InstaShake Masterclass – Yelp x Naughty Boy Cafe

Yelp and Naughty Boy Masterclass - My Creation 2My InstaShake Creation

Yelp and Naughty Boy Masterclass - A mix of InstaShakes 2Sample of some of the other creations!

I was lucky enough to be invited to an InstaShake Masterclass that was held by Yelp Melbourne in collaboration with Naughty Boy Cafe. If you haven’t checked out Naughty Boy Cafe – I highly recommend you do. The aim of the day was to create our very own InstaShake – for which Naughty Boy Cafe have become famous for. Check out their Instagram page for the different flavour creations (https://www.instagram.com/naughtyboycafe) as well on their website (http://www.naughtyboycafe.com.au/gallery/).
They also do amazing breakkie and brunch dishes – I have had their Red Velvet Pancakes which are tastier than they sound – It comes with Strawberries, Ruby Grapefruit, Raspberries, Burnt Meringue, Vanilla Mascarpone, Popping Candy – and tastes simply divine!

Back to the Masterclass! This Masterclass involved  around 30 of us being able to create our very own InstaShake. We had access a whole lot of ingredients that we could use to create the tallest, colourful-est, rad-dest InstaShake. Scroll thru the images below to see some of the ingredients we had to use.

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Here are the steps to creating your very own InstaShake

1. Select a rim flavour (to put around the rim of the jar) – we had the choices of Nutella, Peanut Butter or Spiced
2. Select a sauce to go on the inside – we had the choices of Chocolate, Caramel, Strawberry or Maple Syrup
3. Select a shake flavour – Rose Strawberry, Blue Heaven, Winter Spice and Chocolate
4. Fill with Freeze dried berries or fruit
5 and 6. Select toppers – Pistachio Blondie, Chocolate Waffle, Berry Good Apple Slice, Sticky Date Rice Pudding just to name a few
7. Add more freeze dried fruit if you wish
8. Finish with Popping Candy, Honeycomb, Coconut Flakes, Lemon Balm or 100s and 1000s
9. Voila!! InstaShake created!

 

InstaShake Step by Step

Follow @simtiaz_grazingpanda for daily foodie updates!!

 

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Honcho Noodle – Oodles of Delicious Noodles

panda-4-5-rating

Menu:
Honcho - Drinks Menu Honcho - Dinner Menu

Ever since hearing that Adam Liston was opening a new venue in the CBD – it was quickly added to my list of places to check out once it opened. I have been to Northern Light (Liston’s previous restaurant) and loved the food there so it was a no brainer to want to check out his new venue.

Honcho Noodles is Liston’s three month long pop-up; located at Hotel Windsor (where the old Wallis + Ed is located) and is somewhat an entrée to the main event – Honcho which is set to open on Punch Lane in the Melbourne CBD in September. Honcho will have a custom-built charcoal grill which will be used to grill, spit roast and smoke yakitori skewers, poultry and vegetables. In addition to this there will be a raw bar where diners can eat sashimi and other raw dishes.

Back to Honcho Noodle – the menu has been designed to share in order to experience more of what they have to offer. There are a handful of starters such as Miso Soup, Prawn Crackers, Yakitori, Dumplings and Spring Rolls to name a few. This is followed by a selection of six Noodle dishes – and by selection I mean a wide variety of different noodles such as Korean Noodles, Squid Ink Noodles, Udon and Soba Noodles. For dessert there either Mango or Black Sesame Ice Cream.

The venue is minimal with a combination of splashes of neon and manga. The vibe is chilled out and funky with a buzz to it. The night I go the drinks menu is splashed against the back wall; almost enticing you into trying it all. I love that on the table you have access to your very own condiments – Katsubishi­-Infused Soy, House-­Made Togarashi and Chinese-­style Chilli paste – mmm!
The food menu has so many flavour combinations; leaving you wanting to try it all. It’s just the two of us tonight and we have a tight timeline as we have a show to see at 7:30pm (Singin’ in the Rain – such an awesome musical – I would highly recommend seeing it if you get the chance) – so we decide to get a few dishes and share.

We start off ordering drinks – we both get the Honcho Black Tea with Cranberry – however A decides to get it “Spiked” – which means you can either add Gin, Shochu or Whiskey. They have quite a variety of drinks which include the Japanese classics like Sake, Shochu etc. There are also Japanese themed Cocktails available.

I decide I want to try the Prawn Cracker, Chopped Prawn, Bottarga, Seaweed Mayonnaise and A orders the Chicken, Shrimp & Ginger Dumplings, Chinese Black Vinegar to start. It was only after ordering the dumplings (on recommendation from our waiter) that I asked if the any of the meats were Halal. I was super excited when we were told that the chicken is in fact Halal; which meant I could try the dumplings too! Win!

I used to eat prawn crackers all the time when I was younger – but never thought about putting more prawn flavour on top of the cracker – it was simply just ho’ing them down back then. They have the Pringles effect on me – once you crack (pop) you can’t stop! Back to Liston’s version of the Prawn Cracker with more prawn on top and finished with seaweed mayonnaise – ingenious! The flavour combination did take me a second to process; but once I did I loved it – the creaminess together with the tang of the seaweed worked perfectly completed by the crunch and sweetness of the prawn cracker / prawn. Definitely still holds the Pringle effect – delish!

Next up was the dumplings – no words can express how good these were! The chicken, shrimp and ginger combination was simply divine; mixed together with the tang of the Chinese black vinegar was the perfect combination. Anyone having a dumpling craving these will definitely satisfy you and leave you wanting more.

For our noodles dishes we ordered the Spanner Crab Udon, Smoked Crab Butter, Yuzu, Kizami Nori together with the Hot Soba Noodles, Kyoto Green Onion Oil, Radish, Black Vinegar, Shitake.

You can barely see the Udon when the dish comes out as it is covered with the Kizami Nori – and you might not think much of it – but wait until you dish it up and take the first bite. It is heaven in a spoonful. The smokiness of the crab butter together with the udon is magic. A definite must try!

