Dinner @ Ajisen Ramen

For a chain restaurant, Ajisen Ramen makes pretty good ramen; it was humble, comforting and their broth really warms your belly. They have a wide selection of ramen to choose from, in addition to other Japanese foods and drinks. The location is secluded and hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne Central and it was really nice and peaceful when I visited. The waitress who served A.T and I was confident and very knowledgable with the menu. She knew her stuff back to front, which is always nice to see.

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Shared entree & drinks:
Takoyaki (6 pieces for $7) –
grilled octopus served w/ bonito flakes and radish in special sauce
Their takoyaki was very tasty, especially for their pretty cheap prices which did enhance its tastiness! Ajisen Ramen did not hesitate with the sauce and bonito flakes which was fine by me. I think a good takoyaki needs a good amount of its accompaniments. They also added radish, something I haven’t encountered until now but it’s brilliant because the radish adds an extra crunch and goes particularly well with the sauces. The balls weren’t that crispy though and only had a tiny 1cm piece of octopus in each ball, but I have yet to find takoyaki with more filling than that (maybe in Japan. One day Thao, one day).

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8/10

 

Root beer & green tea float ($5 each) - served w/ ice cream
I thought the addition of floats onto their menu was an innovative little idea (well I’ve never seen it before, not with root beer and green tea at least!) and I really loved it. The green tea was very refreshing and the perfect way to end a comforting and heavy meal like ramen. It does have a grainy texture but I didn’t mind it that much, the ice-cream compensates. :) Root beer was on the gassier side but still delicious because I lurveeee me some root beer. It’s like a fizzier more sour/sweet and yummier version of coke… kinda like coke on coke (geddit coke, as in drugs? No? Ok)
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(I don’t remember the prices of the ramen and silly me didn’t think to note it down but it ranged from.. $10-13 I think? Okay maybe not, don’t trust that.. oh gosh, I’m terrible. Sorry!)
A.T’s meal:
Paiku ramen - ramen noodles served w/ tenderloin ribs, eggs & vegetables
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My meal:
Tonkatsu ramen –
ramen noodles served w/ deep fried pork, egg & vegetables, with added kimchi (+$2).
The broth was thick, rich and just absorbed in all the flavour of the pork bone, but it was a tad on the oily side. The noodles were cooked al dente exactly as they say and so slippery, it just slides as you slurp it all up! The tonkatsu was mediocre, as the crumb became soggy whilst it drowned into the broth which was inevitable. I liked how they cooked their eggs, ensuring that it wasn’t too overcooked so the yolk is still quite nicely golden orange. The kimchi on the other hand was lacking in impact and there were a few pieces that looked… off.

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7/10

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T’s Verdict:
Quality of the food – 7.5/10
Price (based on food quality) – reasonable
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – calm, quiet and relaxing (mind you I came during closing time)
Overall experience – 7.5/10

Interested?
Ajisen Ramen (Japanese)
Shop GD13, Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe St, Melbourne (CBD)
(03) 9650 8986
Open Monday to Sunday 11.30AM – 9.00PM

http://www.ajisenramenmelbourne.com.au/

https://www.facebook.com/AjisenRamenMelbourne

Ajisen Ramen on Urbanspoon

 

Arigatou, ja ne! :)
From Your Weekly Foodie,
- T

Lunch @ Guhng

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My high school friends (H, M & N) and I decided to go for Korean BBQ for M’s birthday since it’s her favourite cuisine. I don’t know about the others, but I thought Guhng was the right choice. Unlike other Korean restaurants, Guhng grills top quality meat to medium rare, just the way I like it! Not only did the meat melt in my mouth, but my heart melted along with it. Not to mention the interior design was absolutely stunning with four (yes four!) restaurant levels, each with extravagant and refined decor. The waitresses were efficient and attentive at the start, but this slowly diminished as more patrons rolled in.

LUNCH BANQUET $35pp (also includes complimentary sides/banchan of kimchi, pickled radish & onions, as well as various dipping sauces)

