Eat here: Maney’s Dumplings, Melbourne (Chinese)

Maney’s Dumplings, Bundoora, Melbourne
http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/71/1559031/restaurant/Melbourne/Maneys-Dumpling-Bundoora

 

Maney’s is a northern suburbs institution and absolute favourite of locals, for two simple reasons:
1. The food is simple, yet ridiculously delicious.
2. The food is crazy cheap. As in, 12 – 15 dumplings (each dumpling around half the size of my fist) for under $10.00. Shit by Asian standards, absolute bargain by Melbourne’s!

It’s a little place on an inconspicuous little corner behind the main shopping plaza, always busy, yet you’re always met with a greeting and a smile within seconds of walking through the front door. We eat here relatively regularly because of the reasons above, and thought it was worth sharing – sometimes the suburbs really have some incredible hidden gems. This is particularly amazing because Bundoora may be situated in one of the most Caucasian parts of Melbourne – you’d never think that you’d be able to find spot on Chinese food there!

Our order doesn’t change a heap from visit to visit (if it ain’t broke..) – husband and I always share a plate of the fried pork dumplings (12 pieces for $9.50, and they are not small!)

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

After the dumplings, we get a main each – what we order varies, but my favourite is the Shanghai fried noodles ($9.00 for a plate piled precariously high). The noodles are great and soft, the sauce is incredible and in no way re-creatable at home, it’s just a damn good plate of food!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Husband likes to try something new each time; this time he settled on the Hot Spicy Chicken Noodle ($8.50, massive serving – he didn’t finish it!). I’m not a fan of anything of the hot and spicy variety, but he is, and he loved it!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

It’s not fancy or over the top – it feels like walking into an auntie’s house, and being served up some good home cooking. Because that’s what it tastes like – it’s not the usual Chinese-by-numbers crap that you usually find in the suburbs, which puts off most people. This is good, honest-to-goodness Chinese food, served up in a warm family environment, where you can fill up without breaking the bank. What’s not to love?!

 

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Eat here: Chew Burgers, Preston, Melbourne

Chew Burgers, Preston, Melbourne
http://www.chew.net.au/

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

We live in the Northern suburbs, in an incredibly multicultural area, where you’ll find standard Aussie pubs sharing the same street as Indian, Thai, Italian, Lebanese and Chinese restaurants. Which is why we love it so much. But what the area lacks is a good old fashioned burger place. When we heard about Chew opening a few suburbs away, we put it on the burgers-to-try list. On our way out to meet a friend for a drink over the weekend, we realised we’d just driven past the place; we were running early, so we turned the car around, parked, and decided to give it a try!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Started up by three mates, three locals, who identified that Preston was missing a good burger joint, they opened up this place next to a favourite drinking hole of theirs, Racoon Bar. They use local ingredients, make their sauces in house, and keep it simple. It pays off.

I ordered the namesake burger, The Chew (brioche bun, 190g wagyu beef, cos lettuce, tomato, pickle, cheddar, mustard and aioli – $12.00), husband went The Plenty (brioche bun, 2 x 190g wagyu beef, cos lettuce, tomato, pickle, cheddar, bacon, mustard, aioli, smoke & dire sauce and zucchini pickles – $16.00), and a side of Parmesan shoestring fries ($3.50)

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

My burger was bloody fantastic, but did require several (5 in total) napkins for the extreme juice factor. The pattie was soft enough to crumble when you bit it, but held together really well, and had a simple but really nice flavour. Great burger pattie-to-bun ratio, and the bun was really nicely toasted, so it really didn’t go soggy (amazing feat considering the juiciness!!). Simple but delicious and noticeably fresh accompaniments of lettuce and tomato, and the aioli was unreal.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

The shoestring fries were perfect – not over or under-done, just crunchy enough. That said, the Parmesan salt really didn’t have a strong Parmesan flavour – option for a side of dipping sauce would have made these just about perfect.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

All in all, bloody great effort from these three mates, we’re ecstatic to finally have not just a passable, but brag-able burger in the area, and will most definitely be back!

