Friday, November 27, 2009

Quay


Overseas Passenger Terminal,
The Rocks, NSW, Australia


As a Melburnian, you grow up conditioned on many things in life, we are the best city, we have the best coffee and for that matter the best food in Australia.

Recently opinion has shifted on the last two and if the Melbourne public transport system stays the same put us at risk on the first place too, but I digress.

Melbourne certainly has a great range of diverse food and across the board offers possibly the best "value for money" dining in the country, but what about the really pointy end?

Well in that department Sydney has certainly moved ahead, Tetsuya's has been voted amongst the top 10 in the world for several years and more recently Quay has leapt in to the San Pelligrino top 50 Restaurants in the world. What is interesting it is sitting in position 46, one behind Iggy's which I gushed about here. By comparison Melbourne has no entries in the top 100 and over the years has only had fleeting appearences by Flower Drum & Vue de Monde.

So given the opportunity to travel to Sydney the battle was on to get a table at either of these restaurants, Tetsuya's was first choice and was booked solid for our stay and despite going on a waiting list we struck out. Fortunately we were lucky enough get in to Quay which has been on a roll picking up every award in the country.

So on a 34° Sydney day we made our way to the restaurant that is spectacularly placed looking over the Sydney harbour with bridge and opera house views. The dining room has been designed to maximise the view so no one has their back windows and is well laid out with plenty of space and the right balance of noise to make for comfortable conversation.

Upon seating we were greeted by our waiter for the evening and informed of our menu options, either degustation or a four course menu with choices per course. We were VERY surprised to be told that there would be no variations to the degustation, in fact my blood pressure was starting to rise as I was trying to come to terms with being told that there was no room to move on this. Any other restaurant I have been to at this level would not flinch at a small request like this and in no way did we want to change the whole menu, just substitute a single course. After some negotiation we eventually had the change approved, but required way too much effort.

Thankfully though it was resolved without too much bloodshed so we could get back to enjoying our Bollinger and amuse bouche of smoked eel, tapioca and horseradish cream. This was a nice light palate appetiser for the courses that lay ahead.


L: Sea Pearls - Sashimi tuna, aquaculture caviar, sea scallop, smoked eel, octopus, mud crab, abalone
R: Mud crab congee - Hand shelled mud crab, Chinese inspired split rice porridge


The first course is Quay's signature dish "Sea Pearls" which is served as five spheres of ocean goodness. Sashimi tuna with caviar, abalone in a rich dashi jelly, a lightly marinated yuzu scallop were the highlights in this dish.

The next dish was a bit of a surprise hit with my wife, congee of mud crab with split rice. This was a delicate broth of crab with a nice waxy texture coming from the split rice and perhaps the nicest crab I have ever had.


Crisp confit of pig belly, braise of abalone, silken tofu, Japanese mushrooms, chive flowers

The surprise hit for me was the next course of crispy pork belly confit with tofu, abalone & japanese mushrooms. This was simply a brilliant dish, the tofu is hand made locally by a Korean and was so smooth and texturally perfect to compare it to normal grocery store tofu would be an insult. The soy flavours were a perfect match for the pork which had a great crackle to it making every mouthful a treat.


L: Five textures of Southern rock lobster
R:Sous vide pure bred Suffolk lamb loin,spring vegetables, comté-infused fresh milk curd, roasted quinoa, sunflower seeds,
pine nuts, hazelnuts

The lobster dish we had to fight for, the five textures of rock lobster came out in a split cup arrangement consisting of a Chawanmushi style lobster custard covered with lobster consomme next to a layering of lobster tapioca dumpling, lobster meat covered with a lobster foam. This was a real yin and yang affair, the lobster consomme half was a brutal in your face consomme that sat next to the delicate light flavours of the lobster tail meat and foam. Certainly a winner for lobster fans and is creative but not too clever.