The Hot Soba Noodles dish looks very impressive – the Shitake gleams up at you sitting high amongst the Soba Noodles, Radish, Kyoto Green Onion with an underlay of Black Vinegar. The vinegar shines through this dish and combined with all the ingredients makes for a spectacular dish. If you aren’t fan of too much of a tart taste you might not fully enjoy it – but I would give it a try!

We ran out of time to get dessert; however going from the scrumptious dishes we had I will definitely be back. After all those Chicken Ribs sounds mighty tempting; and after raving about this place to the hubby I need to bring him here!

NOTE: Honcho Noodle will run from June until September, and open for dinner from Monday through to Saturday only.

Honcho is expected to open for lunch and dinner Monday through to Saturday; around September in 18 Punch Lane, Melbourne. If you visit the Honcho website there is a countdown letting you know how many more days are left until Honcho opens up

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Vibrant, Relaxed – a great place for good conversation and a catchup with friends
Standout Dish: Chicken, Shrimp & Ginger Dumplings, Chinese Black Vinegar AND Spanner Crab Udon, Smoked Crab Butter, Yuzu, Kizami Nori together with the Hot Soba Noodles, Kyoto Green Onion Oil, Radish, Black Vinegar, Shitake
Service: Friendly and Helpful; sometimes it can be hard to find people if you have a query but generally it was good!
Online Booking: Yes via http://honchomelbourne.com/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://honchomelbourne.com/
1 Bourke St (Hotel Windsor, where Wallis + Ed are)

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:00pm to Late

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Honcho-Noodle-1607362102914517/

Instagram: @honchomelbourne

EatNow – Taking Over Online Ordering

Eatnow-Logo-Stacked

Eatnow Logo - Octo
 2. EatNow Search Results
1. Once you select your suburb a list of restaurants in your area will appear for you to browse and choose from

3. EatNow Restaurant Menu
2. You then select a restaurant which shows you the Restaurant address, Customer Reviews, and any deals the restaurant offers

4. EatNow Menu of Restaurant
2a. If you select the “Skip To..” located on the top right corner – you can jump to particular sections on the Menu

5. Picking a Dish
3. When you select the dishes you wanted – a popup shows the options you can choose for the dish

6. Viewing Shopping Cart
4. Once yo have selected all your dishes – you select the Shopping Cart to view your order to proceed

7. Registering as New User
5. If you are a new customer to the App or Site – you will be asked to Register

8. Choosing the Deal
6. Once you have registered you will be taken back to the Shopping Cart page and the opportunity to select a deal (if the restaurant you select has offers available)

9. Completing the Order
7. At this stage you can still modify your order should you need to. If there are no changes – select Continue.

10. Paying for the Order
8. Next you will be prompted for a payment option – Credit Card, Paypal or Cash (either on delivery or if you go in-store to pick-up

11. Order Completion
9. Once you have made your payment – you will receive a pop-up message telling you the next steps
12. Email Confirmation
10. An email confirmation is sent to you with the details of the order, as well as giving you a tax invoice

12a SMS Confirmation
11. An SMS is sent as well stating the order number and the time of delivery, as well as contact details of the restaurant should you need to get in contact with them

1. EatNow App  13. Can view your order from home screen
12. When you return to the App – you can review your order and if you enjoyed this particular order you can re-order the exact same order

14. Can also write a review 14a. Email review
13. You can also leave a review for the restaurant

  Closeup of EatNow Order from Swan Thai EatNow Order from Swan Thai EatNow Order from SwanThai
The delicious food from Swan Thai Restaurant

I was invited by EatNow to try their online takeaway feature in order to show the ease and convenience of using this service. For those of you who haven’t heard of EatNow they are an Australian owned and operated business that was founded in 2010 by a few hungry Australians, that aims to provide excellent coverage for takeway food and home delivery Australia Wide. EatNow belong to Australia’s Number 1 Online Takeaway Group – Catch Group and have 4400+ restaurants listed and are continuously looking for new restaurants to add to their list – in fact if you can’t find your favourite restaurant you can suggest it via their website to let them know.

There are also special offers and discounts that are offered to you when you make an order – for example the restaurant that you are ordering from could have a special deal. There is no sign up fee at all and the site is free to use – and you receive an instant SMS confirmation once your order has been placed.

I decided to test out the app version of EatNow as these days almost everyone is constantly on their phone and use apps regularly to get things done. I downloaded the EatNow app from the Google Play Store and proceeded to start the app up. If you have your location services on your phone – the suburb of the area you are located in will come up, if not you simply enter either your suburb name or the postcode – then select your suburb.

Next a list of restaurants will come up relating to your suburb. There are also two tabs that you can choose from – PICK UP or DELIVERY. I wanted to see the list of restaurants under DELIVERY. You can view at a high level the rating that fellow EatNowers have given the restaurants, as well as the cuisine (e.g. Italian, Pizza, BBQ & Grill, Dessert etc.) and dietary requirements – such as Gluten Free, Halal etc. Here you can also see which restaurants you can PRE-ORDER (this means that you can place an order with them before the actual restaurant is open or even for the next day) at as well as restaurants that have special DEALS associated with them.

We felt like Thai food for dinner on Sunday night so we picked Swan Thai. Once you click into the restaurant you can browse their menu. If you are a regular and know what you want already there is a button located at the top right hand corner which says “Skip To..” – this allows you to go straight to the menu section you are after to choose your dish. From this page you can also view Customer Reviews and see any deals (if any) the restaurant has.
I am not a regular so therefore I decide to scroll thru the menu. I see a dish that sounds delicious – Fresh Thai Basil Stir Fried – there is a description of the dish as well. I click on this and a pop up appears allowing me to choose if I want Prawns, Beef, Vegetable or Chicken. One modification that I would suggest here would be a comments section if you wanted to make any modifications to the dish such as making the dish less spicy or spicier, or if you wanted to have both chicken and prawns in your dish. I did have a look at other restaurants and you get the option to modify dishes – such as with pizza’s – you can select which toppings you want to add and at an Indian restaurant it allows you at this stage to choose the spiciness.
I pick Vegetable and then click the Add to Cart button. You can view your cart at any time by clicking the icon located in the top right hand corner. Once inside your cart you can easily use the + and – buttons to add extra quantity. The Cart also gives you a sub total.

