Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Hakata Gensuke and Mensousai Mugen, Melbourne

The battle of two ramen shops.
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One doing Hakata style ramen, the other specializing in tsukemen and Japanese tapas.
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Let's start with Hakata Gensuke. This one was not even on our list, but the constant long queue drew us in. What is it with us and queues?It was almost like there's a guarantee that the food would be good with queues that long.

It took us almost 45 minutes to get in on a Saturday at 3pm. We already filled a menu before going in - ticking off our preference in noodles firmness, extra topping, and so on. The interior reminded me of Japan very much, bring red colours and typical ramen house decorations, and there was always steam wafting from the open kitchen.

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Hakata Gensuke kitchen.

I went gangster and chose the Godfire with level 3 on spiciness (despite the waitress' warning). Wrong decision.

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Godfire - Hakata ramen with tonkotsu broth and secret blend of Spicy Fire topped with chashu, black fungus, and spring onion ($15).

Oh don't get me wrong, the ramen bowl was excellent. Firm straight noodles with aromatic, flavourful tonkotsu broth, topped with slices of chashu, soft boiled egg, spring onion, crunchy black fungus, and nori. It was the "secret blend of Spicy Fire" that I underestimated.

I ended up finishing my bowl but oh boy did I suffer the consequences from the chilli.

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The Godfire.

Amy was wiser and chose the tamer Black Tonkotsu whose tonkotsu broth had been spiked with special fried garlic and black sesame paste. It had such great depth of flavour and although it did not have that kick my Godfire had, the garlic and black sesame made it very exciting to eat.

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Black Tonkotsu - tonkotsu broth with special fried garlic and black sesame paste topped with thin noodles, chashu, black fungus, and spring onion ($15).


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And then we have Mensousai Mugen. This modern space was absolutely different than Hakata Gensuke. The interior of their basement ramen bar was sleek, sophisticated, and dimmed lighted. They serve an array of beer, wine, and even sake, and they specializes in tsukemen (ramen with dipping broth) and 'Japas' or Japanese tapas.

Each table has a sheet of manga explaining how to enjoy tsukemen which is a nice, cheeky touch.

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Mensousai Mugen interior.

We shared a bowl of Goma Tsukemen because we had eaten non stop that day and our jeans were getting pretty tight. The sesame soy sauce broth was dense, savoury, and cling onto the thick noodles like sauce. The broth was somewhat addictive and paired really well with the chewy noodles, chashu, bamboo shoot and soft boiled egg.

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Goma tsukemen - sesame soy sauce broth, homemade thick noodles with chashu, bamboo shoots, seaweed and soft boiled egg ($16/$18).

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Dipping the noodles.

We also tried the tsukune, which were grilled chicken skewers with teriyaki sauce and served with an egg yolk to dip it to. I did find it slightly weird with the egg yolk, but the chicken itself was very succulent, juicy, and had great flavours.

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Japanese grilled chicken skewers made from tenderloin thigh and softbones with teriyaki sauce and egg yolk ($17).

The gyoza was also really nice, although it did not arrive hot to our table. It was juicy inside with thin skin and lovely 'Mugen special sauce'.

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Pork gyoza ($17).

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Which one is better you ask?

Well, they specializes in different kind of ramen so it is almost unfair to compare. But we did agree that we like the lively ambiance and the Hakata ramen more from Hakata Gensuke. I guess the queue did prove a point.



Rating for both: 4/5 (Recommended)
Different ramen shops with their own unique menus and atmosphere; definitely check them out!





Addresses:

HAKATA GENSUKE

168 Russell St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Phone: (03) 9663 6342
Web: Hakata Gensuke

Hakata Gensuke Ramen Professionals Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



MENSOUSAI MUGEN

11 Bligh Pl
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Phone: (03) 9620 3647
Web: Mensousai Mugen

Mugen Ramen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Friday, 29 June 2018

Devon Cafe, North Sydney

Truffle time!
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Omurice from Devon North Sydney.

I seem to always missed truffle season at Devon every year, but this year I made it my resolution to make my way all the way to the other side of Sydney to try their omurice and a couple of truffle dishes.

I usually go to the OG Devon in Surry Hills, but Devon North Sydney is just as cosy and inviting.

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Devon North Sydney.

We started with the incredible truffle egg sando, which reminded me of a pillow. The truffle omelet was extremely fragrant and velvety, it was very soft and pleasant to eat. We scraped the plate for the shaved truffle bits.

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Truffle egg sando - truffle omelet, shaved truffle, mushroom pate

The truffle fries were very great too - the invincible trifecta of melted cheese, crispy fries, and aromatic truffle.

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Truffle fries - fries, three types of cheese, truffle

Our omurice was as good as we expected it to be. Silky smooth omelet blanketing perfectly cooked tomatoey rice and a cutlet of fried chicken on the bottom. The sauce was very tasty too.

You can choose between fried chicken, bacon katsu, steak or crumbed prawn. I don't even think it matters too much.

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Omurice - tomato & garlic butter rice, mushroom, omelet, demi glaze sauce with fried chicken

For dessert, we chose the kakigori although it was about -30 degree Celcius outside. That day it was pandan and coconut kakigori, very refreshing with pearls of  pomegranate and freeze dried mango.

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I don't want the truffle season to ever end!


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Rating: 4/5 (Recommended)
Really cosy ambiance, great food, friendly service, affordable pricing.





Address:

DEVON CAFE NORTH SYDNEY

36 Blue St
North Sydney
NSW 

Phone: (02) 8971 0377 

Web: Devon Cafe  
 
Devon Cafe North Sydney Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Sunday, 24 June 2018

Chin Chin, Melbourne

This is the OG.
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Chin Chin is originally from Melbourne, but they've expanded to Sydney. Last time, we had a really great time in Chin Chin Sydney, so we were very keen to see what the OG is like. It turned out to be an amazing dinner in Melbourne on our last day.

The interior was very lively, dimmed light with quirky decorations. The open bar area was welcoming and the pink neon rabbit was hard to miss.

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Chin Chin, Melbourne.

We were seated on the open kitchen, and watching the chefs flying around making entrees was very entertaining. We did note though that there were more ingredients that were pre-made than we thought.

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Open kitchen.

We started off with drinks: my pomegranate som (Thai style drinking vinegar) was refreshing and very tangy, reminded me of apple cider vinegar. The winner between the two drinks was the Mademoiselle Lychee, however, with pretty rose petal sphere in the delicious and smooth lychee concoction.

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Mademoiselle Lychee ($21) and pomegranate som ($6.5)

The crunchy school prawns were everything they described on the menu, they were crunchy and addictive. The tomato & turmeric nahm prik paired really nicely with the raw veggies.

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Crunchy school prawns with roast tomato & turmeric nahm prik & raw veggies ($19.5)

Our BBQ baby back pork ribs with sriracha peanut caramel was delightful. The meat was tender and the sauce was sticky with a little bit of that spicy kick, and overall finger-liking good. The banana blossom salad was crunchy and such a great accompaniment.

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BBQ baby back pork ribs & sriracha peanut caramel & banana blossom salad ($35.5)

We wished that there was more of that crispy soft shell crab on the soft shell crab & green curry fried rice, although the rice was cooked really nicely with a pungent, fragrant green curry flavour.

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Crispy soft shell crab with green curry fried rice & thai basil ($28.5)

The crispy barramundi and green apple salad with caramelized pork would be so perfect with a bowl of steaming rice.

The barramundi bites were indeed crispy, the sauce was gooey and delicious and we enjoyed the cubes of caramelized pork. The fresh green apple sticks helped cut through the heavy flavours.

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Crispy barramundi & green apple salad with caramelized pork, peanuts chilli and lemongrass ($31.5)

To finish, after a quite heated argument, we settled on the coconut sago with sweetcorn ice cream. I have to admit, the thought of sweetcorn ice cream was weird for me and I was very skeptical. But I loved this! The variety of textures in this glass was very enjoyable, and the sweetcorn ice cream was sweet and lovely. I'm glad we chose this.

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Coconut sago, sweetcorn ice cream, praline & puffed rice ($20)

In the end, we agreed that we enjoyed our time more in Chin Chin Melbourne, but really, Sydney or Melbourne, they both are very recommended.

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Rating: 4.5/5 (Very recommended)
Great dishes, friendly service, cozy ambiance, price on the higher side but worth it.





Address:

CHIN CHIN MELBOURNE

125 Flinders St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Phone: (03) 8663 2000
Web: Chin Chin  

Chin Chin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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