Banoi – A Piece of Vietnam in Docklands

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Drinks Menu

If you work around the Docklands vicinity you would have noticed the recent influx of Vietnamese food ventures opening up. Banoi is one of these Vietnamese venues that have opened up in this area and is located opposite the brightly coloured NAB building on Bourke Street.

Banoi is owned by a Vietnamese team and is all about offering a contemporary dining experience all whilst staying true to the Vietnamese heritage and culture, using quality local fresh Melbourne produce.

The fit out is fantastic – modern yet vintage with touches which are reminiscent of the Saigon markets back in Vietnam. There are timber feature walls, vibrant use of colours, detailed light fittings with filament light bulbs, hand painted works and imported tiles in the bar and coffee area. There are timber tables inside – both communal and individual tables – some with stools fixed with bicycle pedals (how awesome!) – as well as seating outside. The tables are set up like any other Vietnamese restaurant whereby there is easy access to cutlery and condiments.

The food menu is set out like a lunch order menu where you place the number in the box alongside the item that you want. The Menu is broken up into a number of sections – Rice Paper Rolls (there are 6 to select from), Snacks (consisting of spring rolls mostly and one skewer dish), Noodle Soup (Pho – either beef or chicken), Banoi’s Lunch Special – there are two that you can choose from A or B, Vermicelli Noodles (there are seven different flavours to choose from) and Salads (either a Wagyu Beef Salad or Chicken Salad). The menu also highlights which dishes are Vegetarian and Gluten-Free.
At just $15 the Banoi’s Lunch Special are a smashing deal and great value for money. Lunch Special A consists of a Beef Pho Cup, Banh Mi Half together with Imperial Spring Rolls of which you get 3. You can also select a drink of either a Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Kumquat Lemonade. Lunch Special B consists of Vietnamese Beef Curry Vermicelli with your selection of a drink as above.

The drinks menu is quite extensive and consists of a selection of drinks such as Kumquat Lemonade, Vietnamese Ice Coffee, Coconut Crush, Lychee Crush, Custard Apple Smoothies etc. There is also a selection of beers and wines, as well as the usual soft drinks and tea.

Banoi gets really busy during lunch times and I would suggest getting there at 12pm sharp in order to get yourself a table. They do take bookings but only if the booking is for 12pm, as they want to cater for walk-ins after that time. For those on the go there is a separate line / window where you can order rice paper rolls and drinks to take away.
The first time I tried Banoi I used this take away line and tried out two different types of rice paper rolls. I ordered the Fried Salt & Pepper Tofu with Kim Chi Sprouts as well as the Grilled Salmon with Avocado. Each serving comes with 2 rolls per serve. You also get your choice of sauces. The rolls were delicious and are fresh (as they are made fresh daily) and full of flavour and crunch thanks to the inclusion of traditional Asian herbs. My favourite out of the two was the Salt & Pepper tofu roll which had some added spice thanks to the use of Kim Chi sprouts. These rolls are quite generously sized and I had enough for dinner time as well!

The second time around we booked a table for 12pm and were seated inside. The atmosphere is buzzing and does make you feel like you are in downtown Vietnam in the markets. As I can only eat Halal meats the lunch special option was out for me so I decided to order the Silken Tofu Vermicelli Noodles – with wok tossed fried silken tofu and vegetarian spring rolls. I did ask the waitress if she could change these vegetarian spring rolls to the imperial spring rolls (which had crab & prawn inside them) however she said this couldn’t be done.

I ordered a Kumquat Lemonade drink which was refreshing. I really loved the flavour combination of kumquat and lemonade and had to stop myself from finishing the drink all in one go. A ordered the Coconut Crush which was just as good and had fresh pieces of coconut through the drink.