Once you have finished picking out what you want to order you click on the Shopping Cart Icon and scroll down to select which Deal (if the restaurant you have selected offers one) you want, followed by the delivery time. Something cool to note is that if the restaurant is already open – there is a delivery time set as default to “ASAP.”
For first time users you will be required to click “Continue” – once you do this you will be taken to “Sign In” page – where you can register as a New User or login with your Facebook Account. I register myself as a new user. You receive an email confirmation about signing up to EatNow.

You then are taken back to the Shopping Cart page and this is where you fill in your Delivery Address, Mobile Number and enter your payment details. At this stage there is a Comments section where you can add any comments you want to make for your order. As I mentioned earlier I think it would be handy to do it at the dish level. Once you have entered all these details in and press Place Order you will receive a pop up that tells you that once the order has been accepted by the restaurant you will receive an SMS and an email will follow.

About 1 minute later I receive an SMS telling me my order number as well as a delivery time (in my case it was 45 minutes). It also has the phone number of the restaurant in case we need to make any changes. I check my email and there is an email confirmation with the same details as well as giving you a tax invoice.

The home page of the app has the list of orders that you have put in so that you can view what you have ordered. There is also an option to re-order the same order that you have placed another time, as well as to leave a review for the restaurant. There is also a list that starts to populate with “My Recent Restaurants” which I think is handy to have if you generally are ordering from home and want to have it as your regular.

The order arrives 15 minutes before its mentioned arrival time – so the order gets to me in 30 minutes. The food comes packaged well and was still very warm. The fried rice and curries came in a plastic container with the roti in a brown paper bag.

The Fresh Thai Basil Stir Fried Vegetable was delicious and spicy – just how we like it! The vegetables were fresh and crunchy. The Thai Style Fried Rice Vegetable and Black Pepper and Garlic Stir Fried Chicken were just as delicious – fresh, wholesome and all round tastiness. The Roti Bread was crunchy, crispy and came served with a satay sauce – perfect!

The experience with the EatNow app was brilliant – simple, intuitive and easy to use. I would definitely be using the app again to order in and would recommend it to everyone to try it out – especially for those lazy nights when you don’t feel like cooking or just want a late night snack.
You can also subscribe with EatNow to save your details which greatly increases the speed and ease of ordering your takeaway next time and important updates – or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Definitely 5 Pandas for service!

So just to recap, the general order process is simple:

– Search for restaurants in your suburb
– Browse by restaurants or cuisine
– Filter results by user reviews, distance, latest deals/offers, minimum delivery
– Order using the interactive menus – want extra spicy or hate mushrooms? No problem with our customisable options
– Get real-time notifications and a confirmation of your order, letting you know how long your order will be
– Secure and safe payment options, PayPal, Visa, Cash
– With EatNow you can order food from your mobile, tablet or PC
– Download the award winning EatNow App – 2013 Winner of the Oria Best App, Online Retail Industry Awards

Check out EatNow

Twitter: www.twitter.com/EatNowAu
@EatNowAu

Instagram: www.instagram.com/eatnowau
eatnowau

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eatnow.com.au/timeline?ref=page_internal

Swan Thai
25-27 Lake Street, Caroline Springs
Tel No: 8358 5555

Opening Hours
Lunch:
Wednesday to Sunday: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Dinner:
Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – Late

Click to add a blog post for Swan Thai Restaurant on Zomato

Sogni d’Oro ‘Aperitivo Danzante’ – ACT 1 – Two Italian Boys, Brunetti & White Rabbit Entertainment

Two Italian Boys, Brunetti and White Rabbit Enterntainment were behind the brilliant idea to create a series of events with the main aim of bringing people together to experience the real Italian Dream. The nights will run as a series of Acts (3 in total) beginning with Act 1 – Sogni d’Oro ‘Aperitivo Danzante’.

Unfortunately I wasn’t in Melbourne for Act 1 – which took place on Friday October 17, 2014 and was complemented with Italian food, drinks and dancing. However, I have seen many pictures, read the official media releases and heard a lot about the night from people lucky enough to have attended so thought it would be a great idea to mention it here at Grazing Panda – after all there are another 2 more Acts for everyone to experience and enjoy!

The name Aperitivio Danzante comes from the tradition of pre-dinner drinks which are accompanied by appetizers (Aperitivio) and ‘to dance’ (Danzante) – essentially translated to mean come for the appetizers but stay for the dancing fiesta! In Italy this generally means between the hours of 7pm – 9pm, followed by dinner …. and dancing!

On the night Two Italian Boys (Michael Pillon and Nick Guglielmino) launched a 2013 vintage Prosecco DOC which was produced in Valdobbiadene,Treviso- Italy’s best Prosecco making region. This new Prosecco wonderfully complemented the array of food on offer from the new and delicious Brunetti menu designed by Michele Circhirillo and Alessandro Violi. Some of dishes included pasta, wood-fire pizza and beautifully prepared tasting plates or stuzzichini – all of which were served throughout the night, so no guest was ever hungry or looking for food.

A live demonstration of mozzarella making by Australia’s best maker of Italian cheese, the ‘Maestro of Mozzarella’, Giorgio Linguanti (That’s Amore Cheese) gathered large crowds. The chef showcased his talent, experience and artisian skills whilst making round balls of mozzarella which had a taste to match the look.

Another highlight was the introduction by Burnetti of a specially developed range of alcohol infused Apertif gelato by by Chef Gelatiere Alessio Tavella, including Aperol and Campari Spritz, Prosecco – which is a first in Australia.

