Heaven Gastro Lounge

The Heaven Gastro Lounge is an interesting place. It is located in the trendy Toorak area, on St. Kilda Rd. I scored a nice discount on one of the newer internet coupon sites, so I figured my dinner and experience alone would make it worth it. Before we went to dinner, I read a few reviews of the place and became slightly nervous, due to the mixed feedback on urbanspoon.com. Thankfully, I prefer to form my own opinions. So after work, I took my wife there to celebrate her new job, and I feel somewhat meek for booking a table, seeing that we are the first ones there for dinner at 6pm. That’s fine with me though, because we can sit anywhere we please. The friendly server/bartender greets us warmly and gives us a breakdown of what we’re receiving with our coupon. We both get to choose a drink, and because neither of us want a daiquiri, then two Cosmos it is!

cosmos heaven gasto lounge toorak st. kilda drinks

Cosmopolitans

So while we sip our Cosmos we peruse the menu, and I’m glad I finally get to experience some Modern Australian cuisine. For an appetizer, the 5 spice calamari sells me, and it comes with lotus root and some Spanish Chorizo.

5 spice calamari, heavens gastro lounge, spanish chorizo, lotus root

5 spice calamari with Lotus Root and Spanish Chorizo

The main part of this dish was not the calamari. To me the calamari tasted as if the frying oil was old, although it could’ve been due to one of the spices. Aesthetically, the lotus root wins, and they were delicious too. I wish they served more of them. But the highlight here was the Spanish Chorizo. Awesome stuff. I could eat a bowl full of these little guys and be quite content. While I’m munching on all this, my wife is having an experience with her beetroot and ricotta ravioli with reggiano foam.

beetroot and ricotta ravioli

Beetroot and Ricotta Ravioli with Reggiano Foam

Yes, she is really having an experience, and I’m getting jealous! She claims it’s her favorite ravioli that she can remember, and this tells me from this point forward in our dinner, we are freerolling! It’s already been worth it in her eyes, and by extension, my eyes as well. I get to try a bit and have to agree it is some really good ravioli. I later dip my calamari in the leftover sauce and it upgrades my calamari from barely edible to, “I guess I’ll clean the plate”. We are still the only diners in the restaurant at this point, which I find odd. So we chit chat for around 15 minutes before our entrees arrive.

hunter valley rib eye, heaven gastro lounge, toorak, st. kilda

Hunter Valley Rib Eye

There is some slight confusion here because Tess ordered the rib eye, but we both suspect the steak is actually the t-bone. We never received clarification. Regardless, she really enjoyed her steak with mushroom sauce.

300gm Wagyu Rump 7+ marble score, heaven's gastro lounge, toorak, st. kilda

Wagyu Rump 7+ marble score

There was no confusion with my steak, it was delicious! The seasoning on the wagyu was fantastic, and the chef nailed my requested medium rare temperature. I did my best to eat slow and savor every flavor. Each of our steaks were served with a potato fondant, horseradish cream, and our choice of sauce. I tried the peppercorn sauce but didn’t really use too much of it. I smothered both my potato fondant and wagyu rump with the horseradish cream, and basically I couldn’t get enough. Throughout the night I found myself in a daze thinking about this steak, and wanted another big slab of it. But all in moderation, I guess.

Apple & Rhubarb crumble served with vanilla bean ice cream, heaven gastro lounge, toorak, st. kilda

Apple & Rhubarb crumble with vanilla bean ice cream

For dessert my wife ordered the apple and rhubarb crumble with vanilla bean ice cream. We are both pretty full at this point, but I can’t leave any wounded desserts left behind, so I help her out. Plus, admittedly, this is my first time trying rhubarb (at last!). So I do my best to polish this off, and I succeed.

Lemon grass & Lime leaf Pannacotta, st. kilda, heaven gastro lounge

Lemon grass and Lime leaf Pannacotta

For my dessert, I choose the lemongrass and lime leaf pannacotta with fresh fruit. For some reason lately I’ve really been digging on some lemongrass, and I’m always down for some fresh mango and kiwi. So this was a great way to end my dinner. When our final bill came, and I saw it would have cost just over $200AU, I was glad the meal was already paid for at a massive discount. While my wife and I both really enjoyed our meals, I’m not sure it would have been worth $200AU. Yikes. But that wasn’t the case, so we both walked out satisfied, with my wife thinking about the beetroot and ricotta ravioli, and me dreaming about some more wagyu rump. Cheers.

Heaven Gastro Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sweet Sweet Brunetti

After stuffing my face and belly at Cafe Corretto, I wasn’t sure if dessert was in my near future. However, my wife raved about a dessert cafe which was within walking distance, which goes by the name of Brunetti. This place is world-class. Apparently you can only find a Brunetti in Melbourne, and now most recently in Singapore and Dubai. I could tell this place was special as soon as I walked in. While Lygon street in generally is busy on Fridays, this place took crowded to a new level. Thick with hungry folks looking to satiate that sweet tooth, Brunetti was bumpin! After perusing the wide variety of desserts held for ransom behind the glass counter tops, we decide to liberate a few.

chocolate mousse Brunetti Lygon

3 Layer Chocolate Mousse

My wife’s kind soul and taste decided to free a 3 layered chocolate mousse. I enthusiastically applauded her decision, and I did this silently, as well as vocally. I probably would have ordered the same thing, so I decided to invite some tiramisu to join us at our table. I like to believe the tiramisu was quite happy and thankful for our invitation.

tiramisu brunetti lygon

Brunetti's Tiramisu

As we receive our desserts and hunt for an open table, my wife and I decide it is only appropriate to enjoy some coffee with our newly found sweet treasure.

cappuccino and mocha brunetti's lygon

Cappuccino and Mocha

When you choose two winners, such as this chocolate mouse and tiramisu, it’s hard to decide which one is better. Ultimately, I’ll admit I enjoyed my wife’s chocolate mouse slightly more. It tasted fresh and light, and I could even taste the love that went into making it. The tiramisu was also delicious, but I could think of one or two Italian restaurants back home in Carolina which I think make a better tiramisu. I’d place the coffee in the top ten percent from what I’ve sampled in Melbourne thus far. And it goes without saying, the coffee in Melbourne is far superior to that found in the US, although it’s mostly Starbucks we’re talking about here. I hereby declare I will never mention Starbucks ever again.

There’s at least a dozen or so other desserts which I plan on liberating in the future, so the next time me and the wife are out and about in Lygon, this will be our final destination. I can see why they decided to franchise out in Dubai and Singapore first. World-class.

Brunetti on Urbanspoon

Café Corretto

It’s always a fun experience going out for food on a Friday night. Tess and I ran our options through the probability matrix and decided to try some Malaysian cuisine. We decided on a popular joint in Flemington called Laksa King. We also go early, around 6pm, so we can be assured a seat. As it turns out there were at least 25 people waiting in front of us already, so my experience with the Laksa King would have to wait. So we head to Lygon of course. You really can’t go wrong going to Melbourne’s version of Little Italy, because there’s a plethora of fine establishments which line the street of Lygon. Café Corretto, pleased to meet ya!

After my original meal time was cruelly delayed about an hour, I’m near salivating while perusing the menu. I know Tess is in the same condition as me, so I suggest a pizza to split before our mains. It is a great idea. High five!

white pizza cafe corretto lygon melbourne

White Pizza with Spinach

This pizza was nothing short of amazing. Every ingredient tasted fresh, the cheese was beautiful and plentiful, and the spinach made me feel like Popeye. Alright, I admit I got a little carried away there, but seriously because I was so previously famished I now felt strong after polishing off this pizza with spinach. Just go with it.

I’d have to say one of my favorite Italian foods is a good chicken Parmesan. I’ve only sampled one while in Melbourne, and it was at a somewhat fast food place. So I figured I needed one from a legitimate Italian restaurant. After much deliberation, I went for it, but made a critical error and ordered it with meat sauce instead of just tomato sauce. The server misinformed me dammit!

chicken parmesean lygon cafe corretto

Chicken Parmesan with Meat Sauce

All is not lost with a chicken Parmesan. Granted, the meat sauce took away some from what I would prefer, but it was still good, because I cleaned the plate. I’ve learned my lesson for the night, or at least another one. The first lesson being, head to Laksa King when it opens, or find a less busy night. Bah! I also must admit here my wife’s dish once again trumps mine.