The Silken Tofu Vermicelli Noodles comes out presented beautifully – the salt and pepper crusted tofu sitting on top like soft pillows amongst the colourful greens, Kim Chi sprouts and spring rolls all served in a blue and white bowl, with the Vermicelli hidden underneath. There is sweet soy sauce on top in a separate dish as well. Just from the look of the dish I can barely contain myself to take picture of the dish without wanting to tuck into it. I pour the sauce throughout the dish and take my first mouthful and am not disappointed. It was fantastically delicious! The crunchy outside of the tofu together with the soft silkiness inside along with the coriander, herbs and spicy crunch of the sprouts was a match made in heaven. I literally devoured the entire dish. The vegetarian spring rolls were full of flavour and added depth to the dish as well.
Around the table everyone was talking about how good the food was. J got the Lunch Special A and said the Beef Pho was delicious – with the quality of the beef being top notch together with a tasty broth and quality noodles. He also commented on the Banh Mi being flavoursome with the bread being crunchy and fresh. I got a chance to sample the Imperial Rolls which have a delicate netting on the outside which I loved the look of. The rolls were superb – with a great texture of crunch on the outside and soft flavoursome prawn and crab meat on the inside. These rolls are a definite must order for anyone and everyone.

Service is great with staff friendly and always happy to assist if you need anything. Banoi also has a strong focus on good coffee – they work with Campos coffee – and use a La Marzocco machine to pump out smooth tasting and full flavoured cups.

Banoi is all about Vietnamese food and Vietnamese food done well – the ever growing queues and crowds at lunchtime and dinnertime are testament to this. The trek down to Docklands is definitely worth it.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above or the website – http://www.banoi.com.au/#menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Laid Back, Funky. Has a market like feel to it that reminds you of the Saigon Market in Vietnam. It is great for a casual meal and catch up drinks.
Standout Dish: Silken Tofu Vermicelli Noodles and Imperial Spring Rolls
Service: Friendly, Warm and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.banoi.com.au/
807 Bourke Street, Docklands
Tel No: 8080 9699

Opening Hours:
Monday: 11:00am-4:00pm
Tuesday to Saturday: 11:00am-9:30pm
Sunday: CLOSED

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/banoi.com.au
Twitter: @BanoiDocklands
Instagram: banoidocklands

Banoi on Urbanspoon

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Long Shot – Superb Coffee & Delicious Sweet Treats

panda 4.5 rating

Long Shot Café is located in the newly opened Collins Square located in Docklands. The Walker Evans Baker Restaurant Group (Lang Walker, Pete Evans, Gavin Baker) together with Executive Pastry Chef Shaun Quade (Quay in Sydney, Biota in Bowral, Urbane in Brisbane), and Jo Barrett (MoVida) are responsible for this green and white themed cafe.  Joshua Willis (previously of Proud Mary) is Head Barista, pumping out the St Ali coffee for both filter and espresso coffees.

Long Shot makes use of the limited space it has really well. It is designed by a collaborative design team – Emily Pedersen of Walker Corporation, Anna Drummond and Trish Turner of Colab Design Studio. There are black and white checkered floors, with timber tables and window seating complete with tiny wooden stools. The centrepiece would have to the overhanging green and white light shades which are reminiscent of blooming flowers. It feels like the perfect setup for a afternoon tea party. There is seating both inside as described, as well as outside – here there are high bench tables, as well as some lower tables with cushioned seating. There is a grab-and-go window for patrons that are in a hurry. The atmosphere is casual, relaxed and has that feeling that makes you want to come back again and again.

As you enter you are greeted by the barista station to the right and the impressive cabinet filled with sweet treats and savoury delights – think baked pastries, gourmet sandwiches, freshly made salads. All the baked good are made in house, courtesy of renowned pastry chef Shaun Quade and Jo Barrett. There are also bottled fermented sodas, flavoured milks (flavours such as white chocolate and macadamia, strawberry) in cute pint sized bottles that can be bought. Each day there is a new sweet treat available and if you follow them on instagram (long__shot) they post up what is available for the day mostly – these can include things like their take on a classic éclair, a decadent strawberry and pistachio cake, or a frangipane tart. They also serve Iced Coffees and teas from Byron Bay leaf teas.
For those who want something other than coffee, Long Shot also has a single tap stocking crisp German Wheat beer as well as a variety of wines by the glass.

The coffee is from St Ali and doesn’t need to be stated for it to be known that it was great tasting coffee. I ordered a latte which had a strong, nuttiness to it. The creamy aftertaste added a nice finishing touch.

Whenever I go there to get a coffee – be it sit in or take away – I am always drawn into getting a sweet treat. I will just mention a few that I have tasted.