Brunetti is a Melbourne institution that has been around for years – since 1985 when the original store first opened up in Faraday Street – and is well known for its Italian style coffee as well as intriguing and huge variety of cakes. Brunetti is bringing a bit of Rome to Melbourne in an authentic fashion, and events like this clearly showcase its capability to do so.

The venue was divided into three sections and was recreating the timeless style of Federico Fellini’s film ‘La Dolce Vita.’ The rear section housing the DJ (where some funky Italian tunes were played) and a small bar, the middle section consisted of the Trevi Fountain (one of my absolute favourite places to visit in Rome) which aided to recreate the famous scene in the film, as well as a large wall painting and comfy seats. For added fun guests were invited to make a wish while tossing a coin into the fountain (just as you would if you went to visit the real Trevi Fountain), with all the proceeds going to Make –A-Wish Foundation. Such a brilliant idea and for such a great cause! The front section consisted of another bar as well as the gelato display and shelves which stocked traditional Italian good to welcome the guests.

From the pictures you can tell that everyone there had an extremely fun night that represented the true Italian way of celebrating. Both food and drinks were in abundance thanks to the waiters/waitresses walking around ensuring guests were always being looked after. The mix of the crowd – both of the younger and older generations – was clearly seen with mingling happening throughout the night.

Act 1 was clearly a hit amongst everyone that attended – especially after reading some glowing reviews – I cannot wait to see what the team has in store for Acts 2 and 3. Act 2 is set to take place on December 4th at Brunetti Carlton, with Act 3 to following on January 23rd at Brunetti City Square. Stay tuned for more information!

Brunetti on Urbanspoon

Magnum Pleasure Store – Make Your Very Own Magnum!!

panda 4 rating

My Magnum - Milk Chocolate Coating with Pistachios, Rose Petals, Dried Strawberries and Vanilla Crumble

My Magnum – Milk Chocolate Coating with Pistachios, Rose Petals, Dried Strawberries and Vanilla Crumble

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Menu:
The Process

Calling all Ice-Cream lovers – there is a Magnum Pleasure Store  that has opened in Melbourne – located at the newly opened Emporium right in the heart of the Melbourne CBD.

Magnum Pleasure Stores have already been a massive hit in the likes of Sydney, Paris, Shanghai, Amsterdam and New York. The idea behind this store is to “Make My Magum” – where in six easy steps you can create your very own Magnum according to what your favorite flavorings are. It gives you room to create up a flavour that you might have thought would work well with the creamy and chocolaty Magnum ice creams that already exist. You select everything from the chocolate coating, to an array of toppings and even down to the final drizzle of chocolate on your Magnum. These are all constructed and made by your very own personal, pleasure maker! How awesome!

The “Make My Magnum” process firstly involves lining up to place your order – just to note there is a line no matter what time you go, ranging from 10 mins right up to 1.5 hrs!!! – It sure is mighty popular! The first step is to choose the base for your Magnum – Vanilla or Chocolate (also something to note is that they have limited stock of the Chocolate flavour). From there you can select what chocolate coating you want – you have a choice of White, Milk and Dark Chocolate.

Next step is where the fun really begins – you get a choice of 3-4 toppings from a list of 18 different toppings. These include Roasted Hazelnuts, Pistachios or Cashews, Milk Chocolate Flakes, White Verimicelli, Dark Cookie Chunks, Vanilla Crumble, Honeycomb Pieces, Diced Strawberries or Pineapple, Coconut Flakes, Mixed Chocolate Crispearls, Mocha Chips, Blackberry Chips, Gingernut Biscuit Crumble, Rose Petals or Salted Pretzels.

Once those tough decisions are out of the way – you can watch as your personal pleasure maker creates your Magnum of choice. The last two steps are to decide which drizzle of Magnum chocolate you would like – White, Milk or Dark and finally a finishing touch of a chocolate button marked with a Magnum “M” logo– again you can select from either a White Chocolate or Milk Chocolate flavouring. And voila you have your very own Magnum right in front of you to devour and cherish. All this deliciousness and uniqueness for just $8.

So get down to Emporium and enjoy this highly desirable feat of making your very own Magnum by visiting the Magnum Please Store. The store will be open to all dessert, ice cream and chocolate lovers till August 10th 2014.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to above picture
Service: Friendly
Location Details:
Emporium
1st Level
287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 8609 8221

Opening Hours:
Saturday to Wednesday: 10am – 7pm
Thursday & Friday: 10am – 9pm

Charlie Dumplings – Dumplings with a Twist

panda 4.5 rating

We had to organise a catch-up dinner in an area that was inner city with food that catered for vegetarians on a Monday night and ended up deciding on Charlie Dumpling. I had heard a lot of good things about this newly opened place located in High St, Windsor.

As you assume by the name – Charlie Dumpling – this venue by Dylan Roberts (ex Claremont Tonic, Ezard, Cutler & Co.) and restaurant manager Jamie Munro-Lynch (Anada, Cutler & Co, Circa) is all about the dumplings – but with a twist – and also serves up other delicious and interestingly flavoured bites to eat. Do not expect to see dumplings coming out in bamboo steamers here – instead you get beautiful rustic plates to match the vibe and feel of the venue. The fit-out is intriguing – complete with a feature wall of multi coloured window shutters (which is reminiscent of Potatohead in Bali) and rather funky – as well exposed brick walls, fishing nets – which have been turned into light shades (a very smart idea) and funky lights that hang over the bar. The design is by renowned architects DC Group & Newline Design and the result is a simple yet cosy and chilled vibe.

There is a selection of dining possibilities from tables in the front main dining area, stools at the bar, along the outside footpath or the courtyard area out the back – in total Charlie Dumpling can seat 60 people. There is also a private dining room located upstairs for 14-16 people which can be booked for functions as well. Another option is takeaway – you can order in advance via a handy app to save time.

