Bangpop Thai – Popping Flavours

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I work around the Docklands / South Wharf area and we needed a place for a farewell lunch. I had heard about the newly opened Bangpop Thai and with such an interesting name and a cuisine that most people love I thought I couldn’t go wrong. The name comes from the Thai word for village – BANG and POP represents the bold  flavours, and vibrant colours.

Bangpop Thai is located in what used to be The Sharing House (and it still has the presence of the old venue in the form of the Lego bar) and the next venture by Paul Mathis. The atmosphere that has been created is reminiscent of the Bangkok hawker style street. The main attraction is the collection of bikes that are lined up outside the dining area – the bikes are named Venus and Mars and are in colourful colours of red and orange. The place as a whole is vibrant and welcoming.

There are mostly communal tables which match the menu of shared dishes. These tables serve well if you have a large group of people. There is also seating along the bar on high stools if you wish. The menu is separated out into 7 different sections – small plates, larger plates, noodles, rice, spicy salads and desserts – and has been devised by Karn McManamey in consultation with Yaigum – who is a Thai street food stall-holder with more than 40 years experience and has an extensive knowledge about Isaan cuisne (North-Eastern Thailand). In staying true to the Thai style dishes are centred on the spiciness and tang of lime/lemon along with the gingery and garlic flavours – YUM!

The aim of the restaurant is to create an affordable, casual and authentic menu and I really do believe they achieve this.

As we were on our work lunch break and there were about 13 of us, we had called up ahead and pre-ordered our dishes. We were also informed of the Lunch Specials menu where you would get a dish and a drink (beer, wine or soft drink) all for $15. Value for money indeed! When our dishes arrived, we were also presented with  four different condiments and were told that these were there to adjust the balance of flavours for our menu. The waitress explained each condiment was – I don’t have a picture of these but there was Sugar, two different types of Chilli and some spices.

I ordered the Thai Green Curry which came with Vegetables, Tofu, Thai Basil, Beanshoots and Chilli. The curry was delicious and had the flavours were great. I love my chilli so I did add extra chilli from the condiments that were given to us, but I am pretty sure that most people wouldn’t need to do that. The sauce was thick and the coconut flavour was fresh, paired with the basil. The tofu and vegetables were cooked perfectly as well. One thing to note was that the people that ordered the Lunch Special – the consensus was that the dishes were on the small side and it didn’t fill them up completely. T had the Yum Nua which is marinated beef sirloin salad and she said the Beef was tender and tangy and the dish as a whole was refreshing and tasted great.

A friend and I decided to share a dessert and went for the Saku Song Kreuang – Tapioca Pandan Pudding with Mango Sorbet. This is one of my new favourite desserts. I am a huge fan of tapioca pudding and mango is one of my favourite fruits – so to have them paired together in a dessert was bliss! I am not a huge fan of roasted coconut which was added on top of the pudding (and yes I know this is quite common in Thai desserts) – so I could have done without this addition. But overall the dessert was super tasty and had three different textures going on – the pop and jellyness of the tapioca pudding, the smooth coolness of the mango sorbet and the crunch of the coconut. The pandan flavour is quite light through the pudding as well and wasn’t too strong at all. A definite must try!

They also have an extensive drinks menu and whilst we were waiting for the rest of the team to arrive we saw the bar tender making some exciting looking cocktails. There are ingredients such as Kaffir lime leaves, ginger, chilli that are added to these cocktails for a Thai flavour. The beers also compromise of the traditional Thai beers as well as other craft beers.

The service at Bangpop was excellent – the staff was very helpful and friendly. A fellow colleague needed a vegetarian dish (and he didn’t like tofu) so a staff member was helpful in assisting him in finding a dish as there wasn’t really anything on the menu to have and consulted the chefs. Bangpop during the lunch hour filled up its large airy space and the atmosphere was vibrant yet not too loud. They are a very reasonably priced restaurant and a great addition to the South Wharf area.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Menu that is split into 7 different sections – view the menu at http://www.bangpop.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Vibrant, Electric and Fun. Really colourful and it does remind you of a busy street in Bangkok – hawker style!
Standout Dish: Saku Song Kreuang – Tapioca Pandan Pudding with Mango Sorbet
Service: Fantastic and Attentive, Friendly and very Helpful
Online Booking: Bangpop doesnt take bookings – just walk in!
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.bangpop.com.au/
35 South Wharf Promenande, South Wharf
Tel No: 9245 9800

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm
Dinner: 6pm – 10:30pm

BangPop on Urbanspoon

Pearl Oyster – Hidden Gem for Breakkie

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Lean Green Poached Eggs with Hummus, Dukkah, Wilted Baby Spinach and Pomegranate Molasses over Creamy Labneh
Lean Green Poached Eggs with Hummus, Dukkah, Wilted Baby Spinach and Pomegranate Molasses over Creamy Labneh
Sambal Spinach Omelette with Crispy Fried Shallots and Chilli on Toasted Sourdough
Sambal Spinach Omelette with Crispy Fried Shallots and Chilli on Toasted Sourdough

Pearl Oyster is a bit of a hidden gem located in Thornbury and run by Philip Smiley with his wife Angella. It has a vintage/retro feel about it and comes complete with old school style cushion chairs. The staff are friendly and welcoming and some even dress in the 50s or 60s glam! Fantastic! There is a courtyard area out the back where you can enjoy the sunshine and dance away to the up-beat and very danceable tunes.

When it comes to food, Pearl Oyster only sources fresh produce products and I think has a menu that is fantastic as it caters for one and all. There are options for the vegetarians, vegan and gluten-free people. The food is simple but everything is made from scratch and tastes delicious. You can tell that a lot of love went into making the food. There are also salad rolls and baguettes for lunch. Coffee is sourced from Supreme’s Origin Blend and is yet another reason to love this place!

This place is here to stay and is a neighbourhood favourite! Definitely check it out – you are sure to love it =)

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu –Weekly specials using the freshest produce
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Retro feel and Relaxed
Service: Friendly (NOTE: this place is kid friendly as well!)
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.pearloysterespresso.com/
114 Miller St
Preston
Tel No: 9480 2500

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 8:30am to 4:30pm
Sunday: 9am to 4pm

Pearl Oyster on Urbanspoon

Gumbo Kitchen – A Must Try Food Truck!

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Gumbo Kitchen is another food truck in the streets of Melbourne. Gumbo Kitchen is the brainchild of Michael Cotter and Patricia Stanton who were inspired on their visit to New Orleans. The focus of food from this truck is on the Cajun food of New Orleans such as the traditional and spicy stews served with rice – aka GUMBO.

I got to try out this specialty truck one lunchtime, when the food truck was parked out side of Ethihad Stadium down at Docklands. Just like many of the other trucks, you will need to follow them on Facebook or Twitter in order to find out their location.I had no idea what type of food was sold at the Gumbo Kitchen and even looking at the Menu and seeing words like Po Boys, The Dom and Gumbo thrown at me I still had no idea =p
There are three main varieties on the menu – a Po Boy is a fresh roll stuffed with a meat/seafood of your choice and topped with a chilli sauce if desired. Gumbo is a soup/stew with meat and a small amount of rice. The Dom is Beef served with Fries and Remoulade.

Before ordering I had to ask what each of them were. I settled with ordering a Shrimp Po Boy and I certainly am glad I made that choice. The Shrimp Po Boy was crunchy bread on outside filled with small deep fried battered prawns with hints of lemon juice, spicy cajun sauce and finished with slices of tomato and pickles. I am not a huge pickle fan but in this mix it was delicious and complimented the other flavours. The prawns were coated in delicious batter with a tinge of spice and the flavours literally popped in your mouth!The crunch of bread on the outside mixed with the softness of the filling on the inside was pure heaven and it seriously is one of the best bread / sandwiches I have ever come across! They are quite large, but they were that good that I wanted a second serving.

My friends who had the Gumbo and The Dom said that the dishes were good, but not as flavoursome as they thought it would be. Both the chicken and the beef were cooked well and were the heroes of each of the dishes. The dishes were filling and quite decently sized.

Overall, I had a great experience with the Gumbo Kitchen and would definitely try them again – especially the Shrimp Po Boy!!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gumbo-Kitchen/113192782105826?fref=ts

Twitter: @gumbokitchen

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – You can choose from Gumbo,Po Boys, The Dom and for dessert there is an Lemon Ice Box Pie – can be found at http://gumbokitchen.com/2012/09/14/gumbo-kitchen-menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun !!
Standout Dish: Fried Shrimp Po Boy
Service: Friendly, inviting and fun!
Online Booking: No…you will need to track them down!!
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://gumbokitchen.com/
164 High St
Northcote
(this is where they were intially based, but they go around to the inner suburbs, check their Facebook and Twitter for locations)
Tel No: 0411 037 652

Gumbo Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Spice Temple – Asian Fusion with Spice

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– Chinese Year Themed Drinks Menu
– Jasmine and Green Tea
– Ox – Buttermilk Yoghurt with Fresh Mango and Rose Petal
– Rat – Lavender Tea Soda with Hand Picked Mint
– Fried Salt and Pepper Silken Tofu with Spicy Coriander Salad
– Kung Pao Chicken – Sichuan peppercorn, heaven facing chillies and cashews
– Fish Drowned in Heaven Facing Chillies and Sichuan Peppercorns, Leatherjacket Sichuan Style
– Fish drowned in Heaven Facing Chillies and Sichuan Peppercorns, Leatherjacket Sichuan Style without the Chillies
– Hot and Numbing Crispy Duck
– Hot Pot of Fresh Shitake, Oyster, Enoki and wild Chinese Mushrooms, Yunna style
– Hunan Style Crisp Pork Belly with Fresh and Dried Chillies and Mushroom Soy
-Stir Fried Grass Fed Beef Fillet with Wok Blistered Peppers and Black Bean
– Stir Fried Spinach Sichuan Style
– Rose Granita with Fresh Lychees and Strawberries and Almond Milk Jelly
– Almond Milk infused Rice Pudding with Candied Fruit
– Caramel Chocolate and Peanut Parfait

SpiceTemple is Neil Perry’s foray into Asian cuisine. SpiceTemple has two branches – the first of which was opened in Sydney and later in Melbourne. The Melbourne venue resides at the Crown Entertainment Complex and has taken over from where Bistro Guillaume used to be. The look and feel of the restaurant is very dark, exotic and has hues of red and gold. Together with this there are solid dark wooden tables and low lantern like lights hanging over the tables. It gives a somewhat classy underground den like feel.

I went here for a group dinner with some friends and we got a variety of dishes to share – this is how the menu is designed – to share. We were impressed initially by the drinks menu – there was a100 wine menu list and they explain in 100 words why they have this many wines – innovative! There are also drinks created for each animal in the Chinese Year (refer to picture above). Being born in the year of the Rat – I had to try out the Year of the Rat drink of course. The drinks consisted of Lavender Tea Soda with Hand Picked Mint which was fresh and flowery. Another drink I tried was the Ox – Buttermilk yoghurt with Fresh Mango and Rose Petal. The Ox drink was absolutely amazing especially because I love mangoes – the creaminess of the buttermilk mixed with the mango definitely works! The only negative is the glass is half full and you want so much more. I guess this is their trick to keep you ordering more.

Prior to coming to eat at Spice Temple, I had read a review where the Fish drowned in Heaven Facing Chillies was mentioned as a must try and wanted to try it out. When the dish came out, all you could see was the heaven facing chilli’s just covering the whole dish (as you can see from the picture above). The waitress then removed these chillis, of which the fish had been “drowned” in to reveal the fish. The fish was spicy and the added peppercorns added the extra zing that you are made to feel on your tongue and your lips. It was a flavoursome dish and we all quite enjoyed it.

