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Orient East, St. Kilda Rd., Melbourne { Melbourne Review }

Flat white coffee @ Orient East

Happy new year 2014! I would like to start, like any another blog post nowadays, with an excuse on why I haven’t updated this blog. You see, 2013 marked the year where both of us were now back at work full time. Unfortunately, in our line of work, part-time work is almost non-existent. And so 2013 was a crazy year of adjustment. And of course the blog suffers. But I’ll try better and do what I can to update this little baby a bit more.

We started off our new year by waking up. This is what old age does to you. You have done absolutely nothing special on the day, were ready for bed at 11pm on new year’s eve and YOU WERE OKAY WITH THAT. Which was how we woke up on a Wednesday morning and thought they it was new year! Hooray! So a celebratory breakfast was in order. We had decided on Orient East because I had been craving their kaya toasts and I wanted to take Mini and my mum to the Shrine of Remembrance. Mum, because it was a lovely, touristy thing to do and Mini because the Shrine is one of the most beautiful space for toddlers to run around. Most importantly though, Orient East was opened on new year’s day.

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Kaya Toast – Texan toast, pandan kaya, 62’c egg, sweet soy* – $12.00

Orient East is a unique restaurant/cafe which acts as the Seasons Botanic Gardens Hotel on St Kilda Rd. It does your usual hotel breakfast catering towards hotel guests but it also doubles as an interesting modernised Southeast Asian restaurant where most of the dishes are from the Malay Peninsula. I had previously tried breakfast at Orient East and really quite liked its unique breakfast menu and so was keen to go back. We were seated and I quickly ordered a few dishes mostly from ‘Shop House’ breakfast dishes which I found to be most interesting and have tried, and liked, previously.

My favourite, the one I looked forward to the most, was the kaya toasts. A sandwich of two thick-cut toasts buttered and spread with kaya (Malaysian-style thick coconut custard spread) and it was topped with what was called 62’c egg on the menu. Unfortunately in this instance, the egg was overcooked with the white jellied and the yolk set (I have previously had it runny and much preferred it then) but overall it was still a really nice and well thought out dish albeit not being perfectly executed.

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Jian bing crepe – eggs, pork floss, Chinese doughnut, hoi sin sauce, sourdough toast* – $14.00

Another dish that I previously had and looked forward to was Orient East on the jian bing crepe. I have tried to traditional jian bing crepe and have not been that impressed by it but Orient East’s take on it was definitely an improvement. A rich combination of running egg, pork floss, hoisin sauce and scant sprinkling of Chinese doughnut¬† was perfect combination. My one concern about this particular visit was that there was too much hot chilli in it. Definitely too hot for my breakfast standard which probably meant it would have been more than way too hot for other people (and I’m known to eat leftover hot curry for breakfast.) But nevertheless being too stubborn to pick out the chillies (mum did,) I did enjoy the dish quite a lot. The crepe also came with a side of toast and Mini, upon seeing the toast, demanded that she wanted Vegemite on toast and nothing else. The cafe was kind enough to provide us with margarine and Vegemite and so she was happy munching on her Vegemite toast (crisis averted!) for the rest of meal. This excused me from having to share my kaya toast with her. Win win.

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Rolled roti, egg, lap cheong sausage, chilli and coriander* – $9.00

I also ordered the rolled roti for Josh as he had had it on previous occasion. He ate most of it without complain (though I would like to complain that he is a terrible breakfast-out companion as he pretty much is not interested in cafe breakfast. I only get around this by taking him at brunching hours when he’d order lunch dishes and I, breakfast.)

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Corn fritters, smoked salmon, avocado and sour cream* – $16.00

I also ordered the corn fritter and smoked salmon which I thought would go down well with Mum and Mini. I found this dish quite disappointingly bland but the group didn’t mind it and polished it off.

Overall, I had a really pleasant new year’s breakfast experience. I really enjoyed the ‘shop house’ breakfast dishes and found them to be an interesting, welcome break from the usual Melbourne cafe breakfast scene. Coffee was also decent. Unfortunately, the food and service were not faultless on the day but it was new year’s day and it seemed to be the only cafe opened for miles around and so was quite swamped. Having been there previously, I know it would definitely do better on better days and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back for its unique breakfast dishes.