The menu is split into 4 main sections – Small Bites, Salads & Noodles, Savoury Dumplings and Sweet Dumplings. The drinks menu has Dessert Cocktails, Cocktails, Beer (Tap – there is only one tap beer – Orion & Bottled) and Wines (Red & White). Small Bites include things like Edamame, two different types of Bao, Duck Leg, Grilled Skewers, Chicken Ribs, Sashimi – just to name a few. The menu also lets you know which of the dishes are Gluten Free and which are Vegetarian which avoids having to ask the wait staff to tell you which dishes are of these category.

Whilst deciding on what we wanted to eat – we ordered drinks. On this night however the beer on tap wasn’t available. I ordered myself a mocktail – I left the flavouring up to the bar tender and was pleasantly surprised when it came out to be lychee based – my favourite! The mocktail was refreshing and delicious – and quite large in size as well – double bonus!

There are 6 of us for dinner tonight, and we are seating by the window – so we get the best of both worlds – looking into the restaurant as well as out onto the street. The seating is a tad bit squishy I must admit, however this is a small negative. We decide to order a couple of dishes to share to start off with and decide later to order more if we need. We have a vegetarian on the table, as well as a Pescatarian so we had a selection of dumplings that cover these dietary requirements. Also something to note is that dumplings come in servings of 4 pieces per serving. There are sauces on the table which include Black Vinegar & Chilli, Soy, Shallot & Ginger and Red Nam Jin.

To start with we ordered the Charlies Fried Chicken Ribs, Five Spice Honey, Kewpie from the Small Bites section. The ribs came out piled on top of each other in a pyramid form looking glossy and exuding deliciousness. There was a resounding “mmm” and “yumm” around the table as each person took their first bite, followed by S saying she wanted another serving straight away. They were that good – a mix of sweet and savoury with chicken that was cooked to perfection.

We then got the succession of dumplings that we ordered. The Crispy Salmon, Tobbiko, Leek and Tumeric were the first dumplings I got to try. These dumplings were fried and had a crunchy coating of crumbs on the outside with the inside mixture providing a flavour hit for your taste-buds – the salmon flavour ringing true whilst staying fresh. The Leak and Tumeric puree together with the Tobbiko was what the dumplings were sitting on – this added a creamy aspect to the dish and worked well with the crumbed texture.

The Snapper, Chilli, Lime and Blackbean – these were steamed dumplings. These reminded me of a Thai Fishcake – juicy, full of flavour with a hint of spice – and finished with a spicy soy sauce and chilli combo. A really great tasting dumpling overall – I have never had a snapper dumpling before and wasn’t sure that this mixture would work – but it really does!

P ordered the Ricotta dumplings, Cauliflower, Anise, Gai Lan as she was vegetarian and I was lucky enough to sample some. My first thought when I looked at the dish was that it was reminiscent of a gnocchi or pasta dish. There were about 8-9 dumplings, as they were not your regular dumpling. This was quite a heavy dish but really tasty – the combination of ricotta and cauliflower worked well together, added with the crunch and texture of the slivered almonds as well as the freshness of the gai lan.

The Chicken, Ginger, Cabbage and Crispy Skin was a really interesting dumpling dish. They each came wearing a “hat” in the form of the crispy skin. The filling was once again juicy, light, flavoured with ginger and wrapped in the cabbage leaf – providing a mix of textures. This was a dish that everyone around the table enjoyed.

The last of the dumplings to arrive was the Steam Prawn and Bamboo Shoot, Har Gow, Sweet Corn, XO. These came out as glossy morsels complete with a tender filling which was simple and what you would expect from a steam prawn dumpling, but the twist of the sweet corn puree which it sat on was a brilliant addition . The sweetness combined with the chilli and prawn flavours was divine!

We also ordered the Spicy Dandan Noodles, Sesame, Szechuan, Peanuts and Pickled Chilli from the Salad & Noodle section to share with the table. The dish comes out un mixed – with the noodles forming the base of the dish, and each of the components placed separately on top – just like what you see at a ramen restaurant. There were peanuts, poppy seeds, chilli, spring onions, sesame seeds, fried onions and coriander. I like this concept where you get to mix the ingredients into the dish yourself – kind of a do-it-yourself – makes you feel as if you made the dish yourself – almost! And another plus is that if you don’t like any one component you can avoid mixing it in.
The dish was spicier than I was expecting – and the addition of the poppy seeds left a tingling sensation on your lips. I quite enjoyed the dish and the different flavours that were mixed together – I wasn’t a huge fan of the addition of peanuts though. There was a resounding thumbs up for this dish from the entire table.

As I always do – I had looked at the dessert section before even looking at what was available for the main meals – I couldn’t wait to order dessert. I had heard great things about the Milk Chocolate dumplings. We ordered the Milk Chocolate Dumplings with Raspberry-Chilli Sorbet AND the Hot Apple and Sesame Mochi, Gingernut Ice Cream.

The Milk Chocolate dumplings were delicious – warm balls that have been batter dipped then deep fried, filled with gooey milk chocolate, topped with sugar and finished with a raspberry chilli sorbet. The sorbet was refreshing and bursting with flavour and tang, with the chilli hint at the end. This combination of creamy sweet chocolate mixed with the refreshing tang was impeccable.

The Hot Apple dumplings were entirely different to the milk chocolate dumplings. The apple filling was encased with the chewy mochi skins which were also topped with sesame seeds. The apple filling was warm, subtle and sweet, but I found the mochi skin was a bit too chewy. I loved the gingernut ice cream – there were pieces of gingernut throughout the ice cream which added both texture and extra flavour. The dish needed both the ice cream and the hot apple dumpling together – I think one without the other wouldn’t work.

The service at Charlie Dumpling was fantastic – everyone we had was really friendly and helpful and always had a smile on their face. I liked the fact that the staff had their own favourites and when we selected a dish they would add a comment of what they really liked about the dish. To end the meal when you get your bill – you get a bowl of fortune cookies as well – the fortunes inside might not be so great – but it is a great novelty idea.

