Highlander Bar, Melbourne CBD

Highlander Bar (1)

Highlander Lane, off Flinders Street right near the aquarium, is home to Highlander Bar – a bar/restaurant/events space that has a bit of a pub feel to it. Much of the ground floor is occupied by circular booths centred around small tables, giving each one a greater sense of privacy. Other than its obvious offering of alcoholic beverages, its menu encompasses tacos, burgers and snacks such as wings, ribs and fries.

Highlander Bar (7) Lamb Burger - Slow-cooked Sliced Lamb Shoulder, Grilled Halloumi, Leaves, Tomato Relish, Mayo, Brioche, Seasoned Fries ($18)

I decided on the lamb burger – slow-cooked lamb shoulder, grilled halloumi, tomato relish and mayo nestled in a brioche bun ($18). The lamb shoulder had been cut into slices of decent thickness and also appeared to have been grilled slightly, giving them a slight bit of caramelisation. All over, it was a lighter and much less-greasy burger than what I was expecting, which was refreshing. My stomach often can’t handle too much of the greasiness that some people love in a burger.

There were some other interesting-sounding tacos, burgers and cocktails on the menu that I wouldn’t mind returning to try.

Highlander Bar
11a Highlander Lane
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9620 2228
http://highlanderbar.squarespace.com/
Highlander Bar on Urbanspoon

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen, Melbourne CBD

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Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (39)

Ramen restaurants are popping up everywhere in Melbourne these days and I had the opportunity to attend the soft launch of the latest one.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (5)

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen is hidden away on a basement level, where Ondergrounds Bar once was. There’s quite a selection of sake and beer on offer, as well as Asahi on tap. Of particular note was the availability of Asahi black – the first time it’s been available on tap outside of Japan.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (26) Apple Juice + Sake, Orange Juice + Sake

Apple Juice + Sake, Orange Juice + Sake

In attendance and overseeing the launch was Masanori Ogata, the CEO of Y.S Food Co., and Kenji Komuro, the PR Director from Japan. Mr Ogata founded the Yamagoya Ramen chain in Japan and the company now operates over 40 restaurants there, as well as starting franchises in other countries including Taiwan, Thailand, China, Malaysia and the Philippines. Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen is the name of the Filipino-based chain, and this is the brand that has arrived on Australia’s shores.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (128)

I was quite impressed with the fit out. It was spacious, bright and funky. As well as a large and secluded room at the back, there is also a more traditional and cosy seating area with sunken tables, hidden behind a set of sliding doors.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (88)

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (14) Gyoza

We began with some small plates to snack on while waiting for the main event. The crisp and juicy gyoza were quite popular.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (37) Karaage

The first pieces of karaage we received were a little soggy, but after that they were much improved. I did think they could have done with a touch more seasoning though.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (28) Yakimeshi

Of the izakaya-style dishes we sampled, the yakimeshi was my favourite. It’s fried rice Japanese style, so with short-grained rice instead of long-grain. It looked simple, but was so very tasty.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (50)

The best seats in the house are the ones at the counter right in front of the kitchen. Here you can get a close-up look at the action and can start digging into your piping hot ramen as soon as it’s made.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (77)

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen serves the Hakata Chikuho style of ramen – thin and straight noodles with a tonkotsu pork bone broth base. After choosing the flavour, customers are able to customise their bowls with the addition of oil, garlic, green onion, type of pork (regular or belly), type of soy, texture of noodles and toppings like egg, nori and black fungus. Additionally, the first serve of extra noodles can be selected for free.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (114)

We both ordered the normal texture of noodles, which were firmer and smoother than the normal texture at Hakata Gensuke. Our ramen was accompanied by gooey egg, thick nori sheets, black fungus, spring onion, bean sprouts. There were also a few condiments such as sesame seeds that we could add to our bowls ourselves. The broth was not as rich as most other tonkotsu-based ramen I’ve had before. The miso flavour was not as intense and heavy-handed compared to other miso ramen, which mum actually preferred.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (116) Yuzu Tonkotsu

I absolutely loved the yuzu ramen. It was fresh and peppery and had a lovely and clean flavour profile. The yuzu flavour comes from the use of yuzu koshō; a condiment originating from Kyushu that’s based on chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt. The peppery kick from the yuzu koshō suited the lighter-than-usual tonkotsu broth quite well.

