Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tom Phat

I'm a terrible stickler for making plans and punctuality. I don't usually let other people organize social gatherings too often, as I like to make sure I know who is at least definitely going, what time people will show up etc. etc. The problem I find is that people will often say, "Let's do something", a week, sometimes even a few days in advance, a few people also say, "Yes let's do it that day" and those are the only details that are made.

So when it comes to the day, I try to follow up with everyone to confirm a time and place and everyone ends up being busy and we end up postponing things.

I like to plan things to look forward to them, so I always kind of get bummed out when things get cancelled.

Such was this night when Brad and I ended up at Tom Phat. We were to go see Cowboys and Aliens with some friends. We did end up going to see it the week later, and although I spent most of the movie with my face curled up into Brad's shoulder (I'm a bit of a wuss), it was frankly, kinda lame.

But anyway, I think I also complained to Brad that I had just got my hair cut and I never seem to get to go out and show it off a bit on the day that I do. So he let me drag his butt out to Brunswick instead. Not so bad a turn of events after all!

Tom Phat was absolutely packed when we walked in on a Thursday night. There were no seats available straight away so we were given a little table in the bar to have a drink first and pre-ponder over the menu.

I loved the 'cages' that the light globes were encaged in, it does somehow give the atmosphere of a dingy, Asian, hole in the wall restaurant, with the walls looking a bit like they had just been patchworked together.

However, it still remained kind of hip with the hints of colour and just the laid back coolness of the staff.

They have Sapporo on tap! Aren't you excited?!

After a fairly short 20 minute wait, we were brought to a table. The dining room is definitely bustling, with diners seated quite close to each other. Crispy wonton skins were brought straight away to us, replacing the typical serving of bread. Their wonton skins. They're deep fried, bad for your hips but lightly crisp and moorish. Mmmm!

Brad and I started with two starters, one being the baladu tofu & tempeh eggplant with tomato chilli sambal. I like the sweet sticky sauce and the fried shallots gave a nice crisp, but I was kind of hoping for a little more eggplant. The dish was okay, but not great, lacking a little bit in flavour for me.

We also got the corn fritters with sweet chilli sauce. Perfect. They were surprisingly light and not too doughy, with lots of corn in them. You know they're deep fried, you know they're terrible but they were absolutely moreish. So crisp and so light, very different to your typical breakfast corn fritters which take more after pancakes really...

We each picked a main to share as well, I chose the pad thai noodles with chicken, peanuts, egg, chives and beanshoots. I have a real soft spot for pad thai, I think it may be the sweetness and the peanuts, which is quite unusual in a savoury dish I suppose.

Tom Phat's pad thai though, I found really a bit too salty for my liking and this sadly definitely led me to not enjoying this dish as much as I would have liked. It had a nice sweetness to it, enough sugar was definitely added and a nice tang from the lime we squeezed over, but I didn't get enough of a peanut flavour coming through. The noodles were also nice and sticky, but maybe a bit too much as well? The chicken was also really dry and quite tough, not so appealing. So overall, not seasoned that well, produce wasn't fantastic and just not quite the authentic flavour I was hoping for.

Tom Phat seem to like their garnish a lot, just look at the little mountain that's piled on top! You kind of have to ask if it's really that nessecary, as I think Brad and I found ourselves digging past the coriander to try and find the protein underneath....

This was the chicken chilli jam stirfry with asian greens, snakebeans, cashews and Thai basil. Again, I found the chicken a bit dry, and the flavours a bit underwhelming really.

So although we enjoyed ourselves and had a good time and some laughs, with friendly and prompt service, the food, whilst being extremely affordable, was a bit lacking for me. The menu is fairly extensive, so maybe we just picked the wrong dishes, as we did like the corn fritters (but who doesn't like anything that's deep fried?), and both the dishes we ordered were chicken.

Still I don't think I'd find myself out this way for dinner all too soon again, unless I happened to be in the area, or someone really wanted to convince me to try it again....

184 Sydney Rd
Brunswick, 3056

Tom Phat on Urbanspoon

View I'm So Hungree in a larger map

Monday, September 26, 2011

Friends of Mine

There's not much to not like about Friends of Mine, at least to look at. The newest, but biggest, addition in the family that includes Snow Pony and Porgie + Mr Jones.

On a bright day such as the one Bryan and I visited on, on his regular day off during the week (I would never want to try to venture here on the weekend I think...), it's yellow awnings from outside, emanate a character with a cheery disposition and you can't help but smile. Or I can't, because I freaking love yellow.

This cheerful character spills on inside, with worn but homely decor, brightened up with...more yellow. And some random knick-knacks that give it a quirky charm as well. I went a little gaga over the yellow coffee machine. If I did drink coffee, I would want that in my house, never mind if I lived on my own!

I was quite surprised with how big Friends of Mine was, with lots of space in different rooms, which had slightly different decor in each space.