The Chocolate and Coffee Cake topped with Meringue – was mind blowing! The combination of chocolate and coffee in liquid form would be a mocha – but to have it in a solid form was amazing. There was a richness thanks to the robust coffee – when combined with the bitter yet sweet chocolately goodness – the result was one of brilliance. The meringue was crunchy on the outside, and gooey on the inside and added a different type of sugary sweetness to complete the dish.

I have also tried the Chia Pudding with Berries and Almonds. The Chia Pudding was fresh and had bursts of flavour – the addition of the berries added a sweetness and tang that was needed to spruce up the normally plain tasting chia. I really enjoyed eating this treat – and it being considered healthy was a double upside.

Long Shot’s take on the typical chocolate brownie was interesting as well – it comes in a ball shape covered with chocolate, coconut and almond flakes. It was a bit tough initially to crack into – you need to use two hands – one to hold the ball in place and the other to attack with your spoon. The chocolate brownie was dense, rich and oh so yum! The coconut and almonds bits on the outside broke up the sweetness which was good. This is definitely one for the chocolate lovers!

Aside from the coffee – what I also enjoyed are their flavoured milks – the flavour that I had was the white chocolate and macadamia. I loved the texture of this “milk smoothie” – it was coarse due to the crushed macadamias. The flavour combination of the nuts and the white chocolate was really tasty and would be one that I recommend trying – the sweetness was just right! I am looking forward to sampling the other flavours that they have.

Long Shot is a great addition to the Docklands area – and is the place that I go to most afternoons to get my sweet hit when it gets around to 3:30itis as I work in the area. It is bringing great coffee to all the office workers in this area, as well as some great tasting house made food and sweet treats, The atmosphere is welcoming and the coffee feels like you are receiving a warm hug.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Selection of sweet treats such as chocolate brownies, chocolate eclairs and more, as well a selection of pastries, baguettes and fresh salads. Teas from Byron Bay Leaf Teas, Ice Coffee, Fermented Sodas, Flavoured Milk Smoothies, Tap Beer, Wine – Refer to http://long-shot.com.au/menu/ You can follow them on Instagram (long__shot) to get updates of what their latest foodie treats are
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Fun, Relaxed and has an Alice in Wonderland feel to it
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://long-shot.com.au/
727 Collins Street, Docklands
Tel No: 9252 7979

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7am – 5pm

Long Shot on Urbanspoon

De Mad Hatter – Breakkie Invite with Alice

panda 4 rating

halal symbol
I had the privilege along with a host of other bloggers such as Brunch Addict, The World Loves Melbourne and Forksake to attend a breakfast at De Mad Hatter. Having worked in the Docklands area for the last couple of years I had previously been to De Mad Hatter for many our team lunches, as well as for coffee and ice coffees.

You can refer to my previous blog post for De Mad Hatter at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/de-mad-hatter-alice-in-wonderland-style/

De Mad Hatter is located at the bottom of the recently opened Collins Square and is owned by the same people as Beanstalk Café – located just up the road from De Mad Hatter. De Mad Hatter’s low ceilings were the inspiration behind the Alice in Wonderland theme carried out throughout the venue and the menu. They change their menu twice a year according to the varying seasons.

As we were seated at our tables – the menu was laid out as well as the first dish for our breakfast which was the House Made Bircher Muesli topped with Yoghurt and Fresh Fruit. The muesli was presented in a glass- so you could see the layers of the different ingredients. The flavour was refreshing and the textures worked well together

Coffee is sourced from Degani and De Mad Hatter uses a flavour that is only exclusive to them – I ordered a Latte – which was full bodied, nutty and strong.

For the main dish selection of our breakfast – we got a choice of Homemade Pancakes topped with Fruit Compote and Ice Cream, Alice’s Brunch (Corn Fritters, Tomato, Grilled Bacon, Avocado & House made Tomato Chutney), Prosciutto and Asparagus Bruschetta (with Rocket, Olive Oil, Poached Egg and Parmesan Flakes) or the DMH Signature (which was Fried Egg, Chorizo, Oven Baked Cheesy Tortilla and toped with fresh Tomato and Bean Salsa).

