Beef tataki at Tao’s Restaurant

Over the weekend, I had a seven course dinner with my colleagues at Tao’s Restaurant. It’s one of those Asian fusion (Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Western)  and fancy restaurants that I do not bother to try until my colleagues suggested me this. Overall, the meals were good; food was well presentable and the atmosphere was well, charming.

We get to choose our appetiser, main and dessert and I chose beef tataki for my appetiser. When the dish came and placed in front of me, I just can’t help laughing out loud when I saw the way they present my food. The first thing came into my mind was the egg (where the facehugger is born) from Aliens. The picture below says it all.

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Tokyo (Day 8 to 13) : I eat therefore I am

My mate and I decided to treat his cousin a good dinner as a gesture of gratitude for taking us around Tokyo. We let him to decide the restaurant and we had yakiniku for that night. A wonderful, appetising experience of BBQ-ing expensive beef slices.

 

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(Thin slices of juicy sizzling beef)

 

 

 

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From left:
1. Kimchi. A good way to open up your appetite
2. Beef tataki
3. Raw beef anyone?
4. Four different parts of the beef and a total of 8 slices on each plate. This cost us 3,200 yen each. We had a few.

 

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(The hand that couldn’t wait for me to finish my snap shot)

 

And of course we left the restaurant with another new experience, for me that is. For the first time in my life, I’ve tasted the state of being a drunkard. Usually I controlled the intake of alcoholic beverages but during that estatic night, I crossed the sanity line. All thanks to the mugs of Asahi beers and sochu that made me puked at every train station stop. All the good beef wasted. Grrr.

My mate had the best night, enjoying my agony and drunkenness state as we I tried to get back to the hotel in one piece.

Lesson learned: If you want to get drunk, do it at home.

1 Krispy Kreme = 7 Maccas burgers

Today we celebrated the big boss of the company’s birthday. Instead of a traditional birthday cake, my colleague bought dozens of Krispy Kreme and stacked them together.

When the boss saw this, he told everyone in the room, “Do you know eating one of those doughnuts is like consuming seven of MacDonald burgers?”

I ate two three. Gulp.

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(1 Krispy Kreme donut = 7 Maccas burgers)

 

Kyoto (Day 3 to 7) : Kyoto International Manga Museum

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(Snapped this scene when we were walking aimlessly)

This was a random stop. We decided take a long walk instead of catching a train to the centre of the city. As we walked along the streets, the keyword manga caught my attention when we passed by the Kyoto International Manga Museum. The museum is primarily meant for 5-9 year old kids to visit, but being young at heart I joined them. It feels weird when you see an adult mingling around with a bunch of preschoolers, reading manga and skipping around ecstatically like a kid with new toys.

My travelling mate hesitated to go in with me, fearing his reputation being a “man” would be compromised. So a little “bribe” convinced the reluctant macho boy. The bribe was to cover a 500 yen entrance fee paid all by me. Haha, that’s a dirt cheap price paid to destroy a person’s dignity.

 

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From left:
1. Entrance to the museum.
2. A sneak shot of manga works from around the world. No photography allowed by the way
3. Some education mascot. Hey, it’s Christmas okay?

Only after this visit, I realised how serious they were into the manga industry. They even have studies as well as research and development on it.

Rows after rows of manga were neatly arranged on the shelves for visitors to read. There were like thousands of books and they were peppered around the museum from the long corridors to classrooms (this museum used to be a school). Kids would be busy sitting on the floor, savouring the joy of reading manga without the parents buzzing around.

They have a special storage room, at the basement of the museum where they preserved all the yesteryears manga since 1800s. That’s a lot of manga collection.

 

Food oh food

What the heck I had for meals in Kyoto? Sadly enough, being alien to a new country and with the lack of their native language, probably the easiest way to grab a bite is fast food outlet chains. But I set myself a rule about fast food: Only go for it when you’re desperate for a meal. Ticket vending machine style meals would be a good choice too. No communication barrier. Pick what you want, pay the machine and you get your food. You make a mistake, you eat it. XD

Most of the time, meals are spent in Teramachi Street which I mentioned before they have a pot pourri of choices.

