Halal Snack Pack – HSPs – Learn what the Fuss is all about!

HSP Goodness!

HSP

Halal Snack Pack or HSPs as they are affectionately known as are the latest food craze to trend in the foodie world – this has further been promoted thanks to the federal elections where NSW Labor senator Sam Dastyari offered to meet Pauline Hanson and get her to try this delicious dish; much to her offense and disgust (?!).

So what exactly is a HSP?
It is a dish containing meat – typically beef, chicken or lamb – together with chips and one or more sauces – especially Chilli, Garlic and Barbeque. It traditionally comes served in a styrofoam container. Some kebab stores refer to it as a Snack Box or Mixed Plate.

HSP!

This infamous dish has contributed to the flourishing success of many kebab stores around the country. There is also the creation of the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society (HSPAS) on Facebook which began in December 2015 by a couple of good mates- with the group having over  159K members! It started off in a small scale with a few thousand people sharing their favourite styrofoam encased meals and engulfed into what it is today being an international phenomenon.
The main aim of this group is to identify some of the best HSPs around the country and eventually identify the World’s BEST HSP!The group also raises funds to support the Australian Relief Organisation, an organization that assists underprivileged people to attain cataract surgery and assists orphanages with matters regarding water supplies.

A typical post on the page involves a picture of a recently-purchased halal snack pack, along with an informal review that scores the dish on various criteria; including meat, chips and sauce quality, clarity of halal signage, packaging, price and greeting.

Below is the marking scheme taken from the page.
1. The greeting: Anything Less than good day brother or sister is Haram.
2. The Sign: There needs to be some sort of Halal sign visible, or, you guessed it, Haram!
3. The chips: You nailed this, they need to be a good Ratio to the meat and chips
4. Cheese: Cheese would be a layer on the chips and then a layer on the meat with sauce on top. You may get roasted you for this…
5. The meat: Mixed meat is a winner with the crowd, marking it on quantity/ratio and juiciness.
6. Now… The Sauce: Anything less than the HOLY TRINITY  – GARLIC, CHILLI, BBQ – may get a good roasting from the crowd. BBQ is second selection but you have to have the KEY garlic in there
7. Packaging: anything less than styrofoam container is haram and marked 0/10

As you can see HSPs are serious business! By the way to get you down with the lingo here are some of the terms explained:

  • Expressing approval of a snack pack can be described by using the term “Halal”
  • Expressing disapproval of a snack pack can be described by using the term “Haram”
  • A member/customer who requests tomato sauce, salad, rice or anything that is not meant to be part of the HSP – with their snack pack is referred to as a “Haram Dingo”

There are many claims to having created this exceptional dish including the Kapsalon – which is a Dutch food item consisting of fries, topped with shawarma meat, grilled with a layer of Gouda cheese until melted and then covered with a layer of dressed salad greens. The dish is often served with garlic sauce and sambal. The key difference here is the use of salad. This dish was conceived in 2003 by Nathaniël Gomes, a Cape Verdian hairdresser in Rotterdam; who in collaboration with the neighboring shawarma store “El Aviva” combined all his favorite ingredients into one dish.

Another similar dish is the AB from Adelaide who claims to have invented this dish between 1969 and  1989. An AB is prepared using gyro meat, chips, tomato sauce, chilli sauce, barbeque sauce and garlic sauce. Two restaurants in Adelaide have claimed to have invented the dish – The North Adelaide Burger Bar and the Blue & White ; with the key difference here being the addition of tomato sauce (haram!)

There has even been the creation of the world’s biggest snack pack which was covered by Sunrise – you can check out the video here – https://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/watch/31864783/the-worlds-biggest-halal-snack-pack/#page1

I myself was quite late to jump on the HSP bandwagon as well – but ever since trying this calorie, carb-filled dish I must admit I am in love (as is my husband!) We have a kebab store just down the road from us where we get our HSPs (although they call is a Snack Pack – so that’s haram already!) which is simply delicious and is shown in the pictures above.

Since I am quite “new” to the world of HSPs – I am not too sure about where the BEST HSP is in Melbourne – however there is a website – http://getmehsp.com.au/- which helps you locate where you can get a HSP from. Of course there is the HSPAS which has been created for this very reason to find that perfect 10/10 HSP. If you have any recommendations please comment below and I will add them to the list.

Happy HSPing!!