After this dish though we were beginning to struggle, the richness and saltiness of the lobster meant we had to dig deep for the remaining courses. The sous vide suffolk lamb could be summed up as spring on a plate, the lamb was small but well cooked with a delicate lamb flavour coming through. The match of spring vegetables were all spot on and a great way for finish the savoury courses.


L: White peach snow egg
R: Raspberries, violet, almond, vanilla cream


Desserts were next and one of the signature desserts which rotate around seasonality of fruit was first. The peach snow egg is a peach cream encased in meringue and then encased in a thin toffee shell on a peach granita. Simply put it is a perfect light refreshing desert and the mix of textures was brilliant. The thin crispy shell yields like a crème brulee in to the soft centre, the more I ate it, the more impressed I was with the creativity of this desert that is not a show off desert but it incredibly technical. I would really not like to try and replicate this myself.

The final course was an assortment of berries, again light, delicious and refreshing and with lots of technique in there. One should also note the violet garnish, one of the tricks the head chef Peter Gilmore likes to employ is the use of edible flowering herbs, it takes a bit of getting used to, but by the end was enjoyable.

So how would I sum up Quay? Well, it is has great food in a great environment with a magnificent view. I would probably say it is the most refined dining experience I have had in Australia. However, when you get to this level you can go down one of two paths, refinement or excitement as your go to market. I would say Quay goes down the refinement path which isn’t wrong, but there are never the “wow” or “very clever” moments that you get at some other restaurants. There was never the wow I got at Arzak, Iggy’s or even Vue de Monde here, but there were never the “what were they thinking???” moments either which I have had at Vue de Monde and several times in the one sitting at Attica. If anything, this is reminiscent of the two michelin star experiences at Gordon Ramsay at The London and Les Creyere.


LATE NIGHT VIEW FROM THE TABLE

So my conclusion would be a definite thumbs up and recommendation to go to Quay, enjoy with the matching wines and a view that is as grand as the food and above all demand a degustation to suit your tastes (but be prepared for some push back)

Quay restaurant – 17.5/20, if it were not for irritation over the change of degustation it quite possibly would get 18/20.

Quay on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cafe Vue


Cafe Vue 401
St Kilda Rd
Melbourne, 3004

Cafe Vue, the latest addition to the Shannon Bennett empire is situated amongst a sea of foccacia and bain marie toting cafe's. Having worked along St Kilda rd, it is really a row of mediocrity and after perusing the menu I found myself wanting to dine along St Kilda rd rather than escape!

Plenty has been written about Shannon's Vue de Monde and having been there twice, it is a great food experience. Yes Vue does have some flaws at times, but is certainly close to, if not, the best restaurant in Melbourne and among the best in the country.

How though do you scale this down? How do you take the layers and complexity of the food and bring it down to courses that are as little as $3.50 but not diminish the Vue brand? Well I guess the approach taken is similar to BMW, they have their 6 and 7 series flagships of uber technology but also build the aspirational 1 series that represents the quality and core values of the brand at a much more affordable prices.

In fact the prices are so affordable I've been there twice in as many days so certainly a lot more affordable.


62° EGGS

The first visit was for breakfast and I could not go past the 62° eggs on toast with some bacon. At $9.00 for eggs on toast I wouldn't think too much of it at most cafe's, $9.00 for two eggs poached precisely at 62° so that the white is translucent and cooked and a yolk that is creamy and thick would have to be the best value breakfast in town.

This was paired with a strong flat white that was made perfectly. Very good start!

The return visit was for lunch, Friday lunch. Unfortunately Cafe Vue does not take bookings for less than 8 so it is pot luck as to how long you may have to wait unless you get there early. Fortunately at 11:45am there was no wait and it was straight in to it. This time the Wagyu burger and fries, a nice juicy burger, cooked perfectly with nice crispy fries. I also couldn't help but try the quail scotch egg,

L: WAGYU BURGER & FRENCH FRIES
R: QUAIL SCOTCH EGG


Both were well presented, clean flavours and turning out the dishes at $12 and $3.50 about as good as you can get at this price point. The dishes are also cleverly portioned so that there is room for the very tempting deserts that are on display for all too see.


