Kong BBQ – Worth All The Hype!

panda 4 rating

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There was so much hype surrounding the opening of Kong in Richmond, especially after the trial run of some of the food you could eat at the Rue & Co branch. The branding is all about the Pandas – and as per my blog name – anything to do with Pandas and I am in! A bunch of us (there were 6 of us) decided to try it out on a Tuesday night and aimed to get there around 6pm. I had heard about the long queues – with the wait time being over an hour! Kong doesn’t take bookings, however if you arrive at the restaurant you can put your name down for a table and they will contact you when a table comes up.

Kong is the latest addition to The Lucas Group. Chris Lucas has brought us the likes of Chin Chin (Melbourne CBD) and Baby (Richmond – and just up the road from where Kong is located). Kong is located on the site of what was once Pearl, and Eades & Bergman have been brought in to help with this transformation. Kong seats 60 people – with a mixture of single low tables, long communal tables and seating all around the bar / kitchen, as well as in the corridor as you walk into the restaurant. These seats give you a vantage point to see your dishes being prepared. The tables are blonde wood, the look industrial mixed together with an anime vibe thanks to the array of pandas around the venue. There are the signature neon signs (these can be found in all their other venues) as well as a film being projected. During the day you can imagine fresh sunlight streaming in from its floor to ceiling windows which surround the restaurant this corner site restaurant.

The Executive Chef here is Benjamin Cooper together with Dan Briggs and all the chefs here at Kong wear red baseball caps which have three letter slogans on them – either KIM, CHI or BBQ – a nice touch that further adds character to Kong.
The idea behind Kong is to combine barbeque pit cooking techniques with Japanese and Korean flavours. The focus is on seafood and meat being cooked on either an open-flamed charcoal grill or in a smoke oven. If you get seating around the kitchen you can experience the smoke rising from the pit ovens which is a visual spectacle that will have your taste buds dancing being tantalized in anticipation of the meats/seafood to come. It is also good to note that Kong uses only chemical free charcoal and sustainable Australian Hard-Wood.

The menu is split into 8 different sections – Small, Ssam Roti-Roll, Buns, Wings, Natural Fire, Ribs, Rice & Green and Desserts. Small dishes include Wood Grilled Scallops, Trio of Kimchi & Pickles, Beef Tartare and Nasu Miso just to name a few. The Ssam Roti-Roll have fillings such as Teriyaki Roast Ora King Salmon, BBQ Chicken, Grilled Miso Marinated Tofu and Pulled Pork. Smoked Brisket, Spicy Pork Belly, Soft Shell Crab and Peanut Butter Salt & Pepper Tofu are the options you have to choose from in the Bun Section. There are four variations of Wings that you can order from – Honey, Garlic & Sesame Korean Wings, Hot Wings with Gochujang and Chipotle, Soy Wings or Peanut Butter Wings.
Natural Fire are from the BBQ Pit and cover most seafood and meat options. There is also a Kong Bossam BBQ Tray – Chicken, Pork, Pork Belly and Beef Brisket served with Lettuce, Pickles, Kimchi and Walnut Ssamjang – at a bargain price of $28 a tray. Rice & Greens include two different types of Fried Rice, Dukkbokki Rice Cakes, Spicy Cabbage Slaw, Wood Roasted Pumpkin etc. Desserts have a smaller selection – only 4 to choose from but they all sound quite delicious so the number doesn’t really matter.

I arrived before the other girls around 6:15pm and as there were going to be six of us (as everyone had to be there before we could have a table), I put my name down on the list and the wait even at that time was going to be around 45mins. Since I had been fasting all day I wanted to order something small whilst I was waiting for the others to arrive. I was seated along the wall on the high benches and decided on the BBQ Corn with Chilli Salt and Miso Butter. It wans’t just because I was really hungry but this corn was deliciously amazing! The corn had been bbq’d perfectly and emit just the right amount of smoky flavours. The corn itself was juicy and “crunchy” and the combination of the miso butter and chilli salt was the icing on the corn so to speak – it added an additional salty and spicy hit to combine with the sweetness of the corn.

