LIVE TO EAT

Three friends food & travel adventures from Phnom Penh to Melbourne and everywhere in between

Trippy Taco (234 Gertrude St, Fitzroy)

Still clearing the backlog of restaurants and continuing with the Mexican theme…Trippy Taco is a small-ish “Fresh Mex” cantina in Fitzroy. Before hitting a gig on the nearby Smith Street a friend and I decided to get our Mexican fix for the night. Trippy Taco is a vegan resturant which, for a not so keen meat eater like myself, makes it a very exciting place to be. Being able to open a menu and order anything from it is pretty rare! The dishes don’t seem to be particularly ‘lacking’ so I think even carnivores would be please with the offerings. My friend and I both went for the Mixed Taco Meal which consisted of one ‘Original Trippy Taco’ (home-made corn tortilla, cheese, black beans, salad, salsa, avocado and a squeeze of fresh lime) and one ‘Tofu Asada Tacos’ (pretty much the same as the original but with spicy grilled tofu instead of the black beans). Both were packed full of ingredients  making it a very interesting (and messy) experience. I think we both liked the Original much more than the Tofu Asada, I think the beans gave the tacos much more flavour and depth than the tofu. Service was pretty good given how busy it was, only down side was that the tacos were served separately with about a 15-20min gap between the two kinds. Although eating them on separate places made it a lot easier to handle to ingredients going everywhere, both of us would of eaten the tofu one first rather then second had they been served together. Although this is a very minor point. Overall I would definately go back and perhaps try the burritos or sweet corn tamale. 

Service: 4/5

Ambience: 4/5

Taste: 4.5/5

Quality: 4/5

Price: 4/5

Value for Money: 4/5

TUpeG Rating: 4/5

Trippy Taco on Urbanspoon

Paco’s Tacos (Level 1, 500 Bourke Street)

Paco’s Tacos is another of Frank Camorra & Andy McMahon’s (think MoVida) culinary ventures. It has a canteen-esque vibe with food being served from a shipping container turned kitchen, and a lovely outdoor dining area. Most tables have shade cloths or umbrella’s so you can enjoy the Melbourne sunshine (and get a nice dose of Vitamin D) without getting too hot or burnt. I believe they have heaters in the winter time. Overall the food is very tasty, we ordered the Pollo Tacos (6 in soft shell corn taco served with coriander, cabbage and spring onion with barbecued chicken with pickled cabbage, red onion and guiliio mole sauce), the BBQ corn (chipotle mayo, queso and lime) as well as the nachos (tostated tortilla chips, salsa verde, pico de gallo, guacaomole and queso fresco). The corn was nice and juicy, but I have to say didn’t rate next to Mamasita’s famous corn. The tacos were a nice combination of ingredients and very fresh. But at $6 a pop not the best value for money. The nacho’s were a generous serve, and we were unable to finish them. Overall the food was tasty but a little on the expensive side for what it was. I probably wouldn’t return in a hurry as I believe there are better options for Mexican in the same price range. It is however a nice spot for a weekday lunch with colleagues. 

Service: 5/5

Ambience: 4/5

Taste: 3/5

Quality: 4/5

Price: 4/5

Value for Money: 2/5

TUPeG Rating: 3.5/5

Pacos Tacos on Urbanspoon

Mamak - take 2 (366 Lonsdale St, Melbourne)

Over the past few years Syndey trips have included a trip to the famed Mamak so I was pretty stoked when they *finally* opened a branch here.  As with Sydney there was a queue, despite it being a weekday lunch. Our wait was not too long as we got there fairly early (probably around 12). Between three of us we ordered a Roti canai each and, upon advice from our waiter, two curries (one vegetable & one chicken). We also got a Teh Halia each. The roti comes with two curry sauces and a spicy sambal. It was cooked to perfection with the right ratio of crispy to fluffy and the curries were also very tasty (although a little too hot for some of us….if you’re not a chilli eater maybe ask them to tone it down when you order). The chicken curry could of had a bit more chicken but compared to a lot of other places was a fairly decent serving size. As pictured they brought out our roti’s together on a single plate which made it a bit hard to share, but wasn’t a major issue. We definitely did not need to the two curries, two guys (one of which is a fairly big eater) and myself were no where near finishing them. Overall Mamak Melbourne lives up to its Sydney counterpart, and I will definitely be returning. 

Service: 4/5

Ambience: 2/5

Taste: 4/5

Quality: 3/5

Price: 5/5

Value for Money: 5/5

TUPeG Rating: 3/5

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Dead Man Expresso (35 Market St, South Melbourne)

So due being super busy (or lazy depending on which way you see it) I’m quite a bit behind in my blog posts. I thought a public holiday was a great way to catch up, so I’m going to try and get up to date with a series of shorter reviews…anyway enough babbling an onto the review…

Dead Man Expresso is another breakfast spot, very ‘Melbourne’ in its decor and menu.  We ordered the Baked Vegetable Fritter with smoked Salmon, poached egg & lemony sour cream as well as the special which was polenta and mushroom topped with poached egg & *i believe* a hollandaise sauce (sorry my memory of the exact description is not great…). For drinks we had freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee. The coffee, as to be expected, was top notch as was the juice. The dishes were very tasty but we were glad to be sharing as the polenta and mushroom was very rich, I was unable to even get through half the dish so I can’t imagine what it’d be like to attempt to entire plate. The fritter was much a better breakfast option, they’re generous serving of salmon was again a bit much but I could see myself ordering this plate again. Overall the quality of the meal was excellent, they were very generous with their servings. However I would not be in a huge rush to return here, unless I was in the neighbourhood and couldn’t get into nearby St Ali. I also have to say the service was top notch.  

Service: 5/5

Ambience: 5/5

Taste: 3/5

Quality: 5/5

Price: 4/5

Value for Money: 4/5

TUpeG Rating: 4/5

Dead Man Espresso on Urbanspoon

Porgie + Mr Jones

http://porgiemrjones.com.au/

Our semi-regular Saturday morning fitness session (aka gab-fest with the girls) took an (expected) detour to brunch yesterday. Upon recommendation by Miss V we decided to visit Porgie + Mr Jones on Aurburn road in Hawthorn.

As you enter the rustic dining room,  you are welcomed by possibly the best smell of all - coffee! The menu is varied with something to please even the pickiest of eaters. All dishes were quite reasonably priced (between $10 - $20 for most dishes). I settled on the Bircher Muesli with honey yogurt, rhubarb compote and toasted pistachios, ‘A’ ordered the Herb & Cheesy Toast with Eggplant Kasundi and Miss V settled on one of her favourites - Mr Jones’ golden ‘folded’ scrambles w/h fresh herbs, holy goats cheese on wholegrain toast. 

All dishes were definite winners, I really enjoyed my muesli - the toasted pistachios adding some ‘crunch’ to the dish.  V’s scrambled eggs had a great light texture as indicated in ‘folded’ name. I’m quite curious to the technique they use to achieve this - if any one knows let me know! I did, however, find the flavours a bit rich for my liking. I think I would struggle to eat even half the dish. ‘A’s’ cheesy toast was again incredibly tasty, I particularly enjoyed the kusandi which had a great ‘kick’ to it. Not sure how the dish would survive without this (as this was an ‘add on’). Guess that would depend on how into your cheese you are…

Overall this is a great spot and I’ll be returning soon - perhaps to check out their lunch or dinner offerings. 

Service: 4/5

Ambience: 4/5

Taste: 5/5

Quality: 5/5

Price: 4/5

Value for money: 4/5

TUpeG Rating: 4/5

Porgie and Mr Jones on Urbanspoon

Portuguese style chicken, warm couscous salad with a baby spinach & pumpkin salad

Portuguese style chicken, warm couscous salad with a baby spinach & pumpkin salad

Sydney Trip Recap

I just got back from an awesome couple of days in Sydney, a nice break from Melbournes sweltering heat! I have to say the food scene has improved a lot. It still doesn’t compare to Melbourne, though I may be a just a tad biased :P

Anyway I went to a couple of awesome places which I though I’d share with you…

Din Tai Fung (take 2) - this is a famous dumpling resturant (bestowed with 1 Michelin star!) conveniently located at World Square. Famous for its Xiao Long Bao, I still rate it but have to say I think the quality has deteriorated since my last visit (mid last year). Overall I’d go back but not in any hurry. I took my cousin (a Sydney local) and a former work colleague - both highly rated it however it was also their first Din Tai Fung experience. My cousin reckon’s its the best dumplings in Sydney, so maybe I’m just a bit spoilt with Melbourne’s multitude of amazing dumpings. 

Chat Thai - a well known Sydney spot that always has a queue (even at 3pm!). We visited the Haymarket (or “Thaitown”) store, however there are quite a few across the city. I definitely believe this resturant lives up to the hype, our wait was virtually non-existant (then again it was 3pm…) and food came out fairly quickly as well. It was fresh, tasty & authentic - I will definitely visit again! It’s also really cheap, we ended up spending about $10 each (there were 5 of us) and were stuffed by the end of it!

Japone Sushi (Newton) - O.M.G is all I can say!! I’ve had dreams about this place…it is the BEST sushi I’ve ever had! Granted I’ve never been to Japan, so I’m probably not the best judge, but I have had a lot of sushi in my time and this place totally blew my mind! Japone does sushi with a “twist” for example the ‘Kamikaze’ - a fried sushi roll. I know it sounds weird, I was a little wary when my cousin first ordered it, but it was sooooo goood!!! Only the seaweed is deep fried (I’m not sure if they do this before or after rolling the sushi), but the crunchy texture complimented the creamy filling. Other dishes were ordered was the popcorn prawns, golden dragon roll & sashimi. All highly rated. Definitely can’t wait to come back here. If you’re ever in Sydney, don’t let the location put you off (Newtown is the Brunswick of Sydney), this place is a must! 

