Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Middle Fish, Melbourne

It's always nice finding a hidden gem.
Middle Fish feast

Middle Fish is not a restaurant I often find in others food itinerary or blog posts, but here is my chance to introduce this great place.

Middle Fish is a love baby from Pla, whose name translates to 'fish' hence the restaurant's name and partner David Holtum. They strive not for your usual Thai restaurant where you can pick between pad thai or pad see ew.

No, no, my friends, you can't find either in the menu book here.

The interior is pretty impressive; tables and chairs in different shapes, types, and colours. Some distinctive art items which are produced by a Thailand artist, are scattered nicely around the place. It looks colourful, exotic, and welcoming at the same time.


Those colours!

We are treated like king & queen by the friendly host Sam and the restaurant's manager. The food we chose are basically Sam's highest recommendations, picked from the extensive menu book full of authentic and unique Southern Thai cuisine.

Firsts up are the Thai iced milk tea and iced milk coffee, just in case we burn our tongues later. I like the latter better just because I always prefer milk in coffee.

Iced milk tea - $4.5

Iced milk coffee - $4.5

Our starters are the fluffy sa la pao (Thai style steamed bun), which are quite usually found easier at a Chinese place rather than a Thai. After suffering a mini heart-broken because they run out of the pork one, we get consolation from the soft and flavourful chicken grapao (stir fry with Thai basil) pow and tofu khew wan (green curry).

Sa la pao (Thai-style steamed buns) - $3.5

Then we start on the mains.

Oh, the glorious mains.

Tom yum soup is a must; it is sweet, sour, mildly spicy, and most importantly, hot. Melbourne was freezing that night. They are also pretty generous in the seafood pieces.

Dem juicy prawns.

Tom yum soup - $18

I didn't think I would be that happy in receiving a plate of salad. Yum pla nhuk, the salt & pepper squid salad with vermicelli, has interesting tangy notes and tender squid slices.

Yum pla mhuk - $15

Kha na (rice with crispy pork belly, Chinese broccoli, chilli & fried egg) is marked as a favourite and I sure know why. The weight is on the super crunchy and scrumptious pork belly, fenced by perfectly cooked Chinese broccoli and fried egg with seductive yolk.

Kha na - $16

The nam ya is my absolute favourite. It is Thai vermicelli noodle with deep fried soft shell crab with curry sauce. Definitely something I have never had before.

It is fresh with all the vegetables, and the deep fried soft shell crab is crispy and creamy, all tied together marvelously with the super tasty and rich curry sauce.

This dish is like the chorus of the whole meal. I want to repeat it over and over again in between the other dishes.

Nam ya - $16

Pouring the curry sauce

And then we reached desserts. Just when we thought we couldn't possibly eat another mouthful of anything.

Two of the most recommended desserts join the party on our table. The water chestnut dumplings with jackfruit and palm seeds in sweet coconut milk has familiar flavour I grew up with. A lot of Indonesian desserts use the same ingredients, especially the coconut milk. It is refreshing, sweet, creamy, and texturally exciting.

Water chestnuts with jackfruit, palm seeds, and sweet coconut milk - $8

The Oh La La Roti, however, is the one that takes the breath away. It is crispy roti served with mixed berries, coconut ice cream, honey banana, and gorgeous drizzles of condensed milk. It hits us with sweetness at first, but the the zing from the berries follows. Every bite has the shattering echo of that crispy roti.

We wish the berries are thawed longer though.

Ooh La La Roti - $11.5

We left with new friends, new food discovery, and new experience. Take me back to Melbourne, please!

The manager and Sam

Currency: $1 = IDR 14,000

Rating: 4/5 (Recommended)
Great and unique Thai food, service is great, price is reasonable, interesting and catchy interior.

Irene's Getting Fat! and guest dined at Middle Fish courtesy to Pla and Sam. Thank you very much! All opinions, however, are based on our personal taste.