Pan-fried dumplings (4 pieces per person) - filled w/ soybean curd, onion, garlic & ginger
Guhng’s pan-fried dumplings were different to ones I’ve tried in the past because of its soybean curd filling. It was a bit bland but had an enjoyable mushy texture which contrasted the crispiness of the dumpling wrappers.
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Fried crispy pork belly - marinated in soy sauce w/ vegetables (carrot, capsicum, onion)
The pork belly was nicely cooked. ‘Marinade’ was kind of like black bean sauce; a lovely blend of salty and sweet, tying the dish together nicely. If I was to be picky here… and I am, then I must say I was kind of disappointed that the crispiness wasn’t there. The dish was too saucy, making the pork belly skin soggy (everybody loves a crispy skin).
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Scotch fillet (100g per person) – grass-fed marbled beef fillet
At every Korean restaurant I’ve been to, the waiter/waitress has given me a beautiful piece of meat, failed to give it the attention it needs due to their focus on serving other customers, resulting in tough overcooked meat and me leaving with an uneasy heart (I love my meat). But not this restaurant! The scotch fillet was well cooked to medium rare. The meat was juicy, tender and was just perfect on its own. Guhng truly appreciated the meat and let it shone.
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Galbi (100g per person) - traditional Korean (galbi) sauce marinated beef ribs
The beef ribs had a sweet and sticky marinade which enhanced the flavour. Once again, the meat was exquisitely moist and tender. I was so moved by Guhng’s efforts :’)
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EXTRA SEAFOOD HOTPOT (+$29) - w/ fish, king prawns, baby octopus, squid, mussels, abalone, tofu, mushrooms & cabbage.
The waitress came up to our table and literally cut. up. everything. The mussels, abalone, octopus, even the prawn were in tiny little pieces. I would’ve preferred them kept whole because it retains the freshness of the seafood. I don’t usually like water-based food, particularly hotpot but the broth was comforting, with a little hint of spiciness and a great depth of flavour.IMG_3749

EXTRA STEAMED BLACK BEAN RICE (+$2 per bowl, sorry no photo!) - I’ve never tried black rice before, but I’m very glad we ordered it. Black bean rice has a crunchier and chewier texture than white rice, which all of us collectively enjoyed, although it can get a bit dry if you don’t have any liquids to accompany it.

T’s Verdict:
Highlights: top quality meat cooked to medium rare
Lowlights: sitting in close proximity to the huge charcoal grill & a failing ventilation system = our faces feeling terribly hot and smokey
Quality of the food – 8.5/10
Price (based on food quality) – reasonable
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – sophisticated and refined (ground floor)
Overall experience – 8/10

Interested?
Guhng (Korean)
19 McKillop Street, Melbourne (CBD)
(03) 9041 2192
Lunch: Open Monday to Friday 12PM – 3PM,
Dinner: Open Monday to Thursday & Sunday 6PM – 11PM, Friday & Saturday 6PM – 12AM

http://www.guhngkorean.com/

Guhng on Urbanspoon

 

See ya next week!
From Your Weekly Foodie,
- T

Dinner @ Akasya Turkish Kebab House

I must admit this dingy, little restaurant is not only close to home, but also close to my heart (OoOoOOooo corny). I love local restaurants owned by humble families because you know you’ll be getting honest and authentic food. This restaurant is probably the epitome of a family restaurant, with the parents at the front making the food, grandmother at the back making turkish bread and the little kids hanging around. The plates were quick to come out and the lady who served us was very friendly. Delicious, consistent food for a fraction of the price! The best kebab house in town :)

Akasya Kebab Plate ($10.80 + extra dip $1 = $11.80 ) - lamb and chicken kebab w/ turkish bread, salad & 1 dip. I chose the beetroot (beetroot, yogurt, dill & garlic) dip and added a 2nd ispanak/spinach dip.
Both the lamb and chicken were shaved in long thin pieces, keeping the meat moist and juicy. The turkish bread was cooked for a bit longer than usual but it was still beautiful nevertheless. The bread was fluffy, chewy with a brilliantly crispy crust. Salad was nicely dressed, giving a tangy and refreshing element on my palate. All of the components together with both dips (any of the dips they have!) go hand in hand. I’ve had this meal a couple of times and it’s been consistently good every time.

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9.5/10

T’s Verdict:
Quality of the food – 9.5/10
Price (based on food quality) – cheap
Service – 7.5/10
Atmosphere – a bit dingy but so humble
Overall experience – 9/10

Interested?
Akasya Turkish Kebab House (Turkish)
290 Main Road East, Saint Albans
(03) 9366 2328
Open Monday to Saturday 9AM – 10PM
Closed on Sunday

http://akasyakebabhouse.com/

Akasya Turkish Kebab House on Urbanspoon

 

From Your Weekly Foodie,
- T

Dinner @ Rumi

A.T and I decided that it was time for us to try something new that wasn’t either Asian (and by Asian I mean Chinese, Japanese and Korean) or modern Australian… which lead us to Rumi.
Rumi is a little bit classy with its dim lighting and neatly groomed waiters and waitresses. Yet the venue itself consisted of mainly group get-togethers exchanging meals and conversations, which created a really social and vibrant environment. The waitress & waiter who served us were both friendly, confident and so helpful with the menu. They also have a very handy way of pouring water, which I thought was a clever way to entertain the diners. Rumi was full despite its spacious interior so it was blatantly evident how popular this restaurant is. I would recommend booking beforehand. Don’t worry, it won’t feel like too much of a chore thanks to their quick and efficient booking system, which you can access on their website!