Cardinale cafe corretto lygon

The Cardinale

This pasta was great, with the bare exception being the chicken was not exceptional. It tasted boiled and didn’t have a bunch of flavor. However, everything else in this dish was great. The avocado, fresh tomato, parmesan, and fresh basil and parsley, and a light napoli sauce really made for a flavorful dish. I personally helped Tess finish this thing, but only because I’m a gentleman.

We were going to order some dessert here, but we could see in the window it looked prepackaged. I could be wrong here, but we both came up with the same conclusion, and there’s no need to take the risk when, according to Tess, there was a fantastic dessert/coffee parlor right around the corner. So we take a brief interlude and stroll to the next venue, relatively satisfied at this point.

Café Corretto on Urbanspoon

Town Hall Kebabs

Anyone down for some kebabs? For those of you who responded in the affirmative, head to Brunswick and Sydney Road and look for the following sign:

kebabs brunswick

Town Hall Kebabs

The kebab stand is located at a car wash right across from the Brunswick Town Hall. It’s a quick meal which is better than most restaurants. Plus you can sit outside and people watch. This is your view while you feast.

town hall kebabs brunswick

Town Hall

OK, enough of the nonfood pictures. Let’s talk about kebabs. My wife and I spent the afternoon moonlighting as flower couriers. It’s nice to bring a bundle of joy to unsuspecting office workers. After driving around for a few hours it was about that time to hunt and gather some food. In our case, it meant pulling over to purchase some delicious kebabs. After analyzing my kebab options, I went for a lamb and chicken mix, with garlic mayo and sweet chili sauce percolating throughout. Check this bad boy out!

town hall kebab lamb and chicken

preflop chicken and lamb kebab

This kebab was made with the perfect ratios. A lightly toasted wrap with a ton of meat, a good amount of sauce, and not too much green stuff (lettuce) or tomato. With every bite the kebab looks more enticing.

town hall kebab Sydney road

enticing kebab

I’ve heard of other great kebabs in Brunswick, but so far this is my favorite. Now I know why the Flight of the Conchords duo are obsessed with kebabs. Kebabs?! Don’t mind if I do. If you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and check this place out.

town hall kebabs brunswick sydney road

kebab stand

Red Emperor

I am no predictor of the future. While sometimes I dream about food, and sometimes I like to think I dream of future possible events, I never saw the Red Emperor coming. It was a Friday, and me and the wife were making our usual rounds. Unexpectedly we ran into her brother and sister in law. After talking about solar panels, solar companies from China, Germany, and the US, and of course one of my favorite topics, food, T’s older brother invited us out to a dinner with some clients at the mysterious Red Emperor. Me and T had no plans for dinner just yet, so we graciously accepted! When I went home I looked up the menu to the place, and immediately became excited. Our near culinary future looked bright.

So as it turns out, there would be 7 of us for dinner. Me and T think we are late but actually are the first ones to arrive. Naturally, we order a bottle of white wine to get things rolling. Soon after the rest of the gang arrives, which includes both of T’s older brothers, a coworker of theirs, and a business client and his daughter. Enough of the setup, let’s talk about food! Martin and Daniel (her brothers), wisely choose to order the banquet ‘G’, which is the best possible spread of food available. Daniel also opts to add a few more dishes which would be hard to find in China, which includes a Dundee entree.

The food dam has burst, and while I want to take pictures of everything, the atmosphere has a business tone to it. And since I am a guest, I choose not to take any photos. Bah! The first dish which arrives was a Hot & Sour Soup. This was by far my favorite hot and sour soup of all time. Very delicious. The man from China even agreed, it was a 10/10. After the soup we all received a small plate of dim sum. I can’t describe it in great detail, but I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed Tess giving me her prawn dumpling as well. Thank you my dear! Next up was some Peking Duck with plum sauce in a simple wrap. This duck was fantastic! I housed mine immediately, and then lo! Tess doesn’t like duck so much, so once again it’s m0 f0 me. Surprisingly another round of Peking Duck arrives, much to the delight of my taste buds and belly, but to the chagrin of some other diners at the table. Hey duck, GET IN MY BELLY@!!

