Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gypsy & Pig

Whilst Hardware Lane is a landmark for many in the city (for better or worse), these days, Hardware Street, just across the way, seems to slowly be making it's presence better known as well. 

Gypsy and Pig is one of the new additions quietly nestled on the corner of Hardware Street and Little Lonsdale. 

I popped by into this dark, intimate and cosy space with I-Hua, Agnes and Alistair after our visit to Bottega for a demo of the pasta class. Having no booking, we had to be split into two groups, I-Hua and I on one end of the bar and Agnes and Alistair  on the other. 

Ah. It was an amusing night. We'll leave it at that.

Gypsy and Pig is tiny, so you'd be well off to make a booking before visiting as we saw quite a number of people, on a Tuesday night, get turned away after we were seated. Although quite sombre in it's fit out, with lots and lots of black, little piggy memorabilia all over the place adds that cute Japanese touch. 

Deciding to try something different, I had a shou-chu with fresh lime, that I had to squeeze myself and pour on in! I personally quite like places where they encourage a bit of 'DIY', fills up the time while you're waiting for food! 

At Gypsy and Pig, it may not be a far-fetched guess to say that they specialise in pork dishes, with a healthy selection of Kurobuta dishes. すごい!

So we naturally got a serve of the pan grilled sliced Kurobuta with special ginger soy. We got a little bit impatient waiting, as it did take a little while, constantly peeking over the edge of the bar to try and figure out what the chef was doing and when he would start on our dish. The kitchen is a fairly impressive set up though, with only 2 floorstaff, an assistant chef and the head chef, it's a small but obviously tightly run crew.

Ah, and the Kurobuta was so worth the wait! Served with a generous portion of salad, it smelt amazing as it was put in front of us and proved to be gorgeously tender and well…just porkingly delicious. The ginger soy was the perfect addition for the cool weather outside. I-Hua commented that the ginger soy made her think of a Chinese dish, and although I agree, we can't really complain beyond that. 

I am the worst person when it comes to comfort food when it's cold and when I saw the oven-baked potato and pancetta gratin with creamy spicy cod roe sauce and melted cheese on the menu…uh…I think my heart flip flopped all over the floor. 

Almost more intoxicatingly aromatic and inviting than the kurobuta, it didn't take long for us to break through the cheesy top to all the goodness below. This was just everything. One would think roe to be a curious addition, but the saltiness went beautifully with the cheese and potatoes, the potatoes were soft, the cheese was goopy. What more do you need? 

Since we had only indulged in two savoury dishes, we figured we could justify dessert. When we asked the waitress what was in the dessert platter, she just said 'One of everything'. 'A little tasting plate then eh? Let's get that then'.

Oh lord. What the waitress might not have mentioned that it's literally one of everything. Not a taste, not a sized down sample, it was one of each of the dessert dishes on the menu jammed into one plate for pure sugar heaven. 

Creme caramel, almond jelly, cheesecake and a generous scoop of green tea ice-cream and black sesame ice-cream. Heaaveeeeen!

Surprisingly for me, I probably enjoyed the ice-creams the most. I think these days these 'Asian' flavoured ice-creams can be a bit weak, but at Gypsy and Pig, they had beautifully rich and intense flavours. The green tea in particular had the strong matcha powder flavour to it and wasn't as sweet as others I had come across. Mmmmhmmm!

I also enjoyed the creme caramel, silky, smooth and rich. For me, although I like almonds, the almond jelly tasted a bit too artificial for me, although I-Hua quite liked it. Finally, the cheesecake was a bit of a let down considering the quality of everything else. A bit too cold, a bit too hard and not quite hitting the spot. 

I think what I really do like about Gypsy and Pig is that it offers Japanese food, but not in the stereotypical sense. No sushi rolls, no seaweed salads, although I like all that stuff perfectly well, it's refreshing to have yet another facet of this scrumptious cuisine. You also know you must be in a good Japanese place, when the booking next to you are all chattering away to themselves in Japanese. I could've sworn one of them was my Japanese sensei back in high school but I was a little too shy to ask….

Gypsy & Pig
391 Little Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

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