Whilst waiting for the girls to arrive and for our table to be ready we were able to order drinks – I ordered the Lychee & Grapefruit Crush with Coconut Water. This drink came out in a glass jar topped with ice and pieces of fresh grapefruit and was not only thirst quenching but refreshing as well. I had to stop myself from drinking it all in one sip!

Once we were seated we had the mammoth task of deciding what dishes we wanted to order. We had a mix of vegetarians and a pescatarian (me!), as well as people that could eat everything. We picked dishes that we would work to cater to everyones needs and asked our friendly waiter if the amount of food we ordered was enough. He was happy to assist and told us that if we wanted anymore dishes we could just order as we went.

We started off with the Wood Grilled Edamame with Chilli and Sea Salt. The Edamame was fresh and had somewhat of a smoky flavour coming from the wood grill with a hint of spice. A tasty dish.

Next up we ordered the famous Ssam Roti Rolls – we got a serving each to suit the three categories of requirements – Ssam Roti Roll – BBQ Chicken with Lemon, Gochujang and KimChi, Ssam Roti Roll – Grilled Miso Marinated Tofu with Pickled Cabbage and Kewpie Mayo and Ssam Roti Roll – Teriyaki Roast Ora King Salmon, Wok Fried Broccoli and Tomato.
I tasted the Ssam Roti Roll with the Roast Ora King Salmon which was superb! The roti on the outside was divine – thin, crispy and buttery – the perfect casing. The filling was rich and full of flavours with the broccoli, tomato and the spicy, creamy sauce working seamlessly with the perfectly cooked salmon. I would definitely recommend this dish. I did also sample the Ssam Roti Toll with Tofu which was another flavoursome dish, but my pick would definitely be for the King Salmon.

Some of the other girls ordered the Wings – Korean Fried Wings with Honey, Garlic and Sesame, however upon eating this they found the chicken overly sweet and couldn’t eat the dish. They knew the dish would have a sweet tone to it – after all it did contain honey; however they weren’t expecting the sweetness to be so overpowering. They mentioned this to our waiter who was happy to replace the wings with another serving in a different flavour. They then ordered the Wings – Hot Wings with Gochujang and Chipotle. They really enjoyed this dish which had a real kick of spice and a peppery taste.

I also ordered a serving of the Soft Shell Crab with Salted Duck Egg Relish and Coriander. The bao bun was soft and as you bit into it felt like you were eating clouds. This combined with the crunch of the crab paired with the amazing creamy duck egg relish was a match made in heaven! The coriander added freshness to the whole dish. You could just keep eating these buns and not get sick of them.

A few of the girls ordered the Wood Grilled Scallops with Tobanjan and Mirin Pickled Radish – which comes served in a shell and topped with micro herbs and radish. They loved the flavours and really enjoyed the scallops – which were cooked to the right consistency.

We ordered the Dukkbokki Rice Cakes with Red Chilli, Gochujang and Roasted Parsnip which was quite the colourful dish when it came out. Amid a dark blue backdrop of the dish – the rice cakes were a vibrant burnt orange colour peppered with greens and reds. I have never seen rice cakes in this form before and was intrigued to see how it tasted. The cakes were rectangular in shape and were soft to eat – with the dish having a sweet and sour flavour to it. I loved the addition of the veggies and the chilli which worked well with the texture and flavouring of the dish as a whole.

We couldn’t leave Kong without trying something from the Natural Fire section and ordered the Wood Roasted Salmon with Crispy Skin, Seaweed Salad and KimChi. The dish was beautifully presented with the Crispy Skin standing tall next to the Roasted Salmon. Instead of the seaweed salad we had a broccoli salad mix – which I found to be quite fresh and tasty. The wood roasted Salmon was another good dish – the smoky flavours immersed with the natural flavours of the salmon.

We were all keen to try the Kimchi at Kong – after all Kimchi is a signature Korean dish! And the fact that Kong has signs relating to this dish – “It’s not ordinary cabbage, it’s fermented cabbage” almost egged us on to try the dish out. The Kimchi was spicy, tangy and flavoursome and went above and beyond all of our expectations. Yum!