The serving of noodles is not large, so definitely go for the free kae-dama if you’re after a decent meal. There were a few hits-and-misses, but there’s definitely a lot of potential here, especially given this was their very first service.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Soft Launch (123)edit

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen
27 Russell Street
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9650 3708
http://www.ikkoryu.com.au/
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen on Urbanspoon

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, Carlton

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink (50)Walking through to the end of a little alley just next to the Shell station I came to this little oasis of food and coffee. The Vertue of the Coffee Drink is in such a random location that it’s almost like finding goodies in an Easter egg hunt.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink (8)

The front counter has a cabinet full of sweet treats such as cookie sandwiches from Butterbing Cookies, scrolls by Kwak Scrolls, doughnuts from Matt Forbes, pastries from Noisette. Vertue also doubles as a retailer, having coffee beans and other equipment for sale.

Coffee RoasterThe commercial coffee roaster takes a prominent place on the floor and has quite a commanding presence.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink (26)It’s a small space, but one filled with natural light beaming down from the high ceilings.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink (33) Smoked Ocean Trout - Curried Arancini, Soft Duck Egg, Mango and Chilli Jam ($21)

My choice for lunch was the smoked ocean trout, curried arancini, soft duck egg, mango and chilli jam ($21). There was a generous portion of beautifully smoked trout presented on the plate. The arancini could have done with a touch more salt but were not bad when eaten in combination with the other components. I appreciated the crisp crust around the arancini and the subtle curry flavour that didn’t overpower the lovely smokiness of the trout. I quite liked the arancini together with the mango and chilli jam.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink (48) Smoked Ocean Trout - Curried Arancini, Soft Duck Egg, Mango and Chilli Jam ($21)

The duck egg yolk was slightly overdone at the bottom, though was still runny enough to ooze out. Overall the dish had a nice balance of salty, sweet and sour. Hopefully I’ll have the time to come in and try out more of their menu and enjoy the beautiful interior. It seems like the perfect, hidden place to escape and relax during a hectic day!

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink (5)editThe Vertue of the Coffee Drink
8 Raffa Pl
Carlton, VIC, 3053
(03) 8060 6987
http://vertuecoffee.com.au/
The Vertue of the Coffee Drink on Urbanspoon

Babaji’s Kitchen

Babaji's Kitchen (23)

Billy and Max are the couple behind Babaji’s Kitchen, bringing Indian street food to the markets of Melbourne. Max formerly ran a restaurant back in India and has brought with him his skill and experience. Here, one might find dosa, kebabs, samosas and salads. I visited on the last day of Queen Vic Market’s night market, and the place was buzzing.

Babaji's Kitchen (8)

I quite enjoy a good dosa – the lightly-fermented rice flour and lentil pancakes that can be enjoyed with curry and/or filled with yummy things. Today I tried their beef Kallu Shappu dosa, which is inspired by the slow-cooked beef dish commonly available at the kallu shappu drinking establishments in Kerala. The dosa was accompanied by beetroot thoran, kosambri and tomato chutney.

Babaji's Kitchen (27) Slow Cooked Beef Kallu Shappu Dosa, Beetroot Thoran, Kosambri, Tomato Chutney ($12)As I walked through the crowds trying to find somewhere to sit, I overheard a few comments on how good my dinner looked and smelt. I was actually quite surprised by how much of the tender beef was inside; it made for quite a substantial meal. I loved its rich flavour and it went well with the slight tanginess and crispiness of the dosa. The light salads on the side injected a good dose of fresh healthiness too – the beetroot was combined with coconut and curry leaves, and the kosambri was a mixture of carrot, moong daal (mung bean), coconut and lime.