Overall Charlie Dumpling is modern, sophisticated restaurant with a unique twist on the regular Asian Dumpling venue – a combination of street food meets fine dining. The vibe is funky, fun and lively and you can really find yourself getting lost in the world of dumplings. Charlie Dumpling really does stay true to its values and seems to always have a fun with a great attitude!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://charliedumpling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2014/05/Charlie-Dumpling-Dine-In-Menu_12MAY14.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Chilled and Funky. Great for a dinner catchup with friends. You can also book a function in their private dining room too.
Standout Dish: Snapper, Chilli, Lime and Blackbean AND Milk Chocolate Dumplings with Raspberry-Chilli Sorbet
Service: Fantastic – Friendly and always with a smile. They are happy to provide recommendations as well!
Online Booking: No – they don’t take bookings
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://charliedumpling.com.au/
184 High Street, Windsor
Tel No: 9510 4213

Opening Hours:
Monday: 6pm – Late
Tuesday to Sunday: 12pm – 3pm then 5:30pm – Late

Charlie Dumpling on Urbanspoon

Om Nom Dessert Bar – Creations of Art

panda 4 rating

E was swapping Australia for Canada so four us decided to celebrate by checking out Om Nom Dessert Bar before she left.

Om Nom is located at the Adelphi Hotel (that also houses Ezard in its lower level) at Flinders Lane. For Om Nom you need to go up the stairs and head towards the back area of the main foyer / lift lobby area. From the moment you step in you are greeted by the modern, elegant, French themed fit out. From the life size mesh sculpture of a horse to the seating that is in shapes of hard lollies. As you make your way towards the main seating – there are little areas of seating complete with a black plush sofa swing and colourful cushions – and some cushions in the shape of a bowtie lolly. Abstract art in the shape of a face further adds colour to this mostly black and white colour scheme. Om Nom seats 40 and you will definitely need to book in advance to secure your spot.

There are two chefs behind Om Nom. They are head chef Christy Tania who arrived from France two years ago to work at Sake and has also worked at Vue de Monde and Jacques Reymond. How’s that for experience! As well as Pierrick Boyer who is currently behind the spectacular creations at Le Petit Gateau.
Tania used to previously work at IBM in Singapore and quit her job there, folded her business (she had a side business of baking wedding and birthday cakes) to fly to France to get trained in the world of pastry and more. She has worked under world renowed chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Michel Roth and Sebastien Serveau. Currently she has also launched an online cake business – C’est Bon.

I had already looked at the menu before coming here and had made sure that I didn’t have anything sweet all day as I knew I wanted to do the Dessert Degustation. The Dessert Degustation is $55 and allows you to try 3 different desserts. The desserts are mini version of the actual desserts – but it was nevertheless still great to sample and try. I think this is a great idea as it allows you to hone in what dessert you like the best and come back and have the full size version next time!

The first dessert that came out as part of the degustation was the Raspberry Field – raspberry, lychee, meringue, rosewater. I had already seen pictures and heard a lot about this dessert so I was really looking forward to seeing it in real life and seeing how the flavour combination worked. The presentation was fantastic and really adorable – so much so that you don’t really want to touch it or break anything to eat it. I think I took about 50 photos, in all sorts of angles of this dish. As my Raspberry Field was part of the degustation I only got one smaller toadstool, whereas the main dessert dish had two larger toadstools. As E was leaving and they knew this – they had sweetly written ‘Bon Voyage’ on her dessert – nice touch!

The main toadstool is made of a crunchy meringue base that acts as the stalk of the toadstool, and topped with a tangy and smooth raspberry sorbet that has white chocolate pieces dotted on it. Surrounding this toadstool is the “forest floor” of fresh lychees, rosewater bursts, fresh raspberries and finished with white chocolate sand. I really did love each element. Anything with lychees for me is heaven – in fact whenever I order a mocktail and they ask me what flavours I want, my first go to is always lychee. The sorbet was perfectly tangy and complemented the sweetness of the meringue. I loved the rosewater burst – added more texture and fun-ness to the dish!

The next dessert to arrive was the Basil Garden – dark chocolate, vanilla, olive oil, honey, basil, lime, white chocolate & meringue. Once again the presentation of this dish was magnificent. It literally looked like a little potted plant complete with chocolate soil. The “pot” is made out of chocolate and filled inside with vanilla, olive oil and honey ice cream and topped with lime, basil and white chocolate. The finishing touches were some vibrant purple flowers and green leaves. The result was quite a light dish, with plenty of refreshing flavour combinations and the added texture of the chocolate soil. It definitely looks too pretty to eat but once you start you won’t be able to stop.

The last dessert that I ordered was the Mango Alfonso – choux pastry, shiso, coconut, kalamanzi, lemongrass, ginger & caramelised white chocolate. This dessert consisted of mang0-cream filled profiteroles which has been topped with bright, glossy fondant icing as well as a chocolate disc. On top of this chocolate disc, there is a ball of shiso and mango. There was also kalamanzi (this is a citrus fruit –sometimes called the Phillipine lime) sorbet as well as coconut spheres that pop with fillings of coconut cream, as well as a coconut and lemongrass foam. As part of the degustation menu – you get one profiterole but the main sized dessert you get two profiteroles layered carefully on top of each other. The pastry is crunchy and together with the mango cream inside was delicious. Paired together with all the elements it made for a really interesting dish – the pairing of mango and coconut work really well together. There were some great textures and interesting flavours in this dish – especially the addition of lemongrass.

S is a massive chocolate lover and therefore settled on getting the Chocolate Souffle – Guayaquil 64% Chocolate, Mandarin Marmalade, Kalaminsi Sorbet, Milk Foam. We sampled the soufflé and it was indeed brilliant – complete with a gooey centre. The Milk Foam pairing worked well and made it reminiscent of drinking cocoa before bed – which further added to the “close your eyes and savour the moment” feeling.