Here are some of the special mentions of Kebab stores around Australia that you could check out (in no particular order):

Melbourne
Melbourne Kebab Station, Coburg
Clayton Kebab House, Clayton
Little Bad Wolf, Noble Park
Yozzy Kebab and Carwash, Doveton
Hot Kebabs, Doncaster East

Sydney

King Kebab House, Campbelltown
Oz Turks Jnr, Redfern
Metro One Kebab, Ashfield

Western Australia
Perth Kebab Station, Subiaco

Queensland
Kebab Shack & Takeaway, Caboolture

 

Advertisements

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

Göz City – Gözleme Charm

panda 4 rating

Menu:
The Menu Gözleme menu halal (1)

One of Grazing Panda’s readers emailed me about Goz City to let me know that it was a restaurant that I should add to my Halal Restaurant tab – and from that time onwards I was keen to check it out. Having visited Turkey earlier in the year I was looking forward to eating one of Turkey’s famous age-old foods.

Goz City is the first of its kind – the first standalone speciality gözleme store in the Melbourne CBD, well just Melbourne even – and was opened in January by Taylan Aksoy. Aksoy together with his dad Alan also owns Koy in South Melbourne – where you can purchase gözlemes as well; and on a busy day they can sell upwards of 300!

Goz City is a smallish store located near the corner of Little Collins and Williams Street in the Melbourne CBD, complete with a cosy, homely and relaxed vibe. What I love is that you can stand out the front and watch through the front window as the gözleme are made. You can watch their swift, efficient process as they churn out these traditional flatbreads. The process involves the yufka pastry being rolled, flattened, filled with your choice of topping and cooked to order.
The menu consists of four different varieties – Cheese & Spinach, Herbed Chicken & Mushroom, Minced Meat (Beef) or Mushroom & Vegetables – which are $10 each (or if you want to purchase it with a drink $12). These are complemented weekly, with unique and seasonally-driven gözleme flavours.
There are also Boreks ($4 each or if you order it with a coffee for $6) available in the same flavours, as well as Pides (such as Tomato & Egg or Sucuk Sausage & Egg for $5 each or $7 with a coffee). There is also the option of House Made Soup served with a toasted Turkish Bagel (when I visited the soup of the day was Mushroom). There is also a great selection of Turkish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired salads such as Cypriot Cauliflower or Quinoa Tabouli.
Coffee served is from Tobys Estate and comes in a House Blend as well as a Single Origin.

Their main focus is on takeaway – but if you get in early and beat the rush there are around 14 seats available – both inside and outside – there is a high bench for seating as well as some lower wooden tables. Lines are out the door especially if you arrive after 12pm with the wait time not too long (you are getting fresh, made to order gözlemes after all!).
Earthy, rustic and warm tones are used throughout the venue coupled with black and white pictures. Gözlemes are presented on a wooden board – with the gözleme cut into convenient mixed sized rectangles and served with sour cream. The serving size is very generous (I struggled to finish the entire serving!) – and the dish is very very filling. I ordered the Herbed Chicken & Mushroom gözleme – which had been seasoned perfectly and tasted great. The bread was cooked just right as well – crispy on the outside and soft on the lower layers. My only critique would be that instead of the gözleme being served with sour cream I would have preferred it to be garlic sauce.
I also had a minced lamb borek – which was a tad bit on the oily side – but was succulent and delicious. The pastry used for the borek is thin, light and crunchy.

There are also Homemade Turkish sweets such as Baklava and Turkish Delight available for sale as well as Turkish Coffee.

Goz City combines the age-old gözleme tradition with a distinct modern twist – offering a unique Turkish food experience. Gözleme is fast becoming the latest street food craze to hit town and if the queues are anything to go by – it will be one to stick around for a while to come!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the pictures above or go to http://www.gozcity.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Homely and Relaxed
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.gozcity.com.au/
502 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9041 5667

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:-00pm
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED

Goz City on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gozcitycbd
Twitter: @GozCity
Instagram: Goz City

Zaatar – Cheap and Delicious

panda 4 rating

Menu:

Sweet and Coffee Menu at Zaatar Pizza and Pide Menu at Zaatar Menu at Zaatar

Zaatar is located on Sydney Road in Brunswick and is a Lebanese bakery and café – run by brothers George, Ameen and Wadi Choueiri. Their dad Chafic Choueiri was the founder of Coburg’s A1 Lebanese Bakery which was open for almost 20 years, and was only sold as a result of him getting ill.

Zaatar is buzzing from the moment you walk in through the doors and are greeted with the fresh smell of baked bread together with the open and light filled room thanks to the windows all around the venue. There are tables of all different sizes, you can move them around as well to allow many people to sit and there are communal tables which come complete with Moroccan style tiles. Colourful wallpaper located on the back wall, which shows a mural of different doors from all around the Middle East brings a colour pop to the venue.

Zaatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend as well as being a type of herb pizza. Here at Zaatar you can get one of these Zaatar pizzas for just one dollar – definitely bang for your buck! And the taste is fantastic – you get the great blend of spices, salt and oil all cooked to perfection. You can eat it using a fork and knife or simply just fold it over and chew it down using one hand!

There are pies, pizzas, salads as well as small bites available to purchase. Also available are Zoccacias – which is basically a foccacia but done Lebanese style using the Zaatar bread – they include fillings such as Bastouram and Haloumi. Have a look at the pictures for more of the flavours. The favourites such as spinach and Bulgarian feta triangles, and haloumi pies are staple and made with love. There are around 6 – 7 different pizzas to choose from and they even have a Cheese and Vegemite option available. Another feature on the menu is the KAAK – which is the Lebanese bagel – for only $2 and you add any topping you like from 50c to $1. Cheap!

There is also a Lunch Mezza Menu – where you can pick from 3 to 6 different mezza with a dip and a salad for a very reasonable price as well. What caught my eye was the Big Breakfast – which came with eggs, Soujok, Labne Dip, Mint, Olives, Tomato, Cucumber, Lebanese Bread and Classic Lebanese Breakfast Spread.

There are the usual drink such as Coffees, Teas, Ice Chocolate, Hot Chocolate as well as interesting drinks in the fridge such as Vimto – a sparkling grape juice – which made me re-live my childhood. There is also ice-cream available to be bought in very interesting flavours. There are sweets available as well such as Namoura (Semolina Cake) and Mammoul, as well as Muffins and Baklawa.

The Big Breakfast comes with the components all separated out on a wooden board. There is a stone pan which houses the soujok, another one that houses the scrambled eggs and the Salads and Lebanese bread and dip are on a plate. The size is quite over whelming. The soujok was delicious and not dry and combined with the egg and the fresh Lebanese bread was delightful. I did really enjoy everything in this dish – although I must admit – I did leave quite a bit of the “healthy” stuff – like the tomato and olives.

The Meat Pizza – which came with Minced Lamb, Onion, Tomato and Spices was also really delicious. The slices were thin and fresh, combined with the spiciness of the lamb. You really could see yourself eating more than one of these. They were that good that I had to order some take away for later.

Zaatar is comfortable, family friendly venue that has tasty, high quality products and are very reasonably priced. I would love it if they were open for dinner and see what types of dishes they could produce. Catering is also available here at Zaatar. If you haven’t done so already – definitely check this place out.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://www.zaatar.com.au/zaatar/menu.html  or look at the Menu pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Family friendly, Modern and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Lamb Pizza
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.zaatar.com.au/zaatar/
365 Sydney Road, Coburg
Tel No: 9939 9494

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7am – 8pm

Zaatar on Urbanspoon

SEZAR – Armenian Hit

panda 4 rating

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

halal (1)*NOTE: The meats are all HALAL Certified. You might need to specify that you want the food cooked in a HALAL Manner.

Menu:
Menu at Sezar

It was N’s birthday and I wanted to take him to  somewhere different and to try out a cuisine we haven’t had before – what better way than to try out the newly opened Armenian restaurant Sezar – located right in the heart of Melbourne CBD.

Sezar comes from head chef and co-owner Garen Maskal (also head chef of The Black Toro) and his business partners Aret and Sasoon Arzadian – and is named after his grandmother. Franc Bakkes (ex Ezard) takes the reins in the kitchen and has helped create a menu that exudes a combination of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean.  Sezar is located in the Melbourne CBD in an alleyway that used to house the Canary Club and Saint Peter’s – there is a graffitied mural which a street art mural of Haik Nahapet and ties in with the mural inside the restaurant of Mount Ararat.

Sezar’s vibe is sophistication and elegance which is demonstrated by its dim lighting, black tables and wooden chair combination. As you entered you are greeted by the mural and the colourful follows the mural wall to the length of the restaurant. The kitchen is located at the end of the bar. There are tables which can seat from two to four people, as well as space at the bar with high stools to sit on.

We are seated at our table by the window and order drinks. Their drinks menu is quite extensive and there is a good selection of cocktails. I order a mocktail which they can come up with on the whim – you just have to specify what type of flavour you want – I wanted something sweet and sour.  The result was exactly what I wanted and was the perfect balance of both flavours.

