Dainty Sichuan, South Yarra, Melbourne

Did I mentioned that we had Asian food most of the time while we were in Melbourne? The only times we had non Asian were when we got out of Melbourne city itself, in Mornington Peninsula and Great Ocean Road. Reason is, one of us doesn’t really like Western stuff… so, that’s why.

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On our second night, we were brought to South Yarra as PeiYin told us that there is a good Sichuan restaurant there. To our surprise, the place was packed to the brim eventhough we reserved a table! We end up waited for about 15 minutes before we could get a table, which was rather small for 6 of us but better than none, huh? All the workers here speaks either English or Mandarin, so if you can’t speak Mandarin, it’s okay!

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We left the ordering task to PeiYin and Ramon and since 2 of us are not ardent fan of spicy food (Sichuan is famous for its tongue-and-lips numbing spicy dishes), they ordered only one spicy dish for that night. The Sweet & Sour Pork Ribs (AUD15.80) was the first to arrive. Basked in a sticky and sweet sauce, they were quite good except the meat was a little too tough for me. The Crispy Sichuan Duck (AUD15.80, can’t really remember whether it was quarter-portion or half-portion) has a lovely smoky aroma whaffing from the skin. The meat was tender, well-seasoned and gamey smell is non-existent.

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I insisted for greens, so we got Dry Stir Fried Beans with minced pork (AUD18.80). Came in big portion, the French beans were briefly deep fried before being stir fried with garlic, some spring onion, chilli flakes and minced pork. I think I made the correct choice for greens, as everyone loves it!

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The one and only spicy dish of the night; the Stewed Lamb Ribs Sichuan Home Style (AUD23.80) came piping hot in a deep dish. The spices and chillies removed any gamey smell completely. The meat was tender and succulent but as expected, the spiciness was kinda overwhelming (at least for me). On the other hand, PeiYin’s favourite brinjal dish, Fish Flavoured Eggplant (AUD17.80) was very good, albeit a little bit greasy. Another big portion dish, the brinjal were cut into thick slices before deep fried and coated with sticky, sweet and slightly spicy sauce and garlic.

Although we had no Ma La dishes that night, we enjoyed the dinner immensely, coupling with good chat and companion to boot. Although most of the dishes are heavily laced with chillies, the spiciness level are tolerable, so for those who can’t take spicy stuff, this might be a good news for you.

Dainty Sichuan Food
176, Toorak Road,
South Yarra,
Melbourne VIC 3141,
Australia.
Tel: (03) 9078 1686

Visiting Precious Pea at Asian Gourmet Hut, Doncaster East, Melbourne

Sitting in the airplane for eight hours is not a fun thing to do (imagine those who had to be inside the plane for more than 10 hours!), so after our itinerary for Melbourne was planned, we just had to slot Asian Gourmet Hut into the agenda eventhough our time was rather packed.. Why? Because we’re gonna visit Precious Pea there!

Few days before our flight, Precious Pea’s hubby passed us 5kgs of dried anchovies for us to bring them over to her. And she used them to prepare this:

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Precious Pea’s famous mee hoon kueh! Alright, before I go further into the food, if you haven’t know, Precious Pea is now staying in Melbourne with her sister, brother-in-law (BIL) and nephew. Together with her BIL, they took over Asian Gourmet Hut in Doncaster East from its previous owner and they have been on business since May 2010. We’ve heard lot of good stories on the food (her BIL worked in a Chinese restaurant in ZhongShan before this), especially her mee hoon kueh.

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We gathered as much people as we could, including our host PY, Ramon, Jason, Dr. Jun and her boyfriend, Dave at Asian Gourmet Hut that night. Expect Asian/Chinese cuisines, both authentic and some with a twist on the menu. All of us love the mee hoon kueh, with anchovies-based stock. The hand-pinched flour “noodle” has the right thickness and best of all, it was served with homemade sambal belacan!

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Jun ordered the Long Beans with Chicken Giblets as she loves this dish. Stir-fried with some chillies and taucu (fermented bean paste), it takes CK and me some time to actually try the giblets (as you might know I’m not a fan of innards), and surprisingly, we found it to be rather pleasant to bite on. Crunchy and free of foul smell (as I usually expect them to be), we polished the plate clean.