L: LEMON MERINGUE PIE
R: VANILLA MACAROON


First of all there is an assortment of macaroon's, all perfectly sized and in a wide array of colour and flavours, Violet macaroon anyone?
The macaroon's are delicious, but the show was stolen by the simple lemon meringue pie. This mix of Lemon curd in a nice crusty tart base is topped with a thick soft meringue that is gooey, glooey and magnificent. A desert this good in many a restaurant would command $14-$15, at Cafe Vue it is a steal at $4.50, paired with their excellent coffee it is a perfect way to finish off.

So I guess the thing that Cafe Vue and Vue de Monde share is they both provide a great food experience, they both deliver well presented and flavoursome food and both have a knack for enticing you to spend that little bit more because you want to try that next dish you are jealously eyeing off at the next table.

Cafe Vue - 13.5/20

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Seven Seeds


114 Berkeley st
Carlton, 3053

Seven Seeds is the latest venture for Mark Dundan who seems to have a knack for creating cafe gold in the most unlikely places. There is the back alley St Ali, the tiny shopfront of Brother Baba Budan and his most recent development is located in the industrial streets of Carlton - Seven Seeds.

If you have been to either of the two predecessors, then you will know what to expect, an open layout, bare floors, bare brick walls, seats and tables that look like they are either from a high school chemistry lab or canteen from a 70's era car manufacturer with a good mix of music playing over the top.
My visit to Seven Seeds was nice and early so there were plenty of seats to choose from and there were a lot of familiar faces working behind the espresso machines that have followed Mark as he has opened his new haunts.


STRONG FLAT WHITE
But while aesthetics are all as expected, the important thing here is, how is the coffee? My first coffee ordered was a strong flat white. If McDonald's is the benchmark of consistency between venues for burgers, you could almost say the same for the coffee here vs St Ali vs Brother Baba Budan and that is not a bad thing at all. The coffee was delivered well presented, perfect layer of latte art for a flat white, immediately sippable but not tepid and well balanced. Not too bitter, with some nuttiness and a slight sweetness.


CLOVER COFFEE
The follow up coffee is a clover coffee, todays bean is the Hartmann Honey single origin which is served black in a small pot more like a tea than a regular espresso. For the unitiated, Clover Coffee is a french press style coffee, but uber-high tech. The machines start at around $11,000 so is a bit more than a pyrex plunger. The result is a much more subtle coffee that has a nice well rounded flavour, the sweetness of the coffee comes through and leaves a much milder aftertaste compared to an espresso. It is a coffee to be thoughtfully drunk rather as opposed to the espresso which is more of a sip and go.


EGYPTIAN EYE PRESSED SANDWHICH
Food here is also worth considering, the egyptian eye comes as a pressed sandwhich with bacon and chutney with the "eye" being a egg fried a hole cut from the centre of the inch thick slice of bread. Quite clever and tasty.

Give it a few months and this place will be as hard to get a seat as the other two venues, another job well done.

Coffee Rating
Flat White - 17/20
Clover - 19/20

Seven Seeds on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 9, 2009

Allez Cuisine

I think there is a tipping point that gets an average person from being an enthusiastic diner to being a "foodie"

In my case it was discovering the Iron Chef about 6 years ago. Sure I cooked a lot, and went out to some nice restaurants, but somehow the Iron Chef which showed off luxury ingredients, various styles of cooking and the actual process intrigued me.

It also helped that the campy dubbed style and the flamboyant Chairman Kaga made this in to a Saturday night ritual for me. In fact I became so obsessed that when I went to Japan I went to 3 of their restaurants, Sakai, Kenichi and Ishinabe. (I've also been to American Iron Chef Bobby Flay's very impressive restaurant but my wife doesn't like me categorising this with the Japanese Iron Chef's)

In fact this little number still rates as one of my favourite dishes of all time, a pan fried piece of foie gras.