122-128 Berkeley Street
Carlton North, Melbourne, VIC

Phone: (03) 8899 6647

Web: Middle Fish

Middle Fish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Melbourne Trip 2015 - Queen Victoria Market, Jinda Thai, Middle Fish, and Pepper

Melbourne continues to be awesome.
Oranges from Queen Victoria Market

Continuing from my first post about the short trip, the frosty land has not stopped to amaze me. It may not have Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but the museums, Flinders Street Station, unique Degraves Street, and arrays of vintage and op-shop wonders are really enjoyable to browse.

This post will cover the third and last days of this trip.

Queen Victoria Market

I don't think you could go to Melbourne without visiting Queen Victoria Market (QVM), especially because the boy & I love going to markets and explore. The historic landmark of the city does not only have amazing ranges of food items, but also souvenirs, fashion, and many more spread through blocks of the area. Google says it has 600 retailers, but it just seems to be a never-ending wonderland.

In short, it's quite thrilling.

Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

Myriads of shops


Fruit & veggies section



Handmade stuffed animals

Coffee shops are always within reach, and there is also the food court. Thanks to the boy's brilliant idea, we grab some brioche, jamon, chorizo, salmon wraps, cheddar cheese, and assorted olives and made our own deli spread. It was one of the best brunch I've had in my life.

I also couldn't find the American Doughnut Kitchen so I settled with Greek donuts which were cinnamon-y and fluffy.

Dried sausages and meat

Cold meat and cheese

Olives and dips

Deli brunch spread

Greek donuts


Corner of Victoria St & Elizabeth St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Web: Queen Victoria Market

Jinda Thai

Lunch was at one of the most recommended Thai restaurants in town: Jinda Thai. It is such a spacious restaurant with lots of natural light and lovely traditional decorations.

I should've ordered som tam with soft shell crab, but that day we sat down with the company of beef pad thai and gra pow gai grob (stir fried crispy chicken with chilli paste and basil). Both were satisfying and fulfilling dishes, although I prefer the latter as it packed more punches and heat.

Can't say the same to our appetizer of pork spring rolls though.

Next time I'm trying the salad and noodles!

Pork spring rolls - $7.9

Beef pad thai - $13.9

Gra pow gai grob (stir fried crispy chicken with chilli paste served with basil leaves) - $17.9


7 Ferguson St
Richmond, Melbourne, VIC

Phone: (03) 9419 5899

Click to add a blog post for Jinda Thai Restaurant on Zomato

Middle Fish

This one needs a special post. Coming soon.



This little, humble cafe is within walking distance of our accommodation, and since we had to go to airport early on our last day, we stopped by and sipped coffee at Pepper instead of rushing to the CBD.

It was such a great day with shining sunshine, and we had our last cups of coffee and hot chocolate in Melbourne which were both excellent.

My plate of shakshuka with chickpea, chorizo, tomato, poached eggs and crusty ciabatta was warm and beautiful both in appearance and flavour departments. The eggs benedict would satisfy every fan of yolk porn, and plus, they didn't skimp on the ham too.

The cafe provides breakfast all day, along with extensive lunch and burger menus. Winning.

Pepper, Flemington



Shakshuka - chickpea, tomato, chorizo and poached eggs with ciabatta ($15.5)

Eggs benedict - $14.5



44 Pine Oak Crescent
Flemington, Melbourne, VIC

Phone: (03) 9372 2726

Web: Pepper Cafe

Click to add a blog post for Pepper on Zomato


My only regret is that I didn't get to finish my itinerary list due to time constraint. Being hungover for two days in a row also didn't help to wake up early and chase up brunches. Oh well. More reasons to visit Melbourne again soon!

Also, if anybody is keen for pub/bar, I recommend The Croft Institute, which has science laboratory theme, completed with syringes in your cocktails. A bit of novelty wouldn't hurt.

I heart Melbourne.

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Monday, 3 August 2015

Melbourne Trip 2015 - Manchester Press, Huxtaburger, Nitrolab, and Brother Baba Budan

I finally stepped on Melbourne land.

The land of amazing food, unbeatable cafes and coffee, and the land where being a hipster is almost compulsory.

Three days trip to Melbourne is simply is not enough, I barely scraped the surface of the promise culinary gems, let alone went to every single places listed on my itinerary. Like seriously, my itinerary is 2/3 food. I almost did not dare to show it to the guy.

But I left with frozen hands, great satisfaction and solid promise to myself to come back again soon.

Alright. Here goes day 1. And before you read, a huge disclaimer: I am not a coffee drinker, and I don't know much about that particular field. I leave it to the experts and connoisseurs.


Manchester Press

Listed on the list on 65 Melbourne cafes to have breakfast at, and being recommended by basically everyone I talked to, I dared not to miss this one out. Manchester Press is the definition of hipster cafe, with eye-catching signs and wall arts, luring locals and tourists alike by their bagels and great selection of coffee.

It was not a petite cafe, but it was full house on a Friday morning.

Bagels were ordered, and we both took preference to my Chorizo (open bagel with grilled Spanish chorizo, spinach, sliced tomato and cheese topped with tomato relish). It was filling, and every bite was laced with the tamed heat and bursting flavour of the chorizo.

The guy's Reuben Rachel (closed bagel with thick cut smoked pastrami with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing and pickle) was also enjoyable, although I was expecting it to be less shy in the flavour department. Dat melted cheese though.

Coffee was great, and my hot chocolate was legit.



Chorizo - $14

Reuben Rachel - $13


Cappuccino - $4

Hot chocolate - $4

Saturday brunch crowd


8 Rankins Lane
CBD, Melbourne VIC

Phone: (03) 9600 4054

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The reason of me not queuing for Huxtaburger's pop up in Sydney is because I have hold those babies in my own hands in Melbourne. We visited their smaller outlet in CBD, and put the Clair and Huxtaburger burgers on the order.

The Clair is the fried chicken burger, with juicy bird coated with crispy batter, sandwiched in soft bun. It was good, but Mary's still reigns supreme.

I leaned more towards my classic cheese burger 'Huxtaburger', which was jammed with juicy beef patty that still had pink blush in the middle, cheese, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and their special sauce. Every mouthful creates such joy in my heart.

The addition of cider made my heart sing too.

Huxtaburger's signage

The Clair Junior (mini chicken burger) - $7 (+$6.5 for large meal)

Huxtaburger - $9.5


Fullham Place
Rear of 357 Collins St
CBD, Melbourne VIC

Phone: (03) 9417 6328

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Nitro Lab

It is not at all surprising for me to see that there are nitrogen gelato places popping up in Melbourne just like in Sydney. Nitro Lab has two of my dream flavour: Tim Tam x Milo (mee-lo or mai-lo?) and Golden Gaytime. After consulting to the counter staff, I nodded to the latter.

It was magic.

Not as rich as the original Gaytime, but still very awesome with cookie crumbs and a pool of salted caramel in the middle. Every drop counted and licked clean.


Gaytime gelato


Shop T2 A
39 Kingsway, Glen Waverley
Melbourne, VIC

Phone: (03) 9590 6039

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Brother Baba Budan

In case you're wondering, the 'Brother Baba Budan' name comes from the 17th-century Kefi who took seven seeds of coffee from Middle East and introduced them to the world. He's basically a coffee lover's hero. The simple cafe, which is obviously all about the coffee, is unassuming with comfortable ambiance and invigorating aroma from the Seven Seeds blend they use.

I repeat the disclaimer: I am nowhere an expert or an experienced coffee drinker. Some of my Melbournians friends raved about this place, so we thought we'd give it a try.

All I can say is, I have never tasted coffee tasted so much like..... coffee. One sip and you know this is legit and those baristas behind the counter know their beans and coffee very well.

I did put some sugar into my takeaway cup and I'd swear some people around the communal table scoffed and gave me strange look.

Baba Brother Budan's mocha


359 Little Bourke St
CBD, Melbourne VIC

 Phone: (03) 9606 0449

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So far so good, Melbourne. Here are some non-food shots in case you're questioning if I came to Melbourne just to eat.

Flinders Street Station

Degraves Street

Shoes on string

Making art

Street art on Hosier Lane

Let's continue to day 2.

(Currency: $1 = IDR 9,800)

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