The last dish that we ordered was the Fried Rice with Spicy Enoki Mushroom and Soy Charred Tofu. I was surprised to see pumpkin seeds on top when it came out. The dish was fresh, spicy and delicious. I loved the combination of tofu and mushrooms in the rice.

The dessert offerings when compared with the rest of the menu are minimal but the quality and taste that they come in make up for this fact. We ordered the Coconut Sago with Passionfruit and Pineapple Trifle and the Apple and Walnut Tart with Miso Butterscotch and Japanese Whisky Ice Cream. Both dishes are impeccably presented with flavours to match.

The Trifle comes served in a clear glass – showcasing the many layers of the trifle. The trick with these desserts is to get a taste of each layer in one mouthful. The finely cut pieces of pineapple makes up the base layer, with the passionfruit compote with passionfruit seeds being the next layer, and finished with the coconut sago. This dessert was a light and refreshing dessert packed with fruity flavours and textures. A definite fave of mine.

The girls enjoyed the apple and walnut tart – which came out presented with a large ball of Japanese Whisky Ice Cream on placed on top amidst the array of walnuts. They said there was only a slight taste to the whisky ice cream but was delicious nonetheless. The pastry that encased the tender apples was buttery and soft, with the added crunch of the walnut crumble. There was a sweet caramel taste mixed with the creaminess of the ice cream.

What needs to be mentioned is the staffing – they are friendly and helpful and despite the lines going out the door they do not come across as flustered at all. They keep an calm demeanour and go above and beyond expectations to make you feel at home even if you are waiting upwards of an hour. Another reason why this place is doing so well.

Kong is brilliant addition to the wonderful world of dining that exists in Melbourne – with offerings of an interesting menu complete with fresh flavours, smoky excitement and spiciness. Meat lovers will adore this place (especially the BBQ Tray) but really anyone will love it. What’s not to love about a friendly and warm welcome, together with cute pandas, a great fit-out and an enthusiastic vibe?

NOTE: Kong now offers Takeaway – which can be ordered online for pickup.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to Picture above. You can find the Takeaway menu at http://www.kongbbq.com.au/takeaway which will give you an idea of what the main menu has to offer.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Vibrant and Fun-Filled. Great for a catchup with friends and family.
Standout Dish: Bun – Soft Shell Crab with Salted Duck Egg Relish and Coriander, Ssam Roti Roll – Teriyaki Roast Ora King Salmon, Wok Fried Broccoli and Tomato
Service: Fantastic – really friendly and helpful! They really do well for a place that is packed to brim majority of the time.
Online Booking: No – Kong is a walk-in only restaurant.
Restaurant Details and Location:
kongbbq.com.au
599 Church St, Richmond
Tel No: 9427 1307

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 11am – Late

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kongbbq
Twitter: @kongbbq
Instagram: kongbbq

Kong BBQ on Urbanspoon

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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

Tadka Boom! – Indian with a Modern Twist!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Idli Breakfast Kerala Ice Cream Delhi Masala Chai Lunch Menu Salad and Snacks Menu Drinks and Desserts Menu

I heard about Tadka Boom! – a new restaurant that with a catchy name and delivers a modern take on traditional Indian street food – and couldn’t wait to try it out.

Tadka Boom! is located in Goldsbrough Lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD (near the corner of Bourke and William streets). Tadka means seasoning in Hindi which relates to the diverse flavours and taste they bring to each dish. The new restaurant was opened by Lalitha Rajan together with her son Ashwin. Rajan quit her high flying executive job at HP to found Tadka Boom! She uses her well-loved family recipes from her very own kitchen (and inspired from her hometown of Delhi) here to Tadka Boom! to share with the people of Melbourne.