Why I bring this up is I recently came across a little piece of Iron Chef over here in liquid form. The third Japanese Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto's Black Soba Ale.


Morimoto was always a bit hard done by as the neo-japanese Iron Chef, he had big shoes to fill following on from Michiba and Nakamura. His creations were interesting, if not always on the money.

If there is a trick with Japanese food it is matching with drinks, wine is a big no go, reds are too overpowering and most whites too fruity. Neutral drinks like Sake and Beer are the best matches so with that in mind I felt it only appropriate that I match with some Sashimi and Sushi.


The beer matched very well, the sweet malt helped to offset the saltiness of the soy and oiliness of the fish despite it's darkness.

The beer was very enjoyable and definately makes me yearn for a return trip to Japan and for that matter to Morimoto's restaurant when I get to the USA next.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bok Choy


300a New St
Brighton 3186 VIC

I feel a tinge of sadness when I go to Cantonese restaurants like Bok Choy. They offer great food, often in great environments with good service at very reasonable prices, the sadness is mainly due to the fact I think most people are missing out.

Yet restaurants that simply produce good food doesn't appear to be enough for the hordes of foodies out there wanting to jump on the next trend, bong smoked trout with basil seeds is so 2008.

At times I feel Cantonese is becoming the meat and three veg of dining, fortunately the thoughts of sadness fade once I walk through the doors and inhale the wok smokiness and look across the dark purple dining room of Bok Choy Brighton.

Seated by the window it was reassuring that the two other occupied tables had Chinese diners happily eating away, we ordered champagne, perused the menu and couldn't resist the very reasonably priced $70, 7 course banquet.
KING PRAWN SAN CHOI BAO

Things got off to a very good start, Prawn San Choi Bao was laced with very nice chunks of prawn and scallop.

The second dish had high hopes, but didn't quite hit the mark, a deep fried soft shell crab was a bit watery and texture wise didn't quite work. Perhaps the soft shell was trying to counter the batter. The legs were quite nice, but using my basis of "If I were to come back and order ala carte, would I order this dish?" probably not, actually definitely not. However, this dish did answer the age old question "Does everything taste better fried?" The answer came in the form of a lightly battered and fried piece of broccoli - yes.
PEKING DUCK

Third came Peking Duck, the lacquered duck is neatly folded table side and served. Definitely on the top end of the Peking Duck scale, the pancake is light and fluffy, the skin has a nice glassy crack and the meat is tender and bites through with ease. To be honest I could have had 7 courses of this alone.
LOBSTER TAIL IN GARLIC BUTTER SAUCE

Next comes Lobster tail in garlic butter sauce, nice chunks of lobster tail with shell attached in a delicious garlic sauce. It was with this course I noticed that what were once shiny pristine plates are showing the battle scars of serving 7 years of food, they were very scratched and could perhaps do with some rotation.
STEAMED WILD BARRAMUNDI WITH SPRING ONION & GINGER SOY SAUCE

One of the downsides of the banquet is that it is normally a greatest hits, no experiments. The next course was a little bit different and a step up over the normal fare. Steamed Wild Barramundi with a ginger and spring onion sauce, this was sensational. The meaty barramundi was cooked perfectly and the oily soy based ginger sauce matched perfectly. This was a highlight a reminder that I need to order more adventurously dammit!
CANTONESE FILLET STEAK

The final course was Cantonese steak, this was served perhaps a bit rarer than what I would normally order, but fortunately the steak was top grade, no sinew or gristle and good texture meant this melted. Some places would charge $35 for this course alone. Matched with the fried rice this certainly left us full and satisfied.

Desert came in the form deep fried ice cream, nothing revolutionary, but the light caramel sauce and ice cream topped off a very enjoyable dinner.

