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Fitzroy VIC 3065
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WOAH. Look what we have here: a new blog post!
It’s been a super long time since I updated this blog and this is where I give all the generic excuses about life getting in the way, being busy adult-ing (I don’t like using the word ‘adult’ as a verb but the cool kids seem to be doing it these days) and getting really stuck into the scary but exciting world of self-employment – and by that, I don’t mean selling weight loss teas on Instagram.
Actually, I didn’t think that people still read my blog so for a while, I was happy leave it unattended like an electric slow cooker filled with soon-to-be hearty beef stew. The other day, though, Nee tweeted that she missed me (I don’t live in Melbourne anymore – but most of you already know that) and subsequently started going through my old blog posts. While I’m not much of a sentimental person, that really touched me – in fact, it was enough for me to get inspired to start blogging regularly again.
The last time I saw Nee in real life was in Melbourne more than a month ago. Bean and I were visiting Melbourne – on Grand Final Day, no less. Bean isn’t a sportsball fan and having lived in Queensland for so long, I’ve been so out of touch with the AFL scene so I couldn’t really muster up the enthusiasm to watch the Grand Final. Nee was also free that day so it was a perfect time to catch up for lunch while the rest of Melbourne cheered on the doggies. We’re all fans of Andrew McConnell and I’d been wanting to check out his newest addition to the McConnell empire: Ricky & Pinky, a Cantonese-style gastropub (for lack of better word). Hence, we decided to make it our lunch venue for the day.
Out of all the Andrew McConnell joints we’ve been to, I’d say Ricky & Pinky was probably the less ‘pretty-looking’ out of the lot. It was obvious that the aim was to capture the essence of the much adored suburban Australian Chinese restaurant from the 80s and 90s, hence the green carpeting, fish tank filled with live seafood and lazy susans. But there was also a touch of the modern throw in: gold pipes, sleek white walls and a team of young hipsters. Also, you had to go through the Builders Arms Hotel (a pub) to get into Ricky & Pinky, which was a little bit weird. But anyway.
We picked a bottle of 2011 Magpie Estate ‘The Schnell’ Shiraz Grenanche, Barossa Valley ($59) to share. The wine’s name was fitting in both ways: Bean was flying back to Berlin that evening (‘schnell’ is the German word for ‘fast’ or ‘quick’) and I now have a strong hatred of magpies due to a nasty swooping incident while innocently walking through Bond University last spring. In any case, the wine was lovely – just the right amount of body to keep Bean happy but not too heavy for me (I don’t like combining Asian food with rich reds).
These days, I can’t sit through an Andrew McConnell meal without at least one serving of dumplings. I blame two years of living in Gold Coast and not having access to good and honest dumplings. These dumplings definitely hit the spot: I loved the combination of their silky smooth skins and the fiery chilli oil punctuated with gloriously numbing bursts of Sichuan peppercorns. The filling was robust and tasty, too.
I ordered the spring rolls not knowing what ‘scamorza’ meant. Well, it turned out to be a cow’s milk cheese that was similar to mozzarella but with a milder flavour. It was an odd feeling biting into the crispy spring roll skin expecting your typical filling of minced pork or even vegetables, only to be greeted by a stream of bubbling hot cheese. Bean wasn’t a fan, but I didn’t mind it – I mean, who doesn’t like anything that involves deep frying and cheese?
Next, we had the pipis and XO sauce, a Cantonese classic and the one dish I always insist on ordering whenever I’m at Chinatown institution Supper Inn. I can’t remember how much the pipis were (damn ‘MP’) but we got half a kilo of them, a pretty generous serving. Best of all, the pipis were drowned in a lovely housemade XO sauce – plenty to soak up with the fried Chinese doughnuts provided on the side. Oh yeah.
These days, we find it hard to resist duck when it’s on the menu so it comes as no surprise that the dry aged duck was ordered. Beautifully juicy and tender, each duck breast piece imparted a slight smoky flavour. Serving suggestion: whacked on top of a warm steamed bun with plenty of hoisin sauce slathered all over. Two thumbs up – but not for the unflattering photo of it below (ha!).
We were pretty full at this stage but Bean was enjoying himself a bit too much so he cheekily asked for a serving of the steamed five-spiced salt chicken, one of the items from the mains (all designed to share, of course). Tender and juicy, the chicken was served with a large serving of egg fried rice along with ginger and spring onion sauce (the kind that David Chang made hipster famous). There was a beautiful balance of flavours but more importantly, it was tasty; the perfect dish to end a leisurely Saturday lunch on.
We shunned the dessert menu for coffee elsewhere; if we had more room in our collective stomachs though, we probably would have been more inclined to order more savoury dishes than peruse the dessert menu – like I’d pay $4 for a large fortune cookie. But never mind, we’ll be back next time to explore the rest of Ricky & Pinky’s menu – and maybe order more of those pipis.