The menu is split into four sections starting off with Bzdig (small dishes), then Medz (medium dishes), Kove (the side dishes) and ending with Anoush (Dessert). There are around 14 small dishes to choose from which consist of Oysters, Spanner Crab Falafel, Grain Salad, Chicken Wings and Lamb Kebabs. The medium dishes of which there are 6 to choose from – cover all your main meats as well as a veggie dish.  There are 4 side dishes and desserts to choose from as well. Desserts include a Nutella Pide for all you chocolate lovers. The other option if you can’t decide is to have the Djash Ger-Ouyt – which is the Dinner Party Banquet which includes Dessert for $65 per person. We decided to do the banquet and let the chef pick the dishes. They ask you what dietary requirements you have and tailor this to suit your needs.

The first dish that we received was the Hervey Bay Scallops with Cauliflower, Cumin and Zaatar. This dish came served on the scallop shell itself on a black plate. The scallop was perfectly grilled – tender and sweet, with a base of creamy cauliflower puree and topped with the cumin and zaatar which was a delicious accompaniment and a great way to start the menu.

Our next dish was the Boreg – Spinach, Feta Cheese and Aleppo Mayo. The Boreq came plated up with the Aleppo may in a separate sauce dish. I loved this dish – the outside of the Boreg was flakey, buttery and crispy which made a loud crunch as you bit into it. The filling was to die for – there was an abundance of spinach mixed together with the creaminess and saltyiness of the fetta – but the balance and mix was just right. The Aleppo mayo was also really fantastic! I loved the taste of the spice and tang together, and paired with the boreg – it was just simply heaven! Another must try dish.

Next up was the Cured Ocean Trout – Fennel, Sumac and Almond Cream. The dish was visually pleasing with the almond cream spread out at the base of the place and the brightly coloured cured trout placed in strips on top, and finished with the fennel and sumac. The trout is cured with salt, cardamom, cumin and black seasame and was soft and wholesome. The fennel and sumac added the crunch of texture and the strong flavour paired with the almond cream was a really good addition to the cured trout. It was yet again another great dish.

Our next course was the BBQ Shitake Mushroom on a skewer – with Haloumi and Grape Leaf Wraps. The skewers came with the glistening mushrooms between the salty haloumi and slices of red onion, served with grape leaves on the side. This dish was good but not as spectacular as the other dishes. The combination of the mushroom and haloumi wrapped in the grape leaf was a fun and interesting dish that was flavoured well.

The final of the small dishes was the Lamb Kebab – Baby Gem Lettuce, Sour Cherry Sauce. I really enjoyed this dish. We were told to wrap the kebab in the lettuce and dip into the cherry sauce. The lamb was spicy, moist and tender. I have never had my lamb with a cherry sauce before – but this combination I felt was perfectly suited to the lamb. The lettuce added an extra dimension of crunch.

We were getting quite full with all the small dishes, but had the main big sized dish up next. For this we were given the Braised Beef Cheek with Tomato, Pea and Steamed Rice. You could smell the aromas of the dish as it was placed on the table and there was a brightness and freshness to the dish – the accented green against the savoury brown. The beef was really well cooked and was literally melt in your mouth. The sauce was a nice addition although I thought it could have used with a little more flavour (salt) and spice.

To finish the meal we were given two desserts – Baklava with Crispy Filo, Walnut Ice Cream and Caramel as well as the Semolina Cake with Almond Crumble and Crème Fraiche. Both dishes were beautifully presented – the semolina against the black backdrop of the plate and the baklava against a white and pink backdrop of the plate.

The Baklava was a great modern take to what you would usually expect. The crispy and sweet filo pastry encompassed the quenelle of beautifully creamy walnut ice cream and was finished with the drizzle of sticky caramel and topped with walnuts and lilac flowers. The pastry was once again to die for and the combination of the ice cream, nuts and caramel made for a really great dish!

The Semolina Cake was a dense piece of almond flavoured cake which I found in some parts to be quite dry, placed with a dollop of crème fraice and finished with caramelised almond bits and colourful flowers. Having just come back from Turkey and eating their version of the semolina cake I guess I was expecting similar flavours to what I had there – but this was different. It still was a really good dish with all the right flavours and textures.

The banquet is a great way to experience not only a variety of dishes but a difference of flavours and textures. I think the mix of the small dishes covered a great range and the fact that we were given two desserts was an added bonus. Sezar is a great place for a relaxed yet classy dinner where the staff are helpful and friendly, as well has having a colourful and extensive drinks list. Lookout for cocktail bar that will be opened in the near future which is located just upstairs of Sezar.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to menu above or link here http://sezar.com.au/SezarMenu.pdf. There are small, medium, sides and desserts to choose from. You can also have a Dinner Party banquet (Djash Ger-Ouyt) for $65 pp which includes a couple of small dishes, a medium dish and desserts.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant, Classy and Relaxed. Great for date night or a special occasion
Standout Dish: Hervey Bay Scallops with Cauliflower, Cumin and Zaatar AND Lamb Kebab – Baby Gem Lettuce, Sour Cherry Sauce
Service: Fantastic, Friendly, Helpful and Attentive. Our waitress was informative and knew a lot about the dishes when asked.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://sezar.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://sezar.com.au/
6 Melbourne Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 9882

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Thursday and Friday: Noon till 5:00pm
Dinner
Monday to Saturday: 5:30pm to Late

Sezar on Urbanspoon

B’Stilla – Moroccan Talk of the Town

panda-4-rating1

halal symbol* NOTE THE GOAT, BEEF and LAMB are all Halal Certified.

