Friday, May 22, 2015

Little Chef, West Melbourne by Bureaucrat

Opposite Operator 25 is a cute Asian eatery called Little Chef.  The food here is well priced and quite nice and I love the simple homely vibe to the place.

I corralled a bunch of us to go there one lunch time and we got the following dishes.

Big Fil got kung pao chicken with rice ($8.50) which packed a nice punchy heat to it.

To go with his dish, Big Fil also got some steamed buns... or at least that's what he thought he had ordered.  What come out instead was something that was very much like xiao long baos.  Equally tasty but I think he was thinking of something bigger and fluffier in mind.

Snooze went for the stir fried sting bean w mince on rice ($8.50).

Ruby Grapefruit and Ms No Meat shared the voluptuously, silky braised eggplant. The eggplant was luscious and had a nice caramely crust, and the gravy nice and savoury in flavour.

They also shared a rather generous plate of stir fried vegetarian hokkien noodles.

Last but not least, I ordered the seafood and veg stir fry with rice ($9.80).  Nice, simple flavours. Lots of cuttlefish, thin slices of fishcake and (ugh) seafood extender, and shrimp.

Verdict: we liked it alot.

Nothing fancy here but simple homestyle food.  Good prices - most dishes are under $10.  I'd go back again.  Service is polite and friendly.  The set up inside is spacious, clean and neat.

Little Chef on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Green at St Columbs, Hawthorn (by invitation) by Obelix

How often can you enjoy great cafe food, decent coffee and be altruistic at the same time?  You can if you go to The Green at St Columbs.  The Green is a social enterprise extension of the Jesuit Social Services, hands-on hospitality training program, Ignite, aimed at providing mentoring and training to long term unemployed and disadvantaged job seekers in the hospitality industry. The Ignite participants get to work along industry professionals led by Head Chef Kevin Dick. The cafe is built on the principles of self-sustainability and all proceeds go back into the Ignite Program.  It's an amazing worthwhile cause.

The Green is situated in the former chapel of St Columb's church.  It has a casual, rustic and very welcoming feel.  The staff are warm and friendly.  An ideal location for a quick coffee to brunch / lunch with work mates or with girlfriends or en famille.  The menu focuses on locally sourced and seasonal produce.  Some of the produce are actually grown on site.

MC and I kicked things off with a couple of drinks.

Speaking of all things locally sourced, I had Anushka Chai Latte laced with honey which could be best described as a 'hug in a cup'.

MC was very impressed with the decadent ice cream topped iced chocolate.  MC would like it be to be noted on record that the iced chocolate was one of the better ones she's had tasted.  And she has tasted a fair few in her lifetime.

Our main dishes.

Being the meat-fiend that I am, I ordered the Moroccan Lamb shoulder which was tenderly slow cooked and came atop a bed of quinoa, chickpeas and hummus and strewn through with greens.  It was wholesome food.  It tasted damn good and was good for me.

MC tackled the Spanish Eggs.  I had a little nibble of her's - it was all smoky paprika, flavoursome chorizo and salty feta.  A perfect brunch dish with flavours that packed a punch.

Realistically we didn't have much tummy real estate left after the substantially sized mains, however one could not leave The Green without sampling their baked-fresh-on-premises sweets.  And sample we did with this envy inducing sample platter.

We have here a cupcake with a fig puree on the left.  This one was my favourite, it was light yet buttery and had a distinct lemony zest running through.  A wickedly chocolately cookie on the right which MC claimed.  The blueberry muffin was in the middle which tasted more like a friand (loved).  The cardamon cookies were like souped up amarettos.

Perfect accompaniments to a pot of green tea.  Although next time I am keen to try The Green's Code Black coffee.

Verdict:  We loved it.

Come down and support The Green.  It's a wonderful social enterprise initiative, providing skills and work experience for long term unemployed and disadvantaged job seekers.  It supports local producers.  But most of all, come down for the great food and drinks and the welcoming ambiance.  You'll be glad that you did.

The Green at St Columbs on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pappa Rich, East Malvern by Obelix

Kiddo and I been repeat offenders at Pappa Rich Malvern East.  Probably because we have been exercising our retail muscles a wee bit too much at Chadstone Shopping Centre and Pappa Rich is conveniently located within. 

Left to right: lychee soda, grass jelly w soy milk

To cool our heels, we generally go for an iced drink to kick start the meal.  I’m quite partial to grass jelly and generally go for the grass jelly with soy milk or the grass jelly with barley.  I find the soy milk version the better of the two.  The dense and creamy soy almost has the texture of ice cream by the time they mix it with the tiny ice particles.  The net effect is that it’s more like a solid needing to be scooped rather than a liquid drink. 

The barley version is not for the squeamish.  They blitz the barley grains so the texture unfortunately is a bit like…chuck… so you’ve really got to tame down your gag reflex and just focus on the pleasant grassy flavours of barley.  And because the barley water is so much less dense than the soy milk version, you have to brace yourself for the kick of gelatinous cubes of grass jelly hitting your hard palate as it rushes up the wide diameter straw as you suck. 

Kiddo on the other hand, does not stray far from her lychee soda.  This is a real thirst quencher with mint, lime and the obligatory pair of lychees in the soda. 

Being a creature of habit, Kiddo always orders the Ipoh Hor Fun.  It is rice noodles in a “prawn head broth”.  I quote from the menu!  It sounds a bit off putting, prawn head goo,  but it lends a deep seafood flavour to the broth which Kiddo slurps up.  It comes with fine slices of chicken breast, a handful of bean sprouts, chives and a side of chilli with soy to spice it up ($12.90). 

I on the other hand have been trying to branch out from my usual comfort orders of Nasi Lemak and roti.  Recently I’ve tried the Chilli Pan Mee ($12.90).  Everything about it was quite delightful in texture and flavour – the aromatic ikan bilis, the nubbly bits of chicken mince, the fresh steamed veggies, the spicy heat of the dollop of sambal and the runny egg which you are urged to mix through to combine.  The noodles were the rice noodle variety but somehow the edges of these noodles were almost fluted.  This gave it a rustic and chewier texture rather than silken one.  It was different but I do prefer the traditional silky cut rice noodles. 

On another occasion, I tried the Wat Tan Hor ($12.90).  In a nutshell this was a big plate of wok fried rice noodles swimming in a deep pool of egg gravy.  It was a fair call to say there was almost more gravy than noodle but I’m under the impression that that is the way it’s supposed to be.  The smokey wok burnished noodles float in the eggy ocean with flotsam and jetsam  offish cakes and choi sum, chicken and prawns.  It was filling and delicious.  I wasn’t sure if one should ‘drink’ the sea of gravy or not.  Was it soup or sauce? 

And yet on another occasion (yes embarrassingly enough we went back twice weekly in the span of a fortnight.  If only there was a frequent flyers discount!), I tried the Hainanese Chicken Rice.  I have long dismissed this dish as mere boiled/steamed chicken with rice but that was in my ignorance.

Since holidaying in Singapore recently, I have come to the gratifying epiphany that this dish is deceptively complex.  The chicken should be silkenly tender, the soup clear and resonating with intense chickenly-ness.  I hold the chicken rice in Singapore and Malaysia as gold standard.  Nothing I have had in Australia as come close to the mark.  The Hainanese chicken rice at Papparich doesn't either but it is one of the better chicken rices I have had in Australia.  The chicken was tender and deboned, the soup clear and nourishing but my palate was still searching for the elusive intense chickeny-ness of the chicken rice in Asia.  

Verdict:  We liked it. 

Overall:  Pappa Rich in Malvern East serve up a solid repertoire of hawker stall favourites.  It is consistent in quality and service time is quick.  See our posts on other PappaRich Nunawading, Pappa Rich QV and Pappa Rich Glen Waverley.

PappaRich Chadstone on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Imperial Treasure, Singapore by Obelix

We had time to kill whilst waiting for our flight back home at Changi Airport and decided to check ourselves in at the Crowne Plaza Hotel next to Changi for a lie-down and a freshen up.  That was when we stumbled upon Imperial Treasure which was located within Crowne Plaza Hotel.  Even though it was neither lunch nor dinner time, we decided anytime was yum cha time.

The yum cha was an 'order off the menu' affair rather than a 'pick off the trolley' type.  This was perhaps because we were eating around 3pm.  The service was very attentive and we were offered a plate of honeyed cashews upon arrival.  Thinking it was a gratis amuse bouche, we quickly scoffed down said unsolicited nuts but got a bit irked when the billed came and we discovered we were charged for them. It was only $3.70 or thereabouts but it was more the principle of the matter.

But having said that, the yum cha itself was a delight.  We ordered the cholesterol laden fried octopus coated with salted duck egg yolk.  OMG, anything coated in duck egg yolk is a winner, never mind the angioplasty I require later.

Kiddo being the only person on this planet who dislikes dumplings and yum cha stubbornly ordered a beef brisket noodle soup.  It was very flavoursome with the five spiced broth and the melt in your  mouth brisket.

It would not be yum cha without prawn dumplings.  These were ok.  Not vile but nothing to rave about.

Feeling like I should eat at least some vegetative matter, we ordered the turnip cake as our concessionary vegetable.  This was very tasty with loads of Chinese sausage within.  

Whilst the prawn dumplings were underwhelming, the siu mai was fantastic!  They were chock filled with seafood.

Last but not least, another yum cha staple, the prawn rice noodle rolls.  These were very moreish.

Verdict:  We loved it.  

Imperial Treasure - a very pleasant way to while away the hours during a layover at Changi Airport.

Airport Boulevard
Changi Airport
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