C ordered the Banana Flambe – Rum, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Chocolate Sponge, Vanilla and Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream. This dish had the wow factor with the flambé being lit in front of us and gave the most amazing aroma of cinnamon. It really was brilliant to watch. C however thought the dish did look better than it tasted and was almost let down by this dish.

Each dessert is made with love, care and attention and is literally a piece of art. They are simply amazing to look at and a treat to the palate. There are interesting combinations of flavours, textures to create a truly memorable experience.

Om Nom doesn’t only do dessert – they do have quite a great sounding savoury menu as well – albeit the main focus being on dessert. There are dishes like caramelised foie gras with goat’s curd and fig, a summer pear salad, wagyu slides to pan seared duck breast just to name a few. S and E ordered some of the savoury dishes. First up was the Caramlised Scallops, Asparagus, Light Curried Coconut Broth & Lemongrass Oil – the scallops were seared perfectly and as a result had the right texture and softness to it. The thai flavours paired with the asparagus was a winner as well with the flavouring complementing the scallops. Next up was the Pan Seared Duck Breast, Duck Confit, Apple Cider Jelly, Galangal Honey Suace, Celeriac Puree and Celery Coulis. E loved the way the duck was cooked – literally melting in her mouth. There were many interesting components and flavours in this dish as well that the palate got to experience. The Celery Coulis was really interesting – very fresh and invigorating. Lastly C ordered the Wagyu Sliders with Caramelized Onion, Cornichons, Perigreux Sauce and Shoe String Fries – you get two sliders which were flavoured well and came with a side salad.

Om Nom also does High Tea on Sundays from 12pm till 4pm. The cost is $65 per person and there is a minimum of 2 guests required. You get a selection of savoury and sweet dishes that include vol au vents with asparagus and mushroom, vegetable tempura, two different gateux’s and the pineapple verrine. This comes with tea/coffee as well as a macaron. Just check their website for an updated menu.

The drink menu is quite extensive and there is a section called “Liquid Desserts” as well that have some great sounding drinks such as Cookies and Cream to Cherry Ripe. Their list of cocktails is also impressive and one labelled Earl’s Punch comes with a macaron – fancy! There are also the usual drinks of wine, beers and spirits as well as tea and coffee. The tea serving is quite generous – a whole pot which was enough for three of us to have two cups each!

Om Nom is a must try for everyone that loves desserts –it definitely has the “ooh and aah” factors involved in terms of presentation and taste. I can’t wait to see any new additions that will be added to the menu. The place is classy, elegant all the while staying comfortable and relaxed. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful.When leaving you can grab a little take away lolly bag filled with mints if you wish as well!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – There is the breakfast, high-tea, dinner, dessert, drinks and function menus available here – http://www.adelphi.com.au/hm_features.pl?id=1
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy, Elegant and has a WOW factor. You almost feel like you are transported to another land for your time spent here.
Standout Dish:  Raspberry Field – raspberry, lychee, meringue, rosewater
Service: Knowledgeable and Helpful. If there is a special occasion and you let them know – they can customise your dessert!
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.adelphi.com.au/hm_features.pl?id=1
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.adelphi.com.au/index.shtml
Level 2,
Adelphi Hotel
187 Flinders Lane Melbourne
Tel No: 8080 8888

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday:
Breakfast from 7am to 12 midday
Dinner & Desserts
6pm until 12am

Monday to Saturday Snack menu is available in between those hours

 

Om Nom Dessert Bar on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina – A Bit of Italy in Fitzroy

panda 4.5 rating

Gelato Messina has come to Melbourne and taken everyone by storm. Newly opened in Smith Street, Fitzroy it has received a warm welcome with lines snaking out of the door and along Smith Street. Gelato has been a long love affair for many Melbournians especially people that frequent Lygon Street in Carlton. There are many different Gelato stores which serve up the classic traditional Italian style of ice cream but none quite like Gelato Messina. The main difference is that Gelato Messina pushes the boundaries when it comes to the rules of Gelato in the sense of being more inventive with flavours and combinations, combined with old-school techniques to maintain the integrity of the original gelato recipe. The Gelato Artisians or Gelartisans as they are fondly referred to as, have created flavours that have your mouth drooling just from reading what’s contained in each flavour.

Gelato Messina began in 2002 by by Nick Palumbo and is now co-owned by Donato Toce, Declan Lee, Danny Palumbo and John Stephens. Nick Palumbo comes from an Italian Messina background and it was visiting his grandparents in Messina that brought on his connection and love for gelato. Gelato Messina has many different locations around Sydney and even has one opening up in Hangzhou, China! It is no wonder that they have won many awards for their amazing Gelato. Just recently at the Melbourne Gelato World Tour they won first prize for a flavour called Cremino – salted caramel, gianduia (hazelnut chocolate), fresh meringue and amaretti.

What makes Gelato Messina different to other traditional Gelato stores is that they use real ingredients to make the gelato and it is hand churned on site. Everything is made fresh on the day without the artificial colours. The chocolate mint flavour uses actual mint leaves, the apple pie flavour consists of baked apple pies – and the list goes on. There is a list of about 40 permanent flavours and weekly specials. New daily flavours appear and they are constantly inventing bigger and better combinations to keep things intriguing. There are also fruity sorbets and dairy-free options for people who are in need of these. How great is it that they cater for one and all! Additionally, Gelato Messina makes ice cream cakes which are displayed in store as well – the infamous toadstool cake is present!

What is great about Gelato Messina is the connection that they have with the consumers – they have a huge online following and allow for people to submit and suggest different flavours. Allowing this personal interaction makes people wanting to keep coming back and trying out the different flavours and best of all bringing friends along to share in the experience.
Another great fact is that all the Gelartisans have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the world of Gelato making – like Simone Panetta (who is a partner in the Melbourne store) who has been making Gelato since he was 11 and was chosen to be a “Gelato Pioneer” at Carpigiani University in Bologna. They have recently put out a cookbook called Gelato Messina which can teach you how to make Gelato!