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(A full set 700 yen meal – Clockwise from top: plain veggies, stirred fried veggies, cold bean curd, soup, sliced pork and rice)

 

The reason I invited myself to the Wendy’s was because I never tried one before. My first order was this burger and being one big fat bastard with 3/4 pound of meat, the buns couldn’t shield the massive size. I couldn’t even finish half of it. Americans.

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(Wendy’s 3/4 pound triple cheese burger)

Election day!

Last Saturday, the gang went off for another BBQ session near the Yarra River (next to the Botanical Gardens). This time is to celebrate the end of the semester and the end of another grueling period of exams. I didn’t bring along my camera so no food pics.
(-___-)

And that very day, it happens to be the election day for Down Under. The opposition (ze winner!) has decided to paint the sky, as the last and final shot to amass votes for his party.

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Thai dins dins

We went to a Thai Restaurant for dinner last weekend. I’ve been hearing stories about this restaurant (unfortunately I forgot the name, again. My memory has been bad to me these days) from the good food it offers to the big portions. Originally we thought it was located at the end of Lygon Street but no, it was way way up towards Carlton North.

Knowing that I’m very fond of veggies dishes, my friend warned me not to order any veggies dishes here because for each dish they serve, they throw tons of greens in it. Having said that, we all ordered meat. Green, red and orange sort.

While reading the menu, I can’t help but noticed this little remark at the end of the page:

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(So, how long we gonna need to wait!?)

Apparently this Thai restaurant is a popular stop for the locals here. Throngs of people lined up for takeaways (they gave away watermelons to you while you wait for your takeaways) and the tables are filled. My friend always warned me that, with that sheer size of people, you’ll need to wait a healthy 30-40 minutes before your food comes.

The food came. Veggies were abundant but not well cooked. The beef was a little salty for my taste while the chicken green curry, lamb curry and stir fried squid were okay. Service was excellent. Asking for extra servings of rice or replenishing our water bottles were swiftly and efficiently catered.

Spanish Night

Oliver, Ivan and the blogger went to try out the Spanish food that they have been talking about every now and then. That’s Robert Burns Hotel in Collingwood to you. It’s a typical pub dining place and you order at the counter (and pay) before you get your food. :)

Primarily dealing with seafood, we decided to get try the huge-ass pot of seafood, Marriscara (not sure if I spelled this right) and a paella (pronounced pie-la). As for drinks we got ourselves a jug of Sangria. Our order number was #80.

It was a typical Friday, so the pub was filled to the brim and we waited more than half an hour for the food to reach us.

The Paella we ordered was beef and chicken. The waitress gave us chicken and seafood. Apparently she misheard the cook that our order number was #18 instead of #80. It was way too late by the time they realised this; half of the pan was already in our stomach. It was good but I noticed in the Paella, they used the smallest chicken wings I’ve ever seen since I set foot onto Down Under.

The next dish was one pot (in the shape of a sea shell) of seafood with a variety mix of crabs, pipis, mussels, squids and prawns. It was nothing special. I felt like they boiled the seafood before they threw it into the soup. What’s worse, half of them are not fresh. You can feel the texture of the prawns, squid and crabs mushy and it reeks. We had trouble finishing this. Mental note: Make sure there’s four of us if we order this again.

The Sangria was the worst Sangria I ever had. I felt like drinking a glass of coloured-sugar-ed water with some lemon pieces floating on top. Ugh.

It was the first time I have so much seafood in one night. My stomach was bloated and need to perform my natural function very soon. Overall, it was a good experience but we were well overdosed with iodine for the night.  Nice variety in the menu but better leave the seafood in the hands of the orientals; they cook them better.

