Burma Lane – Burmese Wonder

panda 4.5 rating

Burma Lane has newly opened in the venue that once used to be Mahjong Black – on Little Collins street – and serving up traditional Southeast Asian flavours from Burma. This new venue comes from the people who brought us Red Spice Road – Adam Trengove and Shaun Moorhouse.

The interior hasn’t changed too much from when it used to be Mahjong Black but there are accents of Burma all around the venue. The signature style of Red Spice Road with large paintings of women continues upstairs here at Burma Lane with four colourful portraits of women on the back wall. There are birdcage light fittings as well but the centrepiece is the iconic “Freedom to Lead” image of  Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi by Sherpard Fairey– which is  on the right hand side wall as you walk into the venue and go up the stairs. There is seating downstairs as well upstairs in this split level venue which consists of wooden table and chairs, finished with terracotta coloured plates that sit on top of the menu. There are also tea-stained posters which have been pasted onto one of the columns where the stairs are, and there is also a wall of holiday pictures from Burma.

The menu consists of several small bites, noodle dishes (there are four to choose from), salad dishes (five to select from), and then has bigger bites and finishes with desserts. The bigger bites consist of mostly curry dishes, and come with a bowl of rice and cover most meats – fish, goat, beef, egg, prawns and pork – take your pick. The drinks list is impressive and there is even a section for mocktails which I thought was great. There are drinks like Land of Milk & honey, Swami Delight and Thai Dai. I ordered the Thai Dai which had Lychee Juice, Pomegranate Juice, Kaffir Syrup. This drink is quite refreshing and came topped with a passionfruit piece which a nice way to finish the drink off. I also got to sample the Swami Delight – Apple, Indian Yoghurt Cardamom Syrup, Agave. This drink was very tasty and was a different take on the original Lassi as usually you have Mango lassi, but this consisted of Apple, Cardamom and Agave – the result was a fantastic tasting combination. I would definitely recommend trying out these mock tails.

As we had more than 8 people we had to do the 4 course set menu which I thought was quite reasonably priced at $30. For these 4 courses we received – 2 small bite dishes, 1 noodle dish and 1 bigger bite dish. There is also a Chef’s tasting menu called ‘Taste the Best of Burma’ which costs $65. These options are quite wise as you can get a bit overwhelmed with the menu selection as all the dishes and their combination of ingredients sounds so enticing. There are so many dishes that I want to come back and try especially the Potato Cake which is filled with Slow Roasted Lamb Belly, Cabbage and Minty Yoghurt – how amazing does that sound! And on another note what I also love about Burma Lane is that the meat is certified halal – so I can actually have a majority of the dishes!

The first dish that we were brought out was Kun Sar Thi – Betel leaf with chicken, shallot, green mango & Sichuan pepper. The dish came out beautifully presented – with the chicken, shallot, mango mix placed in a bowl in the centre with the betel leaves surrounding it. We were told by the waiter that we were to place the chicken on top of the betel leaf and eat them together. The result was a flavour hit in your mouth together with the crunch of the betel leaf. The flavour combinations were unique and delicious all at the same time.

Next up was the Chargrilled ginger, turmeric chicken chops with lime & chilli – these came out looking glossy and perfectly grilled in a terracotta bowl together with a piece of lime and topped with chilli. The chicken was pretty good but not fantastic. The outside flavouring and coating of the chicken was delicious however, the inside was quite bland to me. I should also mention before we were given our dishes, the waiter brought us out 3 different types of sauces and chutneys and explained what was in each of them as well as giving us the spiciness rating. I thought the idea of this was quite fantastic. What made this even better was as each dish was brought to our table and explained to us – he would tell us which one of the three sauces would match perfectly with each dish. Ingenious! Back to the chicken – it was a great snack dish and together with the desired sauce was overall a great dish.

Next we moved onto a dish from the noodle section and were given the Fat rice noodles with tofu puffs, spicy coconut broth, greens & bean sprouts. The first thing you notice about this dish when it comes out is that it is fresh looking and very colourful (especially against the black backdrop of the bow) and it draws you in immediately making every tastebud on your tongue water. And when you take that first mouth, it definitely doesn’t disappoint. This dish is semi wet dish thanks to the spicy coconut broth and the combination of flavours is fantastic. I really enjoyed this dish and especially loved the combination of the tofu puffs.

The last dish that we had was the Rockling cooked in turmeric, lemongrass & tomato with noodles, mustard greens & egg AKA Funky Mohingha, our take on a Burmese classic. From having read up on people who had previously been to Burma Lane – this is their signature dish – so I was so happy to know that they featured it on this 4 course menu. Once again fantastically presented – with egg halves bopping in the tangy and tantalizing looking gravy along with the pieces of rockling – it was a dish I couldn’t wait to try. You get the waft of the lemongrass and tumeric as it was placed on the table, and these flavours carry thru as you take your first bite. The rockling is soft and tender and is complimented with the flavours and literally melts in your mouth. This is definitely a dish to try and is a true testament to Burmese cooking.

Despite initially thinking that we wouldn’t be full from the meal we were quite satisfied and didn’t have any room for dessert. Desserts ranged from Sago and Coconut Pudding, Pandan and Coconut Jelly with Jasmine Rice Ice Cream, as well as Coconut Ice Cream on its own.

Burma Lane is a great new addition to the Melbourne CBD food scene and truly brings you flavoursome and authentic Burmese food – ranging from small offerings to their larger dishes of tantalizing and deliciously aromatic curries. Another thing to note about Burma lane is that they support a number of charities through Pomelo, which is an umbrella group that provides practical training and financial aid to disadvantaged communities in Burma. Great food and supporting charities back in Burma – what more could you ask for?