And who doesn't like a gentle reminder of appreciating the simple yourself? It's funny how much impact there is in seeing such a straight forward and honest message like this is...

I found my chai a little weak, not the best I've had, but good enough.

Bryan got his new coffee favourite, the Magic, although initially the waitress gave a slightly puzzled looking face when he asked if they had them. I like the cups that Magic's come in, they're quite cute!

It actually took me quite a while to figure out what I wanted to have. I was so overly tempted to go for the smashed avocado, which is also at Snow Pony and Porgie + Mr Jones, and which I love oh so dearly....yet, I strongly felt that I needed to try something different. And I may as well, especially since Friends of Mine provides a bigger menu than it's other siblings, with much more lunch options, steering away from eggs, available.

So I opted for the salad of warm French lentils, roasted baby beets, goats cheese and spiced Dargo walnuts. This was oh so pleasant, it made for a lovely and filling dish, with a nice mix of flavours. The beetroot added so much sweetness and was absolutely delicious. Can't go pass the goats cheese as well for a bit of punch as well!

Bryan was quite a bit more ambitious to me and went for a dish that was unique to Friends of Mine, the "Hung" over with cheesy toast, poached googies, bacon and smashed avocado. It came out and you could just smell the cheese in the air. When it was placed on the table, I think my jaw dropped as I was so surprised at how....much presence it had. It was a pretty big ass plate.

Unfortunately Bryan didn't seem to fully enjoy his dish, although it did fill him up quite satisfactorily!

I don't often do a lot of dessert when I go to cafes, although I would like to, as usually by the time I finish up some eggs, I'm frankly...quite full! However, when you're out with fellow food bloggers....there's always room for more food...and more pictures.

I couldn't resist trying out the rocky road, as I had had the one at Snow Pony before and become absolutely smitten with it. However, the one at Friends of Mine I didn't find as good. The chocolate wasn't as cocoa-y as I remembered it being and I think the ratio of marshmallow to chocolate was more than I would have liked it to be. It ended up being a bit too sweet, even for me!

I won't lie, I got mega excited when I saw that the macarons were from Madame Josephine. It had been a while since I had come across them so I knew we had to have a few! We chose the passionfruit and chocolate, coffee and raspberry. The texture of them were consistently and just lovely, the shell gently breaking away and a nice easy to bite through density.

Flavour-wise, the passionfruit and chocolate was easily our favourite, the passionfruit came across as bright, bouncy and very natural which was just perfect with the rich chocolate. I didn't mind the raspberry, but compared to the passionfruit, it's flavours didn't shine as much.

Whilst I do like Friends of Mine, even though Snow Pony has the same menu, I somehow like it better. Maybe the interior, while quite fun, is a bit too big for me, the atmosphere is not quite the same, which for me, does affect my eating experience. So I may revisit, but I think I'd rather take the trip down to Snow Pony anyway....

I am however, quite keen to check our their 'High Tea' one of these days....who doesn't want an excuse to wear a cute floral dress?

You can read Bryan's view of Friends of Mine and find out what he thought of his dish here...!

506 Swan St
Richmond, 3121

Friends of Mine on Urbanspoon

View I'm So Hungree in a larger map

Friday, September 16, 2011


It's not that often that Brad and I indulge in opulence. We're both pretty laid back people, Brad maybe more so than I, as I tend to have my moments of high maintainence. But that surely naturally comes with the whole being a woman thing right?

And as much as I do love my easy going breakfasts and smashing a pizza while bumming out in front of the tv, I do love dressing up and having a divine night out as well. Divine. Nothing less.

Agenda Melbourne had a private sale for Momo some months back now, their Saraban sharing menu, usually $100 per person, for $50 per person instead. I jumped all over it, made a booking, announced it to Brad that we had a dinner date in a few weeks and that was that. I can make shit happen. Yeah.

Momo is appropriately located up the 'Parisian' end of Collins St, where the Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel lovers hang out.

Accessing Momo is a fun little adventure, whilst you head in the direction of the Grand Hyatt, before actually getting into the hotel, you access a discreet, private elevator that takes you right there. It has that 'oooh' effect, in that you don't know what's coming, that element of suspense.

Stepping out of the elevator doors, you're taken to another world almost. The place is lush. Soft, luxurious, gentle shades of blue and purple lights and opulent decor touches here and there. And although opulent, still entirely elegant. It looked like diamonds were dripping from the ceiling. It managed to exude the feeling of being somewhere exotic and moroccan...without being tacky about it.

The Saraban sharing menu allowed us to choose, two entrees, one main, one side dish and then finish up with the dessert mezza. It probably doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it was honestly, quite plenty!

I can't remember what wine we ordered...was a white, we had a bottle, it made me feel happy.

Before our Saraban sharing feast started, we were given some fresh vegetables, lightly dressed with a bit of pepper and with some olive oil on the side to start. I loved this idea. In such a food, nutrition and body conscious society, instead of bread, vegetables. They were so fresh and crunchy. Good variety too, radishes and cucumbers amongst a couple of other vegetables, which just freshened up the palate. You have to wonder why more restaurants don't do this!