Babaji's Kitchen (31) Slow Cooked Beef Kallu Shappu Dosa, Beetroot Thoran, Kosambri, Tomato Chutney ($12)

Although the night market at Queen Vic Market is over for the summer season, you can still catch Babaji’s Kitchen and get your fix of tasty Indian street food at the Upper Ferntree Gully Market every Saturday morning, the Belgrave Big Dreams market, and other locations that are updated on their Facebook page!

Babaji's Kitchen (9)

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Babaji’s Kitchen as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Babaji’s Kitchen
Various Locations
0405 765 388
Facebook
Babaji's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Goz City, Melbourne CBD

Goz City (13)

Branching off from Koy in South Melbourne, Goz City serves up tasty Turkish pastries, baked goods and salads in the CBD.

Goz City (2)

It’s a small space, with only a handful of counter seats and coveted tables inside, but most of its trade is takeaway.

Goz City (7)

There’s a variety of gozleme made fresh to order and on Tuesdays there’s a special gozleme up for grabs. Despite its name, Goz City also offers borek ($4), pitas ($6), salads ($6 for small, $10 for large), a few sweet treats like turkish delight and baklava and also coffee.

Goz City (11)Today’s special gozleme was tandoori chicken, but I decided to have a herbed chicken gozleme instead. The gozleme was quite large and cut into smaller pieces to aid consumption. The herbed chicken is served with some sour cream on the side, and there were chilli flakes, lemon juice and other condiments to sprinkle on top. I loved the crispy pastry and the subtle herb flavour of the chicken filling; my stomach was satisfied!

Goz City
502 Lt Collins St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9041 5667
http://www.gozcity.com.au/
Goz City on Urbanspoon

Ba’get Elizabeth St, Melbourne CBD

When Vietnam was colonised by the French in the 1800s, the popularity of banh mi as a street food steadily grew. French baguettes were filled with local ingredients and flavours like Vietnamese sauces, chilli, coriander and pickled vegetables. Banh mi at Ba’get are created according to family recipes, which were formed when Duy’s father started to sell them back in Vietnam in order to support his family. Ba’get places an emphasis on freshness, balance and good nutrition. Whilst they could technically serve banh mi packed with meat, akin to meat-laden monsters-of-a-sandwich one might find in the USA, it would contradict their philosophies and break their authenticity.

Ba'get - Vietnamese Tapas and Tales (17)As part of the launch of Ba’get’s tapas dinner menu, I was invited to their ‘Tapas and Tales’ dinner event. Owner Duy Huynh is keen to connect with his customers and this was an opportunity for his to do just that. He explained that in Vietnam it is common to go for after-work drinks and snack on tasty morsels, hence the inspiration for this particular menu.

Ba'get - Vietnamese Tapas and Tales (9)To capture the vibe of Vietnamese street food, the space is fitted out with fishing baskets-turned-lighting fixtures and electric cables hanging across the ceiling. In a nod to the origins of some of these fusion dishes, decorative tiles feature the fleur-de-lis.

Mekong Breeze - Mint, Coriander, Lime, Ginger, Ice, RumWe began the night with a drink. The Mekong Breeze cocktail had mint, coriander, lime, ginger and ice added to a rum base.

Salt and Pepper WhitebaitWe then crunched on some salt and pepper whitebait with mayo.

Twice-cooked Lemongrass Pork Rice Paper RollsTwice-cooked Lemongrass Pork Rice Paper RollsTwice-cooked Lemongrass Pork Rice Paper Rolls Next was the hands on part – making our own rice paper rolls! Twice cooked lemongrass pork, vermicelli, herbs, pickled carrots and cucumber were carefully arranged on top of the thin sheets of rice paper, rough side up. Duy mentioned that often the rice paper sheets aren’t soaked long enough in the hot water before being filled.

