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

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Shizuku – Ramen & Ramen Burger Extravaganza!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Page 1 Menu  Page 2 Menu  Page 3 Menu
Shizuku is located at the Abbotsford end of Victoria Street, and is a recently opened Japanese restaurant, nestled amongst a street that is known for its Vietnamese cuisine. Their main focus is on Ramen – which sits up there as one of my favourite foods – and I cannot wait to try out their offerings.

L & I arrived on a weekday night and were greeted by large heavy wooden doors – as you step inside you are greeted with a simple yet snazzy set up. There are lanterns hanging from the ceiling that remind you of flower blossoms that provide lighting for the whole restaurant. Your eyes are also drawn to the colourful bar counter which houses their variety of drink offerings as well as a tree branch that has been decked out with hanging clear baubles – I love this display, adds a touch of vintage chic to this otherwise modern looking venue. The tables are black and wooden; with seating able to cater mostly two’s and fours, however you have the option to join tables together for larger groups.

David Chen is the owner of Shizuku who was inspired to open his own Japanese restaurant after working as an assistant manager at Shoya Japanese Restaurant. Together with partner, Shinako Suzuki, his dreams were made into reality, with doors opening for Shizuku in July 2013.

We are shown to our table and handed a book of a menu – there is so much variety to choose from! Another touch I like are the water bottles at the table, which are re-used colourful alcohol bottles that have been finished – adding a pop of colour to the otherwise black surroundings.

The menu begins with ‘Zensai to Share’ which are Entrees – there is a HUGE (an I am not exaggerating when I bold and capitilise this) selection – think double columns of an A4 page! Reading down the list you will find yourself saying ‘yep I want to try this and I want to try that’ for every dish. Some Zensai include Lobster or Pork Sliders, Uni Sake Shots, Octopus Sashimi, Unagi Salad, Croquettes (Vegetarian or Crab Meat), Octopus Balls, Salt & Pepper Squid, Wasabi Prawns, Pickles, Kimchi, Spicy Bamboo and Edamame. Following the Zensai menu is the Gyoza section where you can choose from six different gyoza’s. Unfortunately for me none of the gyoza’s only had seafood or vegetables, but were pork filled and therefore I couldn’t try any

Next on the menu is the star of Shizuku – authentic Ramen. Head chef Ken Yoshida who has a wealth of experience and has worked in some of Japan’s renowned ramen shops is the man behind this traditional ramen – which has been prepared over 15 to 18 hours. There are thirteen different types of Ramen to choose – from the Tan Tan Men to the Spicy Miso Ramen to the Kimchi Ramen, and they even have a Vegetarian Ramen. All Ramen is made with no MSG and they try to locally source ingredients – even the miso soup is made by the chefs onsite.

What is definitely a game changer and what has critics raving is the Ramen Burger – created by chef Hiromi Hanzawa (previously Aka Siro and Pabu). The bun is made of tightly packed ramen noodles, that have been bound together with eggs and cooked on a flat top, with a lightly crunchy texture on the outside. The Ramen Burger comes in two different flavours – Candied Pork Belly with homemade plum and prune sauce, kewpie mayonnaise OR Miso Glazed Eggplant with sweet miso jam. These culinary creations hail from New York – where Ramen burgers are all the rage, but here at Shizuku they are the first and only Australian restaurant to replicate these delicious burgers. More on these later.

Whilst we were waiting for our dishes to be served we were given a White Radish, Wombok and Wombok with Carrot dish to prepare the palate. They were all unique in flavouring with a consistent vinegary taste through all of them. Quite tasty.

The first entrée we ordered was the Uni Spoon – Sea Urchin Sashimi, Cucumber, Wasabi Soy. Both L and I hadn’t had Sea Urchin before so were keen to see what type of flavour it had. The Uni Spoon (as the name specifies) comes served on a spoon, with a base of cucumber, topped with the sea urchin and drizzled with wasabi soy to finish.

I ordered the Lobster Slider – Lobster kewpie salad, pickled carrot and daikon, corn brioche bun – as I wanted to see their take on a Lobster slider. The serving of lobster was quite generous, but I think there was a bit too much of kewpie mayonnaise added which drowned out the natural lobster flavour. I did enjoy the combination of the pickled carrot and daikon with the sweetness of the lobster and kewpie.

