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

Lucy Liu – Red, Asian and Delicious

panda 4 rating

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The long awaited replacement for PM24 – Lucy Liu has arrived, and arrived with a vengeance. The entrance is located down the cobble stoned Oliver Lane – just follow the red neon lights that illuminate the short corridor (or tunnel – whichever you prefer to call it) where you are greeted with a large sign where its name appears – LUCY LIU.

From the moment you step inside you feel like you have been transported to another world – it almost feel like a movie set – complete with bamboo scaffolding, blonde timber, splashes of red (to keep the theme running from the entrance) and a buzz that further adds to the exciting and lively vibe. As you enter, to the right side are some tables if you wanted to just come in for a drink and to the left are tables located for dining and trying some of their delicious food dishes.

Lucy Liu is the brainchild of Michael Lambie (The Smith, Taxi, Circa), Scott Borg and Zac Cribbes. The fit out is done by March Studio (Gazi, Baker D Chirico, Young Bloods Diner and more ) and the result is spectacular. I love the aforementioned bamboo scaffolding which reminds you of building sites in Hong Kong and China mixed together with polished concrete floors and brickwork accents throughout the venue. There is a mix of communal tables, booth seating, low tables, high tables as well as seating at the bar. Tables are either wooden or Laminex topped paired with comfortable seats, with larger tables having a Lazy Susan for ease. There is also a private dining room available for larger parties.

The menu explores Lambie’s distinct fusing of Asian and western flavours to create a spectacular. Lucy Liu isn’t all about the one Asian cuisine, but a little bit of all of them – be it Chinese, Japanese, Thai.
The menu is split into six different sections – Small Bites & Tastes, Dumplings & Buns, Plates, Larger, Sides and Sweets. There is a lot of variety and you left confused with what to choose – there is a Let Lucy Choose option – where you let Lucy pick the dishes that come to your table. There is either a 5 Plate ($55 per person) or 7 Plate ($65 per person) option to choose from.

Small Bites & Tastes include Freshly Shucked Oysters with Red Nam Jim or Ponzu Dipping Suace, Tempura Soft-Shelled Crab, Korean Fried Chicken, Thai Fish Cakes and Organic Tofu just to name a few – there are 11 dishes to select from ranging from $4 to $22.

The Dumplings & Buns section has 4 different dumplings and 4 different “buns” to choose from. Interestingly vegetarian dumplings don’t make it to the list – Crystal Skin Prawn & Bamboo, Steamed Pork & Chestnut, Peking Duck and Barramundi & Scampi are on offer. BBQ Lap Chong ‘Hot Dog’, Crispy Pork Bun and Steamed Sticky Beef Bun are on offer together with a Soft Shelled Crab ‘Jianbing’ Pancake Roll.

Plates and Larger are your more substantially sized dishes and cover a good cross section of your Seafood and Meat dishes, however not very Vegetarian options are available. The Vegetarian options are more evident in the Sides section with Stir Fried Asian Greens, Lucy Liu Spiced Green Apple Coleslaw and Green Bean & Mizuna Salad are available.

Sweets showcase six different desserts, some having the Asian flair running through them. Chocolate lovers aren’t left out either with their delectable Chocolate Dulce de Leche.

I have been to Lucy Liu a few times now (yep it really is that great!) and mostly seem to stick to the dishes that I really love but have ventured into new territory and tried out other dishes as well. The first few times we were seated amongst where most of the tables are located with a view of the kitchen / bar, and the last time I went we sat at the bar and had a great view of the chef’s preparation of the dishes.

The table setting is quite unique with holographic placemats – each showcasing a different picture such as Koalas, Trees, Ducks – that you turnover to reveal the menu. Swanky!
You can’t help but order at least a dish from each of the sections – usually starting with the Small Bites & Tastes. My absolute favourite dish from this section is the Soft Shelled Crab Jianbing Pancake Roll with Spicy Hoi Sin Sauce. The pancake on the outsides is soft, thin and perfectly cooked and contrasts well with the crunch of the soft shell crab on the inside. The spicy hoi sin sauce really brings all the components of the dish together and the result will have your tastebuds dancing and craving more. The first time we ordered this dish, we were tempted to order another serving – a must try dish!

