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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Peko Peko, South Melbourne

Peko Peko on Urbanspoon

Peko Peko is a Taiwanese restaurant located in South Melbourne just off St Kilda Rd, easily accessible by any trams that go past the domain interchange. I had been here once before and remember particularly enjoying the wasabi prawns dish and the Bento Box sets they had. Peko Peko has undergone a change of menu recently, and I was lucky enough to be invited to try out the new menu. It was a really enjoyable experience for me and my friends, and I would definitely recommend going for a taste of some authentic Taiwanese food.

The interior design of Peko Peko is quite simple, with modern artwork hung up on the walls - I was told these were all drawn by the owner - and there were also more traditional Taiwanese style photos and an old telephone near the entrance. There's a range of booth seats and couches, as well as the normal wooden chairs. There was upbeat music playing in the background, and there was a constant stream of customers coming in and out of the restaurant the whole time we were there, making for a busy and lively atmosphere. The staff were friendly and all customers were greeted with a 'Hi, how are you' upon entering, though I'm not sure if this is always the case, or because the staff were extra alert since we were there.

The menu is very extensive, with a range of 'small eat' (entree size dishes), 'just eat' (medium size main course dishes) and 'big eat' (large size main course dishes). There is also a specials board, as well as a separate drinks menu and a range of desserts. We were given a total of ten dishes (mostly entree style small eats), as well as three types of drinks, including a limited edition Taipei Brew beer ($15), an Apple Plum Wine Soda ($10) and Green Tea Latte ($4) to go with our dessert. I'm personally not a huge fan of beer, but this one was quite light and not as bitter as normal beers, and it also came with sour plum on the side, which also helps to take away some of that bitter taste. The apple plum wine soda had a strong apple and alcoholic taste, though we couldn't really taste the plum at all - either it was very subtle, or it was overpowered by the apple. It was quite an enjoyable drink and would be good in summer as it's very refreshing.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

8bit., Footscray

8bit. on Urbanspoon | Website | Instagram

8bit. is a small burger joint in Footscray that has become quite popular in the last few months, and I finally got around to trying it a few weeks ago. The burger joint is located about a ten minute walk from Footscray station on the Werribee line, just off one of the main busy streets. The burgers were good, but I really don't think it was worth the one hour wait, which was one of the main downsides of my experience here.

The name 8bit. is derived from the computer processor, and most of you would probably know it as the sort of pixelated, simple graphics. I thought it was a creative name for a burger joint, and this was reflected in the table number stands we got which had 8 bit style characters on them, and the boxes that the burgers came in had pixelated pictures on them. The decorations/design of the whole place was quite simple, and brightly lit - there were basic lights hanging from the ceiling, the paper our burgers came on had a pixelated style burger on it, and some of the windows had pixelated looking smoothies, hot dogs and fries stickers on them. The atmosphere of the place was quite lively with the loud music, and sounds of the kitchen that took up a large section of the joint.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Shizuku Ramen, Abbotsford

Shizuku Ramen on Urbanspoon | Website 

Shizuku Ramen is a Japanese restaurant located in Abbotsford on Victoria St., easily accessible by tram 109 and a 5 minute walk from North Richmond station. I was actually contacted by the manager to come and try their new improved menu, so a big thanks to David for the invite, and giving us a pleasant dining experience at Shizuku Ramen.

The interior design of the restaurant is quite simple; the walls are all painted black, contrasting with all the cool wooden lights hanging from the ceiling, and it actually isn't too dark inside despite the dark walls. Each table comes with a bottle of water in a funky design, and a range of cutlery sits in a small glass to one side. Soft japanese music plays in the background, and there's a good, light atmosphere to the place.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

High Tea at The Conservatory, Crown

Conservatory on Urbanspoon | Website

A couple of weeks ago, I tried out the High Tea Buffet at The Conservatory in Crown. It was quite a pleasant experience apart from a few small downsides, but definitely worth going as it's quite affordable ($50 per person or $70 to include a glass of champagne). The High Tea buffet is offered on the weekends only; from 3-5pm on Saturdays, or 3.30-5.30pm on Sundays.