Before when I said the food dam burst, I lied. After we finished the hors d’ouevres, 6 plates filled with culinary treasure arrive, sure to please any palette. While everyone takes in the beautiful sight of the dishes, Daniel unexpectedly asks me if I’d like to take some pictures of them for my blog. Well hell yeah! You don’t have to ask me twice.

red emperer  golden prawns curry leaves southgate

Golden Prawns with Oatmeal and Curry Leaves

These golden prawns were the first to arrive. Someone mistakenly said they were crocodile at first, so I just shrugged and said they look like prawns to me. When the waiter returned, he informs us they are indeed prawns. You don’t say. At any rate, I thought they were great, but probably wouldn’t order them as a main. There’s simply too many other better options to order.

chinese broccoli and shiitake mushrooms

Chinese Brocolli & Shiitake Mushrooms with Oyster Sauce

I’ve never appreciated mushrooms, both inside and outside the kitchen. It wasn’t until I met a great soul named Jim back in North Carolina, a fellow good beer drinker and mycophile extraordinaire, that I started learning about cooking with fungi, and just general fungal knowledge. Apparently shiitake mushrooms are filled with nutrients and are extremely healthy for you. The Chinese use them often in cooking (along with many others). And so when these mushrooms arrive I can’t wait to try them. Now in theory I love what the mushrooms do for us humans, but my taste buds are still lagging behind a bit! While I thought these were tasty and interesting, especially with the oyster sauce, I could only eat a few of them. Actually, I just wanted to share and let everyone else enjoy them as well! Yeah that’s it.

beef fillet black pepper and sliced garlic

Beef Fillet with Black Pepper and Sliced Garlic

This beef fillet with black pepper and sliced garlic was fantastic! This was my wife’s favorite dish of the night, and I’d have to agree with her. I am slowly learning that she is almost always right. That’s right, ALMOST always. I can’t give in 100% just yet. When our meal was finished, part of me wanted to take everything home, but I knew it wasn’t appropriate. This was the only dish Tess wanted to take as well, so that says a lot about this dish. Alas, we would later walk away with belly’s full of food and satisfaction, but no takeaway.

red emperor southgate chicken with toffee walnuts

Chicken with Toffee Walnuts

The chicken with toffee walnuts was a pretty tasty dish. Nothing too fancy about it, and it’s something most people could enjoy when dining here. Plus the portion size was pretty huge. While this was the only chicken dish at our table, it was not the only dish which tasted like chicken.

crocodile dundee food outback

Stir-Fried Crocodile Fillet with Sliced Almonds

Crocodile tastes like chicken! The texture was slightly fishy, but the taste definitely reminded me of chicken. Not too gamey either. This was my first experience tasting this Dundee cuisine, and for me it was the highlight of the dinner. Not the best part of the dinner, but I’ll always remember this first time eating crocodile. I hope cruel irony doesn’t rear it’s ugly head down the road and I suddenly find myself in the jaws of a hungry crocodile, because that would be BS. Nah, not going to happen.

crocodile with arm

that's not my arm

Too graphic? My bad. I’ll be looking forward to my next experience at this restaurant. It’s located on the water, so every table has an excellent view. The servers were highly attentive, and the general ambiance was comfortable too. It seems they also update their menu seasonally as well, in addition to serving a few other Dundee items. Red Emperor, until next time.

Red Emperor on Urbanspoon

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Mi Cocina

The food I mix in my own kitchen will occasionally make an appearance in this blog. And I had no intention of putting this up, but when the wife took a few pictures and repeatedly told me how beautiful the soup was, well then I had no choice. One of the few times I can live with no choice. And so in my own kitchen, and on a whim, I decided to try my hand at making a soup, broccoli and cheddar soup to be exact. As usual, I scoured the internet for recipes, and decided on merging two of them. In the end, I ended up sauteing up some onions, grated carrots, and garlic, with a pinch of nutmeg. Seasoned with salt and pepper, then added a bit of flour. Next I let some chicken stock heat up to a slight boil, at which time I added some heavy cream and regular milk. After 5 minutes I added the heaps of finely chopped broccoli and I let the soup simmer. When it’s about ready, I added the no longer secret but very special ingredient, and that is a few cups of Tilba cheddar cheese. This cheese is special, and great with just about everything. I have only seen this cheese in Australia, at wine bars, and most often at the Victoria Market. The cheese is beautiful. Here is a glimpse of the finished extravaganza.

broccoli and cheddar soup in m cocina

dank broccoli and cheddar soup

I hollowed out some croc bowls that I picked up from the market (which constantly sell out!), and it really set the soup off. There is only a slight window for improvement for this delicious soup. As is, it’s near perfect. I think adding some croutons or parsley could add a little something extra, but also unnecessary. Good soup warms the soul. Cheers!

