, the waiter came by and politely asked us whether we wanted mustard with the steak or not. =/


Well, of course we did. Much better than the pesto.


We also ordered onion rings to go with our meal.

After all that, we finally get to the stars of the night. The desserts.


Callebaut Sao Tome single origin dark chocolate mousse, chocolate jelly, honeycomb, ‘aero bar’, mint whip, and dulce de leche gelato.


Vanilla yoghurt pannacotta, mango jelly, salad of mango and mint, and coconut sorbetto.

I think any description of the desserts wouldn’t do them justice. Suffice to say that there were plenty of ‘mmm’s and smiles going around.

That’s it for today.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Italian

This was a few weeks ago. We went to The Italian somewhere in the city and had excellent food.


The good thing about high end restaurants is that the provide you with bread to eat. Free bread. And their dips are usually very nice as well. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the bread.



Our starters were chilli mussels and salmon carpaccio. Both were extremely good. The chilli mussels had a very tasty soupy base, and I absolutely love salmon with the fresh gardeny flavours.


Yellowfin tuna for the main. With some pesto sauce I think.


And the other main, the only dish which I have the full name for. It was also very good, but for the moment, I don’t know how to describe good food apart from saying it was ‘very good’ or ‘truly excellent’ or ‘absolutely amazing’, which doesn’t say very much.


And tiramisu to round it all off.

Very good.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


So I did end up going to Mart 130 again on the weekend. And the food was as good as I hoped it would be. But that is a story for another day.

Today, I shall talk about Takumi. Located on Bourke Street, they call themselves ‘Melbourne’s Only Wagyu Beef Specialist’, and they specialise in a variety of wagyu beef cuts for you to self-grill on your very own grill on the table (much like a Korean BBQ place). Being a wagyu beef place, its a restaurant where you have to spend quite a bit to eat your fill, with quite a variety of set courses costing from $45 pp to $90 pp. Alternatively, you could also go ‘omakase’ and ask them to serve you whatever they have, and you just pay the price later.



They do, however, have a variety of ‘signature dishes’ (which were basically their entrees) and a la carte meats to be ordered for the grill, which is what I went for.


This Salmon Carpaccio only costs $10.80, which is what I’d consider a steal for an entree in a restaurant like this. And it was very good as well.

This, essentially a beef carpaccio, was significantly more expensive, being $18.80, but was still very good.


The grill did not cost us anything. You can see some white hot coals at the bottom.


$24.80. The word ‘premium’ significantly increased the value of this plate of meat. There was no ‘non-premium’ version of this.


$9.80! There was a premium version of this dish, and it costs $15.80.

Basically, the we had an excellent meal there, but I needed judicious amounts of rice to be satisfied. That being said, its a place that I would go to again when I feel like eating some higher class meat.

And before I forget, we had ice cream as well.



Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mart 130

Mart 130 is a popular breakfast place situated along tram route 96 (from Bourke Street), and has been reviewed countless of times by numerous blogs and reviews before. Most of the reviews start by saying that Mart 130 was an actual tram stop which got rebuilt as a cafe, and ‘mart’ is ‘tram’ spelt backwards, and 130 being that it is stop 130 along route 96. I don’t intend to repeat what they said.


As you can see if you look closely enough, the red word by the side of the building is actually ‘tram’ spelt backwards, and this was an actual tram stop. Oops.

While it doesn’t look like much from the outside, a very cozy and welcoming atmosphere greeted us as we walked in.



Customers can sit inside, or out the back, but it was quite full when we were there, so we took what we got, and sat out the back. The only problem with that was that the sun was streaming directly into our faces.


This is the huge menu that greeted us as we walked in. Notice the ‘R’ in tram is backwards.



Our drinks came before the food. The mango juice was freshly blended mango, which was awesome. The iced chocolate had a scoop of ice cream in it, which was also awesome, I guess.


This dish is, I think, one of their specialties. Corn fritters with bacon, relish, sourcream, and a sprig of coriander. I normally don’t like corn, but this was quite good. Very good indeed.


This was ordered off their specials, and is basically what I said it is. While nothing special to shout about, the eggs were poached well, sausages were good, and the sour dough bread was good as well.

Don’t let my description of the meals (I didn’t sound too excited) put you off from going to this place. It is a truly excellent place for breakfast, with a wonderful bustling atmosphere, and good food.

I might be going again this weekend, if possible.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Gourmet Hot Dogs

I’m a huge fan of hot dogs. When I was back in Malaysia, I devoured all the hot dog programs that they showed on Astro’s food channel, and I really really wish that Australia would have more street food like in the US where I can walk up to the stand and order a hot dog that costs me $3 instead of $8. And I’d really like stores that sell hot dogs 24/7 at ridiculous prices like $5 for 2 hot dogs, instead of $8.90 for 1.

Anyway, when I spotted this stand in Federation Square quite some weeks ago, I was immediately excited.

So excited that I tried to finish 2 of them by myself (I was trying to recreate the feeling of getting hot dogs in the US (not that I’ve ever been to the US anyway), where I can get 2 dogs for cheap).

Unfortunately, although it did not look half bad, ultimately, it wasn’t too good anyway. The ones in Victoria Market are better, and Riverland also does hot dogs which are better.

And they did cost me at least $7 each (I can’t remember the exact price).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

La Notte

Its hard to find pasta that I like. I like seafood pasta with olive oil, but most places sell seafood pasta with tomato sauce or some cream sauce. Those that sell pasta aglio olio don’t have any form of protein in them.