Bok Choy certainly fills the gap between a Kun Ming and a Flower Drum, the reasonable wine list and stand out dishes like the barramundi and Peking duck will get me back there again alone. Would recommend to anyone this side of town, but perhaps not quite worth the drive cross town for, then again I guess that's why the clever chaps have Choi's in Hawthorn!

Bok Choy - 13/20

Bok Choy Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Age Good Food Guide 2010

Not a lot to say about this really, good to see The Point promoted after my glowing review.

In reviewing the list though, I do think Melbourne seems to have defined itself as a city that prefers understated dining rather than the michelin star style offered by only a few which explains the lack 3 hat restaurants.

I've made note of quite a few restaurants though that need to be added to my to do list, I just hope they live up to the reputation bestowed upon them.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Best Mushroom Risotto in the world


3kg of Swiss Browns to be converted to black stock goodness

***Update - Recipe for the Mushroom Stock is now online***

Well about time I post something out of my kitchen!

So no point beating about the bush, I might as well kick off my first cooking post with my A-game - Mushroom Risotto.

It is quite interesting, most people think they do a "good" mushroom risotto in the same way everyone seems to know how to make good bolognese and know where the best chicken parma in town is.

Well I hate to say it, they are ALL wrong, especially on the risotto front.

Why do I claim mine as the best? Well it comes from good heritage, let me explain.

A few years ago I went to a well known restaurant called Vue du Monde which is arguably the best restaurant in Melbourne. After my trip to Vue I purchased Shannon Bennet's My Vue which is an insightful tome on what you actually get when you go to a place like vue, layer upon layer upon layer of flavours. To make a typical dish requires 30+ ingredients and has several basis of separate recipes to come together as the final product.

So how does this lead to world's best risotto? One simple recipe on page 109 for mushroom stock. Until reading this I never understood why my risotto was missing the mark and it is simple, I was using an inferior stock. Now it would be unfair for me to post the recipe for Shannon's mushroom stock recipe, but I will say that the results are outstanding and will make a HUGE difference. In fact with this alone, good carnaroli rice, some cooked mushrooms for texture a dash of cream and truffle oil at the end (and use the truffle oil sparingly, it should lift, not overpower the dish) you too can have the worlds best mushroom risotto.


Jason's Mushroom Risotto with swiss, field and enoki mushroom
(now I know why photographers HATE brown food)


By the way, the 3kg box of mushrooms reduced to 1kg of solid waste, that means there are 2kg of mushroom flavour in the stock which explains why this packs such a mushroom-y punch.

After my initial experimentation's a few years ago I was pleasantly surprised that my rendition of this dish stood up very well next to Vue's version which is why I claim mine as (one of) the Mushroom Risotto's in the world since it can stand in company with Shannon's.

To finish dinner the night I made this, I went with the french classic, Creme Caramel.
crème caramel

Simple, uncomplicated and delicious. If you have never made one, try it, you will be impressed.

BTW - The mushroom stock is a great basis for pasta sauces such as Mushroom Linguine and if you want to WOW people at your next dinner party, mix some stock, cream and milk, foam with a coffee machine and serve as a mushroom soup cappuccino sprinkled with ground porcini to imitate the cocoa dusting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grange (failure)



Armadale Cellars
813-817 High St
Armadale, VIC 3143


Along with food, I do appreciate my wine. I also appreciate my beer and whisky too.

Over the years I have managed to have a sample of almost all there is to offer, but one thing that I have yet to try and that is the "iconic" Penfolds Grange.

I have eyed off the '96 in my wine cellar a few times, but the ad for the Shiraz challenge at Armadale Cellars got my attention and a quick phone call and credit card number got me booked in.

The host of the challenge was owner Phil Hude who could talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles and provided an entertaining commentry as we blind tasted our way through 12 Shiraz.