Although having said that, we were still given a small serve of bread as well. Aren't they just cute? Warm little pockets of bread, filled with air. They kind of reminded me of little pillows!

At Momo, service is 'silver spoon' service. So our entrees and mains were presented to us and then spooned into two perfect serves on our respective plates. It was pleasant and bizarre to be so fussed over, since we're definitely not used to so much attention! With the general trend of friendly but casual service that most new restaurants strive to, this was a nod to something a bit more old school, that I very much respected, as they did such an amazing job.

So after showing us our entrees, cradling the bowl in one hand and using an absolutely polished and shiny silver spoon and fork to serve us, ever so neatly and delicately, I was able to take pictures of our food. One of our two entrees, the warm salad of roasted barramundi with fennel, tarragon and buffalo feta was probably my favourite of the two entrees. The barramundi was beautiful, sweet and tender, very, very nicely cooked. The fennel came in as a nice lively injection of flavour and crunch. It really brightened up the dish and was a nice light starting point.

The waiter was sure to give me the orange flower petal. Brad didn't get served a pretty flower. Teehee!

On the flip side, Brad commented that he preferred our other entree better (although we both agreed that they were both fantastic regardless), which was duck breast roasted on the bone with creamy lentil burghul pilav and baby beets. Again, in comparison to the barramundi, this was a much heavier and heartier entree. The duck was heady and delicious and the lentils rich and creamy. A very comforting dish.

For the main, we (or I may have scoured the menu the day before and already chosen) decided on the quail in dukkah crumbs, caradamom bacon, mushrooms and beans in verjuice. So delicately crumbed and so deliciously cooked. The meat was just gorgeous. The beans were a very nice accompaniment as they had soaked up all the flavour somewhere in the process and had a nice meatiness to them.

I had enquired while ordering, what exactly the salad-e 'shirazi' with edible flowers was. The response? 'The prettiest garden salad in Melbourne'. Well they're probably not too far off. It's possibly the most prettily coloured one, with a nice little light dressing. Flavour-wise, nothing particularly mind blowing, but I suppose we had mostly fairly bold flavours in all our other dishes, so this was really just to add something light and neutral to our meal. But I suppose eating does involve all our senses doesn't it? So it's always to have something pretty to look at while you're eating I guess!

And what I was most looking forward to really (after having done my research and reading up previous blogposts on urbanspoon), the dessert mezza. This had been highly rated, so it had a lot to live up to. But my goodness it did.

Even before the plate hit the table, the smell of strong, dark cocoa wafted to my nose as the plates came around the corner, which immediately had me drooling. But as much as I wanted to dive into the rich hot chocolate and kaluah cake stuffed with whipped medjool date....I was advised to save it for last since it was so much richer and would overwhelm the lighter more delicate flavours in the other desserts.

Suppose you can't argue against that.

The other two desserts were, in the glass, a lemon and orange flower ice-cream, dried rose and hazelnut crumble, and with the tree, a persian saffron tart, passionfruit curd and mascarpone cheese.

Oh where to start?!

The persian saffron tart, was just lovely and tangy, the passionfruit really came through and it just had a beautiful, smooth texture to it. It wasn't too sweet either, making it quite refreshing.

The lemon and orange flower ice-cream in comparison, was quite sweet, but in a delightful way. As per the waiters suggestion, we broke the hazelnut crumble into the ice-cream and mixed it all up together. So many flavours that all just worked! There was the citrus and bright flavours of the lemon and orange ice-cream, but a strong sweetness from the rose which was toned down by the hazelnut crumble. The hazelnut crumble added an earthiness to it which was a nice addition to all the fluffy light flavours. Such a playful dessert with lots of fun textures as well.

And of course. That chocolate cake. It was a sin. Tasty tasty sin. Rich and so cocoa-y. If you love your chocolate rich and dark, this is the cake for you. The insides just oozing out lovingly. My favourite. If you couldn't tell.

Throughout the whole night, service was just exceptional, with friendly but exceptionally professional staff, who pampered us all night. I'm still in awe at how they handle the spoon and fork to so elegantly plate everything, right in front of the customer, talk about pressure!

In regards to the food, it's not super innovative or mind blowing, ala Andrew McConnell style, but Greg Malouf does absolutely lovely, tasty food, that is exceptionally executed.

I may not come back to Momo so soon, as my bank account would be very angry with me, but I would certainly recommend it for a special occasion, as that all around special experience. There's not that many places that do service to this level and it's certainly a pleasure, albeit a bit strange as well (since I'm not used to it), to experience it.

Still dreaming of that chocolate cake....

123 Collins St (Lower Plaza Level)
Melbourne, 3000

MoMo Restaurant on Urbanspoon

View I'm So Hungree in a larger map