The venue is quite big in size – seats 45 inside and 12 outside – and centres around the colours of yellow and aqua mixed in with white, grey and black. The colours really work well together and brighten up the space adding to its fun and lively atmosphere. There are a selection of tables – both round and square – as well as a high communal table and high bench seating. As you walk in you are drawn to the kitchen / main counter as you watch meals being prepared in a methodical manner of efficiency. The way Tadka Boom! works is that you place your order at the counter and you are handed a receipt – you then wait off to the side to receive your food. You can sit in and enjoy your meal or take it away with you.

Tadka Boom! serves both breakfast (Nashta) and lunch (Bhojan) – at the moment – dinner could be on the horizon – with the main focus is on a wide range of grab to go meals and snacks which allow the busy worker on their quick lunchtime break to experience and taste the modern and punchy flavours of India. There are also Snacks (Tiffin) and Salads (Hara Bara) available on their menu and of course a selection of Desserts (Mitha Boom!) and Drinks. Before coming here for the first time I had no idea they served breakfast meals – I only assumed it was lunch.

Breakfast or Nashta as they call it back in India presents interesting combinations of eggs that you wouldn’t have experienced before. There are 3 main breakfast dishes and the one that got me excited to come back and try was the Idli Over Easy. Idli is steamed rice cakes and comes served with coconut chutney, spicy tomato chutney & gun powder served with fried eggs and spinach. Also available is the Bada Breakkie – which is a mixed lentil and rice pikelets served with chutney and mushrooms – the Bujia Roll and Grandma Jau’s Porridge.

Lunch consists of roti wraps (which you can get in either wholemeal or spinach) filled with a variety of fillings such as Lamb with Kaboom! Masala, Ginger Chilli Prawns, Grilled Chicken or the vegetarian option of ricotta, broccoli and carom seed patty. The Snacks menu consists of Bombay Bites, Sliders and Paratha (Flaky Roti) served with chutneys. There are 4 different chutneys to choose from, all with varying spiciness. There are 3 salads to choose from – all of which have a vegetarian base and if you choose you can add chicken, lamb or prawn.

Desserts include a selection of two ice creams – a Rose and Pistachio Ice Cream as well as a Kerala Spice Ice Cream. Drinks add another interesting twist to the menu – in house made cold drinks – the Nimbu Pani (Homemade lemonade) and the R.O.C Tea (Raspberry, Orange and Cinnamon infused tea). There is also Garma Garam Chai as well as Chennai Kaapi (South Indian filter coffee) for hot options.

P and I both decided to order roti wraps – she went for the Veggie option (Varanasi Veg) and I went for the Grilled Ginger Prawn option (Mr Parker’s Prawns). When we went they had a special on where you could order a cold drink for an extra $2 (which out well for me as I wanted to try the R.O.C Tea anyway!).

I opted for a wholemeal roti wrap for my choice of Mr Parker’s Prawns – Grilled ginger-chilli prawns with Dahlia Salad & Date Tamarind Chutney. The roti itself was thin and flavoursome – to the point where you didn’t really feel like you were eating a wrap that was made of wholemeal. The flavours from the grilled ginger chilli prawns were delicious – it had a smoky spicy flavour to it – coupled with the sweet, tangy chutney made for a well-rounded dish.

P did enjoy her Varanasi Veg – a light Ricotta, Broccoli & Carom Seed Patty with Green Salad, Kasundi & Date Tamarind Chutney. She said she enjoyed the overall taste, but struggled to finish the whole wrap as it was quite filling.

The R.O.C Tea was refreshing and tasty – I love anything with Cinnamon right now so this was a double bonus. The drink didn’t taste anything like a tea but instead like a fresh juice. I also sampled some of P’s Nimbu Pani which was just as good. My only comment was that I expected to get the drinks in the jars as they were in the pictures – that looked impressive! However we received them in a takeaway clear cup – which makes sense if people wanted to take away.

The staff at Tadka Boom! are very friendly and customer service is first class. This is evident from the time you place your order to when you receive your meals. You can tell they are really passionate about what they do and the enthusiasm really shines through.