Twice-cooked Lemongrass Pork Rice Paper RollsI have to say, I expected my rice paper roll to turn out more like it had been disemboweled, but I was quite pleased with the result, thanks to Duy’s wonderful demonstration. These were enjoyed with a mixture of sweet sauce, sriracha and peanuts.

Mama's Chicken Wings w. Nuoc ChamBa'get - Vietnamese Tapas and Tales (76) Spicy Prawn TwistsOther tapas dishes included crunchy, juicy and tasty Mama’s chicken wings, with a batter that wasn’t too thick, equally enjoyable salt and pepper calamari, and spicy prawn twists that contained whole prawns rather than a prawn mixture, which was nice.

Pomme FritesPork and Taro Spring RollsIn formulating the recipe, the pork and taro filling of the spring rolls had to be carefully balanced so that there was enough of it to be substantial, but not so much that they would become soggy and lose their crispiness. They can be enjoyed on their own, but Duy showed us another way of eating them when he snapped one in half and wrapped it in lettuce before dipping it in some nuoc cham.

Vietnamese Coleslaw w. Chicken and Prawn CrackersI loved the Vietnamese chicken coleslaw with prawn crackers. The prawn crackers were there as both a textural element and serving utensil.

Five Spice Sweet Potato FriesThese sweet potato fries were seasoned with five spice (cloves, pepper, fennel seeds, aniseed and cinnamon). The fragrance of the cinnamon was particularly prominent and inviting. I finished off the bowl, trying to not to remember that the healthiness of sweet potato doesn’t outweigh the unhealthiness of the ‘chips’ part. They just tasted so good!

Peaceful Dragon - Chilli, Lime, Lychee, Gin CocktailOur second cocktail was the Peaceful Dragon – a gin and lychee based drink with lemon grass and chilli.

Grilled Meatball Plate w. GlazeGrilled Meatball Plate w. GlazeWe then came to Duy’s favourite – the grilled meat balls, or nem nuong. They were dense, juicy and flavoursome and a fitting conclusion to the savoury part of our meal.

Vietnamese Iced CoffeeThis was my first taste of Vietnamese iced coffee and I loved it!

Vietnamese DonutWe were also treated to some sweets at the conclusion of the dinner. The dense and slightly salty, slightly sweet doughnut was very similar to ham chin peng.

Cassava CakeThe cassava cake was smoother, less sweet, and tasted less of coconut milk than the Malaysian ones I usually have.

Ba’get seems to have addressed their aim rather well, providing casual but tasty food  for their tapas dinner menu. They are looking to expand, with two new stores already on the cards. With a focus on consistency you can look forward to enjoying their offerings in more locations!

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Ba’get as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Ba’get
3/284-294 La Trobe St

Melbourne, VIC,

Ba'get on Urbanspoon

Mama’s Buoi, Melbourne CBD

Mama's Buoi New Menu Tasting March 2015 (4)

Mama’s Bưởi is an interesting play on words, referring to its vision as a restaurant, and with ‘bưởi’ also being the Vietnamese word for pomelo. Opening late last year, they aim to capture the qualities and flavour profile of authentic Vietnamese home-cooking and spruce them up with different garnishes, modern plating and fresh and local ingredients.

Viet Express - Infused Vodka w. Honey and Vanilla Flavoured Nougat, Kahlua and Vietnamese Coffee

Viet Express – Infused Vodka w. Honey and Vanilla Flavoured Nougat, Kahlua and Vietnamese Coffee

A.K. Sour - Freshly Bruleed Passionfruit, Frangelico, Vodka, Lime, Sugar, Passionfruit

A.K. Sour – Freshly Bruleed Passionfruit, Frangelico, Vodka, Lime, Sugar, Passionfruit

The cocktail list is full of interesting combinations, including more savoury options like the pho cocktail, flavoured with Thai basil, Vietnamese mint, ginger, star anise and cardamon. The Viet Express had a nice smoothness to it, and the alcohol wasn’t too obvious.

House-made Pork and Chicken Liver Pate Served w. Mixed Pickled Vegetables and Sesame Rice Crackers

Mama’s Bưởi is launching a new menu and we were invited to try a combination existing and new dishes. Our dinner started off with the pork and chicken liver pate. It was smooth, rich and altogether delicious. Crackers were provided on the side to enjoy.

Pulled Duck Pancakes w. Pineapple, Pickled Carrots, Mixed Herbs and HoneyNext up were the pulled duck pancakes. The light and refreshing pancakes were also filled with pineapple, picked carrots and mixed herbs and were accompanied by a honey and hoisin-based sauce.

Banh Cuon - Rice Noodles Stuffed w. Pork, Mushroom, Fried Shallots

Another of my favourites of the night were these rice noodles filled with pork, black fungus. The presence of herbs and other vegetables like cucumbers, made this dish light, yet still tasty because of the topping of lap cheong, fried shallots and fried pieces of dense bread.

Fried School Prawns w. Black Pepper and Lime

The fried school prawns could be dipped in salt and pepper, wettened with the juice of  lemon wedges. These were quite enjoyable and an easy crowd pleaser, but may have been nicer if they were more crispy.

Wagyu Beef Roll w. Carrot, Thai Basil, EnokiNext up was the off-the-menu dish of beef rolls with Vietnamese salad of enoki, carrot and herbs, drizzled with a citrus and green chilli dressing.

Roasted Pork w. Crackling

Say ‘pork belly’, and you’ve got most people drooling. Each piece of roasted pork came with a nice, thick piece of crackling that was eagerly devoured.

Canh Chua w. Fried Noodle Basket - Pineapple Seafood Soup w. Mussels, Prawn, SquidWe were privileged to try out another item that isn’t yet part of the regular menu – the canh chua, a pineapple based seafood soup. The twist to this dish was the inclusion of the crispy noodle basket. The noodles were very light, complimenting the lightness of the beautiful broth. This was a big hit.

Lemongrass and Coriander Barrramundi

Lemongrass and Coriander Barrramundi

Ginger Chicken w. Onion, Tomato, Green Shallot, Sesame Oil and Oyster Sauce

Ginger Chicken w. Onion, Tomato, Green Shallot, Sesame Oil and Oyster Sauce

Thit Kho - Caramelised Pork Belly and Boiled Free-range Egg Braised in Coconut Juice

Thit Kho – Caramelised Pork Belly and Boiled Free-range Egg Braised in Coconut Juice

We were also treated to a number of larger dishes: ginger chicken with onion, tomato, green shallots, sesame oil and oyster sauce; steamed lemongrass, chilli and coriander barramundi, and thit kho. The caramelised pork belly hot pot with egg was very well received, though I personally found it too sweet for my tastes. This is apparently one of home style dishes that the owners sorely misses from home.

Chè - Layered Dessert w. Black Jelly, Green Jelly, Coconut Cream, Jackfruit, Chestnut, Basil Seeds

Our meal ended with a reconstructed Chè Ba Màu (three colour drink), which had alternating layers of black jelly, pandan jelly and coconut cream, with chestnut, jackfruit and basil seeds.

Mama's Buoi New Menu Tasting March 2015 (1)

Dinner at Mama’s Bưởi was definitely an eye-opener; I haven’t had much experience with Vietnamese food and I loved the freshness of the flavours. Mama’s Bưởi has a good location and is a great place for casual drinks and tasty food.

