Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tempura Hajime

I was surprised that I could actually secure a booking for 2 on a Friday night within such short notice of only a few days. For those who have been there would know that the place is small and caters for only 12 people so bookings have to be made way in advance. Guess I was lucky then!

I read that the founder and chef, Daisuke Miyamoto has left the restaurant to the capable hands of a young new chef early this year but I'm sure the food and quality will still be as good. 

I received a text message hours before my booking with brief directions to enter through the brown wooden door. Yet we still missed it! We actually turned into an alley but went - wait, this can't be it. So we retraced our steps and paid careful attention to the numbers this time. 

Finally found it! The sign was hidden behind a brown wooden door (yep, just like what the text said. but hey, it was dark in the evening) and it was located at an office building so you would walk past not noticing it!

We went in and was greeted by a lovely Japanese lady who brought us through a dimly lit waiting room into the dining area to our seats. She also took our coats for us. We were seated around the area where the chef prepares our tempura.

View from our seats. Behind that copper looking thing is a pot of boiling oil where the chef cooks the batter coated morsels and serves it to you on the plates for it to cool.

There are only 2 set menus - Tempura & Sushi course ($85) and Tempura course ($75). Both are quite similar with slight differences in the tempura choices and the main course. 

Arthur decided on the tempura and sushi course so I opted for the other one.
Hot sake. I like how they bring it in the metal container with hot water so it keeps it warm. Not many places actually do that.
We also get to choose our own sake cups!
Now for our entrees which are the same for both sets.
Sashimi of ocean trout and kingfish plus chicken salad with sesame oil dressing.

2 dipping choices: Salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice or grated daikon and tentsuyu sauce. The chef will advise us which sauce to use when he serves us each tempura.
Corn tempura. Sweet and crunchy.
Tuna & avocado tempura and Eel tempura, both dipped with sweet teriyaki sauce
Prawn tempura. 
You know for some tempuras, all you can taste is floury batter and you wonder where the prawn is? Well, this was the complete opposite. This was so good. The prawn was fresh and sweet. Wasn't springy and crunchy like the ones you get at take away stores or food courts. The tempura batter was so light and crunchy. Not overly greasy and oily too.

I should also note that the chef replaces the white paper that is used to soak up the oil every now and then. 
Scallop stuffed with sea urchin
Sweet potato
Whiting fillet
Juicy mushroom stuffed with minced prawn
Marbled beef - juicy and tender. Don't think the Tempura & Sushi course had this one. 
Salad with shiso dressing

The salad dressing had a minty taste which piqued my curiosity. So I asked the lady and she told me it was shiso, the leaf that was also used in the sashimi earlier. 
Plum wine - as a palate cleanser I believe. I liked it!

Now for the part where the dishes get a bit different depending on which set you choose. 

Assorted sushi. One of them is marbled beef, if I remember correctly. This came with the Tempura & Sushi course.
This was mine, the Tempura course. Mixed vegetable and seafood tempura with rice and teriyaki sauce.

There were little bits of soft shell crab in there and I kinda wished that they given more of it or better still, made the whole dish a soft shell crab one. I actually preferred the assorted sushi that Arthur had over mine. 

That wraps up our mains! Now for dessert.

Yoghurt pannacotta. It had liquor with it but I don't know what it was. 

Overall, it was a pleasant dining experience and we enjoyed ourselves. It is a little pricey but you do get quality food and good service. The tempura was superb and the good thing was, I didn't walk away with a sick greasy feeling. I would go back there again but not anytime soon.

Tempura Hajime
60 Park St 
South Melbourne 3205
(03) 9696 0051

Tempura Hajime on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

EARL Canteen

Heard about Earl's from Ka Mun few months ago and as soon as I knew they have a pork belly sandwich on their menu, I'm sold. If you frequent food blogs, you're sure to have read about it!
I read that they serve restaurant quality sandwiches with the best ingredients sourced locally and ethically. I was excited! The lunch box ($13.50) looked appealing, which comes with salad and a dessert but you can only choose the sandwich in the display and it was not The pork belly sandwich. I could still choose it though but I have to pay few dollars on top of that.  We ended up getting the sandwiches on its own.

 Wagyu meatballs baguette ($12.50)

Seeing the size of the baguette, you kinda have to ditch the fork and knife and eat 'em with your hands. The baguette was a bit hard but there were generous servings of meatballs. The meatballs was alright but could be heated up a little longer. 

Otway Pork (free range) belly baguette ($13.50)

This was oh-so-good! Look at the golden crackling. It was crispy and not hard at all. The meat was tender and juicy too. I was quite careful not to eat the fats (I know, if I was that health conscious I wouldn't be eating this in the first place, but hey, a girl can indulge once in a while :) The wilted silverbeet gave it a bit of a bitter taste to it, which was good.