In fact, most dishes here at SpiceTemple include these peppercorns which give you that feeling. The initial reaction is “wow – this is quite an interesting experience,” however, once you get over that, to keep having that tingling sensation is a bit over whelming and annoying. You sometimes simply just want to eat your food and enjoy the flavours.
The Hot pot of Fresh Shitake, Oyster, Enoki and Wild Chinese Mushrooms, Yunna style was delicious. The mushrooms come out on a plate pre-cooked and you are shown by your waitress the different types of mushrooms, before they put it into the hot pot to cook in front of you. The broth had an added spice which meshed well with the mushrooms.

Dessert time consisted of Rose Granita with Fresh Lychees and Strawberries and Almond Milk Jelly, Almond Milk infused Rice Pudding with Candied Fruit and Caramel Chocolate and Peanut Parfait. The Rose Granita I had was fantastic. It had just the right amount of Granita to fruits and jelly. The combination of lychees and strawberries was unique and mixed well with the almond milk jelly. The flavours of rose and almond together gave you a creamy dreamy after-taste  The Caramel Chocolate and Peanut Parfait was like a circular snickers bar, and the parfait had the right amount of sweetness and consistency.

Overall, the atmosphere and environment were fantastic, although it could use a little bit more light. The dishes were good but not great and for the pricing is a bit on the high side. If you are a spice lover this would be the restaurant for you, however like I said before the tingling sensation of the peppercorns was a bit overwhelming . The drinks and the desserts were the winners here, but being a Neil Perry restaurant you would expect a bit more.

Rating : 2.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la carte – http://www.spicetemplemelbourne.com/wp-content/uploads/Main-Menu.pdf and Yumcha Menu – http://www.spicetemplemelbourne.com/wp-content/uploads/Yum-Cha-Menu1.pdf
Fullness: 80%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Dark, cosy and intimate.
Standout Dish: The Hot pot of Fresh Shitake, Oyster, Enoki and Wild Chinese Mushrooms, Yunna style
Service: Good Service and the wait staff were happy to assist with any questions we had. They also can recommend which dishes work well together according to the spice tolerance of people.
Online Booking:
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.spicetemplemelbourne.com/
Crown Complex,
Ground Floor, Shop 7
8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
Tel No: 8679 1888

Opening Hours:
Lunch (Yumcha)
Monday to Sunday:  12pm to 3pm

Dinner:
Monday to Sunday:  6pm to 11pm

Spice Temple on Urbanspoon

Lunch at Gingerboy

Lunch at Gingerboy

From Left to Right on each Row:
– Steamed Prawn & Garlic Chive Sui Mai with Red Vinegar Dressing
– Grilled Wagyu in La Lot Leaves with Coriander and Mint Relish
– Sweet and Sour Chicken, Chilli Peanuts, Sweet Tomato and Thai Basil
– Green Curry of Sea Bream, Garlic Shoots and Baby Corn
– Coconut Chocolate Splice with Candied Chilli and Water Chestnut
– Caramelized Banana and Tapioca Salad with Pandan Ice Cream

Summary
Rating: 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu: A la Carte and Banquet Menu – can be found at http://www.gingerboy.com.au/food-wine/menu
Fullness Factor: 75%
Atmosphere / Ambience: On a Friday night, there are drinks at Gingerboy Upstairs which is fantastic. The restaurant itself is red themed and quite comfortable and relaxing. Great for group dinners or date night.
Standout Dish: Whole fried baby snapper, roast chilli, lime dressing, hot and sour salad
Service: Attentive and had helpful information when asked about the menu
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.gingerboy.com.au/reservations
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.gingerboy.com.au
27-29 Crossley Street, Melbourne
Tel No: +61 396624200

Gingerboy on Urbanspoon