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Mama’s Bưởi as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Mama’s Buoi
G25 Melbourne GPO
Postal Lane, near Cnr Lt Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9671 3426
http://www.mamasbuoi.com.au/
Mama's Buoi on Urbanspoon

Hakata Gensuke, Hawthorn

Condiments

I’ve heard many things about Hakata Gensuke, but have been daunted by the long queues and the fact that I prefer other types of Japanese noodles (I looove soba). Unfortunately I had missed out on the Hawthorn branch’s 50% off launch special, but a visit was on the cards once I discovered they had another special offer on. This particular offer consisted of $16 set menu with a bowl of ramen of your choice, plus either gyoza (5 pcs) or karaage (4 pcs), and a can of cold green tea. Dropping into the Hawthorn store with mum allowed us to try both entree options and two different varieties of their famed ramen.

Hakata Gensuke Hawthorn (10) Spicy Pickles

The tables come with a variety of condiments such as pickled ginger, spicy pickles, gyoza and ramen sauce, minced garlic and sesame seeds. Mum absolutely loved the spicy pickles. There was almost always a large mound of it on her plate.

Hitokuchi Bite-Sized Gyoza w. Citrus Pepper, 5 Pieces for $5

The bite-sized gyoza were much juicier than I was expecting. Eagerly biting into one resulted in juices spurting out the side, landing some distance away. Fortunately there was no one else sitting next to me, saving me the embarrassment of a display of  inelegant eating and/or being responsible for wetting someone’s arm.

Chicken Karaage $5

The karaage were crispy on the outside and like the gyoza, also very juicy on the inside. I particularly liked the karaage seasoning that came on the side.Akatonkotsu Ramen - Spicy Cod Roe Paste in Tonkotsu Broth w. Chashu, Black Fungus, Spring Onions ($14)

Mum wanted the akatonkotsu ramen, which is one dishes exclusive to the Hawthorn store. The red colour of the broth comes from the addition of spicy roe paste.

Black Tonkotsu Ramen - Fried Garlic and Black Sesame Paste w. Chashu, Black Fungus, Spring Onions, Flavoured Egg ($14+2)

I went with the black garlic tonkotsu. Mum also added on extra noodles ($2), whilst I decided to add on a flavoured egg ($2). The ajitsuke tamago had a nice texture, but I didn’t find this version particularly flavourful. The broth of both versions were rich and tasty. The single piece of chashu was nicely seasoned and tender. Mum’s extra noodles were presented to us later, on request. Although she had asked for them to be cooked to the same consistency as her noodles (normal) they came out harder. We kept it anyway, just to see what they were like, but both of us liked the regular ramen better.

Hakata Gensuke Hawthorn (28) Black Tonkotsu - Fried Garlic and Black Sesame Paste w

It was hard to pick which ramen I preferred, but the akatonkotsu just edged out the black tonkotsu. It is a bit of a shame that ingredient inclusions are not as generous as other establishments. I can’t say whether the ramen at Hakata Gensuke is the best in Melbourne, given I haven’t tried out many ramen joints here, but I have to admit that we were pretty impressed.

Hakata Gensuke
860 Glenferrie Rd
Hawthorn, VIC, 3122
(03) 9819 2558
http://www.gensuke.com.au/
Hakata Gensuke on Urbanspoon

Akachochin, South Wharf

Akachochin has been on my radar for a while and I was so excited when I found out a friend had organised a celebratory dinner here. Because of the size of the group, the restaurant offered to put together a shared menu for us – one that was different to the regular banquet menu.

Noodles

We started with a little dish of noodles in a light broth, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Though I knew it was a banquet, I wished there was more of it because I found it so refreshing.

Hiramasa Namerou - Signature Japanese-Style Kingfish Tartare w. Wasabi Stem And Moromi Miso, Served w. Delicate Rice Crackers $16

The Hiramasa Namerou is one of Akachochin’s signatures and comprises of Kingfish tartare with wasabi stem and moromi miso. On the side were some perfectly crispy and amazingly thin rice crackers to go with it. Moromi miso is a thick and chunky variety of miso. The miso and wasabi produced a dish full of flavour.