It was birthday dinner time and I picked B’Stilla to try out. B’Stilla is a newly opened Moroccan restaurant tucked away behind Chapel Street in South Yarra. When I was making the booking I enquired if the meat was halal and co-owner Leon Kennedy was fantastic in responding and letting me know that the beef, goat and chicken are all Halal Accredited. Great service already!

B’Stilla is a modern and spacious restaurant with an open kitchen and an outside seating area in the form of a long terrace which has overhead industrial heaters and plastic screens to keep the cold out. It is named after Morocco’s most famous pastry dish – the sweet-savoury B’stilla. This is the latest project from Jason Jones who co-founded Mamasita and remains a co-owner, and Leon Kennedy (Padre, Proud Mary). Both took a trip to Morocco and fell in love with the cuisine and enrolled in cooking courses to learn more, and then forged ahead with this venture. The aim is to deliver authentic and approachable Moroccan food, celebrating essential balance of flavours and fresh local produce and it safe to say that B’Stilla ticks all of these boxes.

There is a real Moroccan feel to the place with its lattice of the 8 point star that is reminiscent with any Moroccan theme. This continues in ochre colours under the bar in the form of tessellated tiles. The open kitchen is lined with tagines and colourful preserved fruits and overlooks into a red painted dining area. This is where we were seated on this Friday night. There are simple wooden tables and chairs to further enhance the casual yet classy feel.

The menu is designed to share and is split up into smaller entrée size dishes, followed by larger dishes which consist of three different tagines and dishes like lamb shoulder and beef ribs. There there are seven different salads to choose from and of course dessert to finish off the meal. There are Banquet options available as well (refer to the Menu section below for options and pricing). There are plenty of vegetarian dishes available as well which makes the menu robust to all. In addition to this, if you flip the menu over there is a handy glossary on the back that run you through some of the elements mentioned in the dishes. I think this is a great idea – saves the customer from whipping out their smart phone and googling what each thing is or asking the wait staff.

After perusing the menu for a while we settled on a couple of the smaller dishes, two of the larger dishes with a salad – leaving room for dessert. I also ordered a mocktail – which had pineapple, passionfruit and mint flavours which was quite tasty as well. They ask you what flavours you want and make one up to suit that. Whilst we were waiting for our meals, we were brought out complimentary tea for each of us together with a small piece of date shortbread. This was a nice touch I thought and typically Moroccan. The mint tea was full of flavour and was a great way to start a meal.

The first dish we got was the Lamb Ribs, Apricot and Cardamom. This was a super tasty dish – the lamb was cooked delicately and just fell off the bone – the apricot sauce added a sweetness to this dish. Having sweet flavours mixed with lamb was a great combination. Next of the entrée dishes was the Chargrilled Whole Prawn, Pil Pil and the Rgahaif – we got the spinach, eggplant, almond and yoghurt option ( there is also an oxtail option). The Rgaghaif was one of my favourite dishes of the night – it reminded me of a samosa in a sense – it was pastry wrapped with spinach, eggplant, almond and yoghurt. The pasty was homemade and delicious – I could eat loads of the pastry all on its own. The mix of flavours with the mentioned ingredients was tasty and the spices added to it was a great hit, with the almond finishing the flavour palate. The prawn dish was good but not great – the prawns were grilled perfectly and the addition of the Pil Pil (which is made of garlic, chilli, lemon and parsley) added to the flavour of the prawn – there was just something lacking. The last of the dishes we got was the Medfouna – Beef Cheek, Cashews, Potato, Labne – this dish was yet another winner. It resembled what looked like a meat pie but tasted so much better! The filling was moist and flavoursome and each element worked perfectly together.