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The Magic Mint Cafe

It was a magical night for a myriad of reasons. And on this Friday night, me and the wife both agreed some Indian cuisine was in our near future (and near to our house). We decide to book a table at the Magic Mint Cafe, in Moonee Ponds. And for the record, I enjoy most things in Moonee Ponds, mainly because MP is such a cool name for a borough (when driving through the area, I can frequently be heard saying, ‘Moonee Ponds – woooohooooooo!!’).

magic mint cafe moonee ponds indian

Magic Mint Cafe

When I sit down at an Indian restaurant, I feel like there’s a whole food genre which I still need to explore, and I still get excited when browsing the menu. It’s like picking up a history book in which I do not have much knowledge about, yet. I know I’m about to fill in a bunch of blanks, and I can dig that. And so it goes with Indian food. For a starter, we opt for the vegetable somosa.

vegetable somosa magic mint cafe moonee ponds

Vegetable Somosa

This homemade pastry was awesome! It was filled with some lightly spiced potato and peas. Very light and fresh and went down a treat. Me and T then decide on some naan. She orders some garlic naan, and I decide to try something new, and opt for the Kasmiri naan.

kasmiri naan magic mint cafe moonee ponds

Kasmiri Naan

The garlic naan was good, but we both agreed more garlic could have improved it. In my limited garlic naan experience, I’ve had better. However, I thought the Kasmiri naan was delicious! It’s a food item which I need to learn to make myself, because I could snack on this naan all the time. It seemed relatively healthy, because it was filled with dried fruit and nuts. Tasty. For a side dish, we both agreed to try some coconut rice. I have a picture for this, but let me describe what it looks like for you. It’s a bowl of white rice. And it is fluffy. There is a subtle coconut taste to go with it. There, I have just described what a bowl of white rice looks like! Our entrees also arrive.

spinach chicken magic mint cafe moonee ponds

Spinach Chicken

We both really enjoyed this spinach chicken. When chicken simmers in a fresh spinach puree with some added spices, how can you go wrong? I thought the ratio of chicken to spinach was perfect too. While this entree was great, the next one was better. How do I know this? Due to there being no leftovers!

butter chicken magic mint cafe

Butter Chicken

As usual, this butter chicken does not disappoint. Perhaps the quantity could be increased, but that’s only because I’m used to monster portions back in the States. I could just eat the sauce mixed with the coconut rice and be happy and satisfied, but throw in some chicken and I have a veritable Indian feast! Our table was completely filled with plates of deliciousness, which is most ideal. Our bellys were pleased.

For a Friday night, I was surprised this place wasn’t filled up. The service may have been slow at times, and there was no music playing for about half the time we were there. But the food was great and reasonably priced, and most likely we will be back. After all, it’s in Moonee Ponds. Waaahoooooooo!!!

Magic Mint Cafe on Urbanspoon

Category: Indian  Tags: ,  Leave a Comment

Behold! The HuTong!@

Yes, an exciting excursion into Melbourne’s Chinatown. The HuTong Dumpling Bar is top billing on urbanspoon. I’ve read about this place while still lounging in The Meadows of Nevada. That’s Las Vegas for the uninitiated. I humbly admit I’ve never eaten Chinese dumplings before, but I was extremely excited to try some! I mean a dumpling is a little bundle of culinary joy filled with even more joy! So I want many of them. I want to be surrounded by them and surrender in defeat due to the sheer number of dumplings and so that it will be impossible to eat them all (I’ll get my wish)! So on this Friday night, a busy night to dine out in Melbourne, me and T venture to this Chinese eatery. The place opens at 5pm I believe, and when we get there by 6pm it’s already maxed out. There is no waiting list, as us late comers are seated by the mercy of the hostess’s memory. I trust in HuTong! I trust in dumplings! But I do not always trust in memory. That is, memory that is not of my own. HuTong!