Another dish from the first section was the Crispy Fried Quail with Shichimi Pepper and Spicy Plum Dressing. The girls did enjoy this dish – the spices on the crispy coating on the outside paired well with the sweetness of the plum sauce, with the quail cooked well.

N also ordered the Korean Fried Chicken Ribs with Kewpie Mayo – a simple dish with a kick of spice and hint of garlic. Seeing how quickly the dish was demolished – another great tasting dish.

We all ordered a serving of the Fresh Betel Leaves with Kingfish and Chilli Peanut Sambal – which isto be eaten with the Betel Leaf. The Kingfish was fresh and succulent and the pairing of the Chilli Peanut Sambal worked well together – adding some spice and crunch.

A definite hit with everyone was the Crispy Pork Bun with Spicy Kimchi and Kewpie Mayo. There were many MMMs and YUMMMs mentioned throughout the consumption of this dish. Slightly larger than bite sized – the bun is soft and cloudlike paired together with the spicy kimchi, creamy kewpie mayo, pork and finished with coriander.

One of my favourite dishes is the Barramundi and Scampi Dumplings with Chilli, Ginger and Spring Onions. This was recommended to us the first time from our friendly waiter and boy am I glad he did. The combination when I first read it on the menu sounded intriguing as it is something you don’t usually see. The dish comes out with the dumplings hidden by the chilli, ginger, spring onions and coriander – the soft casing of the dumpling gives way to the exhilarating combination of barramundi and scampi on the inside, the topping of chilli and ginger are the perfect flavouring accompaniment. The sweet and sour hit paired with the freshness of the seafood is divine! Another must try dish!
The Yellow Fin Tuna Tataki, Wasabi Ginger Dressing and Sesame Crackers is an impressive looking dish – from the vibrant pink of the Yellow Fin Tuna to the snow white sesame crackers finishing with the orange tones of the salad. The textured coating of the tuna was delicious with the tuna itself being seared to perfection. The sesame crackers were reminiscent of the prawn crackers you would usually see at a Chinese restaurant and were an interesting addition. The Wasabi Ginger dressing provided some heat and spice which worked well with the sweetness of the carrot.

From the Plates section we ordered the Green Papaya Salad with Beans, Tomato, Peanuts, Hot Chilli. This was quite a colourful and vibrant dish – with the fresh green beans and red cherry tomatoes finished with crunchy peanuts. This dish had quite a lot of spice to it which I loved! Nothing works better than the addition of spice to balance out the tanginess of the papaya.

We also ordered the Tempura Organic Tofu and Seasonal Vegetables with Tomato Chilli Dipping Sauce dish from the Plates section. This was one dish that I didn’t enjoy quite so much. The flavouring of the Tempura itself was quite bland and lacked flavour. The Tomato Chilli Dipping sauce was definitely a needed component for this dish.

The Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Green Chilli Dhal and Cucumber Relish is yet another stand out dish. The Lamb Shoulder had been impeccably cooked – soft, tender and fell off the bone. The Green Chilli Dhal was absolutely divine – milky, wholesome with the right amount of spice to it. Together as a whole paired with the cucumber and yoghurt relish it was a truly great dish. One of those dishes that remind you of a typical lamb roast your mum used to make.

The Roast Barramundi Fillet with Black Bean & Chilli Sambal & Nouc Cham Dipping Sauce is a dish that you will find under the Larger menu. The Barramundi is served atop of the Black Bean & Chilli Samabl, with the Nuoc Cham Dipping sauce served separately in a cup. I am not a huge fan of Black Beans and try to avoid them whenever I can, however this Black Bean was simply delicious. The texture and flavouring worked extremely well with the perfectly roasted Barramundi Fillet – you almost didn’t even need the addition of the Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce. If you love your fish dishes – you should definitely try this dish out.

Despite being quite full, we had to try the desserts and since there was four of us – we decided to order three different desserts and share amongst ourselves.

The Ginger Crème Brulee – Palm Sugar Caramel and Sesame Tuile. The crème brulee was creamy, smooth and silky with the perfect level of crunchiness from the top coating of sugar caramel. The ginger flavouring was slight and not overpowering which is what you want in a dish like this. The sesame tuile was interesting in flavour and I am undecided about the pairing of this with the ginger crème brulee.