Having a love of fritters – I of course selected the Fritters dish sans the grilled bacon. The dish came out with the fritters – there were around 4-5 fritters – on the base topped with the tomato, rocket and finally the avocado. The fritters were deep fried and as a result were crunchy on the outside. The inside was soft and cushion like, with the addition of the corn to create the juiciness. As a whole the dish was good but not great – I felt that the fritters could have been a bit bigger in size, therefore having a bit more of a filling to them. The house made tomato chutney was quite tasty and had a mix of sweetness and smokiness to it.

It was a great opportunity to not only meet my fellow food bloggers, but a chance to try out their breakfast menu, as a pose to their lunch menu which I have done many times. De Mad Hatter has a great vibe and serves good tasting coffee and food – if you are in the area check them out. Who knows maybe you will find stumble upon Alice herself or even the White Rabbit.

Also a point for all my Muslim readers – their Chicken is Halal. Their Chicken Parmigiana’s are ridiculously large and taste amazing. There are around 6 different types to choose from.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte as well as food served in Bain Marie’s, as well as a selection of salads, foccacias, baguettes etc.
Fullness: 90%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Quirky and fun
Online Booking: No – you are best to book a table for lunch if you have more than 4 people
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/d3madhatt3r
797 Collins St, Docklands
Tel No: 9620 2226

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 6am – 5pm

De Mad Hatter on Urbanspoon

Bar Nacional – Bringing Spain to Collins Street

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Raciones and Postres Bar Nacional Menu Comida Menu
D was down from Singapore visiting Melbourne and we needed a place to lunch in the Docklands area – what a perfect occasion to check out Bar Nacional. Bar Nacional is a partnership between Gavin Baker and Pete Evans who bring a bit of their time, memories and experience of San Sebastian to fruition.

Bar Nacional is a warm, inviting venue that is bustling with energy from the moment you step inside – be it at lunchtime, dinnertime, anytime. There is a central bar, with seats and tables surrounding it – the tables range from high to lower tables – and also ottomans and low chairs to sit comfortably. There are earthy tones together with bursts of orange. At the bar there are hanging cured meats to further complement the Spanish vibe.

The menu is created by head chef Alex Drobvsz (Daniel Boulud’s Bistro Moderne, Gordon Ramsay’s Maze) with desserts designed and perfected by Shaun Quade (The Royal Mail, Quay, Biota). Jo Barrett (MoVida Bakery) and Tom Beaumont (coffee director at St Ali) round up the rest of the team. The menu has a selection of tapas (small bites), Raciones (larger dishes – designed to share), and of course ending with Postres (desserts). There is also a Comida Menu which is available for lunch, which allows you try out some of the larger dishes and add some tapas dishes at a cheaper price, as well as adding a half glass of wine for $5. Many of the dishes display the wealth of experience that comes from the Chefs – and has an interesting array of unique ingredients, flavour combinations whilst staying true to the Spanish theme.

There is also a great drinks menu which encompasses wines from Spain and Australia, as well as house-made Sangria, Australian craft beers, ciders – all which when put together with the food are complementary.

For all the cured meat lovers – this is your heaven. There are three types of jamón, including the magnificently rich and sweet 36-month-cured jamón bellota puro, the deep-flavoured lomo (cured and seasoned pork tenderloin), the dry-cured bull negro sausage and a very good chorizo. These are all cured and sliced to order – either in 30 grams or 60 gram lots, but you can just order a charcuteria to get a selection to try them all out!

We ordered a mix of tapas and Raciones dishes for the 4 of us to share. We started off with the Charred Broccoli Croquette. Each croquette was securely placed on the plate with lemon aioli under each croquette. The Croquettes were delicious – golden perfection the outside, a great crunch combined with the rich, creamy and nutty flavouring on the inside. It was refreshing to see broccoli (one of my fave vegetables) to be inside, instead of the usual mushroom / rice combination you find.

We then received the Prawn Salad, Avocado, Lemon Puree, Saffron and Rooftop Greens and the Patatas Bravas. However, V realised that when the Prawn salad came out, there was still a plastic film left on top of the flat solid puree. We notified the waitress and she apologised and brought us a fresh dish sans plastic film. (They didn’t charge us for this dish). The Prawn salad was an interesting dish – it was refreshing and the combination of the elements and textures worked well together. It was a fancy interpretation of a salad that worked well.

