Thursday, January 29, 2015

Da Rin, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

Da Rin is a Korean restaurant that specialises in the crispy Korean style chicken.  I think Gangnam Pocha used to be here but it seems like it's now gone and in its place is Da Rin and another adjoining restaurant. 

Da Rin is a narrow-ish restaurant with cutesy Korean girls waiting on you, while the mandatory flat screen TV blares psychedelic Korean pop music videos at you.

Naturally, fried chicken is featured on the menu.  There's a range of flavours (sauces, e.g., sweet and spicy, honey and garlic) to choose from and you can choose to have a small or large serve.  We went for a small serve of the original fried chicken original ($15).  There's about six or so pieces.  A light crispy batter, the chicken is fairly succulent and tender. It's nice but nothing particularly special about it - except for the way it was served, which was on a black slate and a pair of mini tongs in a bucket for you to put the chicken bones away.

It also came with a very refreshing and fresh side dish or pickled radish and shredded cabbage with a sort of 1000 island dressing on top.  We also ordered a serve of rice to go with the chicken.

We also got the bulgogi bibimbap ($16).  While it certainly looks generous in size, we've certainly had better bibimbap before.  It tasted fine but there are tastier versions around town.  It came with a bowl of miso soup and chilli sauce.

Verdict: we liked it.

Service is friendly but the kitchen service is a little slow on the night we went.  The food here is fine but nothing exceptional or rave worthy about it.

Da Rin on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hakata Gensuke (by invitation), Hawthorn by Obelix

The ramen at Hakata Gensuke is oft spoken of in revered tones among ramen aficionados.  Queues of ramen hungry patrons are frequently seen outside the HG in Melbourne CBD hanging for a fix.  See Bureaucrat's post on HG, CBD here.

I was so excited to hear that a Hawthorn branch of Hakata Gensuke has opened!  And I was thrilled to be invited to try the new items on the menu exclusive to the Hawthorn branch.

Here are a few shots to demonstrate the ambience of Hakata Gensuke Hawthorn edition.  It is a casual and contempory fitout, perfect for informal dining with family and friends and located so conveniently along the Glenferrie Road strip.

My dear friend M and I were treated to a few entrees to whet the appetite.  We could not forgive ourselves if we did not eat the chicken kaarage, succulent spiced chicken morsels crumbed and fried, and gyoza, delicate little dumplings filled with pork and veggies and pan fried to crispy perfection.

Then came the raison d'etre, the ramen.  When it comes to ramen, it's all about the broth.  I understand the broth at Hakata Gensuke has been simpered for over eight hours until it becomes a full bodied collagenic experience.  The broth seems to me to inhabit a nominal state between a liquid and a solid, it was so dense and lovely.

The Aka Tonkotsu ramen is exclusive to Hawthorn.  It is a delicious blend of spicy cod roe with the original tonkutsu (pork) broth and served with the traditional cha-su (pork) and noodles.  My friend M, being someone who could take the heat, very much enjoyed the Aka Tonkotsu and recommended it for any fellow chilli heads.

I, on the other hand am I chilli wimp and opted for the black tonkotsu which was the basic tonkotsu broth blended with a black sesame paste.  It was sublime.  The sesame lended a further depth of flavour to the broth.  I could swim in it, it was so divine.  The cha su was melt-in-the-mouth tender.

As a companion to our ramen, we sampled the Mentai rice, another exclusive to the Hawthorn branch.  It was Japanese pearl rice topped with spicy cod roe, the mentai and surrounded by crispy shards of nori.  

Any ramen connoisseur would say that the accoutrements are almost just as important as the main event. HG offers a selection of pickles, garlic paste, sesame seeds, dipping sauces to further enhance the noodle experience.

For drinks we sampled a selection of Japanese beverages.  M had the famous 'pop soda' with the glass bead gimmick and the fizzy yoghurt drink, Calpico.

I went the clean green tea option, served cold in a can.

Verdict:  We loved it.

Like the HG in the CBD, HG Hawthorn does not disappoint, offering authentic ramen experience for Melbournians.  HG Hawthorn has addition menu items, namely the Aka Tonkotsu and Mentai rice which are both definitely worth sampling.  Thank you Hakata Gensuke for the invite to the opening of the Hawthorn branch.

Address:  tenancy 4, 860 - 862 Glenferrie road, Hawthorn 3122 ph 98192558

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dae Ji Pork Cutlet House, Vancouver (Canada) by Bureaucrat

Ingrained (ha!) in me is a need to eat rice.  Give me a big bowl of fluffy, aromatic rice and I'm a happy camper.  By this point, we had been in Canada for over a week and I was seriously feeling the need to have some rice for dinner.  

I had found a Chinese eatery with a high score on Urbanspoon in Downtown Vancouver.  However, we couldn't find it but instead we found a Korean restaurant, Dae Ji Pork Cutlet House.  It's a cheap and cheerful sort of place - nothing too flash on the inside, what with the small tables and slightly poky set-up; and while the place isn't grotty it could do with a bit of a spruce up.

Feeling greedy, I got the Daei Ji pork cutlet (CAD$8.99).  Two pieces of crumbed pork, smothered in gravy, served with rice, corn niblets, picked veg and salad. Simple and hearty, it hit the spot.  The pork was tender and the batter was thin and crunchy.

The pork and rice came with a bowl of miso soup, which was a tad too salty for my liking.

The Lawyer, also missing his rice intake, got the chicken cutlet curry on rice (CAD$7.99).  It also came with miso soup, and he also ordered a fried egg (CAD$1) and got an extra serve of rice too (CAD$1.50).

Verdict: we liked it a lot.

Really great value here.  The food is simple but it's good and homestyle in nature.  The place seems popular with Koreans, students and office workers.  Service is friendly.  

Dae Ji Pork Cutlet House on Urbanspoon

Souperman, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

With its bank of black soup cauldrons, Souperman in the QV shopping centre food court seemed like the perfect place for a quick, healthy and filling lunch.  Mr P has soup from there and thought it was pretty good.  So one day, I joined him and got soup.

There is about six or types of soups to choose from.  I went with the avgolemono - a lemony, chicken Greek soup.  I've come across in recipe books but I've never had it before.  It's meant to be a soothing, homely soup, made with lemon juice, chicken broth, egg and rice - kinda like the Greek version of the Jewish chicken matzo ball soup.

Apart from knowing what the soup is made of, I have no idea what an authentic avgolemono soup is meant to taste like.  However, I'm fairly sure it wasn't meant to taste like Chinese congee.  It really did taste 'Chinese' - it tasted like and had the consistency of chicken congee (especially the rice, which had almost disintegrated and the soup was a bit watery in texture) that you would buy from any Chinese restaurant.  The only thing that made it not like a typical congee was the presence of the lemony tang among the strands of chicken and cracked black peppercorns.  Also, I'm not sure if there was any egg in the soup.  It came with a slice of day-oldish bread.

Verdict: we wouldn't return.

I like the idea of a place that sells a range of soup - it's a great for the times you want a healthy lunch. While the price is relatively cheap, I'm not sure I'd got back there again.

Souperman Cafe on Urbanspoon
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