The Chocolate Dulce De Leche with Blood Orange Foam – the mousse was quite rich and heavy in flavour, however was light and fluffy in texture. The addition of the foam had a sherbet style tanginess to it which made your tastebuds pop and fizz. You couldn’t eat this foam on its own and the addition of the mousse worked well together – after all chocolate and orange really do seem to mesh.

The Lucy’s Knickerbocker Glory with Lychee Sorbet and Red Fruit Compote would have to be my favourite dessert out of the lot. The knickerbocker is a cross between a sundae and a trifle all rolled into one. There are layers of sweet tart fruit, topped with whipped cream, chocolate buttons, jelly squares and chunky bits of honeycomb. This really is a fun dessert to have as there are many textures and flavours to taste and enjoy. The surprise of every mouthful being different also adds to the deliciousness.

Lucy Liu is a great addition to Melbourne’s laneways bringing a vibrant, casual and funky eating and drink bar that serves up delicious tasting Asian cuisine coupled with brilliantly made drinks. The staff are fantastic – always helpful and offer great opinions on what dishes to order and the amount required for your party size. Another major advantage is that Lucy Liu takes bookings, but also reserves a part of the restaurant for walk-ins. I would highly recommend that you check this awesome place out!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to picture above or visit
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Chick, Unique, Vibrant and Funky. A great place for catch up drinks, celebration dinner or even date night – such a versatile venue!
Standout Dish: Barramundi and Scampi Dumplings with Chilli, Ginger and Spring Onions / Soft Shelled Crab Jianbing Pancake Roll with Spicy Hoi Sin Sauce
Service: Friendly and very helpful. If you can’t decide what to order the staff will go out of their way to let you know their favourite dishes and what dishes work well together.
Online Booking: No – only via phone
Restaurant Details and Location:
lucylius.com.au
23 Oliver Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9639 5777

Opening Hours
Monday to Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucyLiuMelbourne
Twitter: @LucyLiu_Melb
Instagram: lucyliu_melbourne

Roti Road – Roti Show and A Whole Lot More!

panda 3.5 rating

 

A friend told me about Roti Road and how the Roti Chef does a “Roti Performance” where he flips, twirls roti bread to a variety of musical tunes – this can include Michael Jackson! The food was tasty as well she said so I was intrigued and curious to try it out for myself.

Roti Road is Malaysian Chinese fusion restaurant located in Footscray – taking over what used to be Yummie – and is half owned by David Tran (son of Yummie’s Annie and John Tran). It has received a grand make over which sees the fit-out being completed with glossy wood, red banquettes, a fish tank and an open view into the kitchen. You are initially greeted by two large doors which lead you into the restaurant. Inside there are two main dining areas – one to the left and one to the right. If you are in the dining room to the right – you can be seated with a view looking into the kitchen where you can watch Awi – the master roti maker in action. If you are seated to the left – Awi will come to you and showcase his brilliant roti making skills. The times of his performance varies according to crowd levels but is generally around the 8pm mark each night – with some nights having two performances.

The menu is extensive and they serve Yumcha daily till 3pm (as per its previous life as Yummie). All food is made in-house from the roti to the laksa paste. There are Stir Fried Noodles, Noodles in Soup, Mains, Rice Dishes, Vegetable Dishes and Desserts to choose from. The menu is a mixture of words as well as pictures of certain dishes which can sway your decision of what to order. However ordering Roti is a must – after all the place is called Roti Road – trust me you won’t be disappointed. For Desserts – they serve Roti Tisu / Roti Pisang – which is a Roti that comes out looking like a teepee with a side serving of ice cream. The Roti is coated in sugar – this is yet another must try dish! Other dishes on their menu include Nasi Lemak, Char Kuay Teow, Maggie Mee Goreng, Malaysian Style Fish Head Curry, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Goreng just to name a few.