After letting our entrees settle we were ready to take on the mains. We ordered the Cous Cous Marrakech with Seven Vegetables, Seven Spices, Smen (which is oregano infused butter that has been aged and fermented). We also ordered the Fish Kefta Tagine and the Lamb Shoulder with the side of the Cauliflower, Pine Nut Paste, Ras el Hanout and Herbs Salad. Both the Cous Cous and Fish came in tagine dishes and were filled to the brim – serving sizes here at B’Stilla are quite generous. The Cous Cous with Seven Vegetables was flavoursome and fresh – the cous cous was cooked to perfection as were the vegetables which were piled up high atop the cous cous. Some of the veggies included chickpeas, potato, sweet potato, cabbage and zucchini.

The Fish Kefta Tagine comes with black cabbage, saffron and potato and was delicious. The fish kefta’s were green in colour which I thought was really interesting but do not let that fool you as the flavour was great. The juice I did find to be a bit runny and not as flavoursome – I think I would have preferred it to be a bit thicker in consistency. The Lamb Shoulder was another favourite dish of mine – it came with Ginger, Cumquats, Parsnip and Sumac. The lamb was once again cooked beautifully and was soft and tender and coupled with the parsnip puree was delicious. The cumquats added a tang to the dish as well. The side of cauliflower was also outstanding – the cauliflower being lightly charred and coupled with the pine nut paste and the ras el hanout and herbs was a great addition and complement to all the other dishes had.

We were all so full from the entrees and the larger dishes, but decided to share some desserts amongst the five of us. We got the Persimmon, Mehalabeya, Amlou dessert and the Rosewater Flan with Dates and Walnut Nougatine. The winner and standout out of these two was definitely the Rosewater Flan. The flan was something between a crème caramel and a crème brulee and had the right amount of wobbliness. The dish was creamy and smooth and the addition of the crispy walnut nougatine added texture to the dish. The Mehalabeya dessert I thought were just different elements put together on a dish that didn’t really mesh together all that well for me – I would have liked to have had more of the Mehalabeya component.

B’stilla also has a strong focus on coffee and serves French Press and Cold Drip – both of which are African varieties from Proud Mary Coffee. The staff are friendly and well informed about the menu, and always are energetic and have a smile on their face and are happy to help out at anytime. We were lucky enough to have Leon serving us, and he gave us a good background about the restaurant.

B’Stilla is a great addition to South Yarra and the fact that it is embracing Morrocan cuisine is a big win. The food is delicious and encompasses great ingredients in imaginative and unique combinations and the presentation is fantastic as well. The focus on a shared dish menu I think is great and more restaurants should encourage this. For a taste of Moroccan in Melbourne definitely check this place out.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://bstilla.com/menu.pdf. There are also Banquet menus available – 5 dishes and sides (savoury only) at $45 pp or 8 dishes and sides (includes desserts) at $65 pp. For Lunch there is a 3 course lunch menu for $35 pp. A minimum of two people are required for the Banquet menus.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Modern and Classy. It is a chilled out place and is reminiscent of being a piece of Morocco in Melbourne.
Standout Dish: Rgahaif –spinach, eggplant, almonds, yoghurt AND Lamb shoulder, ginger, cumquats, parsnip, sumac
Service: Fantastic, Super Friendly and Helpful. Staff always have a smile on their face and make you feel welcomed.
Online Booking: No. Point to note – Half the restaurant is reserved for bookings and the rest available for walk ins
For bookings, there are two seating times available: 6:00pm to 8.15pm OR 8:30pm to late
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://bstilla.com/
30b Bray St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9826 2370

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Thursday – 5.30pm – Late
Friday & Saturday – 12.00pm – Late

B'Stilla on Urbanspoon

Cornershop – Yarraville Local is Fantastic


image_3 image_4
Latte and Baked Eggs with Eggplant Kasundi Relish, Fetta and Parsley
image_5
Smashed Avocado with Spring Onion, Coriander, Fetta and Chilli  on Sourdough

I have heard of the Cornershop from a various number of people and finally got a chance to try it out. I have driven past it many times when I have been in the area, and it seems to be quite a popular spot for the locals. It is constantly busy and bustling. The cafe is spacious and has a vibrant and fun atmosphere. There is a vintage feel with wooden tables are recycled wooden benches to match and wiry light shades and decor. There is a communal table at the front which has wild flowers as a centrepiece, as well as a courtyard out the back for those lovely Melbourne sunny days.

I arrived a bit before G so I got us a table and ordered myself a coffee. The menu has quite a variety – from ricotta hotcakes to baked eggs and even a side of black pudding. I must admit I did have a tough time deciding what to order but I settled on the Baked Eggs with Eggplant Kasundi Relish, Fetta and Parsley. When G arrived she ordered her coffee and then settled on Smashed Avocado with Spring Onion, Coriander, Fetta and Chilli  on Sourdough. The food did take a bit of time to arrive (about 20-30mins), but the wait wasn’t too bad. What was bad was when the food had arrived, G still hadn’t gotten her coffee. We asked the waitress and were told hurriedly that there was a shortage of cups and that it would come soon. I thought that was somewhat rude. The coffee did finally arrive about 45 mins after the order.

