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Posts Tagged ‘scallops

Hako

with 5 comments

310 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD

Phone 03 9620 1881
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Lunch: Mon-Fri noon-3pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat 6pm-10pm
Cuisine: Japanese

Tucked away in Flinders lane, this warehouse restauraunt has very much a minimalistic fit-out, with exposed concrete and dim ‘moodlighting.’ It works though, and although noise invariably echoes in warehouse fit-outs, the tables are well spaced enough that you can still hold a conversation with your dining companions.

Tick.

I hate having to yell to hold a conversation over dinner.

The menu consists of a few stalwart items on the regular menu, which is complimented by a rotating seasonal special menu.

Tick.

I love the emphasis on using seasonal produce.

The wine list is limited, with about 30 bottles on offer. The list wasn’t cheap, but they were reasonable mark-ups for a restaurant. We chose one the ’06 Huia Pinot Noir from  Marlborough $64. This wasn’t anything to shout about, but wasn’t bad.

From the winter special menu, we chose;

blue swimmer crab meat and tobiko with shiso leaf wrap (1p) 5

This was pretty average. Well presented, and nice you could wrap it in the shiso leaf, but the crab meat was uninspired and could have been fresher. The tobiko balls were a nice addition, as they ‘popped’ in your mouth.

rare yellow fin tuna w yuzu spice 18.5

The flavours were good, however, the tuna had been cooked a little too much, so it wasn’t quite rare.. leaving the dish a little tough rather than tender and soft. The citrus yuzu spice was nice, and the tobiko roe worked nicely with the dish.

o ka san's special baked pork belly 14.5

This dish was excellent value – a few slices of thick, tender pork belly cooked on a bed of enoki mushrooms. Baking in the bag left this dish tender and moist, capturing the flavours.

oven baked harvey bay scallops w nasu and ponzu sauce 15.5

These scallop were ok, but nothing spectacular. They were quite small and uninspired for the price.

From the regular menu we also had,

agedashi tofu deep fried bean curd with bonito dry fish flakes 11.5

This dish is fine, but no better than what you can get at any other Japanese restauraunt. The tofu pieces are perhaps a tad small.

gyoza fried pastry stuffed with minced meat, cabbage with hint of garlic 12.5

The gyoza, again, are fine, but did not wow me, and again pricey at 4 for $12.50

omakase sushi head chef's selection of sushi e 28.5

In order from the front; grilled eel, oyster, squid, (some sort of fish – I forget what type), king fish, tuna.

The grilled eel was nice, probably the best of the 6. The rest were all nice, but again, but none of it was exceptional. Presentation was nice, but at $28.50, this equates to $4.75 per piece. Poor value.

beef steak char-grilled aged eye fillet steak with a thick garlic teryiaki sauce $35.5

This (and the pork belly) were the stand-out dishes. Thick slices of beef, cooked blue (to order). The teriyaki sauce was delicious, the beef a great cut. Even though I was well and truly stuffed by this stage, I still ate it. Couldn’t let it go to waste.

This was served with a side of

soba and potato salad with the beef

This was delicious, the soba and potato salad topped with a creamy-sesame dressing.

Jess’ Ratings

Taste: 7.0. None of the food was bad, but much of it was not much better than what you can get at many other Japanese restaurants, which are often substantially more inexpensive. The beef and pork belly were to die for.

Value: 6.0. Overpriced.  Good use of seasonal ingredients, but serves were too small for the prices.

Service: 7. Polite.

Authenticity: 7.0. Head Chef Masahiro Horie and his wife make a great team presenting well cooked a  traditional Japanese food with a modern twist.

Atmosphere: 7.5. Although they could have crammed much more tables in, they have obviously put a lot of thought into spacing the tables adequately. Love the fit-out, very intimate.

Overall: 7. I like Hako. I really do. I just find they charge too much for what they are, especially when there are so many other good places out there, such as Izakaya den. Having said that, I have been a few years ago, and their lunch menu is quite well priced.

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Libertine

with 7 comments

500 Victoria Street
North Melbourne VIC 3003

Tel: (03) 9329 5228

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In May, Gem from eat drink stagger got together a group for a Sucking Pig Banquet at Libertine.

Located just around the corner from the bustle of Errol Street lays this charming French restaurant is tucked away between a couple of random shops.

Blink and you could miss it.

Walk inside, and you are welcomed into this elegant dining room by the very refined but friendly staff.

This tiny restaurant is decadent in many ways, from the large gold gilded mirrors, wood-panelled walls, the chandeliers, and the gastronomic delights that are to be had.
This place is so chic, and oh so French.

The Suckling Pig Banquet is available at Libertine for groups of 10 or more. It is served á la Normande with roasted baby vegetables, presented whole and then carved by Nick for $75 per person including a choice of three entrees and three desserts. The restaurant requires a weeks notice pre-pig.

Choice of entrees were; Chevre & potato paupiette with sweet corn basil soup, terrine du jour on toasted sour dough & pear chutney, or Hervey Bay scallops with a forest and mushroom ragout.

Everyone on our table chose either the terrine or the scallops.

The terrine du jour was a venison terrine. It was very appetising, and paired well with the pear chutney it was served with.

The scallops were absolutely devine. I’m so glad I chose this dish – this was my favourite dish consumed on the night. The  scallop was just- cooked, the texture was so perfect and I cannot think of another way to describe it other than ‘bouncy, yet soft.’ The forest mushrooms were a delight, in flavour and again texture, and I’m not sure what the smear of orange sauce was, but it was fricken amazing.

And then.. onto the main event.

The waitress arrived with this pig on a silver platter in all its grandeur.

The pig (although sans pomme to the dismay of some of my companions) almost looked like he had a smile on his face, that he was happy he was sacrificing his little piggy life to be delicious in our bellies.

He was paraded around for a bit of a photo-shoot (with all us foodies and bloggers pulling out our cameras and firing away), then taken back to the kitchen where he was carved and dished up.

Each portion consisted of slabs of pork and crackling served atop creamy mash and a mustard sauce with mustard leaves. The meat was deliciously tender, however the crackling was a bit leathery and tough. That would be my only criticism of this dish,  because it was wickedly heavenly.

In case we needed it, we were also given sides of extra creamy mash and buttered baby veggies.

After the main event, which I do not think any of us were able to finish, dessert was served.

Our choices were;

a passionfruit marshmallow with autum fruit and a seeded shard

a chocolate pave with warm plum mousse and almond crumbs,

and a crème caramel with Calvados, accompanied by herbal tea sorbet.

I chose the marshmallow, which thankfully, as I was already stuffed, was the lightest of the offerings. It was definitely an  interesting dessert, different to anything I’d had before, but in a good way. The flavours were not intense – rather they were quite restrained and highlighted with the wonderful textures – contrasting between the softness of the marshmallow, the tenderness of the fruits and the crunch of the shard.

I had a taste of the other desserts, the chocolate pave was nice however a little “dark” for my liking but would have been loved by anyone who likes intense chocolately flavours. The creme caramel was delightful.

Overall a wonderful night, and many thanks to Gem from eat drink stagger for organising us all together. Can’t wait for the next one Gem!

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Several weeks later, K, my fellow food-enthusiast and I were chatting over drinks and got talking about Boullaibaise night at Libertine.  Both fans of Boullaibaise, well… let’s not fool ourselves, both fans of food with a shared craving for some Boullaibaise, we decided to organise a group together for Boullaibaise night at Libertine. On Wednesday evenings during half the year, Libertine puts together a Boullaibaise for $25. We finally got together a date, and I rang to book, only to be told that they had just had their last Boullaibase night and now that it was winter, Wednesday nights would be cassoulet night.

Disappointed, but not deterred, we decided to do cassoulet night.

On offering is a  traditional Toulouse-style cassoulet for $25, during all Wednesdays in the colder half of the year.

On the specials menu, was an entree of snails. Given that we were in a French restaurant, we could not resist, and six delicate little morsels of snail meat (sans shell unfortunately) were brought, lightly panfried in garlic and butter.

And then onto the main event.

Cassoulet of the night was a confit duck, pork sausage and pork belly served atop a mélange of cannellini beans and vegies.

…and a closeup.

The duck skin was crisp, its meat luxuriously tender, the sausage had wonderful spice. The stew was hearty and filling, perfect for warming our bellies on a cold winter night. The couple of bottles of Pinot we had also helped.  We consumed three bottles between the five of us, two of which included the 2007 Domaine des Nugues from Beaujolais – a wonderful, light, silky wine with nice berry overtones.

We also decided we needed some greens – and ordered buttered brussel sprouts – $8.50

and young beets, fennel & parsley – $8.50.

Brussel sprouts are one of those things that many people hate – and can be bitter and disgusting, but when cooked were are delightful. Libertine did not fail to please.

And although we were stuffed, we couldn’t resist the special souffle of the day – a white chocolate souffle. It was simply perfect – light, fluffy, delcieux.

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Both nights spent in this wonderful little French restaurant were wonderful. Service was impeccible, food was perfect, the wine was wonderful and the company was amazing.

Jess’ Ratings

Taste: 9. Food is sinfully good. Very rich, but then, live a little.

Value: 9. With mains typically priced around the $35 mark, the $25 cassoulet represents excellent value. Eating a la carte is obviously not as inexpensive, however the food represents excellent produce cooked perfectly.

Service: 9. The wait staff are attentive, very professional yet friendly at the same time.

Atmosphere: 9. Wonderful.

Overall: 9. If you haven’t done it already, gather together some friends and head over to this charming establishment. Love it!