Luckily, this Italian restaurant near my place had what I wanted.

And this is a basic meat and potato dish, with plenty of flavour.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chocolate and Vanilla

A perfect combination, chocolate and vanilla.

Especially when they are in generous amounts.

Huge servings.

More is better.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Something’s afoot! The steward smiles at you like he has a secret, or like he thinks you have a secret, or like you think he thinks you have a secret. There are secret plots brewing, you are sure of it. At the very least, there are yours. A passing servant murmurs, “The eggs are on the plate.” You frantically search your codebook for the translation before realising he means that breakfast is ready. Excellent. Everything is going according to plan.

If nothing else, I’d buy Dominion: Intrigue just to read that on the back cover. Its so intriguing! Eggs are on the plate! Where’s the bacon then?

Friday, April 17, 2009


Due to an unexpected windfall lately, Denise and I were thinking of having some nice Japanese food, and Shoya came to mind. We originally thought of having the omakase, but then we weren’t sure whether we’d want to pay $100 each or not. So we decided on lunch instead, which was way cheaper. And a very good decision it was too. Not because the omakase was terrible (I don’t have enough information to say anything about their omakase), but the lunch that we had was excellent.


Shoya certainly fulfilled expectations in terms of the restaurant design. We were expecting a nicer restaurant with a higher class feel, and that was exactly what we got. We got there and after some contemplation, settled on their Kaisen Chirashi Set ($24.80), from their Lunch Set Menu and the Ume Set ($32.00), from their Shoya Special Lunch Set Menu. Because we were sharing the two sets, what we eventually ate turned out to be an omakase-like meal.


They started us both off with a small appetiser of pickled vegetables each.


And then we both got a savoury egg custard. Evidently, both sets included this dish. Reminded me of steamed egg back home where we eat this with rice, which was not a bad thing. Hidden within this cup of egg were different things, of which a piece of chicken was the only thing that I can currently remember.

After that, things started to pick up. The pickled vegetables and egg custard magnificently did their job in whetting up our appetite, bringing out expectations up. “Surely our next dishes must be good.”

In no particular order, this is what we had.


A bowl of chilled bean curd in soy sauce with the fish flakes on top, and some spring onion on the side. Again, this reminded me of home, where we used to eat cold tofu with the deep fried onion. Again, not a bad thing. We enjoyed this a lot. This was from the Kaisen Chirashi Set.

While we were eating this, they brought out our sashimi dishes, but the plate of tempura also appeared before we could get our chopsticks on the sashimi, so we decided to eat the tempura first while it was hot.


Of course, anything deep fried must taste good. However, there is a difference between mass produced tempura that you get at a buffet and freshly fried tempura and brought to the table while it is still piping hot. And this is the first time I’ve eaten piping hot tempura, and it is way better than tempura at a buffet. This, was from the Ume set.

After that, we got started on the sashimi.


The sashimi from the Ume set. Slices of fresh fish on top of a banana leaf, sitting on a rock of rock solid iced ice.


And the main from the Kaishen Chirashi Set. More raw fish on a bed of sushi rice.

And I must declare, the sashimi at Shoya is truly excellent. I don’t know what’s so different about it, but everything associated with it was better than anything I’ve tasted before. I suppose the fish was very fresh, but then again, I’ve never been able to tell what’s fresh and what’s not. The sushi rice was also better than other rice. What was most interesting was the wasabi. I’ve never been a wasabi person, but this was the first time that I actively put wasabi onto the fish (I normally put a small chunk into the soy and let it diffuse without actually mixing it in; I don’t really like the taste and find that it overwhelmed what I like, which is the fish). This wasabi was milder and not so hot, and it actually tasted good.

While we were having our hands full with the sashimi, more things arrived, so we diverted our attentions away from the sashimi for a while.


The unagi from the Ume Set. I liked the unagi, but there’s nothing here to wax lyrical about, as I’ve always liked unagi and this was also very good. I’m not very sure what that was on top of the cucumber. Tried a bit of it but did not like it. Natto, maybe? Or a milder version of natto? Don’t know. Anthony Bourdain hated natto when he tried some in Japan, but I didn’t find anything to hate here, just that it wasn’t that good.


The main of the Ume set. Which came with a small bowl of mixed steamed rice.


Nothing much to say about the rice. We had too many other things to eat already and did not finish this. So-so only. But the wagyu was truly truly amazing. Beef cooked medium rare, and another case of a milder sauce being better than usual. Just like wasabi, I don’t usually enjoy teriyaki sauce, for the same reason; that it overpowers the meat. But in this case, the mild sauce allowed the flavours of the beef to be tasted. The only problem with this dish was that it had a chunk of what I can best describe as a cheese pastry puff thing, that was also doused with teriyaki sauce. We felt that it had no place in the dish at all, and should have been best left off the plate.

And while we were eating all that, the Mini Udon from the Kaisen Chirashi Set and the Miso Soup from the Ume Set arrived.



The two bowls of warm soups provided a very good balance to the meal as we took our time savouring the wagyu and sashimi (together with the wasabi).

And after we finally finished everything, we had two scoops of very, very good ice cream for dessert.


The ice cream came cold, and it took its own time to melt, so we, took our own time to polish them off. The vanilla ice cream was just that, very good vanilla ice cream, but it was the green tea ice cream that really took our breath away. I don’t think we normally cared for green tea, much less the ice cream version of it, but this was just that good. And it was good because the green tea flavour was mild.

And that’s that. The lesson for today is that mild is good.