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Dishes that came after the long beans were recommendations by Precious Pea herself. The quail in ginger and spring onion taste very much alike to chicken wing, albeit a smoother texture of the meat. Salt and pepper pork belly taste as pretty as the colour, with chopped spring onion, chilli, garlic and onion thrown in. While Ramon showed little interest on the aubergine/brinjal, PY and I like it a lot. Plenty of other ingredients were included such as diced peppers, spring onion, minced meat and mushrooms, all swimming in a thick and gooey gravy. Perfect match for white rice!

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For dessert, we spotted the dry tong yuen (flour dumpling), hence we ordered some to try. They actually looked more like mua chee (rice flour dumpling) with grounded black sesame or peanut filling, dusted with icing sugar and green tea powder. Seriously good stuff, the warm black sesame paste was filled to the brim! Other stuff we had that night includes the stir-fried asparagus with butter, braised beef brisket and double-boiled papaya with snow fungus and almond kernel.

Everyone seems enjoyed the meal with laughter and plenty of chit-chat. We actually stayed till their closing hour and no doubt, we were the noisiest group around! Thanks to Precious Pea and her brother-in-law for the wonderful spread of food and service!

Asian Gourmet Hut
12, Mitchell Street,
Doncaster East,
Vic, 3109 Melbourne, Australia.

Tel: +65-9840 7511
Business Hour: 12pm – 9pm (weekdays), 11.30am – 9pm (weekends)
Closed on Wednesdays.

Tom Phat, Brunswick, Melbourne

I’m freaking miss Melbourne!!!

My friends would look at me in the eyes with weird expression and say that Melbourne is boring. Aside from that, I think that Melbourne is charming in its own way; the streets are generally clean, the Yarra river and its surrounding area (Southbank, South Wharf) are very well organized (with jogging tracks by the riverside), great food and efficient public transportation.

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We were brought to this little cafe at Sydney Road on our first morning by our pretty host, PY for breakfast. According to PY, they serves Asian dishes with a little bit of Western touch (or was it the other way round?). The menu is simple and straightforward, no colourful illustrations and it is divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner, beverages, desserts and appetizers. Or, you could also refer to the blackboard for special items offered for the day.

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PY’s “Roti omelette wok tossed eggs – roti, bacon with chives and roasted tomato salsa” (AUD13.90) is a dish created from frying roti (roti canai!) with eggs, chives, pork bacon and drizzled with roasted tomato salsa. The moment I saw it, I wondered how many eggs they throw in it because the portion – it was huge! A bit too heavy for breakfast, I would say. A very eggy dish, the roti can fill you up in no time.

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The “Viet eggs wok fried with chilli, soyfried shallots, spring onion and toast” (AUD9.90) look promising, but sadly the soy sauce was tad too much till it drenched the toasts below it, rendered the toasts almost inedible because they were so salty.

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WMW’s “Duck spring rolls with shitake mushrooms and five spice” (AUD9) was better – the skin wasn’t greasy and filling was moist and flavourful.

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I ordered the item from the blackboard, “Goan scrambled eggs with spicy chorizo, curry leaves and roasted tomato” (add a toast too) – AUD11.90. Again, big portion and by now, you should have noticed that egg is a popular ingredient for breakfast here. Mine was not bad, the eggs were scrambed and tossed with chorizo and curry leaves – the chorizo, which was mentioned as “spicy” here was not spicy at all and requires a little bit of jaw exercise to chew. Almost unable to finish it because it was filling up my stomach really fast!

Overall, a pretty satisfying breakfast, apart from the salty toast. Friendly service and affordable pricing (if you don’t convert it to MYR, of course!).

Tom Phat
184, Sydney Road,
Brunswick 3056,
Melbourne, Australia.

Tel: 9381 2374
Fax: 9380 5793
Email: eat@tomphat.com.au
Web: http://www.tomphat.com.au/
Business Hour: Sat – Sun, 8.00am – 11.00pm