The Patatas Bravas was delicious – crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside and finished with a smoky tomato sauce. You cannot go wrong by ordering this dish.

We also ordered the Grilled Bread, Marinated Yoghurt dish. The bread was soft, fluffy and beautifully made and I absolutely loved the seasoning on the crust of the bread – a combination of seasame, poppy seeds, dukkah and spices. The marinated yoghurt got lots of interesting mm’s and sounds around the table – with the result of enjoyment. The tanginess of the yoghurt worked well with the spices in the bread.

Next up was the very, very and by very I mean very impressive Racione dish of the Baked Flathead, Smoked Eggplant and Salad Greens. This has been cooked on a cherry-wood plate in a wood-fired Josper at 400 degrees. For the preparation of this dish Drobysz gets the firewood supplier to cut various fruit woods – varying from peach, cherry, olive and almond – into disc sized pieces and puts the whole fish on the board. The fish is then brushed with garlic oil, salt and pepper and put into the oven. Here the oils from the wood are released and mixed into the fish. The result is a smouldering (literally) dish that comes out to the table together with the brilliant smell of the smoky char. The plating of the dish is fantastic – the fish is casually draped on top of the wood that it was cooked in – to the side is a dollop of the smoky eggplant. The fish was perfectly cooked and was soft with a smoky flavour – the only issue was the abundance of the little bones – however all is forgiven when you eat the fish. The smoky eggplant was the perfect accompaniment to the fish.

The others also ordered the Braised Beef Empanada – which look like mini pocket samousas. They all enjoyed this and loved how soft and flavoured the beef was on the inside.

I couldn’t leave without trying one of Shane Quade’s desserts. I couldn’t decide which of his desserts I wanted but in the end went with the Baked Sweetcorn, Popcorn Ice Cream, Toasted Maize and Brown Butter. And am I glad I did. The dish came out plated beautifully – and is up there with the best in terms of presentation. There was a smooth, ice cream like consistency mousse that resembled that of a corn cob, together with a perfect quenelle of Popcorn Ice cream – I MEAN ITS POPCORN ICE CREAM! How awesome is that!! Finished with Toasted Maize sprinkled on top together with milk powder and fried polenta. It was a mix of savoury and sweet and it really worked! This dessert is quite a heavy dish, but you simply cannot leave any of it behind – its just too good! You find yourself going back for more even after you tell yourself you cannot put anymore down. Definitely try this dessert out! IT’S A MUST!

I had a great time at Bar Nacional – the staff are friendly and really know their dishes – you can ask them to describe a dish of what exactly it is and they are do so with a smile. The dishes are of great quality with a taste to match – aside from the one hiccup with the plastic film (all is forgiven as the food overall was just delicious). Bar Nacional is definitely bringing a bit of Spain / San Sebastian to Docklands – and a result will increase foot traffic to this part of town. Try it out for yourself and see what I am talking about.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$$$
Menu – Refer to pics above or check it out at http://www.barnacional.com.au/menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Funky and Chilled out
Standout Dish: Baked Flathead, Smoked Eggplant and Salad Greens and for Dessert – Baked Sweetcorn, Popcorn Ice Cream, Toasted Maize and Brown Butter
Service: Fantastic, Friendly, Knowledgeable
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.barnacional.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.barnacional.com.au/
727 Collins Street, Docklands
Tel No: 9252 7999

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm

Bar Nacional on Urbanspoon

Code Black Coffee – Delicious in Docklands

panda 4.5 rating

Code Black Coffee Roasters has opened up at Docklands – right across the road from my work and I couldn’t be more happier! They have some of the best tasting coffee that I have had! Having previously been to their bigger store in Weston Street Brunswick – I knew what to expect in terms of the coffee.

Code Black roasts the highest grade beans from international farmers and growers and as a result have a huge variety such as single origin coffees, signature blends as well as decaffeinated coffee.

The Code Black at Docklands is a much smaller place than its brother at Brunswick but still oozes swank. From the wooden slatted bench to the funky design around the lights on the main wall to the minimal decor – it creates a fun and casual atmosphere. You are welcome to sit in and sip of your coffee or even stand behind the counter. There are cakes and sweet treats to try as well – and they are really delicious! I have tried the chocolate cupcake filled with a raspberry center and topped with a raspberry chocolate macaron – absolutely scrumptious!