When you walk into the Melbourne store, the fit out has been done to keep in with the Fitzroy theme – there are exposed brick walls to give it a somewhat warehousey feel, together with colourful graffiti style wall mural by Jeremy Neale and a somewhat modern pressed metal enclosure which encases the gelatos. There is also a window where you can view the Gelartisans creating the many flavours on sale. You get to get a brief glimpse of the colourful and fresh gelato amongst the masses of the crowds. The staff are friendly and always have a smile on their face despite having to face an overwhelmingly large crowd throughout the day. Whilst waiting to order we are handed menus which was a good idea as after reading each flavour you are confused as to which one you want as they all sound sooo great. There is a list of special flavours on the wall (the same flavours get released in Sydney and Melbourne on the same day) – where as they get sold out a sign is placed to let people know until a new batch is made up. After much deliberation I decided to go with the Salted caramel and white chocolate as it was their biggest seller. N got the Mango Sorbet and Mint Chocolate Chip and M got the Twixed flavour.

You can either select if you want the gelato to come in a cup or a cone – I went with the signature green and orange cup for my scoop of gelato. The result was smooth and creamy consistency with accents of salted caramel and textured bits of white chocolate. The mix of the saltiness and the sweetness of the chocolate combined beautifully and this is the reason why it is their best selling flavour. I did get to try N’s mango sorbet which was tasted just like a mango in creamy smooth form and the chocolate chip mint gelato had a minty hint that I have never tasted before – in a great way! You can tell that fresh ingredients were used. The Twixed flavour was phenomenal – it was wholesome chocolaty goodness all in one scoop – rich and mouth watering! It also had shortbread and caramel mixed through it. I want to go back and try out the Cremino, Pistachio and Coconut & Lychee flavours – just to start..and eventually work my way through all the flavours! =p

Gelato Messina has so many flavours (in fact about a 900 flavour catalogue) to try out and with summer just around the corner there is no better time to try. I think Melbourne is lucky as it is currently their largest store to date which means more flavours to try out! Bring on summer and the year of Gelato!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the attachment above. Also look at http://www.gelatomessina.com/flavours/ and http://www.gelatomessina.com/flavours/our_top_10_flavour_combos/

Also refer to http://www.gelatomessina.com/ for the different Gelato Cakes which are made to order
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Chilled Out and Fun
Standout Flavours:
● Salted caramel and white chocolate (their biggest seller)
● Chocolate fondant
● Pandan and coconut
Service: Despite the long lines and queues, the staff are friendly and always have a smile on their face
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.gelatomessina.com/
237 Smith St, Fitzroy

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 12pm – 11pm
Friday to Saturday: 12pm – 11.30pm
Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

N2 Extreme Gelato – Liquid Nitrogen FUN!

panda 5 rating

I heard that N2 Extreme Gelato had arrived in Melbourne and couldn’t wait to check it out! N2 Extreme Gelato – a science based ice creamery was started up ex-accountant Min Chai in Sydney. The basic idea was to use liquid nitrogen to produce smooth, creamy gelato/sorbet of intriguing flavours.

This funky ice-cream lab is located on the bustling Brunswick street and as you walk in you see the massive blackboard menu on the left hand side, with information about what the place is about on the wall to the right. Once you decide which flavour you want and order, you can then view the magic right before your eyes.  Each tub is made fresh!

There is a benchtop which is set out lab style that houses rows of Kitchenaids and a large vat of liquid nitrogen. The staff have the whole scientist look going complete with goggles and laboratory gear. They then proceed to create gelato heaven and it is quite a spectacle to watch. People are lined up with their camera phones taking pictures and videos. You watch as the liquid nitrogen creates a cloudy haven.

The ingredients are fresh and real fruit is used and the full cream milk and fresh cream are sourced from local dairies. The major feature of course is the use of liquid nitrogen – the main reason being that liquid nitrogen freezes so fast that the ice crystal formation is minimised. This results in a much smoother consistency compared to if you produced it the conventional way. It also means that the gelato can be made to order and served at the perfect temperature of -6C. Freshness guaranteed. =)

There are many different wacky and enticing flavours to choose from with flavours changing every Thursday. Some flavours include SPAM & Mustard – yep you read that right it is SPAM infused gelato with Mustard, Black Salted Caramel, Butter Popcorn, Sour Cream Chocolate, Me So Happy (Miso Caramel & Peanuts with Milk Gelato), Creme Brulee and Mango Sorbet.

I decided to get the Crème Brulee flavour and N got the Mango Sorbet. Once you walk past the viewing area there is a sitting / chilling area out the back which is complete with Astro Turf Crate benches together with graffiti walls. The space is open and light filled and is a great place to eat gelato! The music playing is just as great.

The Crème Brulee gelato comes complete with a blow-torched layer of caramel on top – WOW! The result of this gelato was absolutely delicious – it didnt seem like a gelato at all but a real creme brulee dessert served at a restaurant. The gelato resembled silky smooth custard and the layer on top was crunchy, sugary and all around delicious. The result was that you don’t want to stop eating it. N’s Mango Sorbet was just as delicious – the mango flavour was intense, sweet and all round great! The serving size is quite generous as well and all for just $6.

N2 Extreme Gelato allows you to not only taste some of the best gelato going around but in intriguing flavours all whilst providing a bit of entertainment in the form of liquid nitrogen fun! Whats not to love in  a place that combines a bit of science and delciousness?

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – The flavours vary from week to week – but include SPAM Mustard, Black Salted Caramel, Butter Popcorn, Sour Cream Chocolate, Me So Happy (Miso Caramel & Peanuts with Milk Gelato), Creme Brulee and Mango Sorbet
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Funky, and Fun
Standout Flavour: Creme Brulee, Buttered Popcorn
Service: Friendly =)
Details and Location:
http://n2extremegelato.com.au/
329 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 1pm – 11pm

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon