Sunday, February 27, 2011

Noodle Kingdom en route to market

Where: Noodle Kingdom (175 Russell St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000)
What: The usual noodle inspired fare
Rating: 15/20

In my former life as a policy wonk, I was fortunate enough to work in the CBD, where I enjoyed Melbourne's incredible and cheap food on a near-daily basis. Noodle Kingdom was a perennial favourite among colleagues and friends. A bustling place and one of the few in the city that hand pull noodles (for more information on this ostensibly dying art, see this excellent Tiny Urban Kitchen post). The hand made nature of the noodles gives them a wonderful, slightly chewy texture, which is in stark contrast to the oft bloated noodles served in Melbourne's China Town. 

Yesterday, en route to Footscray's Little Saigon Market, my beloved and I couldn't resist checking out the allegedly new and improved Noodle Kingdom, blogged about recently by Elisa on Nouveau Potato. Following her post, I noted that I was slightly concerned by the renovation - was part of Noodle Kingdom's....ummm....shall we say "charm" the fact that bags of chicken propped the kitchen door open and cutlery had to be thoroughly wiped down before use? Okay, so maybe not...

We entered the newly renovated premises and were blown away by the new decor - slate tiles on the floor, warm lighting, comfortable padded seats (rather than the historically bum-numbing wooden chairs) and sparkling tabletops. However, we soon noticed a box of capsicums sitting unattended on the floor - at least some things never change!
We were thrilled to see that the menu hadn't been revolutionised with the decor and our favourite noodle soups and #29 (a chili, noodle and meat salad) were still on offer. We were also delighted by the introduction of numerous new drinks - taro milk and lychee drinks were thoroughly enjoyed between us, even if they were ever slightly too sweet. 

Our first dish arrived - my beloved's favourite - a vegetarian noodle soup. The broth was intense, thick and tasty. The noodles were pretty good, but just a wee bit bloated. I have had better at the establishment.
What looked like our second dish (yes, the aforementioned #29) sat on the drinks counter next to us waiting to be brought over. It appeared truly mouthwatering, with steam piping from the thick ribbons of noodles. We watched salivating....and watched....and waited...and watched... In hindsight, I should have simply risen from my seat and brought the dish to our table. However, I was not certain that the plate was intended for us, so I refrained. It turns out, this was our meal and, by the time the waiter delivered his dishes, it was a tepid shadow of its former self. 
Don't get me wrong, all the flavours still certainly packed a punch, but we needed to engage in a little strategic mixing to ensure the extremities of the meal were once again warmed. 

Overall, I have to say that the renovation is a step in the right direction for this cheap and cheerful icon of Melbourne dining. Two incredibly generous dishes and two blended drinks shared for around $12 a head represents outstanding value for money. Stellar value. Stellar food. Just not such stellar service.... 

With full bellies, we headed over to Little Saigon Market, where I purchased the most succulent lychees I think I may have ever eaten. I was also overjoyed to have the opportunity to procure fresh pandan leaves, some of which will most certainly flavour some dishes featured in upcoming posts. 

Noodle Kingdom on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Where: Misht (245 Glenhuntly Rd, Elsternwick, VIC, 3185)
What: four course banquet for two ($29 special)
Rating: 12/20

My beloved and I decided a celebratory dinner was in order this weekend. To celebrate what, you ask? Two months until "Eurotrip2011" of course! Mind you, the meal was not especially inspired by Europe - instead, we opted to use a coupon we had purchased some time ago for an Indian meal at Misht.

Now, arguably 7pm is too early to eat out on a Friday night - call me old, but an early meal appeals! Upon entering Misht we were rather dismayed to find we were the only diners in the establishment.
Fortunately, as soon as our soup arrived, so too did a family of three, who were promptly followed by some larger groups - *phew*!

Speaking of soup, the tomato soup was the highlight of the meal for yours truly. It was extremely tasty, with gutsy punches of coriander. The image below really does not do the dish justice. 
The following course was less exciting and consisted of a trio of bite sized morsels, included spiced chicken, tandoori mushroom and a lamb dumpling.
While the dish was far from bad, it lacked the refinement of the soup and was a tad heavy on the salt.

Onto main, which consisted of spiced rice, a spinach and corn dish (pictured)...
...goat curry...
...and my beloved's favourite dish of the evening - cheese naan.
The mains were all certainly satisfactory - indeed, they were considerably better than much of the Indian fare on offer in Melbourne. The quantities were incredibly generous for only two diners; a fact that must have been evident to the waiter (who, may I add was a charming and attentive fellow!), who offered to pack our desserts up to take home. We jumped at the offer - our behinds somewhat numb from the hard wooden chairs - and enjoyed a piping hot, spiced carrot pudding and a cup of tea at home.

Misht has a lot going for it - great staff and very promising cuisine. However, more emphasis on ambiance would elevate the experience to a whole new level.

Misht Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 18, 2011

We're back in action!

Hi there faithful readers and thanks for sticking out the long break. I'm back in business after completing a thoroughly enjoyable MBA unit (even if I am utterly exhausted on the other side of it all!) and have much to catch up on. I thought I'd start by reviewing a cheap and cheerful little DIY Vietnamese restaurant in Footscray - Star. 

Where: Star Restaurant (149 Nicolson St, Footscray, VIC, 2011) 
What: DIY rice paper rolls
Rating: 13/20 

Now, I'm not an expert on Melbourne's western suburbs, but my delightful friend, V (who blogs about similar food related things over at The misadventures of MissC - check it out!) is my guru on all things "Wesside", as we like to call it. She recommended that we (accompanied by our long suffering partners) head out to try some DIY rice paper roll making at Star. 

The restaurant is a typical cheap and cheerful inner city Vietnamese, complete with mandatory lurid laminex tables. The DIY BBQ/rice paper roll option is tucked away in a predictably long menu, complete with a couple of less obvious crocodile and venison dishes. Naturally, being the patriotic Aussies that we are, we had to try a side of croc to accompany our venison and beef rice paper rolls.

Overall, the experience was fun and interactive, the ingredients were fresh and tasty and the company was fabulous! 

There's really little more to say - instead I'll let the pictures do the talking.

This is how a pro rolls a rice paper roll:

...and this is how Georgia's turns out.

There's clearly only one solution - practice!

Star on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Busy studying

Apologies for my abysmal lack of blogging of late. I'm currently preparing for an elective Summer MBA unit and have been spending hours getting through piles of reading and case study analysis. Fun times! 
Promise I will be back to it within a couple of very intense weeks of study. To keep you interested, I can tell you that I have a particularly fabulous DIY rice paper roll restaurant review in my back pocket. 
See you on the other side of this study!