Sunday, June 7, 2015
We had a long weekend and decided we needed to see more of Australia so we booked a flight and a inexpensive serviced apartment and landed in Melbourne. A portion of my coworkers were from our Melbourne office (we collapsed everyone into Sydney) and they had plenty of suggestions as to where to go. The way it has been explained to me, Sydney and Melbourne are very much like L.A. and San Francisco back home. Sydney, like LA, has beaches and warmer weather and people tend to hangout preferring more outdoor activities, Melbourne like SF is colder and it tends to rain so people tend to stay indoors and as a result there are better restaurants, arts, etc. From our short three day tour, I'm in agreement with generalized comparison. Here's what we did:
Our first day we spent a lot of time walking around. Where we were staying (near Chinatown area) there are lots of narrow lane one way streets. Our first restaurant was Il Bacaro Cucina and bar tucked away in one of those narrow streets. We walked past it twice while trying to look for it. The place was nice and cozy and service was very attentive and knew their food very well. We got the calamari, which was lightly breaded (looked like very fine panko or tapioca flour) with rocket and vinaigrette. Very tender and tasty. My wife had a small pasta course of pumpkin and foie gras agnolotti, (we should have ordered the large) and I had the braised goat with porcini. The hand made pasta was delicious, the goat was very tender, a bit too gamey for my wife, but I enjoyed it just fine definitely a good start to Melbourne cuisine.
More walking and we ended up at the Queen Victoria Market. It's part old style market with stalls of vendors sectioned into meats, cured goods, seafood and an open air section for veggies, fruits and various goods (souvenirs, leather goods, trinkets).
For Dinner we ended up at "Xi'an famous food Restaurant". Neat place, small menu, we especially like the Cold Noodles in sesame sauce. Spicy and a touch sour with bean sprouts and cucumber. My lamb soup was perfect for the windy cold evening, a simple soup of thinly cut lamb and vermicelli it was served with a pan fried bun (which I used to sop up the sesame sauce from the cold noodles). My wife had spicy pork noodle soup.
The next day we started off with an early lunch at Chin Chin restaurant and "Go Go bar". Chin Chin serves a modern southeast Asian cuisine very delicious. As you can see we ordered a lot. Our favorite was the King fish sashimi it was served in a coconut nahm jim sauce. The mains were a twice cooked beef short rib and a duck curry. Everything was super fresh tasting. I loved it so much I purchased their cookbook. I put this on definite try list if you visit Melbourne.
We took a walk across the south bank and stumbled across an exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria about the Golden age of China (the rule of Emperor Qianlong). I heard many history stories about this period growing up so we stopped by and took a look. It was a fascinating exhibit full of really well preserved artifacts. Afterwards we stopped upstairs and had some tea, sandwiches and a broccoli chowder.
Here's a cool shot of some handmade kaleidoscopes we saw at one of the "Sunday markets" we walked by.
Ending day two we dropped by Movida but it had a two hour wait (we were warned most restaurants would have a ridiculous wait). We lucked out and got a quick seat at their sister restaurant next door aptly named "Movida Next Door". As if we didn't already have enough food for the day I promptly ordered seven dishes (mostly tapas), I would have done a Hobbit proud. The food was delicous, I especially enjoyed the Morcilla which was a Spanish blood sausage with a sous vide poached egg. The Oreja (fried pig ears) were melt in your mouth delicious. Also pictured, Oxtail, pork belly, Mussels, Duck, "Bomba". I highly recommend checking this place out also.
Day three was departure day, but we did book lunch at Nobu in the Crown Tower (the big casino). Lunch was a bit pricey but delightful. I enjoyed the mushroom soup with five different roasted mushrooms. The big hit was the Duck Breast fig teriyaki, confit duck leg and cabbage harumaki with Carrot Ginger Miso (bottom right picture), a hint of sweetness in the carrot puree and the confit "egg rolls" really were delicious together.
That was a lot of food, I'm glad we walked around. I would definitely love to come back and visit some more. There's just so much food and fun stuff to explore it was a whirlwind of a trip. I highly recommend a visit to Melbourne if you find yourself in Australia!