I was able to pick/guess a few shiraz correctly, but did I pick the Grange? Nope! It was in the final bracket of 3 wines which were all good, but it didn't stand out at 5 times the price of the next most expensive shiraz, let alone 15 times the other. Nice red yes, worth $550 a bottle? better value elsewhere.

But I can say I have broken my Grange duck!

As for the night, I can definately recommend it, but don't get too excited over the Armadale Cellars dining experience which was a Boscastle pie + salad at the end of the tastings. They are nice pies, but not the unique dining experience I expected based on the ad.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Point


Aquatic Drive
Albert Park VIC 3206


If you listen to the average restaurateur on TV, the general claim is that 99.999 out of 100 restaurants close within the first day of trading and that 99% in fact have the half life of Roentgenium. Not good odds, not good odds at all.

I pondered this as I arrived for our booking at The Point, a restaurant that seems to have been around forever. With a great view over Albert Park Lake and St Kilda Rd, The Point does not suffer from a lack of scenery and the dining room with its recent makeover is a nice comfortable place to be seated. I have to respect the that The Point has continued to keep going on and seems quite comfortable with it's place in the Melbourne restaurant scene.

The Point isn't likely to be high on the list of the trend followers, it is a long way from being the latest trendy restaurant, it is no Vue, Rockpool, Momo or Hellenic Republic and doesn't feature any sort of eco-concept that is saving children in Africa. In many respects The Point is the antithesis of this, the main concept at The Point is beef. Not very trendy at all and I like it!

To say The Point is a steak restaurant though is a bit of an insult, head chef Scott Pickett trained in some very good European kitchens including the 3 michelin starred The Square in London. Scott's appointment wasn't flagged with a huge amount of fanfare, but his profile has steadily risen and with good reason.



Before I dive in to the critiquing of the food though, there was a small bone to pick with the waiting staff. As the first to arrive, I enjoyed the view with a nice glass of Knappstein Lager (Best lager in Australia by a long way), upon my wife's arrival she was asked if she cared for a drink. Upon asking for a glass of champagne, the waiter poured a glass of Yarrabank, a big no no. Yarrabank is all good, but it is no Gosset either.


Pithivier of quail and king brown mushrooms
hazelnut and Pedro Ximinez vinaigrette




Mud crab and basil croustillant, seared scallop,
Jerusalem artichokes and sauce bois boudran


Despite the temptation to try the degustation menu, the table of four decided a more traditional 3 course affair was the way to go. The menu is quite ambitious and diverse for a restaurant that is known mainly for steak, apart from usual beef-grill dishes there was a wide range of seafood and light meat dishes for both entree and main.

The table went 4 ways with entree selection and each of us were suitably impressed, a light Tagliatelle of seafood and a macaroni with carbonara foam and jamon comsomme impressed the ladies of the table. The Mud Crab & Scallop entree was exquisitely plated, it looked like it would fit in a Vue while the Pithivier of quail was a nice understated dish that made good use of the quail and liver.



Pasture fed Eye fillet from Cape Grim Tasmania
and The Point garnish




BEEF TASTING PLATE
Individual portions of Sher Wagyu,
Clare Valley grain and Cape Grim pasture fed beef


Mains on the other hand were a bit more predictable, while on any given night I would go for any of the regular mains, it is hard to go past the steak that is amongst the first picks from Tasman's lots. The ladies selected Pasture fed eye fillet upon the restaurant managers recommendation, the guys however couldn't go past the Beef Tasting Plate and why not, it answers the age old question of grain vs grass fed and eye fillet vs porterhouse. All steaks were cooked exactly to the request of each of member of the table and was simply delicious. I have to say the opportunity to enjoy five different kinds of steak was something I couldn't pass up and would say that upon return it would either be Wagyu or Grain Porterhouse!