The food was quite delicious. I am not a huge fan of eggplant generally, but with the baked eggs the eggplant kasundi relish was spectacular. It had a little bit of tang and had the right amount of seasoning, and the eggplant itself was cooked to the perfect softness. Mixed together with the Fetta and Parsley it was a great combination. Definitely try it out if you are cant decide what you want. G was loving her dish and couldn’t believe she finished the whole dish (it was quite large!). The smashed avocado was mixed together with the spring onion, fetta for a flavoursome result and the added chilli gave that extra little kick. There was a lot of rocket on top of the avocado I must say – but if rocket is your thing you will love it.

I can see why the Cornershop is considered a local favourite and is busy most times. Just one improvement would have to be service. I am also very interested to see what their Dinner menu is like – it just might be on my next visit to Yarraville!=)

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Menu – refer below for Breakfast and Lunch Menu

Cornershop Menu

Cornershop Menu

Fullness: 90%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky and Lively – great place to spend hours just catching up with friends or reading a book
Standout Dish: Baked Eggs!
Service: Can be improved..a tad bit slow and the staff seem consistently busy. The staff are quite friendly though.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
9 Ballarat Street, Yarraville
Tel No: 9689 0052

Opening Hours:
Sunday & Monday: 8am – 5pm
Tuesday to Friday: 8am – 9:30pm

The Cornershop on Urbanspoon

The Moor’s Head – Pide and Pizza with Variety!


The Golden Terrace Pide – Minced Beef, Fresh Tomato, Chilli, Almond, Lemon

The Moor’s head is the latest venture of Joseph Abboud and John Farha and is the sister restaurant to the well known and delicious Rumi (check out my review here – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/rumi/). The Moor’s head specialises in Lebanese – Turkish pizza’s and has the tag line “inauthentic pizza” – combines their love of Italian pizza’s with their Lebanese heritage.

 The restaurant was previously an old warehouse and has high ceilings with black interior and wooden tables together with Arabic styled posters around the place. This all adds to the casual and comfortable atmosphere that makes you want to return.

The menu consists of starters, pizzas (manoushe and pides), salads and sweets. Manoushe are your standard type of pizzas – round and flat, and Pides are canoe shaped with raised crusts. When you look at the menu, you are greeted with wonderful and quirky names staying true to their Lebanese heritage such as The Golden Terrace, Omar Sharif, The Bosphorus and Sultan Mehmet.

I ordered the Golden Terrace which comes with minced beef, topped with fresh slices of tomato, the perfect amount of spiciness in the form of fresh chilli, coriander  lemon and almonds. The dough is perfection – soft and crunchy all at the same time. The mince beef was perfectly seasoned with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and the lemon and almonds added an extra tang and texture. It is a pity I didn’t get to stay for dessert – I definitely want to come back and try the dessert menu and dessert pizzas.

There are also many vegetarian options available using various combinations of interesting ingredients.

The Moor’s Head uses simple and well put together flavours, with greatly made dough for a very reasonable price. Together with the friendly service, this is a place I will be coming back to.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Consists of Pizza’s and Pides – can be found at http://www.themoorshead.com/?page_id=87
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Vibrant, Lively and Casual
Standout Dish: The Golden Terrace, Omar Sharif
Service: Friendly and Informative
Online Booking: No, but they do accept bookings via phone
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.themoorshead.com/
Rear 774 High St, Thornbury (Enter via Collins St)
Tel No: 9484 0173

Opening Hours:
Dinner only
Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Takeaway also available.

The Moor's Head on Urbanspoon

Mosq – A little piece of Morroco in the Heart of Chapel Street


                      
Mosq is an alluring restaurant / function space – it combines plush and comfortable day beds together with golden lanterns and lamps, woven rugs which makes it feel like you have stepped onto the set of Aladdin amidst a Moroccan palace. The venue also consists of intimate little alcove areas which are cosy and serve for great photo opportunities. One of my favourite areas is the day bed which is covered in woven rugs and you can just chill out and eat your tapas style food and sip on the yummy cocktails/mocktails.