hutong menu australia

HuTong menu

We are actually seated accordingly and within 15 minutes. I enjoy looking at picture menus for a few different reasons. First and foremost I like to see what all the dishes look like, most of which I’ve never had before. Cool. Secondly, these menus are fun to look at because they remind me of all the books that I browsed through as a kid. Awesome!! So we make our dinner choices, order some tea (jasmine), and start absorbing the atmosphere. There are dumpling eaters everywhere! The first dish which arrives are the Golden Prawn Dumplings.

golden prawn dumplings

Golden Prawn Dumplings

Yes, they were golden. And yes, they were filled with crab meat and prawn. And for the trifecta, YES they were delicious! I didn’t savor the flavor as much as I should’ve because I was so hungry, but behold! the second dish arrives.

spring onion pancake

Spring Onion Pancake

Yes, as the picture above states, it is the spring onion pancake! You know, I don’t remember much of this one, because it was gone within a minute. Plus I had prawn dumplings to siege. But T loved them, and said they were really nice. And for the record, I believe they vanished from her plate within 2 minutes as well. Mmmm.. We enjoy some more jasmine tea, and the tables in the vicinity of ours all seem to be enjoying themselves as well. And then the Shao-long Bao arrives!

shao-long bao

Shao-long bao

Apparently these are said to be the best Shao-long Bao in Melbourne. And after hearing this repeatedly, I fully expect this to be the best dumpling in the history of man. So I eagerly snipe one with my chopsticks and put it whole in my mouth. My tongue and mouth are burned immediately. This is not pleasant, and I curse the Shao-long Bao! I want to spit the damned thing out but look around futilely and quickly realize I can do no such thing. There’s a long queue waiting to be seated, and they watch us diners’ every move. I am wounded. I eat a few more, slowly, cautiously, before the crowning dish arrives.

crispy chicken garlic ginger hutong melbourne expat

Crispy Chicken with Garlic and Ginger

Yes, the near whole crispy chicken with garlic and ginger is fantastic! Screw the chopsticks and silverware (there are none), we both dig into this with scrappy fingers. I don’t want to sound like an animal or anything but I could just eat the skin off this and be content. But because there is chicken I’ll eat that too. Three words to describe this dish? Juicy. Moist. Chicken. Next time I think I’ll try the crispy duck, and a handful of other dishes which caught my eye (and me belly!). And I regrettably admit there are a few Shao-long Bao left wounded and victorious at our dinner table. I’ll be back HuTong! Just you wait.

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Bopha Devi

I was already a bit biased about this place just because it has such a cool name. My teachers always told me to never judge a book by its cover, but I never listened to that advice. Instead I judged every book by its cover, unless I got into the book and read it of course. It was a Wednesday night and just before 6pm, and me and T were in the area and hungry, so I fired up urbanspoon.com to find a new restaurant. I had a hankering for some Cambodian, that is, to try it for the first time. And as luck would have it, Bopha Devi was right around the corner. And so it goes with Bopha Devi. What a cool name for a restaurant! I figured it must mean something special, so I looked it up. Loosely translated the name means flower goddess, referring to a popular modern day princess to the people of Cambodia.

And so it’s early evening when we arrive, therefore we were the first customers in the restaurant. I love having complete dibs on a place! The menu was completely new to me and looked interesting. Apparently Khmer cuisine is a fusion of Chinese, Indian, and French. It seems lighter than Thai, as was proven when my dish arrived. There was a bunch we wanted to try, but I opted for the K’nyei Stir Fry, which is julienne ginger stir fried with beans, carrots, spring onion and I chose chicken.

cambodian docklands rakaia melbourne australia

K'nyei Stir Fry

This was a tasty treat, with the exception of one piece of chicken which tasted funky. I can overlook this minor detail. The stir fry itself was loaded with flavor, with fresh vegetables, although I wish the dish was served with more sauce. Definitely lighter than it’s neighboring Thai dishes to the northwest.

Tonight the wife chose to opt for some smaller plated appetizers to satiate the hunger. I fully supported this decision as the sampling of Cambodian foods shall be wider! Her first dish was a simple order of Garlic Chive Rice Cakes, which as a bonus was gluten free. I usually prefer gluten, especially on my cereal or tofu, but I guess none was needed on the rice cakes. She also ordered Sait-Gor Ang, which are beef skewers in a lemongrass marinade.

Sait-Gor Ang rice cakes bopha devi docklands melbourne

Garlic Chive Rice Cakes / Sait-Gor Ang

The rice cakes were simple and delicious. I would prefer these to most spring rolls. And the beef skewers were super tender and just awesome! If I could eat one of these skewers everyday, I would be a happy man (or happier man!). I’m not sure which cut of beef they were, but they tasted like filet or tenderloin. While I could be wrong about the cut of beef, my stomach was doing high fives with itself. Jubilation!

By the time we left the restaurant was filling up creating a nice happy atmosphere. They had a Cambodian cookbook for sale titled “Spiders…” and something else, so I asked the manager what the deal was and if they genuinely eat and cook with spiders. He smiled broadly and said back home they do. I asked why there weren’t any offered on the menu, and he answered he couldn’t source the spiders consistently. Fair enough. For some reason I now wanted to try some even more. Perhaps when I visit Cambodia!

Bopha Devi on Urbanspoon

Tiamo on Lygon!

Ahhh, Lygon Street, home to Little Italy in the grand city of Melbourne. After perusing urbanspoon.com for a higher rated restaurant to dine, me and the wife choose Tiamo. There was still time to call an audible as we walked up the street and passed by both full and empty restaurants. I was hoping there would be just a few tables left at our pre-chosen destination. As luck would have it, there was a table open outside, where the temperature was just about right. The inside seemed cluttered as well, so I’d rather have the extra space outside where we could both people watch just like we did in Little Italy in the NY City. (Il Paesano’s, holler.)

When it comes to Italian food, I like just about all of it. By default I like to try the chicken parmigiana, and I tend to stay away from the pastas since I feel I can make similar or better dishes myself at home. So tonight I went for the lasagna! I love me some lasagna. I also love me some bruschetta, especially the good kind which makes the tongue zing and comes with crostinis or something similar. When I choose to eat Italian, or if Italian food is in my vicinity, or if wine is in my vicinity, then I imbibe!! So me and T order a carafe of some sauvignon blanc, and what I like the most about it is the fact the wine is served in two smaller round drinking glasses. It’s just nonpretentious and makes for good drinking. The bruschetta arrives.

bruschetta tiamos melbourne

bruschetta

I’ve only enjoyed bruschetta with a tomato salad as a topping, and this fits the bill. Perhaps this was an off night. Perhaps we were the unlucky table who received the end crust of the bread loaf. Perhaps we were destined tonight of nights to not enjoy whatever appetizer we chose. And so it goes. The tomato salad was tasty, but the crostini it was served on was stale. Such a disappointment here, but I remain optimistic. We have half a carafe left of some good juice to flow into our main. Eventually our entrees arrive, and I’m overjoyed by what sits before me.

lasagna tiamo's melbourne victoria australia

lasagna before

Yes, while this looks fantastic, I think it needs a little something something. That was no typo folks, I know what I do. Time to shower this beast of a lasagna with some parm!

lasagna at tiamo's melbourna australia parmigiana

lasagna after! with love.

A little or a lot of parmigiana never hurt anybody – it only helped’em. [I envision an unlucky soul who has fallen down a dank and dark well and somehow landed properly. This unlucky soul can turn his luck around with a dose of heaping parmigiana. Who needs a rope when there’s parmigiana to be had!] The dish, which I surprisingly indeed did finish, was fantastic! I have now forgiven Tiamo for it’s stale breaded bruschetta, and so has T since her chicken and mushroom alfredo was very nice. I tried it as well and concur.

chicken and mushrooms alfredo

chicken and mushroom alfredo

The meal was filling. Filled with great food and conversation and wonderful Lygon sidewalk atmosphere. There’s also some wine left at this point, and I feel it is a duty of mine to finish what I started. So for dessert, I get to spend time with this lovely girl. Do you think she looks happy I’m taking her picture?

beautiful

not happy with pictures!

Thank you Tiamo. Thank you for a wonderful dinner and introduction into the Little Italy in Melbourne. I’ll be back.

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