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Our Meals:
Sigara Boregi ($12.50 for 4 pieces) - cigar shaped pastry filled with haloumi, feta & kasseri.
Great little cigars rolled with crispy pastry that just flakes and melts in your mouth, and filled with a well-balanced, perfectly salty combination of cheeses. It was a sensational start to our night!

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9/10

Spiced school prawns w/ tahini sauce ($16.50)
The second entree was even better than the first. The school prawns were crunchy and nicely spiced with the pungent taste of paprika just singing and dancing on my palate. The tahini sauce complemented the prawns impeccably well, as it provided that extra kick which transported me to food heaven. Give me a bucket of these any day and I’d be one very happy shrimpy (…geddit?).

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9.5/10

Quail Kebab ($19.50) - w/ grilled shallots
The shallots were sweet and fragrant. The poor quail on the other hand, was overly charcoaled for my liking, resulting in dry meat and remnants of an unpleasant burnt aftertaste that I’d much rather forget. Most importantly, where. was. the. sauce? Where? *flips table*

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3/10

Freekeh Salad ($14) - almonds w/ ewe’s milk feta & pomegranate dressing.
The freekeh salad made eating the quail somewhat manageable. This salad isn’t exactly the light and refreshing type, but delicious nevertheless. Very tasty flavours, and the almonds added a gorgeous crunch to the overall dish.

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7.5/10

Fried potatoes ($9.50) - w/ lemon, garlic & sumac
The fried potatoes had a crunchy exterior whilst the inside was delicately soft, making it really addictive. Having said that, the bigger pieces were undercooked, hard and not crispy at all. The seasoning was packed full of flavour however, inconsistency of the texture was what let the dish down.

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6.5/10

Poached pears ($12.50) - w/ walnuts, dried pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses, sweet labne & sumac.
The pears were skilfully poached to the point where it was just so soft and easy to bite into. When eaten together with the walnuts, labne and pomegranate molasses, all the elements were there and tasted beautifully well together. The only minor criticism I have is that there was an excessive amount of pomegranate sauce poured onto the plate, which was a tad too sour and overpowering.

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8/10

Arak poached apricots ($7.50 for 4 pieces) – filled w/ housemade labne using organic milk.
These dainty poached apricots were such a treat. Soft, creamy and sweet! Yum

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8/10

The night was finished with complimentary gum (very appropriate) and warm smiles! Overall, I had a pleasant first experience eating middle eastern food and Rumi was a great starting point for me to venture out and diversify my palate.

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T’s Verdict:
Highlights: amazing and flavoursome entrees (crunchy school prawns with that banging tahini sauce & the crispy cigar pastry)
Lowlights: dry quail with no sauce!
Quality of the food – 7/10
Price (based on food quality) – reasonable
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – social, vibrant
Overall experience – 8/10

Interested?
Rumi (Middle Eastern)
116 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
(03) 9388 8255
Open Monday to Sunday 6PM – 10PM

http://rumirestaurant.com.au/

Rumi on Urbanspoon

 

Cheers
From Your Weekly Foodie,
- T

Lunch @ Lounge/Gloria Swanston’s Kitchen

Service is almost non existent at this restaurant… when my mate D and I arrived, we were a bit lost because there was a worker at the bar who didn’t bother to greet or even look at us, so we just seated ourselves. Ordering is at the front counter and a staff member just comes out, places your plate on the table and leaves, that’s it. No communication. In addition, the parma I had was mediocre at best (I wouldn’t mind trying the “kickass burger”, which has received rave reviews). The only attractive aspect of Lounge/Gloria Swanston’s Kitchen that could possibly convince me to come back is the ridiculously chill environment of the restaurant. It definitely lives up to its name “Lounge” ahah. The venue is spacious, rustic and just a great place to socialise and have a beer with your mates. Other than that, it’s pretty average.

Chicken Parma ($10 on Mondays, original price is $20.50) - Parma with house-made slaw and crinkle cut fries.
Every component was very lacklustre and just down right uninspiring. Nothing excited my taste-buds… the parma was dry and it was very difficult to cut into with my knife. I’m pretty sure the fries are just the typical McCain frozen crinkle cuts or something of the like, and the slaw tasted like cabbage mixed with mayonnaise. No love and care were seen that day (lol). Even though I only paid $10, I expected the parma to be at least a tad better than this. I wouldn’t pay $10 again for this dish, let alone $20.50. Very disappointing meal.