 

Chew Burgers on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Huxtaburger, Melbourne

Huxtaburger, Collingwood, Melbourne
http://www.huxtaburger.com.au/

I’ve been keen on this place since it opened. I know the burgers get some bad reviews – they’ve been called everything from overrated to disgusting to greasy to artery-clogging. Whatever. I think they’re delicious.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

The standard Huxtaburger is a simple deal – its a delicious, toasted brioche bun filled with a pretty good beef pattie, tomato, cheese, lettuce, pickles, and the condiment trifecta: mustard, mayo and tomato sauce. For $9.00, it’s a pretty good deal. I can’t pick one single component of the burger that really stands out and makes it incredible, so I’ve got to put it down to a good mix of ingredients!

I’ll be honest – it’s nothing super special. It’s no Beatbox or Rockwell, and if you’re a clean, Grill’d type of burger lover, you’re probably not gonna enjoy this as much, but in my opinion, it’s still a very solid burger, and one I’ll no doubt continue to go back for every now and again!

 

Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Momoco Sushi San, Melbourne

Momoco Sushi San, Heidelberg, Melbourne
http://www.momocosushi.com.au/

 

I’m a huge sushi fan, but really good sushi that doesn’t require you to re-mortgage your house is a rare and elusive gem in any city. When my baby sister discovered this place, I was hesitant – could it really be that good if it was also that cheap? One way to find out!

Turns out, yes, yes it was that good. Incredible, actually probably the best sushi I’ve had in Melbourne. I think this is owing to the fact that it’s all made to order, and abiding by their mission statement of using only top quality ingredients and organic goods, both imported from Japan and sourced locally is Australia. Their growing popularity is also reflected in the fact that they also now have three locations to chose from, maintaining quality and consistency across the board.

 

My picks? The hands down winner has to be the meiji rolls: fresh mango, roast duck, avocado and mayo sushi hand rolls, wrapped in super thin omelette. This is absolutely incredible, and at $12.50 for 8 pieces, this would fill up one person pretty decently!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

But, I wasn’t dining alone, so cue plate two of giant sushi: the super delicious and vegetarian futomaki, at $11.00 for 8 pieces. This might not sound amazing to you, but the pieces were half the size of the palm of my hand, which is freaking massive! They were a delicious option, light and tasty, and would definitely order again.

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

So basically, what you need to know is this: amazing sushi, ridiculously fresh, absurdly well priced, great service, happy belly. Off you go then!

 

Momoco Sushi San on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Fauchon, Paris, France

Fauchon, Paris
http://www.fauchon.com/

 

Once you know about this place, their little hot pink chocolate tins because completely unmistakable, as will your cravings for their deliciousness!

I actually was first told of Fauchon, a gourmet food company of the highest order, who produce incredible chocolate, macarons, cakes, breads, deli goods and what not, by a client of mine while working as a travel consultant. Booking her umpteenth trip to Paris, I mentioned that I was finally due to go. She said one word: “Fauchon.” Sorry? She said I had to go there, especially given what a mad chocoholic I am. She told me all about it, recommended a tin of chocolates, some cakes, and whatever else my stomach could fit. I wrote it in my things-to-do-while-I’m-travelling notebook, and carried on with her booking…

 

A few months later, there I was in Paris. And I did make my way to Fauchon. A few times. I got my hot pink tin of chocolates (delicious, and I still have the little tin!), then the next day went back for a feast of more majestic proportions. Husband and I decided that, after seeing other people looking to be enjoying themselves doing the same, that we should buy a bag full of food and have a picnic in the park, under the Eiffel Tower. We emerged from Fauchon with a bread stick the size of a small baby giraffe, freshly sliced cheese and cold meats, and some cake. We took the train back to our hotel where we cut the breadstick in half and stuffed in the prosciutto and cheese, wrapped it up and popped in back in the big brown paper bag, along with the cakes and some wine (we’d seen stacks of people pouring their own drinks in the park the night before and thought we’d do the same over lunch, only to get there and discover that it’s actually illegal… not that that seemed to stop anyone…), and walked off to find our picnic spot.