The coffee is nothing short of divine, and you can tell the staff are really passionate about coffee and actually enjoy preparing each and every coffee for you. The result (for my latte) was a nutty taste with a hint of caramel finished with silky, creamy milk that left a gentle aftertaste.

The staff are super friendly and always happy to chat. Rita runs this site and is very knowledgeable about coffee. Definitely check it out!

You can refer to https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/code-black-coffee-black-elegance/ for Code Black Brunswick Review

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Great Tunes and Relaxed
Restaurant Details and Location:
Code Black Coffee
Kerra Way, Docklands
(near 800 Collins Street, Docklands)

Code Black Coffee on Urbanspoon

Gasolina – Motorcycles, Pizza and Good Food

Menu:

Custom Bar Snacks Custom Bar Snacks2 Grills and Mains One Drop Lunch Pasta Pizzas Salads and Starters Sandwiches, Sliders Sweets

I was in charge or organising a team lunch around our work area and I had previously been to Gasolina and really liked the space and thought they did pretty good pizzas – so decided on trying this place again. Right from the start the staff were very helping as I needed for them to send through a menu and needed to pre-order food as well. I think I must have called them at least 5 times, and yet they were still so patient and helpful in answering my questions with regards to various dietary requirements. A big tick for customer service.

Gasolina is located in Docklands and is part restaurant, part bar and part motorcycle garage and workshop – all located conveniently in a shed at South Wharf. The cuisine is traditional Italian complete with wood fire pizzas, grilled meats and the variety of the homemade pasta’s. The space is vast and has kept its warehouse/shed feel with the bar splitting up the dining area to the right and a lounge area with lounges, tables and Robot art. You also have direct access to the garage next to Gasolina which houses customer motorcycles and a few automobiles. To keep with the theme – there are motorcycles scattered around the restaurant / bar area too. What is also very unique and a huge point of difference is that there are Transformer robot replicas around the place – there was a mini one located on the bar and a HUGE robot located in the loungey area. I loved it!

Gasolina serves traditional Italian food such as wood fire pizzas, daily made pasta as well as grilled meats. The menu’s are rather funky as well and resembles a block of wood with a bolt to tie back to the workshop. Something new that they are trailing is a menu called a One Drop Lunch – which costs $25 and comes with a house wine, beer or a soft drink. What it is, is essentially 3 courses all served in “one drop” in a tray that resembles a Thali that some Indian restaurants use. You get an entrée, main and dessert as well as bread with olive oil and whipped butter and the best part – a tablet that looks like a refresher mint – but is actually a wet towel once you have completed your meal. You simply drop this table into water and voila it becomes a towelette. Very cool hey!

You get to choose out of three options for each of the courses and there are also vegetarian and gluten free options available. Refer to the menu above to see the options.

For my One Drop lunch – I got the Insalata, The Mushroom Risotto and the Chocolate Mousse. The Insalata caprese came with vine tomato, pesto, buffalo mozzarella, ligurian olive, balsamic, and was quite refreshing. The ingredients were fresh and juicy. The Mushroom risotto was served with marscapone and truffle oil and was quite filling and really tasty. The risotto rice was cooked perfectly. The Dark Chocolate mousse came with poached pear and cookie crumbs – and had a rich taste which paired well with the sweetness of the poached pears.

I really like this concept and think it’s a great and novel idea!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to the thumbnails above – there is a Pizza, Pasta, Sides, Salads, Starter, Dessert and One Drop Lunch Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Warehouse feel and inviting
Service: Great and very friendly!
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://gasolina.com.au/gasolina-restaurant-bar/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://gasolina.com.au/gasolina-restaurant-bar/
25 Dukes Walk, South Wharf Promenade
Ph: 03 9696 1169

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 11am – Late
Kitchen open from 12PM Daily

Gasolina Melbourne on Urbanspoon

Bangpop Thai – Popping Flavours

panda-3-5-rating2

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

De Mad Hatter – Alice in Wonderland Style

Menu:
De Mad Hatter Menu

De Mad Hatter is a newly opened cafe in the Docklands area and is brought to you by the owners of Beanstalk Cafe (which is also located at Docklands, a 3 minute walk from De Mad Hatter in fact). De Mad Hatter has a Alice in Wonderland theme, from the name down to the decor. There is a bird cage which has a massive key encased inside to the upside down signs and of course the Rabbit’s timepiece.

