Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Melbourne Binge: Day 2

This is basicaly our 4th posting on steamboat, which happens to be one of Nee's favourite Chinese cuisine. If you've noticed, almost everywhere that we've been to, we've had steamboat ~ Hong Kong, KL and of course Kuching. And it should be everyone's favourite in this freezing Melbourne weather. It has been really chilly, in fact brinking on freezing, in Melbourne with occassionally evening showers. (I'm sounding like a weather report)

Last night, Roger took us to a place called Little Lamb which was supposedly to be one of China's great steamboat franchises. It is located on Russell St in between Londsdale and Little Lonsdale St.

And as usual, there were a lot of organisational, administrative & planning work to be done when ordering food in a steamboat restaurant. The choices are many & they really spoil you to the point of confusion. At least I thought I was. But usually I would leave this part to her Royal Highness, Queen Neelizabeth of the Chain des Rotisseurs.

NEE: Each guest is allowed to pick one sauce each ~ we picked the sesame, chives and spicy sauce (Sa Cha Jiang). Sauces are complimentary but the portions are big.

Then there were the little snacks that diners can pick off a list of about ten or so. We had these:

For those that goes into the steamboat, we ordered these:

Thin beancurd sheets, really smooth and tasty unlike our Malaysian version.

Big Prawns (can only order one portion per table) and green mussels.

Super thin and fresh beef and lamb slices. They came in a whole moutainful plate. There was also a good variety of vegies, balls, squids, noodles (ranging from sweet potato noodles to vermicelli), seaweeds, mushrooms & beancurd sticks. The list was long and all items were refillable. It is an all you can eat for AUD 23 (RM55) inclusive of taxes and charges per person.

It comes with a list of desserts too like shanghainese style red bean pancakes, taro pancakes, tang yuan with peanuts and sesame fillings. These too, were refillable.

We thought that the steamboat was very good for Melbourne's standards. We had the ying yong (half chicken herbal stock and half spicy stock) stocks, with a bit of msg no doubt.

But of course, the one in KL was much better in terms of the body of the soup which was stronger and with many more layers to it and lack of presence of msg. But again, in a place like Melbourne, this was probably as good as it gets. Environment wise, this is your no fuss place, 2 and 1/2 storey packed with people. We had to wait 1/2 hour for a table. But in terms value for money, this is top notch. AUD 23/person for a good selection that are refillable. Imagine non-stop refillable lamb & beef slices. Bring on your bottomless pits. Steaming soup in freezing cold weather is definitely bumping up the points for this place.

GREG: I think all steamboat places serve almost the same stuff (except the ones in Kuching which tend to be on the lower grade). The only thing that makes the difference is the soup & the sauces. Well, Tien Siang is opening in Kuching (or opened already?) & it'll be interestng to see whether it will be as expensive as in KL.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Greg & Nee on the Go in Melbourne

Surprise! We just touched down in Melbourne a few hours ago after spending about 4 nights in KL. That is why we have been very quiet as of late.

Nee's still-very-eligible-bachelor brother Roger picked us up from the airport & drove us straight into this restaurant with our mouths wide open.

For booking, please contact Nee. I mean the brother, not the restaurant.

Roger told us something which we thought was quite true - that he liked Melbourne because you can still find little gems like this from time to time. See those bottles of sake locked up in individual cabinets.
Apparently this place opened just about a year ago. So it's relatively new lah for people like us who come to Melbourne only once in a couple of years.

This is basically a sake and grill place called Maedaya, opened by a Japanese guy who is supposedly a sake master. It's kinda like a bar with finger food kinda place, tucked away at No. 400 Bridge Road Melbourne, accessible by tram 20 ( Nee asked specifically for the blog).

But then again, more people were eating than drinking there. Ok. So maybe I should rephrase that. It's more like a finger food kinda place with a bar.
NEE: For drinks we ordered the samurai cocktail - sake with lime (front) and another cocktail with lychee (back), which had some exotic name but we cant remember now.

What do you order in a sake and grill place? Grill & .... sake of course. This was their house sake (really excellent, not too strong yet gives you a nice warm aftertaste all over). By the way, it is 13 deg cel outside, a chilly spring.

Now this was interesting. I don't think you can find it in just any restaurant. These 5 dip sauces were the restaurant's specialty and complimentary for all customers. They comes with some pita bread in dainty little cups of different colours.

Then they let you pound your own sesame seeds DIY to go with the sauce and any food that you ordered.

We ordered about 14 items on the menu. All portions were pretty small and most were on skewers, especially the grills. Grilling is done with charcoal, hence the nice authentic fragrance.

This was our first dish ~ today's salad of veg, grilled pumpkins and tomatos with ricotta cheese. It's a little of a usion going on there. The veg tasted wonderful, very full greens which were most definitely Melbourne's.

Roger wanted more greens and this was nice ~ Baby Spinach with bacon and sweet miso-terayaki like sauce. Perfect!

Jelly tofu ~ cold dish to be eaten with soya sauce. Strange combination but refreshing!

Cheese gyoza ~ The best gyoza we had ever tasted. FULL STOP. Skin is crispy and fresh and the fillings are so well balanced (not too cheesy and the meat was juicy).

Soft shell crabs ~ two per portion. They were deep fried so there was a little bit of oil action going on there.

And these were all the skewer grilled items we ordered. One portion is one skewer.

(Back to front) Grilled eggplants, grilled tofu with sweet miso sauce, bacon grilled with asparagus and cheese, chicken and tsukene (I think).

This dish is perfectly melting-soft in your mouth. Stewed pork belly.

Our wagyu beef grill is out of stock. So we ended up with this teppanyaki beef dish. It's a dish which tended to be a little more on the salty side but delicious all the same.

By the way, the restaurant does not serve rice or noodles. All dishes comes in small portions, which makes it so much more interesting than the usual Japanese restaurants.

The whole thing cost AUD 115 (Approx RM260). It would have shocked us off our socks, but it was a complimentary welcome dinner from Roger. Girls, this guy has got good taste when it comes to food. If you're not married yet, & still looking, well, look no further.

Perfect start of our journey!

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