We went to Mosq for my Mum’s birthday with some of her friends too – altogether there were 6 of us. We ordered some starters as well as three Tagines for the mains. The starters consisted of Chicken Kofte cooked with Pomegranate, Pistachios, Apricots and Mild Spices, Kataifi Wrapped Prawns with Cumin Yoghurt, Sucuk Beef Sausage Skewers grilled with Zucchini and Haloumi and lastly Mushrooms stuffed with Feta, Parmesan and Herbs. My favourite out of these dishes as the stuffed Mushrooms. They were tasty bite sized morsels complete with flavour, but not the usual overwhelming taste that parmesan gives. My mum and her friend started to discuss how to re-create these at home – they were that good! You seriously could eat a plate full of these and be content. The Kataifi prawns were crispy and the cumin yoghurt was a great combination. The Kofte had a mix of both sweet and spice – and the mix actually worked and was quite tasty.

The mains that came out – Lamb Tagine Tender Lamb, Slow Cooked in Mild Moroccan Spices with Winter Vegetables, Garnished with Dates and Almonds, Seafood Tagine Baramundi, Salmon, Mussels and Tiger Prawns Slow Cooked with Preserved Lemon and Olives, Seared Lamb with Moroccan Crust Pan Seared Lamb Crusted in Moroccan Spices served medium Rare on a Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Pistachio Cous Cous and Almond Rice Pilaf. The meats in each of these Tagines, true to their style were soft and tender and literally just melted in your mouth. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Seafood Tagine, but they were generous with the varieties of seafood. I am a huge fan of Rice Pilaf and the Mosq Pilaf was sublime. The pieces of almond together with the individually separated rice, which wasn’t too oily, was simply divine. The Cous Cous was aromatic and tasty, and the Moroccan Spices on the lamb mixed well with the Sweet Potato and Eggplant.

Overall the experience at Mosq was fantastic. The food was flavoursome and the decor made it feel like you had been transported to a little restaurant in Morocco. There is also entertainment from belly dancers to Thursday live flamenco and jazz guitarists. There is also an outdoor terrace area if you wanted to enjoy your food in the summer. There are also Shisha pipes available with or without tobacco in a range of flavours (including apple, strawberry and mint), which can be a great way to finish a meal, together with some mint tea (served in cute little glasses). The menu is authentic and full of Moroccan and Middle Eastern flavours and is affordable, although I sometimes did find the dishes a tad bit on the small side. They have a range of cocktail and mocktails which are delicious and creative.

Just a note for bookings – on Friday and Saturday nights Mosq is only available as a function venue. For functions there are flexible food and drinks menus available with the choice of adding in extras such as the belly dancers, Shisha pipes etc.

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A La Carte – refer to http://mosq.com.au/
Fullness: 65%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy – it feels like you are in a classy Morrocan restaurant with the rugs, lanterns and lights, as well as the little intimate nooks and a makeshift daybed where you can just chill in a group.
Standout Dish: Roasted Marron, Tarragon Butter
Service: So-So. Maybe they were just having an off night – the service was good and quite friendly, however the dishes took ages to come out and we asked the waiter many times what was happening but they weren’t quite sure.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://mosq.com.au/
Shop 2
60 Bray Street, South Yarra
Tel No:  9804 7770

Opening Hours:
Monday -Thursday: 6pm-11pm
Friday – Sunday: 6pm – 1am

Mosq Restaurant & Functions on Urbanspoon

Rumi – Persian and Lebanese Cuisine



 
Persian Meatballs, Tomato and Saffron Sauce, Labne, Cos and Herb Salad,  BBQ Baby Broccolini, Egg and Lemon Sauce

Sigara Boregi, cigar shaped pastry filled with haloumi, feta, and kasseri
BBQ Whole King Prawns, fennel salt
Beef Fatteh, Chickpeas, Pine Nuts, Yoghurt, Paprika Butter
Almond Pudding and Persian Tea

Rumi is medium sized restaurant that is decorated with Arabic calligraphy and paintings. The waiters are friendly and impress you with the funky shaped jugs and their fine pouring skills. Not all the dishes were great but there were some really tasty dishes. The Persian Meatballs were full of flavour, however the Spiced Lamb Shoulder we ordered wasn’t so nice. I found that it came out a bit burnt and wasn’t as soft as it could have been. The BBQ Whole King Prawns with Fennel Salt was once again flavoured just right and although it sounds simple, the dish was nice and one of my parents’ favourites of the night.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price:
$$
Menu
A la Carte – can be found at http://rumirestaurant.com.au/dinner/
Fullness:
 80%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable and Bright – Perfect for Famliy dinners
Standout Dish: Persian Meatballs
Service: Fantastic and Attentive  – and the waiters have funky water pouring skills
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://rumirestaurant.com.au/reservations/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://rumirestaurant.com.au/
116 Lygon St, Brunswick East
Tel No: 9388 8255

Opening Hours:
Open 7 days for Dinner

Rumi on Urbanspoon