I am a huuggggeeee fan of bubble tea so when I got to the drinks menu and saw they had a number of flavours I hadn’t encountered before I had to order one. The one that caught my eye was the Oreo Bubble Tea – Oreos have always been my weak point in the biscuit range, so when it is combined with my other favourite bubble tea – I was really excited! And boy did it not disappoint! The bubble tea came out served in a large beer mug glass, with the pearls at the bottom and an oreo floating at the top. The flavour was absolute heaven – it was the creaminess of the milk together with crunchy pieces of Oreo throughout the milk tea with the pop of the pearls. You have to try it just to know how good it is!

N ordered the Chicken Satay which had hints of the smokiness thanks to the use of the charcoal grill. I tasted the accompanying satay sauce which was a lot spicier than most of the other peanut sauces I have tasted – a winner in my book!

I ordered the Seafood Cigars – which come served in a cocktail glass filled with shredded carrot. The Cigars are quite tall in size and are topped and tailed with black sesame seeds. The pasty on the outside is crunchy in texture and works well with the wholesome prawn filling.

N and I both ordered a serving of the Roti. The Roti comes served on a tin plate which has separate sections for the sambal, dhal and curry sauce. The sambal is spicy goodness, the dhal has subtle hints of earthy tones and the curry sauce is full of flavour with a hint of spice. The Roti is to-die-for – it is crisp, light and fluffy – and is good enough to eat on its own. You seriously could have a tonne of these Roti’s! The combination of the roti with its constituents is fantastic and I love the idea that you can mix and match the differing flavours. You can also add either chicken curry or beef rending curry to the mix as well if you want. We also ordered the Belachan KangKung – a fresh tasting dish which combined the crunch of the kangkung with the deep spicy flavours of the shrimp paste.

I was really hungry that day so I also ordered the Seafood Curry Laksa. The serving size is quite generous ( I struggled to finish the entire bowl). You are greeted by the enticing smell and the deep red hues as it is placed in front of you – with the inviting seafood, bean shoots and eggplant bopping up and down. The egg noodles are hidden away at the bottom and you need to dig deep to get to them. The Laksa is bursting with flavour – rich and spicy and it really hits the spot. It would be especially perfect on a freezing cold & rainy day. The tofu is divine and the seafood fresh.

We went to dinner on a Sunday and didn’t get a chance to stay for the show at 8pm, however as we were seated in the dining room to the right – we had a clear view of the kitchen window and got to enjoy Awi’s Roti magic. He starts off by spreading a ball of dough, then he lifts, flips and slaps it around to get it into a rectangular shape. This is when the show really begins – there is twirling, throwing and catching – all whilst not making so much as a tear or rip in the dough. Once he has completed this he then lays it back on the bench and folds it into the desired shape to be cooked. I will definitely be back bringing more people here to not only try the food out but to stay for the show performance that happens out in the dining area amongst the crowd to tunes.

Service is good – staff are friendly and happy to answer any questions – but it seems like once you get your food this lowers. It also took a long time to get someone’s attention to ask for the bill that in the end up we ended up going to the counter itself to pay.

Roti Road has great tasting authentic Malaysian food with the added bonus of a Flying Roti show. The menu has a huge variety that even the fussiest person will something that they want to eat – be it from soups, noodles to veggies. Check it out and DEFINITELY try the ROTI!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above of their Takeaway Menu or you can find a link here – http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/71/restaurants/1835788/menu_photos/438713
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely and Casual. Great for a family dinner.
Standout Dish: Roti!!
Service: Not too bad – sometimes it can be hard to get the attention of staff. But when you do they are friendly and helpful.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.rotiroad.com.au
189-193 Barkly Street, Footscray
Tel No: 9078 8878

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday : 10.30am – 9.30pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:00am – 10:00pm
Sunday: 10.30am – 9.30pm

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rotiroad

Roti Road on Urbanspoon

Theic Tea Bar – Welcome to the World of Tea

Menu:
Theic Tea Bar Menu  Theic Tea Bar Teas 1  Theic Tea Bar Teas 2Theic Tea Bar Teas 3  Theic Tea Bar Teas 4

I love tea as much as people love coffee, but it has been a more recent love – I would say in the last 4-5 years. Theic Tea Bar is a pop up store which is located inside the INSITU Furniture Gallery in Collingwood and serves a variety – 24 in fact – of specialty teas and is owned and run by Nathan Wakeford (Somage Fine Foods) from their Chamellia range.