 

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(Pizza with rice instead of dough)

 

 

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(Ze pot of sea stuff)

 

 

Fishy Nightmare

On Sunday, the whole gang reserved the evening for the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and then a nice Thai dinner at the end of Lygon Street. What we didn’t expected was a lengthy movie and we came out pretty late. Jon booked a table of eight at the Thai restaurant (Dunno the name, my bad) and realised that by the time we walked out of the cinema, the restaurant was going to close for the day in 20 minutes time. So we ended up in one of those chinese/vietnam restaurant in Chinatown.

We got ourselves a head waitress who just can’t wait to ask for orders. The first time was 2 minutes after we seated without given the menu, and the second time was a minute AFTER we were given the menu. A couple times she pestered us when we were deciding what to eat after that. By the time we were READY to order, she’s nowhere to be seen. -_-;

Each of us picked a dish (6 dishes for 8 persons). The head waitress kept recommending us mud crabs and scallops, apparently it’s nice and fresh but of course, we declined politely. We decided to have steamed fish for seafood so Ivan asked her for a recommendation. Not sure what happened, we wanted to order siakap (Updated 29/05 – sea perch. Thanks sis!)  and we thought we did.

The dishes came and we were happy with it. The best part was of course the fish itself; It was huge and meaty. That sent me a signal, but I was too hungry to bother. Yumz.

When the bill came, I was the first who took a glance at the bill. As I was examining the list of items and the prices, a 3 digit number appeared before the grand total. The fish was in fact a coral trout and it smacked us a 140 bucks for that dish alone. Son of a ….

The fish was already in our stomach; we paid. That was one helluva experience for seafood. A 260 bucks in total. That’ll feed two tables and twice our numbers.Thank god we didn’t listen to the head waitress and ordered those scallops and mud crabs.

Still scarred from that ordeal, I woke up with a lethargic body this morning and I don’t feel like working today.

Lesson learned #1: Never, ever ask for a recommendation from the head waiter/waitress especially seafood.

Lesson learned #2: Even if you want to listen to one, make sure that item and pricing is listed in the menu. You won’t regret it later.

Bluefire Grill

Yesterday, me and my bosses went for dinner at Bluefire Grill. I’ve booked it a week earlier, worrying that it may be full but to my surprise, there was only 1 or 2 tables occupied when we arrived. This gave me 2 different impressions: either we were too early for dinner or the place sucks. I prayed not the latter.

Overall, the food was so so. The sea food (calamari and fish) was slightly out of taste and not fresh. The only ones I enjoyed was the beef and lamb. The pork and chicken was tender but a little tasteless though they claimed they were marinated days ago.

Service was exceptionally good along with friendly and vibrant waitresses. Of course it was perfect considering there were only 3 or 4 tables occupied while the other 30 tables were empty. We were served by a Tassie lady who came to Melbourne 8 months ago and was into heavy metal guitar jamming. Apparently she and her band (forgot the name) were recording an album. To me, she’s a potential goth.

As usual, these people are smart. They’ll stuff you up with cheap and simple food first before the proper meal comes. So we had bread with dips as starters. The dips were potatoes, some mild chilli paste and spinach/asparagus (not sure which one, the waitress said). Liked the chilli though. There’s some olives to go along with it too.

 

Blue Fire Grill - Starters
(Starters: Bread and Dips)

 

Next, the vegetables that go with the meat. Guess what, they came in triple carbo bypass: more potatoes, corn and pumpkin. Stuff you up more.

Blue Fire Grill - Vegie
(Main: The triple carbo bypass)

Finally, the meat beckoned. Each came in turns, starting with roast beef, roast lamb, BBQ chicken, BBQ pork, spicy sausage, grilled calamari and lastly the grilled fish. The chef walked to our table with a skewer of meat. and then slowly he sliced chunks of mouth watering meat onto our empty plates. We were carnivores for the night.

Blue Fire Grill - Leftovers
(Main: The meat disappears faster than the speed of the camera shutter)

 

The meal ended with a nice cocktail: Japanese Slippers (where in the world they come out with that name). Some midori with a mixture of fruit juices. At the bottom there’s a cherry. Notice the straw that is stuck next to the side of the glass. The lady said it took her some time to do it. Joked that she had to lick it (!).

Blue Fire Grill - Cocktail
(Japanese Slippers)

Just like another meat fest, I can conclude that the food quality is comparable to the Limors dinner I had some time ago. Obviously the service here is slightly more lavish than the latter but heck, it’s an empty restaurant with a dear price tag. It’s an eye opener for tasting a grande dinner but will I come back again for a second round? Definately not.

Easter Break

Easter is-a-coming and I’m getting a four day break starting tommorow. To spend those days in a more meaningful way, I’m going to:

Oh, the nice management of this business building gave us a box (a dozen) of sweet-chocolate-filled Krispy Kreme doughnuts for Easter. Yippie! It’s been so long since I touched these sinful rings. As my boss is in New Zealand and my good old colleague is not a sweet tooth, the whole box is all mine! I shall share with no one! Muahaha.

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Ze Barbaric Night

The second batch of dinner was at Limor’s International, a family restaurant where they serve you one of the seven sins: gluttony. This time it’s for the apartment gang (Sonia and George) and a couple of bums (Oliver and Chan).

Being a first timer to the place, I found out the restaurant was popular and customers usually came in big groups. Later I found out why after I ordered our meals. They came in humongous portions, regardless it’s an entree or a main. Thank goodness Oliver stopped my big mouth from ordering more than 3 dishes.

Like any other western dishes, chips and salad a must. They were served on a plate on its own, big plates (note the plural)! We made a big mistake when we chowed down the first plate of chips. By then we’re already half full from the shoe string potatoes. But then again, can’t blame the guys since we went out for dinner close to 9pm with an empty stomach. Yes, we went fasting and skipped lunch.

Overall, the food was ordinary; nothing special except they come in big sizes which is good when you come in big groups. Worth the money on that.

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Right after the meal, we headed off to Jam Factory at Chapel St for a movie. Like always, it was an impromptu decision for a cinema treat. It was close to 11pm and the movies were quite limited so it was either James Bond’s Casino Royale or Pan’s Labyrinth. We chose the latter. It’s a spanish movie and closely resembled to American McGee’s Alice; a dark, disturbing fantasy fairy tale. It was pretty enjoyable and I must say that the CG effects was well made for a foreign movie. Storywise, well, a linear one.

And so after the movie, we called it a day. Fed and entertained. Amen.

 

Another Greasy Joe Session

On Saturday night, the gang went off to St Kilda for another round of Greasy Joe dinner. Oliver and I have been craving for bacons and eggs for sometime; every now and then during lunch time we went out and tried to look for a late breakkie, but usually they do not serve breakfast meals after 11am. Bah, inflexible pricks.

Dsc00018So, we ordered a Triple Bypass (again) and BBQ pork ribs and shared among 3 of us. Jon, on the other hand tried their burger, The Fat Bastard (that’s the name of the burger, not him!). A 600 grams of beef patty with some bacons and cheese squashed in between and a touch mustard. Food was kind of dry and tasteless that night. Disappointed we are.

Triple Bypass is basically triple of the breakkie: 3 hash browns, 3 sausages, 3 eggs, 3 streaky bacons, onion rings and 3 slices of bread. We got 2 slices of bread and the 3 sausages came in 3 different sizes instead. The smallest sosie was the size of my thumb. Unhappy, we asked the guy to cook up another sosie for us. It took them ages to serve that missing sosie (We almost finished the meal by the time it came).

Oh, we got a unique waiter that was serving us. With every line of his dialogues, he ended them with a “nice” or “nice one”.