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3.5/10

T’s Verdict:
Quality of the food – 3.5/10
Price (based on food quality) – not worth it
Service – not sure how to judge… there wasn’t a service?
Atmosphere – chill, social, relaxed
Overall experience – 3.5/10

Interested?
Lounge/Gloria Swanston’s Kitchen (American)
243 Swanston St, Melbourne (CBD)
(03) 9663 2916
Open Monday to Friday 12PM-10PM, Saturday & Sunday 2PM-10PM

http://gloriaswanstons.com.au/

https://www.facebook.com/gloriaswanstonskitchen

Gloria Swanston's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

From Your Weekly Foodie,
- T

Lunch @ Etto – Italian Street Pasta

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K’s meal:
Black Angus, white wine & vegetable ravioli w/ Roma tomato napoli ($12) - 
rich Italian tomato sauce with onion, garlic & Italian herbs
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C’s meal:
Chilli linguini w/ Roasted Vegetable Caponata ($11) - 
zucchini, red capsicum & eggplant roasted in confit garlic and a Roma tomato napoli sauce
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My meal:
Chilli linguini w/ wagyu meatball polpette ($13) - 100% wagyu mini meatballs in a Roma tomato napoli sauce topped with crunchy herb breadcrumbs.
I honestly didn’t find anything particularly outstanding about this dish. The pasta was pretty sloppily presented on all of our plates and veggies were scarce on C’s dish (in contrast, mine had a lot of pasta and meatballs). The flavours of my sauce were barely distinguishable… I had to add a lot of salt and pepper to make it less bland. The pasta was a bit underdone, but for me under>overcooked pasta so that didn’t bother me too much, and the dish overall came out pretty lukewarm. In saying that, the wagyu meatballs were juicy, meaty and beautifully pink inside. I also appreciated the breadcrumbs together with the parmesan because it added a textural element to the meal.

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6.5/10

Try this place out if you’re ever in the area and wanting some quick food and/or takeaway; it’s definitely a great option for workers there who are on their lunch break. The owner was very friendly and eager to give suggestions if you’re stuck on what to order (like I was) and the restaurant itself is quite funky with outdoor seating! However, would I eat here again? Perhaps, if the opportunity arises but I wouldn’t go out of my way to come back.

T’s Verdict:
Quality of the food – 6.5/10
Price (based on food quality) – reasonable
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – colourful/quirky, local
Overall experience – 7/10

Interested?
Etto – Italian Street Pasta (Italian)
261 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne
(03) 9696 3886
Open Monday to Friday 11.30AM – 9.30PM, Saturday & Sunday 12PM – 9.30PM
Eat in or Takeaway

Ciao! Grazie! :)
From your weekly foodie,
- T

Lunch @ Footscray Best Kebab House

Now, one must be very bold and confident in order to claim oneself as the best. In addition to that, others would expect them to live up to their self-acclaimed title. In this case, I believe Footscray Best Kebab House has fallen a tiny bit short from the “best”, as I’ve had better kebab plates from other restaurants. Don’t expect anything fancy from this restaurant… I mean after all, it is Footscray. This place is just plain, simple, authentic. The staff was slightly unfriendly but maybe it’s because of the 30 degree heat. Don’t get me wrong, the food was still delicious and I finished every spoonful. I guess I’ll just have to come back another time to try their actual kebabs and see if I can be proven wrong!

My meal:
Small kebab plate ($13) - 
your choice of meat, 2 dips w/ salad and turkish bread. I opted for the lamb & chicken w/ cacik and red capsicum dips. The dips were delicious, particularly the red capsicum which had a nice sweetness to it. The turkish bread was definitely one of the best; it was fluffy, light and chewy whilst still retaining its crispy exterior (heavenly!). The salad was a bit of a letdown as it was too salty, however that faded when eaten with everything else. I would’ve preferred to have the dips separate from the salad to preserve its freshness and the meat to be cut in thin long slices instead of shreds because it tends to be a bit dry but that’s just me being picky. Overall, a comforting and generous meal that leaves you satisfying full and happy!

8.5/10

8.5/10

A.T’s Meal:
Large kebab plate ($15) - your choice of meat, 2 dips w/ salad and turkish bread. A.T went for lamb & chicken w/ cacik and hot chilli. 

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T’s Verdict:
Quality of the food – 8.5/10
Price (based on food quality) – very reasonable
Service – 5/10
Atmosphere – casual
Overall experience – 7.5/10

Interested?
Footscray Best Kebab House
93 Nicholson Street, Footscray
(03) 9689 0777
Open Monday to Saturday 9AM – 7PM
Closed on Sunday
Footscray Best Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Stay tuned for next week’s post!
From Your Weekly Foodie,
- T