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Food Menu at http://burmalane.com.au/food-menu, Drink Menu at http://burmalane.com.au/wine and a little bit about Burmese food can be found here http://burmalane.com.au/about-the-food
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy, Elegant yet Relaxed and a great place for entertaining or even just catching up with people.
Standout Dish: Fat rice noodles with tofu puffs, spicy coconut broth, greens & bean sprouts OR Funky Mohingha
Service: Friendly, Helpful and very Knowledgeable. They are happy to help and really do the menu inside out.
Online Booking: Yes  – you can book online at http://burmalane.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
burmalane.com.au
118 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9615 8500

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Friday: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Dinner
Monday to Friday: 6:00 pm – 12:00 am
Saturday: 6:00 pm – 12:00 am

Burma Lane on Urbanspoon

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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

Brooks – Culinary Beauty!


   


Menu:
      

Brooks Restaurant is a recently opened restaurant which has taken over the site where Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen was, and Tobie Puttock’s The Kitchen Cat. It is the joint venture between  The venture of Gerald Diffey and Mario di Lenno. After dining here last night, I really do hope that Brooks is around for a long long time. The dining area hasn’t changed much at all since it was The Kitchen Cat, the layout is still the same. You are greeted at the entrance to the stairs with a BB handle on the door. As you walk down the stairs to the left of the stairs is a private dining room for group functions, and to the right is where the bar is located – here you can dine at the bar if you wish or if you keep walking through, it leads you to the formal dining area. From this dining area, you can look into the kitchen as the chefs fine tune your meals before they arrive at your table..

The service was impeccable and could not be faulted. The waiter we had was pleasant and friendly and made great suggestions on what we should and shouldn’t eat. The menu at Brooks is somewhat limited – it is split into three parts In the Beginning (Entree items), Seasonally Visiting (which are items for the season) and Here to Stay (which are items that will be around a while). My friend and I each chose dishes from the Seasonally Visiting menu, and were told by our friendly waiter to try the Meli of Vegetables (pictured above) – which had over 30 different types of vegetables. When he said that, we were intrigued and impressed and wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Our dishes came out and as you can see from the pictures, although the serving sizes are quite small – the dishes were beautifully plated. You could tell that there was a thought process that went into putting the food on the plate and the flavours had been carefully researched and designed. I had the fish of day – which was Rockling – the fish was flavoured and grilled just perfectly. My one gripe would be that the peas that came with it – some of them were hard. My friend had the Rump F1 Beef and she was a bit skeptical of the Hay flavouring and the Burnt Veg. But once she tried the whole dish together she said she almost got a cheeseburger like taste. She also said that the beef was cooked perfectly and tasted amazing.
The Nic’s Sovenir of Bras: Meli of Vegetables – was a very colourful and interesting looking dish. There was indeed a vast array of vegetables and alongside that several different dollops of sauces which we were told by the waiter were made in house. Some of the sauces was a sweet strawberry tasting one, a creamy mayonnaise, a tangy sauce etc. I loved that you had a variety of sauces to taste of which you didn’t really know what flavour to expect. It added a bit of fun to the dish.

Next was the dessert ( I had of course already looked at the dessert menu and knew what I wanted). There are only two desserts to choose from. The Forest Floor, Hazelnut Parfait caught my eye so I ordered that, and my friend was going to order the Lemon Curd but the waiter told us to share the Forest Floor and then he would give us a selection of the Petit Fours. I thought this was really nice of him – to suggest something other than making us pay for a dessert that we might not like.
The Forest Floor dessert was beautifully created and I have had something very similar at Embrasse (located in Carlton). This I later realised was because the head chef is Nic Poelaert of Embrasse. I have dedicated a whole photo set to this dessert above. I love the mushroom which compromises of the Hazelnut Parfait and Meringue Base. The Forest Floor is a combination of Chocolate Ganache, Mint and Sorrell Granita. This is a definite MUST TRY dessert.

The Petit Fours were a Rhubarb Jelly with Sour Dust, Salted Caramel and a Donut with Passionfruit Cream. They all were DIVINE! The Donut with Passionfruit was really tangy when you first bit into it, but the after taste it leaves in your mouth was a creamy glow. The Salted Caramel had just the right quantities of sweet and salt. The Rhubarb Jelly was sour and sweet all at the same time and just as great.

We also enjoyed teas with our dessert, and the pots were Cast Iron and oh so heavy, but really cute. I kind of wanted to take one home with me, hence a whole photo dedicated to it =p. The pot held quite a bit of tea and it almost felt like a never ending pot of tea!

Overall I loved every moment of eating at this restaurant and will definitely be back to try out other things on the menu. The service was fantastic and I really do hope this restaurant sticks around for a long time! I cant wait to see what else Nic Poelaert will have on the Seasonally Changing part of the menu.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la Carte or Degustation (Chef’s Selection of 5 courses for $80) – Refer to pictures above.
Fullness: 80%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Stylish and Comfortable. Great for a catchup dinner with a group of friends or just a one on one.
Standout Dish: Forest Floor, Hazelnut Parfait
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Friendly. Also gave us some great choices and thoughts.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.brooksofmelbourne.com/
Basement, 115 – 117 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9001 8755

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 11:30pm to Midnight
Thursday to Friday: 11:30pm to 1am
Saturday: 4pm to 1am

Brooks on Urbanspoon