Black forest soufflé, cherry jellies and griottines

After all that meat, we were glad for a lengthy break to desert, after being sold on glasses of "the special port" which our sommelier assured us was not normally opened (I suspect not normally opened would be when they run out but will let that slide) we ordered desert. The decision here was unanimous, it was the Black forest souffle. Personally I have always been a sucker for anything Black Forest including the demand for about 5 years straight of the same black forest Birthday cake, but I digress.

If The Point were Attica, this would have been called a "Black Forest De-Construction" where the chef has "Deconstructed the elements of a traditional black forest desert for the diner to define their own balance of flavours". Fortunately we are spared such pretentiousness and discover it for ourselves. The desert was one of the best I have had, while it is hard to disappoint me with a souffle, at the same time it is hard to make it stand out and it certainly did here.

So how do I sum up The Point? I was very impressed, the table were very impressed and given the reasonable prices and lack of fuss getting in think it is a bit of a hidden gem. Presentation to match Vue, Steaks to beat Vlado's and understated delivery with pricing to shame both. If young Scott Pickett keeps pushing out food this good, the secret won't stay secret for too long.

The Point - 15.5/20
The Point Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kun Ming


212 Little Bourke Street

Melbourne, Vic, 3000

Chinatown on a Friday night is a somewhat busy place to be and after some rather indulgent occasions of late, a more low key dinner with friends was in order. One of the great things about Chinatown is that turnover is such that waiting for a table is normally not an issue and BYO is perfectly acceptable.

Now of course picking a restaurant in Chinatown can be a bit of a roll of the dice, in fact the cynic in me thinks that strips like Chinatown and Lygon St could have a big common communal kitchen with different fronts given that all restaurants tend to have the same menu at identical prices.

Tonight the choice was Kun Ming which is my "regular" for a piece of aus-canto Chinese food. Given the number of Chinese patrons though, my choice is probably a well founded one.

The interior of Kun Ming is bright and open and thankfully post 80's red and jade, it is perhaps a touch cramped but noise isn't an issue. Given it was my friends first time there we played it safe with the banquet which was a bit of a greatest hits, but at a meagre $39 is a great deal. Things kick off with a seafood san choi bow, well presented but we all suffered from the structural integrity of the lettuce, it was too fresh and quite crisp.



SEAFOOD SAN CHOI

Things moved on to the crab claw which was nice and light and had distinguishable pieces of prawn meat. Perhaps it could have been fried a fraction crispier for my liking, but was not too oily and quite enjoyable. Peking duck was next, nice duck, shame about the pancake which was a bit soggy.


HOT AND SOUR SOUP

The next course was perhaps the highlight and my must have at Kun Ming, hot and sour soup. As the name suggests, it has heat, it has a nice sourness on the finish and textured well with shrimp, tofu and egg.


FRIED RICE AND BLACK PEPPER CANTONESE STEAK

The courses kept flowing at a good pace, Singapore chilli prawns, fish with snowpeas finishing with Cantonese pepper steak with fried rice. All of the courses were exactly as you would expect, no surprises, no disappointments. In fact the fried rice falls in the shade a bit here, it is very nice, light and not too oily.

The $39 banquet also includes desert, 3 of us went the banana fritter, 1 fried ice cream. Again, no surprises, but the banana was well cooked and came with a nice slice of ice cream. I did take a photo but opted against posting since for some reason it looks like a prop from a zombie porno.

This brings me to my conclusion on Kun Ming, it serves good food in a pleasent environment at a very cheap price. As I kept reminding one of our party members, we are getting 8 courses for the same price as 1 main at Gingerboy. Yes it is a bit of an unfair comparison, but the difference is I know I'll go back to Kun Ming, can't say I am planning a return to the other any time soon. The only difficulty we had was getting small enough denominations to pay, it really has been a long time since we have eaten out and required change from a $50.

In fact we all agreed to go back soon and try the more adventurous chinese "off menu" items.

Kun Ming - 12/20 (value boosts this, in fact value is 19/20)
Kun Ming Restaurant on Urbanspoon