The menu has mushrooms and the timepiece and interesting sayings on it, as well as a well put together food under the themed categories – We’re all with chips here – which are the burgers (there are 4 different burgers), A Mad Parma Party which consists of 6 different Parma’s including a Gluten Free option, “Who stole my sald?” Said the Queen of hearts – where three options of salads are available and finally Down the Risotto Mole – which has 5 different risottos to choose from.

I ordered the Pasta dish  which was Ricotta and Spinach Tortellini in Napoli Cream Sauce. The pasta was good, but wasn’t house made and the flavours of the dish were fresh and delicious. The second time around I ordered the Three Mushroom Risotto with Rocket and Parmesan. The dish was indeed full of mushrooms (sometimes when a dish says it contains a particular ingredient, it can sometimes be a scarce amount), and the serving was quite generous. The risotto was cooked perfectly, the rice was just the right texture and the flavours worked. I am a huge fan of mushrooms, but there was one type in there that I didn’t quite like. I also tasted some of my friends dish – Black Ink Risotto tossed with Seafood – and that too was packed with flavour together with a tangy taste. The majority of the table ordered Parmas and they were all impressed with the size of these dishes as well. The Parmas came with a serving of chips and the Gluten Free Parma with a serving of salad instead. I must say De Mad Hatter’s chips is one of the yummiest chips I have come across. They were crunchy and absolutely tasty!

Another major plus point is the coffee that is served here. You will find a queue during peak hour times in the morning and the afternoon with people waiting to get their coffee hit. One of the good coffee places in and around the docklands area. Their chai latte’s are also really good and creamy.

One negative however, was the wait for food. At lunch times if you are ordering from their menu, we had to wait around 30-40 minutes for our food once we ordered. If you order from the bain marie and sit down to eat, or from the food that is on display it will be quick.  Overall though I think that it is a great addition to the Docklands area.

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte as well as food served in Bain Marie’s, as well as a selection of salads, foccacias, baguettes etc.
Fullness: 90%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Quirky and fun
Standout Dish: Any of the Risotto dishes
Service: Friendly but a tad bit slow. Might need a few more wait staff perhaps
Online Booking: No – you are best to book a table for lunch if you have more than 4 people
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/d3madhatt3r
797 Collins St, Docklands
Tel No: 9620 2226

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 6am – 5pm

De Mad Hatter on Urbanspoon

Pok Pok – A Lunch Favourite in Docklands

Pok Pok is a Thai restaurant newly opened in July this year and is located in Docklands and is soon becoming a fast lunch favourite. Pok Pok is styled in tones of pink and blue, and has both communal tables for large groups or the smaller tables for more personal dining. Fresh flowers provide the centrepiece on the tables which add a nice homely touch.

Pok Pok  gets its names from the Thai term to describe the sounds of a pestle hitting spices in a granite mortar, which is reminiscent of the background noises in the streets of eateries in the streets of Bangkok. Pok Pok’s aim is to bring authentic and fresh Thai street food to streets of Melbourne, using the freshest of ingredients – and this they do achieve.

My first trip to Pok Pok was a Friday lunchtime and we had our work team head over. We sat on the communal tables and were promptly given our menus. The menu is filled with a variety of dishes – ranging from something to small, quick and light to something to warm the belly and ending with the finishing touches. There are curries, things from the Wok as well as rice and noodle dishes. I had the Spicy Stir Fried Rockling with “Pad Cha” Chilli. The rockling was fresh and cooked perfectly and came mixed with Pad Cha which consisted of garlic paste, basil and of course chilli. Most of the table had the Massaman Lamb Curry with Crisp Roti Bread, which everyone that had it raved about. The Lamb was soft and tender and literally melted off the bone and the Roti Bread crispy and buttery. I also had the Cabbage, Chives and Shitake Mushroom Pan Fried Dumplings. This is a very different combination of flavours in a dumpling, but they not only looked good,but tasted great. The combination of those ingredients had a somewhat nutty flavour. The dumplings were juicy and flavoursome. There are two other combinations to try as well – Taro and water chestnut and Chicken and sweet corn.

