Sunday, 11 October 2015

Sokyo Ramen Pop-Up, The Star - Sydney

It's Sokyo, so it MUST be good, right?

Needles to say, expectations were high for these bowls of ramen from Chase Kojima's kitchen, along with his head chef Mai Tatekawa. Sokyo Ramen Pop-Up has been attracting curious Instagramers and all foodie alike, and we hungry bunch of ramen lovers head there on a Thursday night hoping it won't be too crowded.

With bright neon light and striking colourful cut-outs, the little stall is impossible to miss.

Sokyo Ramen Pop-Up

There were five of us so we went all in. Four ramens, one fried chicken, and two drinks.

Before I continue further, let me make a huge announcement: I am a Gumshara girl. I'm all about that thick, full-of-collagen soup with slightly hard noodles. I'm all about clogging my arteries, in other words.

Sokyo's ramen, on the contrast, is generally very tame. The broth is light, clean, and rather salty.

Kyoto shoyu ramen showcased it's umami goodness, the chicken-based broth played daintily against the backfat and pork cheek chashu which was heavenly tender. Unlike most ramen houses, they use pork cheek instead of pork belly.

Kyoto shoyu ramen (umami soy; chicken dashi with pork backfat and pork cheek chashu) - $15

I had my money on the gyokairui tonkatsu ramen as it has the threesome combination of pork, chicken, and seafood as the bases of the broth, but it was not as rich as I hoped it would be.

The noodles were cooked nicely, although many have complained about them being soft, I found no case of it here.

Gyokairui tonkotsu ramen (pork, seafood & chicken dashi with pork cheek chashu) - $16

The yuzu shio ramen was probably the most interesting, with transient linger of the tangy and fragrant yuzu. The broth has the essence of chicken and katsuoboshi (dried fish).

Yuzu shio ramen (chicken & katsuobushi dashi with yuzu and mixed green salad and pork cheek chashu) - $15

When all hope of stronger flavours almost seemed to vanish, spicy miso tantanmen gave a great breakthrough.

The vivid red broth is obtained from mixing spicy miso butter to pork and seafood dashi, topped with pork minced, tomato, and broccoli. It does not have a strong fiery kick and there is still a solid salty notes, but it sure packed more punch and excitement than its other siblings.

Spicy miso tantanmen (right corner) (pork & seafood dashi with miso and spicy pork mince) - $16

Now let us talk about Mai-san fried chicken.

Crunchy batter, succulent flesh, and tasty spicy aioli. It couldn't get better. Give me more.

Mai-san fried chicken - $9

A mention needs to be given to the watermelon juice which I absolutely adore although the rest of the group prefer the refreshing yuzu pop soda.

It may not be my bowl of ramen but I'm sure it's attracting its own fans. It's only here until the end of November you guys.


Currency: $1 = IDR 9,800

Rating: 3/5 (Worth the try)
Please note that the rating only reflects on the food and food only. 



Level G Darling at the Star
80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
Sydney NSW 2000

Phone: (02) 9657 9161

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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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