Tadka Boom! aims to bring the hustle and bustle from India’s markets and street food “wallas” to the streets of Melbourne, fusing this with a modern twist all whilst keeping its exotic flavours and spices. They definitely do succeed! If you are looking for a flavour hit (BOOM!) be it first thing in the morning for breakfast or in your lunch break check out Tadka Boom!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above or check it out at http://static.squarespace.com/static/533cc8f4e4b025688de41377/t/537d878ee4b0eb4ddd2ba5fb/1400735630812/TadkaBoom_Menu%20TV_Website.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Fun and Light Filled
Service: Fantastic! Very friendly and welcoming!
Online Booking: They only take bookings for Breakfast
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.tadkaboom.com.au/
TG22 Goldsbrough Lane
550 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9600 1633

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:30pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TadkaBoom
Twitter: @TadkaBoom
Instagram
: Tadka Boom

Tadka Boom! on Urbanspoon

Madras Banyan Tree – Tasty Indian!

panda 3.5 rating

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halal (1)
Madras Banyan Tree has relocated from Brighton right into the city – located on King St. It serves Southern Indian cuisine and serves authentic Andhra, Kerala,Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Chettinadu in the eloborate menu.

The owner Suresh Chakravarthi, who was previously a Tamil comedian and TV game show host, also explains that you will find no pork or beef on the menu, and they also use only halal meat. Goat is only available on certain days and can also cook up Paya which is the south’s famous goat trotter curry.

There are also many vegetarian dishes available such as deep-fried marinated cauliflower, firm doughnut-like vadai or plump little idli rice-flour cakes. And there’s seafood such as scallops, calamari or prawns deep-fried and spiced.

Desserts include the favourites such as gulab jamoon, kulfi ice cream and payasam rice pudding.

On this lunchtime – I ordered the Roti Thali which comes with 3 pieces of roti with a selection of two meat curries – I chose Lamb Curry and Butter Chicken. Both the curries had their plus points. The Lamb Curry was cooked with the addition of chilli and the gravy was thick and delicious. The Butter Chicken had the creaminess and thick texture that you would expect from that type of curry. The Roti was made really well and tasted just as good. There was butteryness to it yet it was quite light to eat – you just wanted to keep eating more & more.

Check out Madras Banyan Tree for great tasting Indian food that doesn’t really cost that much!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A huge selection of Southern Indian cuisine – including Andhra, Kerala,Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Chettinadu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Relaxed
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
169 King Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9670 1551

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: Open for Lunch
Thursday to Saturday: Open for Dinner

Madras Banyan Tree 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

De Clieu – Coffee at it’s best!

Fermented Lentil and Rice Pancake with Spicy Coconut, Potato and Pea filling with Green Mango Yoghurt

Poached Prawn, Saffron Mayonnaise, Mustard Cress, Chervil, Chive and Lemon Salad Baguette

Menu:

De Clieu is part of the Seven Seeds gang and is another classy café brought to you by Mark Dundon and Bridget Amor. The main emphasis of this team is the coffee and De Clieu is no exception – the coffee here is excellent – they source the finest beans and use the best equipment to process these beans. The café itself is very roomy and modern – it has polished wooden tables as well as wide wooden seats on the window edge.

De Clieu’s menu is small but has impressive and unique dishes – from the Let’s Get Going (which is a bowl of coco pops with red cordial) to Baguettes and Roti’s combined with a variety of ingredients. The Lentil and Rice Pancake that we ordered had an interesting combination and the Green Mango Yoghurt added an extra tangy-ness to enhance the potato and pea filling. The Poached Prawn Baguette tasty but I could have done with some extra Saffron Mayonnaise. The potato chips were a nice touch and added a crunch to the baguette.

Overall, De Clieu is a funky and cool place to hang out with a relaxed feel to it. Definitely head down and check it out. There is also coffee by Seven Seeds and other coffee making equipment for sale as well.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu –Refer to menu picture above
Fullness: 80%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and relaxed.
Standout Dish: Coffee
Service: Friendly and outstanding
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://sevenseeds.com.au/seeds/
187 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9416 4661

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 7am-5pm
Sunday: 8am-5pm

De Clieu on Urbanspoon