Another Thai touch, is that water is given out to you in tiny little silver cups that you cup in your hands to drink out of. The only thing is that they are quite small that you could almost run out of water in one gulp.

The next time I went to Pok Pok was again at lunchtime and this time around I ordered the Grilled King Fish and King Prawn Curry – Grilled in a Red Coconut Curry and Wrapped in Banana Leaf flavoured with Kaffir Leaves and Basil. When I ordered this dish, the waiter asked me if I didn’t mind that some of the dish is a bit raw. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by this but when the dish came out, both the fish and the prawn were cooked and tasted delicious. The fish did have towards the end have an overly fishy taste and I guess this is where the “rawness” came into it – afterall it had been wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. The mixture of the red coconut, basil and kaffir leaves was authentic, spicy and provided a burstful of flavour in your mouth.

The dishes are decently sized and you are left with a warm feeling in your tummy that comes not only from the spiciness but the fullness. The ingredients are fresh and the flavours authentic. Service is quite good as well, but the wait staff are kept quite busy and are bustling about to service all the tables. Check it out.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A la Carte Menu – refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Lunchtimes are very busy and you do feel like you are in the busy streets of Bangkok
Standout Dish: Massaman Lamb Curry with Crisp Roti Bread and Spicy Stir Fried Rockling with “Pad Cha” Chilli
Service:
Online Booking: No, but if you are to go during lunch time and have a large group it is best advised to book.
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/POKPOKMELB
801-803 Bouke St, Docklands
Tel No: 9620 4580

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 7am to 4pm
Thursday to Friday: 7am to 10pm
Saturday: 6pm t0 10pm

Pok Pok on Urbanspoon

Nine Elephants – Taking Spicy to an all new level!


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Nine Elephants is an authentic Thai restaurant that is tucked away in the streets of Docklands. As I work around the area, I found this restaurant when I was looking up places around the area for a Team lunch. We made a booking for a table and as they have been known to be busy, so we asked them if we could put in a pre-order so that it wouldn’t take a long time (due to our lunch break time restrictions). They were more than happy to do.

The restaurant is small (seats only 60 people) with high ceilings and completed with wooden tables and a theme of blue and gold. Despite the surrounding area being somewhat quiet, the atmosphere inside the restaurant is lively and vibrant you almost forget where you are. The wait staff are friendly and welcoming and it somewhat does feel like you are in a little town in the heart of Thailand.

The menu has a huge variety and when you look at it, you are left wanting to try everything. There are traditional curries, stir fries and rice / noodle dishes. There are many vegetarian and seafood options, as well some gluten free dishes. Nine Elephants offers 4 different levels of spiciness, from Medium right up to Very spicy (which is really really spicy!).

The dishes came out with meticulous timing and were so vibrantly coloured on the white plates. All the ingredients used were fresh and full of flavour. I ordered the Green Curry with Seafood Extra Spicy. The moment it was placed on the table, the strong flavoursome aroma just hits you, and you cant wait to dig into the dish. The seafood was perfectly cooked and consisted of calamari, prawns and mussels. The extra spicy level at Nine Elephants, is exactly that! It is one of the spiciest food I have tasted and it does really get taste buds tingling. The spiciness however, didn’t detract from the authentic flavours of the dish, just gave you a warmth all over. We also ordered the Roti Bread which was crispy and delicious served with a thickened satay sauce – one of the best Roti’s I have tasted.

Nine Elephants is a definite stand out for authentic Thai cuisine, not only in the Docklands area but in Melbourne I would say! They have won an award for being Restaurant in the area of Docklands already. Nine Elephant definitely produce high quality dishes that are bursting with flavour. A definite top Thai Restaurant in Melbourne.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte – can be found at http://nineelephants.com.au/?page_id=23
You can also order online at http://nineelephants.com.au/?page_id=110
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Lively and Vibrant
Standout Dish: Green Curry
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Attentive, as well as being Warm and Cosy at the same time.
Online Booking: Yes via http://nineelephants.com.au/?page_id=38
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://nineelephants.com.au/?page_id=46
67 Village Street, Docklands
Tel No: 9670 9909

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

Nine Elephants on Urbanspoon