If you’re in Paris, I highly recommend giving this a go – pack your own picnic lunch and find a beautiful spot to eat it. It’s so much fun and so relaxing, and really allows some great people watching with some incredible food with a spectacular view that you won’t have paid an arm and a leg for! I would also highly recommend some Fauchon cakes to have for dessert… I mean, seriously… wow!!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Eat here: Nong Ploy Restaurant, Koh Samui, Thailand

Nong Ploy Restaurant
157/19 av2 | Chaweng beach road, Ko Samui 84320, Thailand

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

To be completely honest, when I first stumbled on this place in September 2012, on a work sponsored trip, I didn’t even think to find out what it was called, as I didn’t think it’d be possible to ever find it again; while the rest of the group was either at the bar drinking, or in their rooms taking a nap while waiting for the torrential rain to stop, I decided to be an idiot, go out in the rain, and find something to eat that wasn’t hotel crap. I wondered down the main street, then down an alley way, then another, then back to the main street, and so on for about 15 minutes, as the rain was easing. My stomach started grumbling and I decided to stop at the next place I saw. This was it. Thai food for 40 baht a plate? That’s about AUD$1.30. I’d have been crazy not to!

I ordered the pad thai, and it was unreal! I told my husband all about it when I got home, that I got amazing prawn pad thai for $1.30 down an alleyway in Koh Samui. He laughed and shook his head – standard lunacy to be expected of me.

 

ANYWAY, fast forward to January 2014, and husband and I (along with one of his mates) are in Koh Samui. My second trip, the boys’ first. I fondly recall my rainy stumbling to the wonder that was that “little place with the park bench seating and bright pink table cloths.” Let me preface this next bit by saying that I have NO sense of direction what so ever. Give me a map and throw me in the middle of Rome, I’ll find you the quickest path from A to B, no worries. But ask me to get from my house to the milk bar around the corner from memory, I have no freakin idea. So when I told the boys I wanted to head in the general direction of where I thought this place may be, my husband laughed, but indulged me – after all, we were in Koh Samui and had no where we needed to be!

Cue random meandering, a few false alarms at alleyways that looked kinda maybe sorta familiar, and then giving up and walking into a place that looked decent because we were so bloody hungry. I dragged my feet behind the boys, feeling dejected, when I finally looked up. Holy crap, the place I was looking for was right next door. I (pathetically) squealed a little and ran straight over, leaving the embarrassed boys to deal with the waiter who had menus in hand (sorry!).

 

Everything was still exactly as I remembered it, which is why you should eat there if you find yourself in Koh Samui and can manage to find it! The food is insanely cheap and ridiculously delicious, there were quite a few locals eating there, it’s got that relaxed beach-side, picnic-style, box-of-tissues-instead-of-napkins kind of vibe, and it’s the quintessential Asian street food experience, in a restaurant setting!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

P.S. hopefully this helps anyone visiting..

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Eat here: The Breakfast Club, Melbourne

The Breakfast Club, Northcote, Melbourne
https://www.facebook.com/thebreakfastclubcafe

 

As promised on a recent post, I had to share my favourite breaky spot, The Breakfast Club. Located in Northcote, it’s tucked away from any of Melbourne’s typically busy breakfast suburbs like Fitzroy and Brunswick, which is part of why we love it so much. It’s a decent walk from our place, so we get a bit of much needed exercise on a Sunday morning as a trade off for our delicious breakfast. It’s also a really pretty walk down St George’s Rd..

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Anyway, they have a little shop front on St George’s Rd, a gorgeous, homely little cafe inside, and a fantastic little hipsters-paradise corridor courtyard, our preferred seating area.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

I’m usually pretty predictable and order the same thing for breaky here, the thick multi grain toast with poached eggs and avocado, but I decided to go something a little different today – the heirloom tomatoes on brioche toast with toasted almonds, mozzarella and olive oil jam (oh. my.)… light breakfast, but absolutely delicious!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Husband tried the fried chicken and avocado sandwich – he didn’t rate it super highly as he said the bread got pretty soggy after the first few bites. Good flavours though!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

After breakfast, we usually hang around a while for a pot of tea and some cake – our absolute favourite is the lemon meringue slice. Biscuit base, silky smooth lemon curd, topped with chunky, chewy coconut macaroon… ahhhhh SO GOOD!!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

And with full, happy bellies, we pay the bill ($40 for all of that), and start the walk back home… We’ll be back next weekend!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

P.S. Most of my pictures can be found on Instagram too – find me at @_jc_08_  : )

 

The Breakfast Club on Urbanspoon