You can literally spend hours if not the whole day here at this pop-up sipping on different cups of tea, trying out the colourful and intriguing furniture that is around and eating the delicious delicacies in the form of sweets. There is a small range of vegan and mostly raw bites, as well as some pieces being gluten free  – which range from small treats to medium eats – and from reading the descriptions they all sound delicious and serve as a the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. There are sweets such as Pana Chocolate Raw Passionfruit Cheesecake to the Raw Chocolate Donut and Snickers Ball. These are created thanks to the working combination of Chinta Desserts, Loafer Bakery and Botanical Cuisine. If you wanted “A little bit more” – there is a selection of a Raw Vegan Salad and a Theic Tasting Plate which consists of raw linseed crackers, dried fruits nuts and 2 dips of your choice from the 4 on offer all for $10. Dips include Carrot & Fennel Pate, Victorian Olive Pate, Lemon & Dill “Cheese” and Mushroom &Truffle Pate.

The name itself means is quite interesting and means ‘‘a tea drunkard, one prone to the immoderate consumption of tea’ – and it really does represent what Nathan is about. He is all about the tea and brewing it with love using the utmost care and perfect temperature. If that is not enough he drives almost two hours up Mount Donna Buang to collect fresh spring water and fills massive jugs to bring them back to Melbourne. This is the ensure Theic Tea Bar is brewing their Chamellia tea with the best of waters to further enhance the tea flavour.

Now to the teas – there are pages and pages to choose from and the specialty brews come from Korea, Sri Lanka, Nepal and China and include white teas, green teas, blooming teas, oolongs, black teas, tisane, puerhs, herbals, iced teas, a rooibos from South Africa and tea lattes. The Benifuuki Green Tea Latte sounded simply magnificient but after my third cup of tea (and unfortunately I couldn’t stay for much longer at the Tea Bar) – I was too full to try it out. This green tea comes with raw panella sugar and served with either soy or rice milk.

The tea is brewed using the spring water from Mount Donna Buang in boilers which are adjusted to the specific temperature that is required of each tea. The tea leaves are then placed in handmade teapots and pre-rinsed and served. The serving presentation is fantastic – there is a wooden tray as a base together with the teapot which was used to brew the tea, another vessel where the tea has been poured out into, as well as a cup which you use to drink the splendid tea and sometimes a square dish which shows you the brewed leaves. It really is a cute and great style.

Each tea that is served to you comes with an information card – which is another great little idea – and provides you with a background and description of the tea on one side, and facts such as water temperature, amount of tea to use, number of infusions and the grading on the other side.

The first tea that I tried was he Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea. This tea had a great floral aroma and had a great sweet taste to it. This tea is from Taiwan in the Miaoli Country region and had two infusions. The second infusion was just as nice as the first infusion – it enhanced the floral and sweet flavours of the tea. To go with tea I ordered the Pana Chocolate Raw Passionfruit Cheesecake – which was a bite sized piece of deliciousness. The passionfruit cheesecake was a great flavour combination – sour and sweet perfection with the chocolate base and topped with coconut.

I was tossing up between getting another tea and getting the Benifuuki Green Tea Latte. I settled for the Himalayan Spring White Tea which comes from Nepal in the Maipokhari, Ilam region. This tea was more crisp and flowery at the same time. I did enjoy this second tea a fraction more than the first one – but having said that both of the teas were fantastic.

Theic Tea Bar is such a fantastic concept and the staff really do have a passion and love for tea and are super friendly. There was another staff member who was infusing her first teas and I got to watch as Nathan taught her how to perfect the process. It is such a great place to come on the weekend to sit back, relax, unwind and drink some really delicious teas and eat some great tasting sweets.

Theic Tea Bar
https://www.facebook.com/theicspecialtyteabar

Tel No: 0438 770 087

Theic Tea Bar on Urbanspoon

NOTE: They were located at 77 Cromwell St, Collingwood – however are no longer there. Please visit their Facebook page to see where they will “pop-up” next.

Gelato Messina – A Bit of Italy in Fitzroy

panda 4.5 rating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon