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Dinner

The Old Raffles Place
70 Johnston St, Collingwood

I must have driven past this place on the corner of Johnston St and Wellington Rd in Collingwood hundreds of times before a laksa craving got the better of me and I found myself here for dinner. It’s a brightly coloured exterior with big signs advertising MEE REBUS and all food Singaporean and authentic. Inside, it’s cosy, with pink walls and very friendly staff giving the place a homely, family-run atmosphere.

I had the chicken laksa and can I just say, so MUCH chicken!!! I had a much more photogenic photo of the presentation of the dish, but it wouldn’t convey the sheer protein monstrosity that is this dish. Do you see any noodle in this picture? No, didn’t think so.

This laksa is awesome! Great flavours, creamy broth to warm you up and chicken that is tender and free from tendons and other stringy bits. Lovely!

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We also had the chicken rice. Again, awesome chicken, done right and on the slightly rarer side.

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We also shared some sort of roti with some deliciously creamy and rich dipping sauce. Yum. No chicken though.

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A great find! A lovely place for dinner that is reasonably priced and generously portioned. Win.

The Old Raffles Place on Urbanspoon

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Joomak
Basement 407-409 Swanston St
Melbourne CBD

Dinner the other night @ Joomak, a cosy korean place right near melbourne central. It’s a tricky place to find, there are no signs on the street but poke your head into one of the anonymous looking buildings with a lobby and you should see their bold cheerful sign peeking out from under some stairs.

The basement location is pretty cool, with individual booths customized to seat 2 or 4s (or more). And by booths I don’t mean the ones you find at TGI Fridays, this stuff is the real deal with wooden fencing and even a thatched roof. Cute.

We never really know what to order at korean restaurants besides our usual combo of seafood pancake + glass noodle +/- bi bam bap +/- korean fried chicken. Sorry to say, this meal wasn’t too different and we were too conservative to give the cheese egg roll, or the giblets a try… maybe next time.

Seafood pancake.

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Beef bulgogi hot pot.

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KFC.

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All the food was done well with nothing to fault. Having said that, nothing really stood out either, but I guess that’s probably just my reluctance to be adventurous with their menu.

I do like going to korean places to see what side dishes they bring out with the meals – ? are these called kim chi… or is kim chi only that red spicy cabbage one? Anyway, Joomak had a cute macaroni one which I haven’t seen before.

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I would recommend Joomak for the private booths and nice food. They also do some decent rice wine with yummy sounding flavours, mango etc which is worth making the trip for.

Joomak on Urbanspoon

Gaijin
135 Commercial Rd
South Yarra

Taking advantage of the hot weather on Good Friday, we decided that a nice dose of refreshing, cold japanese was what we needed. Our lovely dinner plans were foiled however by the inclemency of Melbourne weather and by the time we got ourselves organised and made our way to south yarra, it had started to pour with rain.

Unfortunately no one had bothered to adjust the air conditioning inside so we were greeted with icy galacial blasts as we ran into the restaurant fresh from our drenching. Sigh.

Nevertheless! We pressed on, huddled in a mishmash of jumpers and cardigans and generally being an embarrassing contrast to the ambient decor – sleek dark wooden tables, nice modern light fixtures and soft billowing curtains…

Now Gaijin markets itself as serving ‘fusion japanese’ cuisine, which I believe means that they’ve just westernized a whole lot of traditional japanese dishes – and from looking at their menu, mostly by adding cream cheese. So maybe it’s not the most delicate and innovative of ‘fusion’ cuisines around, but they do have some interesting flavours and textures (tempura crunch seems to be a big feature in their special sushi rolls). And the seafood is undeniably fresh, so a thumbs up there.

We started with a starter of Gaijin Special Salmon Salad ($9). Plump fatty salmon slices with a creamy dressing – not sure what it’s called, but its the one that has the hint of sesame? Whatever it is, addictive. Not much of a ‘salad’ though, more like salmon on a few slices of cucumber.

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Spider vs Dragon Roll ($13): tempura crunch, soft shell crab, mayo, cream cheese and unagi slices. I’m pretty sure this is what I was thinking when I made the order: heaps of tasty ingredients together = awesome end product! Hmmm… not quite. Tasty, sure, but the individual components didn’t really come together and the cream cheese was just a bit odd. Dunno, probably just not my thing.

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Crunchy Spicy Salmon Roll ($13). Tempura crunch, raw spicy salmon, gaijin sauce. Well we actually ordered crunchy spicy scallop, but at the time of photography I hadn’t yet realised the mistaken order. But for all intensive purposes they pretty much looked the same, variations on a theme. This one was really good, I’m a big fan of spicy and found this combination gave the sushi a bit of kick and bite.

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The chicken udon ($18). This was the dish to help warm us up after all the cold platters and did its work nicely. Thick, soft udon in a delicious umami broth with generous portions of well marinated chicken on top. Yums.

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Overall I thought it was quite a tasty meal, and not too expensive either. Good for a bit of fun and something different to your average Japanese food.

Gaijin Japanese Fusion on Urbanspoon

Marquee Restaurant
445 Toorak Rd
Toorak

Backing up our successful experience at the Globe Cafe, we headed to Marquee with another coupon the week after. The restaurant itself has the fine dining ambience, complete with soft candlelight, subtle background music, a billowing canopy of a marquee (ah the name all makes sense now!) and even wrought iron fencing. The waiters and waitresses are well mannered and there’s a front of house guy who’s happy to answer questions and ensure a smooth dining experience.

Now, at odds with all of this is the location of this restaurant which can be found on the ground floor of the Trak Centre in Toorak. After hours, the various hair salons and boutiques in the centre are closed and the whole place takes on a somewhat lonely and empty feel with the nearest open outlet the somewhat rowdy sichuan restaurant upstairs (amazing food btw, I went there about ?6 years ago when it first opened and glad to see it can still pull a crowd on friday night) and the trak nightclub next door.

Putting aside all oddities and juxtapositions, let’s discuss their menu offerings. The menu is divided into tastings, entrees, mains and desserts.

From the tastings menu, we had the pacific oysters with champagne and lime granita. Fresh plump oysters with a refreshing granita which balanced out the acidity of the lemon well.

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Our entree was the wagyu carpaccio with crispy caper berries, tomato concasse, roasted shallots with murray river pink salt, rocket and white truffle oil. Amazing. Loved the sweetness of the shallots with the earthy wagyu and the tang and bitterness of the other components. All accompanied by the aromatic truffle oil.

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My main of 250g Black Angus eye fillet with kipler mash, raosted baby veg, lardons and red wine jus. A well portioned dish, the eye fillet was fresh and cooked well. There was a slight bitter taste to the jus, but I’m just being picky.

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The 450g dry aged Rib Eye, char grilled with roasted potato and pepper sauce. Delicious rib eye. The potatoes had a crunchy outside and a soft, pillowy inside with a good amount of seasoning.

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So at this point I believe we got a little greedy and decided to go for a couple of desserts as well.

The Eton Mess with strawberries, chantilly cream, smashed meringue, ice cream, strawberry coulis and mint. Can’t really go wrong with this combination of ingredients, and so pretty looking.

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Soft centred Chocolate Pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and orange compote. Again a great combination, the soft centre was rich and that amount of syrupy ooze that makes you want to want to scoop it all up with your spoon and eat it up straight away.

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All of that plus a few drinks brought the bill to 180ish$ and I was glad at that point that we did have a coupon to absorb some of the damage. Really great restaurant though and I would definitely come back for a special night out. I can’t help thinking though how successful this place might be if the location was a little less random?

Marquee Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Globe Cafe
218 Chapel St
Prahran

Took the BF and a scoopon to the Globe Cafe a couple of weeks ago. I’m always a little wary with these coupon deals as there’s always the chance of ending up with a dodgy meal and feeling slightly jibbed. But happy to report that our dinner here was lovely and lived up to the relatively high rating on urbanspoon.

My lychee and apple cooler, yum! Love a place with drink options other than soft drink and alcohol.

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For starters we had the beer battered whiting goujons with house-made tartare

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and the sizzling garlic prawns with crusty bread

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Lovely entrees. The crusty bread was interpreted very literally and was 100% crunch. Would have been nice if it was slightly more substantial and spongy, if only to mop up the delicious garlic prawn sauce.

My linguine of mussels, prawns and calamari with white wine butter reduction and fresh herbs. A pretty dish with light, subtle flavours, fresh seafood and well-cooked linguine.

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We also had the lime and pistachio semi-freddo w/ pistachio praline and pomegranate molasses. I was too excited at the prospect of dessert and forgot to take a photo but it turned out to be a rather odd dish. The semi-freddo was delicious but completely overwhelmed by the sickly sour/sweet molasses.

A lovely little cafe with good food and if it was slightly more inexpensive (mains 26-32$) a student like me would come back more regularly. Nevertheless, a good dining spot on Chapel St and I shall be back for a coffee or lunch.

Globe Café on Urbanspoon

ps. Spotted while walking home from dinner:

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