The interior design of The Conversatory is very classy and sophisticated, with tall ceilings and large windows that look over the Yarra River for a bright, open space. The use of mostly white furniture with black here and there gave the design a modern feel, together with the chanderlier-like lights dangling from the ceiling and the soft music playing in the background. What makes high tea at the Conversatory different from most high tea places is the fact it is a buffet style one. There's a good range of both savoury and sweet dishes, and we managed to try a bit of almost everything! The only downside with high tea here is that you don't actually get to choose the type of tea/coffee served. I thought this was a bit surprising as one of the features of a typical high tea is having the ability to choose a type of coffee or tea to have with your food.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Third Wave Cafe, Prahran

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by Third Wave to try out their new cafe in Prahran, and finally got around to doing so last week. The cafe is located in the heart of Prahran near Prahran Central, and is easily accessible by tram 72 or a five to ten minute walk from Prahran station. 

My initial impression of the cafe was how bright and spacious it looked, despite the fact it was structured in a more rectangular size rather than the usual square open space. The large windows along one side allowed for lots of natural light to stream through, and there was also lots of lighting in the interior. The decor of the cafe is modern, and gives a comfortable feeling with the different assortments of seats, plant designs on the wall and the soft sounds of Spanish music in the background. The service was great; we didn't have to wait very long for our food, and the staff were friendly and happy to give us suggestions. One particular thing that I thought was great about the service was that because we had ordered two main dishes, the staff member suggested that one be brought out before the other, so that one didn't get cold as we were eating the other, which I felt was a very thoughtful gesture.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Kenji, Camberwell

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Kenji is a Japanese restaurant located in Camberwell just before Warrigal Rd on Toorak Rd, in a small alleyway with a couple of other cafes/shops. It's easily accessible by tram 75, and there's also plenty of parking behind the alleyway if you're driving. I had actually been meaning to come here for awhile now as one of my friends had highly recommended it, but they were undergoing renovations at one point. I was really happy with my experiences here and would love to come back again to try some of their other dishes.

The interior design of Kenji is quite simple, with Japanese inspired decorations on the walls such as bamboo rows and artwork, and there's also lots of Japanese paper lights that makes the whole place feel bright. Soft jazz music plays in the background for a comfortable and cosy atmosphere. There's an authenticity to the place with a sushi bar on one side that you can sit at, and watch the chefs prepare your dishes right in front of you. The staff were really friendly, coming over to take our order quite promptly. However as the food we ordered was freshly made, it did take a little longer to come out.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Friends of Mine, Richmond

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Friends of Mine is a popular cafe in Richmond on Swan St, about a five minute walk from Burnley station and easily accessible by tram 70. Overall I was happy with my experiences here and the food was pretty decent, though there is quite a bit of waiting around both for a table and for the food to arrive.

The cafe itself is a lot bigger than what I expected, with a cosy layout for the indoor seating. There's also plenty of seats outside, though this would probably be better in summer when the weather is better! For the interior, the seating has been separated into two sections; a more dining room style and a casual style with a communal table and tables for two. The dining room style seating is actually dubbed 'The Posh Dining Room', as it is the seating used when they serve their high tea. We were lucky enough to be seated at a corner table with comfortable couch like seating in this area. There's a lot of modern artwork up on the walls and heaps of cool lights, giving the whole cafe a funky and modern feel to it. There was music playing and chatter from all the tables of people, but as the cafe is quite spacious you didn't have to raise your voices. Each table has nice decorations on it, with a jar of flowers, salt and pepper grinders, and sugar, which came in a little jam jar.

We got to the cafe around 10:45 in the morning and were told we had to wait around 20 minutes for a table. Once we were seated, the staff were prompt to ask if we wanted drinks, though afterwards it was harder to catch their attention to actually order, as it was so busy. Eventually we did manage to place our order, though it did take over 15 minutes for it to arrive. The staff also said they'd bring the bill to us at the end of our meal, then promptly forgot about it afterwards, and another member of staff had to bring it over. The bill was placed in a little felt cover though instead of the usual plate, and they also have really cute name cards.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Charlie & Co. Burgers, CBD

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Charlie & Co. is a burger joint that has recently opened up in the upstairs food court in the Emporium as its first Melbourne store. It's a relatively well known burger joint in Sydney that's been around for almost ten years, and I was really excited to hear that they were finally coming down to Melbourne! The burgers here were really enjoyable and I had a mostly good experience except for the service, and two of my other friends who went at different times also said the same thing.

Located in the upstairs food court, Charlie & Co. is situated near Jimmy Grants, with a large amount of seating surrounding the place. You go up to the counter to order yourself, and are given a buzzer to indicate when your order is ready. My friends and I all thought the service could've been a little better - when I went up to order, I gave the order for my burger first, but before I had the chance to also order extras, the staff serving me already told me the price of the order, and I had to then tell her I actually wanted to order something else. I had also grabbed a bottle of coke and had it on the counter, yet she didn't seem to see this either until I pointed it out. The food was ready in less than ten minutes - when your buzzer goes off, you go up to collect your order, as well as any cutlery you wish to use. However, one of my other friends had to wait at least fifteen minutes for her order, even though she ordered right after her friend did and he received his order quite quickly. She had to go up and ask - they seemed to have forgotten her order, and had to redo it. When she eventually got her order, she was given truffle fries even though she ordered the sea salt ones, and was told that they had run out of ketchup to go with it. Another experience a friend had was also of bad service - though her buzzer went off quite quickly, when she went up to the counter there was no one to give her order to her. The guy working at the register looked at my friend, and simply turned around again even though he wasn't serving anyone, so she had to ask another staff for her order. Given the three different experiences, I'd definitely say that the service has to be improved.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Mamak, CBD

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Mamak is a popular Malaysian restaurant located on Lonsdale St just past Elizabeth Street, easily accessible by a number of trams or about a five minute walk from Melbourne Central. I had actually tried to come here with some friends awhile ago, but there was such a long queue that we decided to go elsewhere instead. This time, we went around 6pm and were lucky enough to get a table straight away. I had an enjoyable experience at Mamak, though it definitely isn't the best Malaysian restaurant in my opinion.

There's a really good atmosphere to Mamak because it's always so busy - lively and warm, brightly lit and you didn't even have to raise your voices even though it was quite noisy in there. The decorations are quite simple; there's just a few large rustic photos hung up that contrast with the brightly painted red walls, but together with all the lights, gives the whole place a comfortable dining experience. Service was pretty good for the most part; our food came within about five minutes of us ordering, even the fish curry which we were told would take about ten to fifteen minutes. However for some reason, the vegetable curry did take another 10-15 minutes to arrive. A good thing we found about Mamak was that they don't make you leave when you finish eating, despite there being a queue outside waiting for tables, which allowed us to just sit and talk afterwards.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Mr Hendricks, Balwyn

Mr Hendricks Cafe on Urbanspoon | Facebook Page | Instagram

Mr. Hendricks is a small cafe that's recently opened up in Balwyn, near the shopping strip on Whitehorse Road just past Balwyn Road. I decided to visit this cafe after seeing several photos of its popular dishes on Instagram, and was really happy with my experience here. Mr. Hendricks is opened Tuesdays to Sundays for breakfast and lunch, and the cafe is easily accessible by tram 109, with plenty of parking on the side streets as well.

We went on a Sunday at about 12:15pm and it was extremely busy, but luckily we got a table for three facing outside. The cafe had a really lively atmosphere with the music playing in the background, together with the sounds of people's chatter, coffee being made and the bell chiming every now and then indicating a dish was ready. There's a French theme to the decorations and dishes at Mr. Hendricks, with simple black and white photos on the walls. The whole cafe is really bright with the large windows at the front allowing natural light to enter, as well as all the light bulbs dangling from the ceiling. The service was pretty good considering how busy it was; the staff were still prompt to take our orders, and our dishes came really quickly as well - within ten minutes of us ordering.