My favourite dish of the day was the Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans. Just reading this dish on the menu set my creative juices flowing trying to envision what this dish would look like. The spring rolls were angularly cut to showcase the rich inside filling – which was the edamame soy beans enveloped in melted cheese. The combination was absolutely divine! The crunch of the outside combined with the soft billowy pea puffs and warm melted cheese was happiness in your mouth. Definitely one to try!

We also couldn’t leave Shizuku without trying their signature Ramen Burger – Ramen noodle patty “buns”,miso glazed eggplant. The bun is made with ramen noodles bound together with eggs and cooked with a slight crunch on the top exterior layer – leading into a softer noodle layers for the rest of the “bun.” The filling was made of soft, delicious eggplant that was beautifully complimented by the miso jam. There were also salad leaves, coriander and onions added. Every bite you take of the ramen burger was delightfully filled with an explosion of juicy flavours – the burger was not greasy at all which further added to the ramen burger love. Yet another dish to try out – you have to experience it to understand the feeling!

It was time for our main dishes – Ramen! L ordered the Tan Tan Men – Free range pork mince, egg, chilli oil, preserved vegetables, rich sesame flavoured broth – which is the Chef’s Signature Ramen as well as their best seller. L really enjoyed her ramen and almost finished her entire generous serving!

I initially wanted the Spicy Miso Ramen – however as that was made with a pork and miso based broth I couldn’t, instead the helpful waiter told me to order the Vegetarian Ramen – Mix vegetables with miso sauce flavoured broth – with an added spicy chilli spoon to give it that spice and kick. The Ramen was quite tasty – the broth was thick, flavoursome and quite wholesome yet light at the same time – just the way that I like it. The vegetables added were fresh and still had a bit of crunch to it, which I think makes a dish better. The noodles were cooked perfectly which further added to the great quality of the ramen produced.

We were both really full, however we did need something sweet to complete our palate sensations. There are five desserts to choose from which include Almond Tofu, Espresso Pudding, Green Tea ice Cream, Black Sesame Ice Cream and Miso Caramel Ice Cream.

L ordered the Green Tea Ice Cream and I ordered the Pannacotta (which was a special for the day) which came served with Blueberries. Both desserts rated quite highly on our palates and were just the ending we needed to a great meal.

Shizuku offers delicious food at an affordable price in a relaxed, welcoming ambiance together with friendly service. Next time you are considering suitable dining options with a homely touch check out Shizuku – it really is a welcome addition to Victoria Street.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above or have a look at the Takeaway menu at http://shizuku.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Warm and Welcoming
Standout Dish: Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans and Ramen Burger
Service: Friendly, Warm and Happy to help out with any queries or questions
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://shizuku.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://shizuku.com.au/
309 Victoria St, Abbotsford
Tel No: 9995 8180

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner
Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Shizuku Ramen on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shizukujapanese
Instagram: shizukuramen
Twitter: @ShizukuJapanese

Ilya – FROCHELLA – Frozen Yoghurt Heaven!

panda 3.5 rating
Pandan Coconut and Black Sesame Flavoured Froto

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Menu:
Menu at Ilya

In recent times frozen yoghurt has taken the world by storm! There are quite a few stores that have opened up around Melbourne. I was lucky enough to be invited to Ilya Frozen Yoghurt for their awesomely named event –FROCHELLA (Froyo + Coachella put together – smart right?!)

Ilya – located on Glen Huntly road in Elsternwick – was created by owners Natasha and Jason – who left the corporate world to pursue their passion for good food, giving back and having a blast doing it! There are quite a few differences when compared to other frozen yoghurt (froyo – the short form that it is affectionately known as) stores – Ilya is built around the interactive social and consumer experience AND they are organic, 100% natural and free from refine cane sugar.

Most people assume that Ilya stands for I Love Yoghurt Always, however Ilya is named after Ilya Mechnikov, a Russian scientist who pioneered the research into the immune system, probiotics in yoghurt and how that leads to longer life and even scored a Nobel Prize for it.
Ilya is proud to be the first and only organic self-serve frozen yoghurt store in Australia – having the lowest levels of sugar in the frozen yoghurt market – less than 1% – as well as being kosher, 100% natural and 99% fat free! All their yoghurts are made onsite – with no cane sugar in their yoghurt base, instead using Stevia and Erythitol (unprocessed sugars). Ilya is all about supporting Australian local farmers and use low fat fresh organic milk together with Five:AM yoghurt. All their froyo’s are flavoured in-house combining real fruit and natural flavours – allowing Ilya to stay true to their concept of delicious and healthy without compromising on taste.

Ilya is quite a sizeable venue and is split into two main areas – the front area where the main counter and all the toppings reside, as well as a communal table and high window seating, followed by the back room where more seating is available. The seating is casual with vintage looking wooden tables and milk crates to sit on. There is a mixture of walls – brick, chalkboard and plain white which adds to the funkiness of the place. Some walls are covered in artwork from kids with their perspective on the world of frozen yoghurt – a really nice touch and reinforces their interactiveness with the public.
The look and feel is relaxed and comfortable with the addition of nice little touches such as flowers in jars, the use of scrabble letters and the awesome standout light fittings. Between the front room and the back room there is an igloo-esque (complete with white brick which reminds you of ice) cocoon that loudly and proudly states GET SOME CULTURE – this is where the yoghurt magic takes place. Here there are 8 self-serve dispensers where you can get the flavours for the day – the way it works you grab a cup, fill it up, top it, weight and pay – and then of course eat and enjoy! (It costs $2.80 per 100g).

The main counter was an impressive long wooden bench that had a numerous amount of toppings available.If you refer to the pictures above you can see there is a HUGE selection of other toppings available as well – Marshmallow Rocks, Mango Mochi, Choc Chips, Sultanas, Cranberries, Halva, Lychee Boba, Mango Boba, Passionfruit Coulis, Mandarin, Hedgehog Slice, Choc Mud Slice and Protein Nut Mix – there is also Hot Caramel and Hot Choc sauce for your tasting pleasure! You get confused trying to decide which of these delicious topics you want to add as most people wanted a little bit of everything!

The Frochella event invited food bloggers and nutritionists to celebrate Ilya’s success as well as “it’s almost milestone 1st birthday” (they have been opened for 11 months). The idea was to taste test, provide ideas and feedback as well as come up with some new flavours that Ilya could create.

A total of 15 flavours were sampled – the first eight flavours were their core and current flavours (Menu A), and the next seven were a preview of their new limited edition Spring/Summer flavours (Menu B). I had to stay back at work on the night of Frochella and unfortunately missed out on most of the Menu A flavours – I only managed to taste Chai & Dry (Dairy free Soy Chai to satisfy the senses). When I arrived I was lucky enough to sit with some friendly fellow bloggers – Eve from Eve Lovelle and Minty from WanderingMint, as well as a nutritionist and their partners.

They gave me the rundown of the flavours that I missed out and what their favourites were. Eve liked the “Get Lucky” (Tart flavoured treats), “Empire State of Mind” (Organic Freeze-dried coffee froyo) with her ultimate favourite being “Sexy and I Know It” (Dairy free chocolate (vegan). Most of the others around the table enjoyed the “Katy Berry” (Real mixed berries to give your tastebuds a sweet treat!) as well as “Teenage Dream” (made from delicious Oreo cookies). I will definitely have to come back and try out these two flavours, as I am a hugeee berry and oreo cookie fan! The Chai & Dry froyo that I did get to sample was delicious – if you are a chai drinker you would love this flavour – if you are not a huge fan of chai’s but love cinnamon then this would be for you as well! The cinnamon/chai flavour is not too overpowering and coupled with the lightness of the froyo was really quite good.

In addition to the samples of Froyo’s we had access to an unlimited amount of toppings to use. Each table were given their own set of toppings – or you could go to the main counter where additional toppings were provided. Our table had Coconut flakes, Oreo Cookies, M&Ms, Kit Kat, Berry Coconut Muesli, Strawberries, Chocolate Cigars, Almond Flakes, Tiny Teddies, etc.

What was also great about the Frochella night was that we all were encouraged to participate in the Flavour Master competition. This was a competition around coming up with a frozen yoghurt flavour that you would like to see Ilya have. Five flavours will be chosen out a of a list and the flavour that is voted as most popular by the general public will have their very own frozen yoghurt flavour named after them and sold in Ilya.

The second round formed Menu B – which was to showcase their new limited edition Spring/Summer flavours.
The first flavour we got to sample from this menu was the “Welcome to the Jungle” – Exotic combination of Coconut and Pandan. The Froyo comes out in a beautiful aqua green colour and has more of a coconut flavour than a pandan flavour, so the only change I would recommend is to increase the amount of pandan – overall it was a delicious yoghurt!

The next flavour that came out was the “Titanium” – Crushed Black Sesame seeds infused Froyo. I am not a a huge Black Sesame fan so this flavour wasn’t my thing, but everyone around really enjoyed it. It had a lot of depth and a massive flavour hit – definitely one for Black Sesame lovers.

“Lana Del Grey” – Earl Grey tea combined with dried Cranberries – was the next flavour to sample and was one of my favourites! I must admit I am usually not an Earl Grey drinker or fan, however the flavour of the Earl Grey was subtle and coupled with the cranberries made for a very refreshing froyo! Yum!

Next up was the “Purple Rain” – Acai Berry & Organic Froyo – this was another one of my faves. I love the use of acai berry in this yoghurt which resulted in a punchy tangy flavour! “Where the Wild Rosemary Grows” – Combination Rosemary Cheesecake – was up next and this was one of the flavours that I didn’t quite fancy; the flavour was too “tarty” and the flavours did not work at all!

Our second last flavour was “Drop It Likes Its Choc and Orange” – Rich Chocolate combined with Citrus Orange – this was absolutely devine! The combination of the orange and chocolate was perfect and it tasted like a smooth Jaffa. Definitely one for chocolate lovers!

To end the night we finished with “Like a Virgin (Mary)” – Tomato and Tabasco Frozen Creation (Vegan) – which had flavours of peppers and Tabasco through it and was quite fiery on the palate. It was a bit strange to have these sensations and flavours associated with a yoghurt, so I wasn’t a fan of this flavour. However, kudos has to go to the team for thinking outside the box and trailing this flavour out.

In addition to seeling frozen yoghurts, Ilya also sells a selection of healthy smoothies (made together with their frozen yoghurt of course!) – there are 6 to choose from including Body Builder (Bananas, Protein Powder, Peanut Butter, Nuts, Cinnamon, Vegan Choc and Organic Milk), Tropical Paradise (Mango, Banana, Coconut yoghurt and Organic Milk) and Tummy Filler (Banana, Berries, Dates & Oats, Tart Yoghurt and Organic Milk) just to name a few.

At the end of night before leaving, we were all given a goodie bag which included a small tub of frozen yoghurt to take home and enjoy – I got the Cookie Dough flavour – which I was extremely excited about as it was one of the flavours that I really wanted to try (I love anything to do with cookies!). In our goodie bags we were also given a large empty froyo cup and were told that we could come back at any time and enjoy a free serving of frozen yoghurt on the house – an offer I will definitely be taking up!
Ilya has a feel-good vibe running through the venue; from the laid back and caring owners to the super-friendly and helpful staff. It is a great place to come with friends and hang out at – and also is great if you have younger kids who can contribute to the artwork that appears on the walls in their backroom. What better place than to enjoy a guilt-free treat that tastes delicious and has such variety in the number of flavours and toppings to choose from!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – 8 flavours available every day – they change day to day
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Comfortable and Relaxed. A great place to hang out with friends and family!
Standout Flavour: Cookie Dough, Purple Rain and Lana Del Grey. For those of you who like Pandan, Coconut and Black Sesame – go with “Welcome to the Jungle” , “Flawless” or “Titanium”
Service: Friendly, Fun and Helpful
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://ilyafroyo.com.au/
277 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick
Tel No: 9077 1080

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12:00pm – 10:00pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ilyafroyo
Instagram: ilyafroyo
Twitter: @ilyafroto

Ilya Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon