Hopetoun Tea Rooms

Hopetoun Tea Rooms

The Block Arcade, 1-2/282 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

IMG_8103It strictly speaking is just a room and as small as it is, every sweet here at Hopetoun Tea Rooms was however spot on, if not perfect if I could conclude just base on the two cakes that we had that morning at 10am. I know, sounds ridiculous for these cakes to be taken at breakfast but that is somehow, the only way to beat the long snaking queue that never shortens throughout the day. Walking into this tourist-filled Victorian styled Block Arcade, whose interior has evidently been greatly influenced by the British and where was once a place only for the Royalties, we say it definitely has turned into an elegant artpiece today. And as much as we may not have exactly a positive thing to say about British food (the savouries at least), English tea is somehow one of the few that created an impressionable influence around the world. A Victorian arcarde; what could be more befitting than housing an English Tea Room in it. And there at the entrance already, you would be glared by the many luscious and irresistible cakes at the display, which the locals themselves could not even deny but to join the long mental queue.


Without much of a hassle, only if you are there earlier on a lazy Sunday morning when most must still be slumbering in bed, we started the day off with the Hot Chocolate and Flat White, both at $4.95 each. And before we tourists start using our flashlights or what not, these elbow knocking spaced tables may make you think twice; sounds like how an Asian restaurant would function which in a way increases turnover as well.

IMG_9497What we really want to shout out though are these lovely cakes, made so hearty and soulful indeed. Carribean Coconut Crumble – Everything done perfect, what stood out greatly for me was that white dense layer at the top as it is beautifully perfumed with the coconut fragrance and punctuated with coconut shreds. Very delicious! $9.35.

IMG_9498Raspberry Pistachio Love – And given a nutty body, this is cut through seamlessly by the lightly sour but delightful and refreshing raspberry zest. $10.45.

IMG_8114IMG_8115As much as I dislike anything touristy, this is one of those that should really be visited!

Verdict: An excellent cafe 4.6/5.


El Mero Mero – Exciting flavours with a stunning open kitchen

El Mero Mero

Chijmes near City Hall MRT

img_9551I might be writing less, but have not stopped trying out restaurants as the less better ones are now being archived into the instagram account; and only the really good or bad ones will get a post for itself (there’s really not much time in life to spend writing for mediocre or slightly above average restaurants that are unfortunately, usually the hardest posts to finish. So, yes El Mero Mero is one worth penning a thought for as its stunning beautiful open kitchen serves up one of the freshest, most robustly flavoured mains and starters.

img_9552img_9553img_9554Tiger Prawn Ceviche – Prawn, lime, tomato, serrano, avocado, red onion crunchy tortilla. Firstly, we need to laud the aesthetics of this starter over here. So daintily plated, with every coloured element so vibrantly pronounced, the tortilla also came in surprisingly loud, exciting colours, just in time to kick start a relaxing enjoyable weekend before it is over. Taste wise, this was the dope, so aptly cut through by the strong refreshing zest deep into the fresh tomato mash there, we just love this ceviche to bits as it whets the hungry tummy. $18.

img_9555Roasted suckling pig – Roasted pineapple, fried banana, cinnamon, tlaquepaque sauce. Perfect Crispy thick skin aside, this was interestingly fatless while that tender slab of meat there still tasted so juicy and lip smacking good; yeah I love it free of fats. What actually made us astonished was that banana flavoured savoury sauce that lifted the porky flavour greatly and that outrageously sweet pineapple cubes that made us fight over the last piece. How clever the chefs are as they manage to gel these many flavours together seamlessly. $42.

img_9556Premium Dorper Lamb – 8 hours roasted, pibil sauce, tiger eggplant, radish. Another slab of beautifully cooked lamb while that red sauce there seems to have a light Indian slant to it, and tastes so intense with all that spices punching hard on your palates, making it a memorable one. And the buddy literally finish every single drop of sauce. $34.

img_9562Our dessert – not any churros or pies on the menu but this refreshing, huge glass of margarita slush that only costs $9.90 as it is the happy hour! And this really tasted like an alcoholic sorbet with a coveted light sweetness that ended the meal perfectly!

img_9564And this is somewhere I would like to visit again someday! Maybe in the afternoon still as that happy hour is just too hard to forgo!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.5/5.


Jiang Nan Chun – what a comeback after a major revamp!

Jiang Nan Chun

Near Orchard MRT

img_9410My second time to Jiang Nan Chun, but my first officially after its revamp and the first impression after we sat down comfortably – Jiang Nan Chun has stepped her game up ambitiously compared to its previous outlook. Strong air conditioning (that’s an important criterion for me), with queer bird caged lights dangling above us that accentuated the sleek, modern interior decor yet not having any oriental elements compromised at all, and the intricate details paid to the table lightings are evident too, which enable a greater sense of privacy for each group, all these perfectly befitting the description of a Cantonese fine dining.

img_9411Decor second, food first the picky foodie folks have always reckoned, and this time round the quality of food here has skyrocketed as I vividly remembered how unimpressed we were the first time we were here. Nailed every dish so confidently this time round, I suspect there might be a change in the head chef together with the revamp. The soup of the day, boiled with luohan, pork ribs, chicken and some uncommon herbs, was definitely a refined and cultured bowl that has all the flavours so spot on and intense. $12 for the soup.

img_9407Steamed Shrimp Dumpling with mushroom – This could by far, be the best har gao I have had. Surpassing many of the good hotel restaurants, what made this outstanding was not just the substantial amount of beautifully textured crunchy prawns stuffed within as that is expected for the better hotel standards, but also the mushrooms added to it that gave it an extra moist consistency. Very delicious Har Gao over here that made us wanted to order another basket. $7.50. And, you could get all dim sum individually as you are not restricted to ordering a minimum of three.

img_9415Steamed Pork Dumpling with Scallop – Rotund crunchy dollop with fresh scallops in it. $7.50.

img_9413Cantonese Sponge Cake – So fluffy, perfectly perforated and fraganted, this has the perfect consistency again without a dismaying collapse. $4.

img_9408Stir fry carrot cake in XO sauce – Rightly spiced, well fragranted with the XO sauce that made the folks appreciate this carrot cake thoroughly. $10.

img_9406Crispy Flaky Pastry with Black Pepper Beef – Beautiful flaky skin with moist lightly peppery beef in it. Delish! $9.

img_9416Roast Duck – Very tender meat underneath with a blanket of crispy, fragrant skin; the kind that is reminiscent of those quality duck served at Michelin Starred Hakkasan.

img_9419Poached Chicken in Soya Sauce. $18.

img_9417Seafood Fried rice with XO chilli sauce – Neatly chopped prawns, scallops, greens with fried rice, made so uniformly and decadently fragrant by spicing it up with the haughty delicious XO chilli sauce. $24.

img_9420Fish noodle soup with Shrimp dumpling – This may look like an ordinary bowl of wanton noodles but no way is it any simple as that noodle isn’t just flour but has been evenly mixed with fish paste, that gives it a special bite. What a special surprise we got from this bowl of seemingly humble noodles. $14.

img_9427Moving on to their desserts, this felt very Hakkasan styled as the waitress mentioned that there’s a western dessert kitchen, that has a menu that I am very looking forward to trying!

img_9423Szechuan Peppered spiced Manjari Chocolate with Kumquat Compote. Highly contrasting in flavours between the choc and kumquat to yield that balance, I was very much excited by that bitter dark chocolate that has been punctuated exhilaratingly with the sichuan pepper. So thick, decadent, bold yet delicious! $14.

img_9426Papaya custard pastry and strawberry mochi – Deliciously smooth and definitely the better oriental dessert we could have. $14.

img_9425Egg Yolk push with flowy Almond in it – Very innovative that it felt like this explosive ball is filled with piping hot and thick xin ren hu. $12.

A very fun experience, all enabled by the bold culinary ideas and techniques from the head chef at Jiang Nan Chun and after much discussion with the miss foodie, we felt they might be working towards that star. Truly deserving of one next year I feel!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.5/5.




Kyushu Pancake – Those pancakes are legit!

Kyushu Pancake Cafe

#01-08, Novena Regency, 275 Thomson Road, Novena Regency near Novena MRT

img_9349When it comes to authentic Japanese cafes, I have never been disappointed by any so far and Kyushu Pancake Cafe, hailing from Kyushu, is delightfully delectable and completely satisfying. They may not have a huge range of savoury items which are also pancake / waffle centric, the sweets though are the ones to look out for I reckon. Their forte, if their name has already not suggested, is obviously the pancakes that has the perfected texture, soft, fluffy yet contains a lower quotient of butter as compared to those from the famous Clinton Street Bakery, making it less queasy than the usual American style.

img_9334Classic Salad with Chicken – Refreshing luscious greens, made savoury with that thick sesame flavoured wafu sauce. $9.50.

img_9338Karaage Chicken waffle with Special sauce and honey – Unlike its American counterpart, the Texas Chicken Waffle, the Japanese savoury coating over this huge slab of chicken gave it a huge Asian twist and definitely didn’t clash with that slightly sweeter tasting thick solid waffle that is evidently prepared from some quality batter. $19.

img_9344img_9343Managed to convince the buddy for a Matcha Tiramisu instead of a toast as one could have imagined how perfect that combination of creamy brown sugar Mascarpone cheese would have been with those fluffy pancakes underneath. Smothered by that thick creamy layer, just like what I have hoped for, sprinkled with the matcha powder, this dessert is completed beautifully with the creamy Vanilla ice cream and Matcha sauce. Around $18.

I earnestly felt credits have to be given to them as these pancakes were not made just from any wheat flour, instead it is a combination of specially selected wheat from the different prefectures in Japan, as what is described in their website; a mix which is totally befitting as “one that brings you the natural taste, free of emulsifier, artificial fragrance, additives or processed starch”.


Verdict: An excellent cafe. 4.3/5.



Riverside Grilled Fish 江边城外 – Fun if you are adventurous enough

Riverside Grilled Fish 江边城外

Rafflescity at City Hall MRT

One of the bigger names hailing from China with more than 40 outlets country wide, Riverside Grilled Fish has found a large cosy corner at Rafflescity. Ironic it is when I am actually quite intolerant of mala, abhorrent of Sichuan cuisine as I am not in favour for a torturing spicy cuisine that sometimes conveniently lack of fragrance, or rather overpowered by the overdose of capsaicin and pepper! Why would such cuisine exist when balance is obviously off the equation, the question I am always bewildered at. Well, but when made more refined by the more upmarket establishments, things are usually quite different and therefore the urge to give 江边城外 a go.

IMG_9017IMG_9018How it works here – choose your fish, then one of the 9 sauces that you like and then any toppings that you want to be stuffed underneath. Sea bass chosen over here. And for non mala fans, only one out of the 9 will suit us, as I chose the black bean sauce for the grilled fish to be smothered in. The friendly Taiwanese waitress knows the palettes here well, and seems to advise according to our accent as she must have known the locals can’t take these spices well. So a big nono for non mala fans as there is no spicy levels to choose from, just so as to retain the authenticity of it. $35 topped with sausage ($4.50), tofu sheets ($4.50), beancurd skin ($3.50), Green radish ($2.50).

Though the mala was forgone, that bean paste sauce tasted robust enough, lifted up by the adequate amount of spice in it. That redness in the sauce is indeed acceptable, that is able to accentuate the sweetness from the tender, moist sea bass that is still reeking of a beautiful smoke.

IMG_9022IMG_9023This Sichuan flat noodles, which I tried once in Sichuan couldn’t catch my attention at all with a pretty weak consistency in those translucent noodles. While the texture remains brittle here, its more refined preparation made it more palatable. I would have finished it if only that fragrant peanutty sauce was used solely without that mental chilli oil to interfere with the entire bowl. But well, respect is given to the origin of this dish. $4.80.

IMG_9020Egg fried rice, so much to finish in one tub.

IMG_9028Pan fried rice cake with Soya Powder. Very dense, highly compacted and topped off with a fragrant layer of egg, made into a enjoyable dessert when sprinkled with that lightly sweetened soy powder. $6.80.

It was an exciting and fun experience for me even after tailoring it to yield a milder experience which I thoroughly enjoyed!

Verdict: A good restaurant. 4.0/5.