Lowenbrau - Another famous Sydney spot, located in the Rocks area it is a Munich style resturant/beer hall. Last time I was there (only for a drink) it had a great vibe, I knew I had to come back. The serving sizes are VERY generous. An entree & one main was more than enough for my friend (a guy that generally eats quite a bit) & I. We had the Munchner Wurstsalat (Thinly sliced sausage, red onions, gherkins, mustard vinaigretted, chives & country bread) & Gerosteter Schweinebauch (Crackling Roast Pork Belly, Sauteed potatoes, Braised Red Cabbage & Lowenbrau Bier Jus). Both were really nice, I rarely eat pork so that’s probably why I wasn’t completely blown away (or in a rush to return). In general I think most people (except vegetarians - though there are a couple of vegetarian options) would love this place. Especially their beer selection. The live music, entertainment, waiters (dressed in traditional outfits) & decor transports you Germany - or at least what I imagine a it would be like! The service is also top notch. Definitely worth a visit if you love beer & are into your meats. 

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe (take 2)- From Germany my friend & I decided to hop across the border to Belgium for dessert. This is probably my favourite dessert place in Sydney. They seriously need to open a store in Melbourne already! I ordered the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake and my friend the Belgian Waffles with Guylian praline ice cream, fruit & a chocolate dip. Both were amazing (though I have to say I liked mine better). Don’t think this place can ever disappoint me (touch wood!).

Miss Chu - I swung by the Sydney CBD ‘Tuckshop’ on my way (or should I say sprint) to my airport transfer. I ordered the Roast Duck & banana flower rice paper rolls, which I ate once I made it (on-time!) to the airport. They were definitely very tasty and had the right proportion of fillings (a lot of the time the rolls are full of noodles and very little salad/meat). However I think it could of been a bit fresher (not sure if this related to the transit time or because they were prepackaged). I have to say the packaging was very ‘smart’, small pieces of wax paper were placed between the rolls and on the sides to prevent them sticking to each other/the box. This is one of the most annoying things about rice paper rolls, so was definitely a plus. Also the dipping sauce was in a small bottle which allowed you to pour it onto your roll rather than dipping it and loosing half your filling in the process. I will be visiting one of the Melbourne stores at some point, definitely want to try out some of the other things on the menu. I’d definitely rate Miss Chu over Roll’d (whose rice paper rolls i won’t be returning for but will definitely return for their Banh mi….full review to come)

Saturday morning breakfast (Honey Spiced oven baked muesli, berry compote & yogurt) = perfect start to the day!

Saturday morning breakfast (Honey Spiced oven baked muesli, berry compote & yogurt) = perfect start to the day!

Sick of our usual lunch spots a colleague and I decided to venture out into the laneways of Melbourne for some bao…Wondering up and down A’Beckett Street a few times we finally manage to find it hidden away at the back of a building. Wonderbao is a small resturant overlooking Literature Lane, near RMIT. It serves up fresh bao (steamed buns stuffed with either sweet or savoury fillings) and homemade soy milk (served either hot or cold). 

We arrived slightly before the lunchtime rush (just after 12) and were able to order pretty quickly, only problem was trying to decide what to order! I finally settled on the special (Fried oyster mushroom gua bao with chilli & garlic flakes, coriander, kewpie mayo and sweet chilli sauce) and the chicken Bao, my colleague choose the same as well as the Char Sui Bao.  

Our food is served up shortly after ordering and we dig in. The bao is soft and fluffy, however I find the chicken filling a little too “dense” for my likings. The special is definitely both our favourites, the battered mushrooms’ texture complementing the softness of the bao, and the mayo and sweet chili mixing well with the seasonings. The soy milk is smooth and the right amount of sweetness, but not a favourite.

Two bao’s and I’m pretty stuffed, but theres always room for dessert - especially when its my favourite, Nai Wong Bao (custard bun)! Again, Wonderbao does not fail to disappoint - I believe that this is the best custard bun I’ve had in Melbourne! 

Overall I really enjoyed Wonderbao and will definitely be back! There is limited seating, on a nice day get takeaway and eat on the nearby State Library Lawn. It’s fresh, quick & excellent value for money - a great work lunchtime option.

Service: 5/5

Ambience: 4/5 Very ‘Melbourne’ vibe overlooking a laneway however there is limited seating. 

Taste: 4/5

Quality: 4.5/5 

Price: 5/5

Value for Money: 5/5

TUpeG Rating: 4.5/5

Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

Life’s short, eat Dessert first

Jacques Torres