Spicy Tuna Maki - Tuna, Chilli-Mayo And Tankasu Inside-Out Sushi Roll Coated w. Sesame Seeds $12Shake Avocado Maki - Inside-Out Sushi Roll With Salmon And Avocado And Coated With Masago $11

Shake Avocado Maki - Inside-Out Sushi Roll With Salmon And Avocado And Coated With Masago $11

Next came two of the many sushi rolls we were treated to that night. The spicy tuna maki roll was filled with chilli-mayo and tenkasu, and coated with sprinklings of sesame seeds. The salmon avocado inside-out sushi roll was coated with masago. I was impressed by the freshness of the ingredients, the packing of the rice and the ingredient to rice ratio.

Wagyu Tataki - Seared Wagyu Beef Sashimi With Citrus-Chilli-Miso Sauce And Deep-Fried Leek $19

Wagyu tataki was drizzled with citrus-chilli-miso sauce and topped with some deep-fried leek. This was one of my favourites from tonight’s banquet. The beef was rich and smooth to the tongue, as expected, and the tasty sauce went well with it too.

Ebi Kyu Maki - Inside-Out Sushi Roll With Prawn, Cucumber And Avocado, Encrusted With Crunchy Buburare $14Next we were presented with a rather intriguing sushi roll. The ebi kyu maki was an inside-out sushi rolled filled with prawn, cucumber and avocado, then encrusted with crunchy buburare. I still can’t figure out what buburare actually is, but it added a very interesting textural element to the sushi and didn’t have too much of its own flavour, so didn’t distract from the filling.

Kani Cream Harumaki - Spring Rolls With A Creamy Spanner Crab Filling Topped With Okonomiyaki Sauce And Ao-Nori $13

Kani cream harumaki was a creamy spanner crab spring roll topped with okonomiyaki sauce. Okonomiyaki sauce is slightly thick, slightly sticky and slightly acidic, almost worcestershire sauce. It was piping hot and I only just managed to avoid burning my tongue, which was a relief. I didn’t want to have an impaired sense of taste for the rest of the banquet!

Akachochin (30)

Unagi Avocado Maki - Inside-Out Sushi Roll With Eel And Avocado, Enveloped In A Sheet Of Cucumber $17Following soon after the spring rolls was another interesting sushi roll. The unagi avocado maki was also an inside-out sushi roll but filled with eel and avocado, then wrapped in a thin slice of cucumber. I did think the volume of cucumber overwhelmed the eel, but it was an interesting concept and quite the looker.

Kaisen 'Sumo' Maki - Sumo-Sized Seafood And Omelette Sushi Roll Wrapped In Nori $16Our last sushi roll of the night was the kaisen ‘sumo’ maki, which had three different types of fish, avocado and omelette.

Lamb Shanks

We then moved on to the ‘mains’. The miso lamb shanks had a wonderful flavour and was nice and tender, though the meat was a bit gamey to be completely enjoyable.

Buta Kakuni - Pork Belly Braised In A Spice-Laden Soy Sauce With Japanese Mustard $17

The buta kakuni was pork braised in a spice-laden soy-based sauce with Japanese mustard. A few of the pieces were quite lean and a little dry, but it was pretty tasty.

Sweet Potato Brulee

Our banquet ended on a sweet-note with the sweet potato brulee. The topping of the brulee emitted an audible crack with pressure from the spoon. The texture of the custard was not completely smooth – perhaps a result of the sweet potato’s inherent texture?

Akachochin (9)

Our dinner came out to just over $40 per person. I was impressed by the quality of most of the dishes we had tonight and was glad I had the opportunity to sample so many different dishes.

Akachochin
33 Dukes Walk
South Wharf, VIC, 3006
(03) 9245 9900
http://www.akachochin.com.au/
Akachochin on Urbanspoon

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