* Please note I have used menu description here rather than my own

Orient East [ Website ]
Address: 348 St. Kilda Rd. Melbourne VIC
Phone: (03) 9685 2900
Hours: Lunch 12:00pm to 2:30pm, Dinner: 5:30pm to 10:00pm – Everyday

Orient East on Urbanspoon


Bistro Vue – Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2012 Restaurant Express 3

Lunch at Bistro Vue

A lunch date. I can’t begin to describe these two magic words into something easy to understand to those without young children. While I personally get to go out fairly frequently while Josh is on sole parenting duty, we rarely get to go out together – just the two of us – anymore. So when my beautiful, generous friend (there’s no other words to describe this kind of friend) had offered to babysit Mini Me for the afternoon, I jumped at the chance of another Restaurant Express session at Bistro Vue.

Bistro Vue Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2012 Restaurant Express Menu

(Bistro Vue MFWF Restaurant Express menu)

Bistro Vue is one of those places that were on my must-visit list since I had staggered through its gorgeous dining room after having consumed five full strength cocktails and told myself, ‘blimy, this place is noice. We have to come back for a romantic dinner.’ So when confronted which the which-express-lunch-do-I-go-for-just-the-two-of-us dilemma, I immediately picked out Bistro Vue.

We were left loitering around awkwardly at the entrance for quite a few minutes before we were seated into the packed dining room and presented with the Restaurant Express menu. The lack of choices in the menu was slightly disappointing. the services slightly more brisk, the tables were spaced more closely together than you would normally expect at a non-express lunch.

bread and butter

(Bread and butter on a very pretty dish)

What made this meal memorable are as follows:

  1. It’s like having a first date with a person you’ve just realised you’ve fallen in love with. Again.
  2. This person doesn’t drink his wine and gave me his.
  3. I am a cheap drunk. A very cheap drunk. (more…)

Number 8 Restaurant and Wine Bar, Crown Casino, Southbank { Melbourne Review } 1

Rack of lamb with rosemary crust at Number 8, Crown

Date of visit: 31 July 2010 – note menu items may no longer be available and those that are may have changed.

Number 8 is Crown’s own modern Australian restaurant situated within the Crown casino complex just by the riverside. There are quite a few restaurants in the area. A very lovely place to sit out on sunny days for long lunches. So last year (yes, I know, I am so behind), Maya, Josh and I went out for our catch up long lunch on a very lovely sunny Winter day.

Bread and dips at Number 8, Crown

(Complimentary bread with dips – unimpressive)

Number 8 was recommended to me by a couple of colleagues who had had a few business lunches there. We decided to give their lunch specials a go because, as I previously mentioned, Winter is all about long lunches. I believe at the time it was $65 for a three-course lunch including three side dishes. Currently, Number 8 lunch specials sits at $68 for two courses (including side dishes) and a glass of wine according to its website.

quail and foie gras

(Maya’s entree: quail and rocket salad with a slice of foie gras?)

We each ordered an entree, a main and dessert as well as three side dishes. Believe me it was a lot of food! Pictured above was Maya’s entree of quail salad. I can’t remember a lot of this dish at all even though I did have a taste. Don’t you love friends who don’t mind sharing food? The only thing I remember about it was the foie gras which came as a tiny almost dried sliver rather than a buttery, silky chunk of foie gras I expected. (more…)


North East China Family, Flinders Lane, CBD { Melbourne Review } 3

Boiled dumpling at North East China Family on Flinders Lane

Back in 2008 (dear god, has it been that long?), I discovered North East China Family – a double storey, modern dumpling restaurant on Flinders Lane between Liz and Queen. I went there on my own and had a fried rice and, by god, it was one of the best fried rice at a Chinese restaurant I had ever had. So I went back with Josh and others in tow for the dumplings numerous times since the initial visit.

seafood fried rice at North East China Family

(Seafood fried rice – $11?)

The dumplings themselves, vegetarian dumplings aside, were quite good. We have tried a few and settled the pork and pickled cabbage dumplings as our favourite. The skin wasn’t too thick or doughy and the fillings were well seasoned and balanced. The vegetarian ones, unfortunately, didn’t rate well. I found the filling of greens and a few other random bits of carrot were a bit one dimensional and, well, wasn’t any good.

Pork and pickled cabbage dumplings at North East China Family

(Boiled pork and pickled cabbage dumplings 15 for $8?)

The portions, on the other hand, used to be rather large and generous (15 for around $8? at the time) and if you consumed the whole plate of them,¬† you would have to roll yourself back to your office. I noticed the reduction in size over the past few years, however. Since then the dumplings had become a bit smaller and North East China Family had been less generous with the filling. I can’t say I blame the restaurant since most people seemed incapable of finishing a whole plate of dumplings. Another point to note is that the restaurant charges extra ($1?) for the pan-fried version of the same dumplings. As we very much prefer boiled dumplings over fried, we have not tried the fried variety. (more…)

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