I actually asked the person who came to clear our tables if I could get just the pork belly on its own next time with the salads, without the baguette and he said yes! Yay, I might try that next time and see if they do it!
Close up shot below!
If pork belly does not appeal to you at all, fret not! There are other fancy selections and vegetarian options. Next on my list to try is: Duck confit, Sausage & the Egg, lime poached chicken and real steak sandwich!

Macarons by Duncan.
L-R: Passionfruit, Salted Caramel (best out of the 3!) and Rose ($2.50 each) and that's a turkish delight in the background.

Prices are reasonable for quality sandwiches. I would definitely come back to try the other sandwiches and the macarons! 

EARL Canteen
Ground level,
500 Bourke,
Lt Bourke St courtyard,
Melbourne 3000

(03) 9600 1995
EARL Canteen on Urbanspoon


I've heard good things about bills and I just had to try. There were a few around Sydney but we went to Darlinghurst, since I wanted to try Campos coffee which was just nearby. 
When we arrived, there were a few people ahead of us and I expected to wait a while but we were seated not long after. 
A little peek into the kitchen

Drinks first. Bills hot chocolate. Made with Callebaut! This was so good. If only all cafes makes their hot chocolate with Callebaut. ($4.00)
Sunrise drink - orange juice, banana, yoghurt and berries. Not a fan of yoghurt but this was refreshing. ($4.80 for small)
Bill Granger's famous ricotta hotcakes with fresh banana and honeycomb butter. ($17.50)

The hotcakes were soft and light and I loved the honeycomb butter! Could definitely use more of the honeycomb butter.

Classic scrambled organic eggs and sourdough toast ($13.50) with extras of mushrooms and bacon.

I was having food envy at this point. I loved the ricotta hotcakes but, the mushrooms and eggs were delicious. The mushrooms were very juicy and I like the sprinkle of chopped corianders on top. The bacon wasn't too greasy, salty or fat and the eggs were so light and fluffy.

Would like to try the lunch dishes next time. They've got a pretty interesting menu. Reasonable prices too. 

After bills we went to Bunker to get some Campos coffee. I had the ice coffee and it was not too bad. I'm not a coffee drinker so couldn't really judge. Arthur didn't like his coffee though and he's more of a coffee drinker than I am. 

We also went to Hurricane Ribs at Darling Harbour but my camera's battery ran out from taking too many pictures at the zoo so I couldn't take decent pictures. I remember waiting for half an hour even when I made a booking! We shared the ribs and they were massive. We also got disposable bibs haha, incase things get messy. Anyway, this pretty much sums up the Sydney trip!

bills - Darlinghurst
433 Liverpool Street
Darlinghurst 2010 NSW

(02) 9360 9631

Opening hours
Mon-Sat 7.30am-3pm
Sun 8.30am-3pm

Bills on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sydney Fish Market

I've never been to the Sydney Fish Market, despite a few visits to Sydney. So this time, in my organized food trip,  I made it a point to head there. 
There were independent eateries outside but we headed inside to get some seafood. No doubt it was crowded inside.
 Look at the huge prawns!
Moreton Bay Bugs
Fresh salmon - Can't remember how much it was now but it wasn't expensive! Moreton bay bugs 

We got some bay bugs and brought it over to one of the eateries where they cooked it for us. This was cooked with garlic and butter! I love garlic and butter - both with sweet bay bugs - so good.

And that was our brunch!

Sydney Fish Market
Pyrmont Bridge Rd
Pyrmont NSW 2009
(02) 9004 1100

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café

Now, our meal wasn't complete without dessert. So off we went to Guylian at The Rocks. 

My Guylian hot chocolate. I must admit it was better than Lindt. I haven't been to Lindt in a while but the last time I had it, the frothed milk was only luke warm, and I couldn't get the right ratio of thick melted chocolate to the right amount of milk. 

At Guylian's you have the hot chocolate in a jug and you pour it over a piece of chocolate. You also get a Guylian twistwrap chocolate on the side. 

The chocolate degustation plate. I can't remember what the cakes were, seeing it was last September, hehe, my bad. I think there was a hazelnut praline one but sadly it wasn't as good as I thought it was. Overall the cakes were not too bad. By then we were pretty full! 

Too bad we don't have Guylian in Melbourne, but hey we have Koko Black!

Guylian Chocolate Cafe at The Rocks
91 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Trading Hours
Sun to Thurs 8am-11pm
Fri & Sat 8am - Midnight

(o2) 8274 7500
Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


It's been almost a year since my last entry, and I must apologise for the lack of updates! Have been busy with everything else but I have had some pretty good hunts so far. I will do my best to post them up. Oh yes, a litte side note: the entries may not be a recent hunt or an exact recall of details, seeing it took me a while to actually post them up, so please bear with me! Thanks for your patience so far :)