Nam Loong 2

223 Russell St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9663 4089
To all the rodents out there: Have a great year! After all, your special year only comes every 12 years but don’t worry, my turn will be coming up – hail to all the mad cows out there (and an even special hello to all the 85ers, we rock !).Tonight, Adam’s mum invited me to her family dinner on the eve of the Lunar New Year. Now because all my relatives etc are up in Indonesia, our family do not really celebrate Chinese New Year which used to annoy me when I was a kid only because mum used that as an excuse not to give us red envelopes but as the years went by, I eventually got over it.
Still, it was nice of the Hoangs to invite me to dinner – there was no way I was going to stay at home or worse still, go with my parents to some snoozy Indonesian-Chinese gathering that one of mum’s friends was having all the way in Dandenong. Dinner was at Nam Loong 2 (more formally known as Nam Loong Seafood Restaurant) which is one of the restaurants owned by the dude who owns Nam Loong 1 – you might remember it being on the news three years ago for their dodgy food practices but since then, they’ve cleaned up their act.
Following the Lion as it made its way down Russell Street, we watched in mild awe as we observed some establishments in the city pay $500 just for the lion to come to their store and give them good luck for the year. Even the big banks such as NAB, CBA, ANZ etc are starting to jump on the bandwagon too. Frankly, I think it’s $500 gone to waste but *shrugs* whatever… At the restaurant, we had the special CNY banquet that most other tables were having which was enough to feed (surprise surprise) eight people. I can’t remember how many dishes we had – I didn’t take photos of every single thing – but it was highly likely that there were… say it with me… EIGHT.(Edit: I just did a count of the dishes from the photos I had and I counted eight. I also remembered an oyster dish we had that I did not take a photo of so there was more than eight dishes after all.) 


Shark Fin Soup. I’m not sure if Nam Loong uses fake or real shark fin but who cares, it was yum!


Ginger and spring onion lobster with noodles. Lobster’s lovely and all but my favourite crustacean for this dish is mud crab. Shame that mud crabs aren’t in season though. 


Ad Lib + Adam’s parents


Aunty Vivienne, Luke and Jenny


Spicy prawns


So, everyone’s happily eating their prawns and discarding the prawn heads because they’re not really nice to eat. Then comes Adam who tries to show off by taking a prawn head and eating it. That was before I told him what was actually inside a prawn head. 

I think I’ve got him to swear off prawns for the rest of his life.

Heeeeh! That’ll show him not to be a hero!


A hella weird dish. It was a huge plate with 8 individual portions, each consisting of scallops+pork+vegetables+other-unidentified-objects resting on a pancake base and encased with egg white. The little nipples round things you see are some sort of plum. 

Yeah, like I said… weird.


Jen helps herself to another weird dish – this time it’s steamed chicken pieces in congee broth.

I don’t want to comment on Luke’s weird facial expression…


Fake abalone (mushroom) with all sorts of other vegies


Fried rice. Normally I don’t really like fried rice (it stems from years and years of eating nasi goreng which I absolutely can’t stand) but this one was yum. It had litle pieces of salted duck egg yolks. Yum!


Cantonese steamed fish. Presumably barramundi because every time I go to Nam Loong, we always end up having barramundi. Yet, this fish didn’t really taste muddy like barramundi usually does and it was a good third bigger than the barramundis we had so chances are that it’s something else…


They brought out the red bean soups the same time they brought out the fish. Idiots. Can’t you see that the desserts will go COLD once we’re done with the fish?!


We left behind a trail of mass destruction…

Yeah, eight guests. Who would’ve thought?!

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR FOLKS!
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La Sangria Bar

46 Johnston Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
+61 3 9419 8503
Adam’s boss, Aaron (aka Fake Hugh Grant) and his partner, Shandell, invited Adam and I to dinner last night at La Sangria Bar, a tapas bar on Johnston Street (Melbourne’s Spanish quarters). Who knows why he wanted to invite us but hey, free food, can’t complain! Although La Sangria is better known as a drinking hole that gets hella crowded on weekends with people dancing on tabletops to Ricky Martin (?!?!), the place is open for tapas dining during the week. Believe it or not, this was the first time I’ve ate at a Spanish restaurant and while the menu was rather limited, I know that I’ll definitely be back for more. If you haven’t been to a tapas restaurant, the concept is pretty much the same as yum cha – you order as many little plates of dishes as you like and that’s your meal. The only difference is the food (no sht) and tapas being a tad more expensive than your usual yum cha dish. I think we only ordered about 6-8 tiny plates of food (which is way less than one would order at yum cha for four people), but we were all stuffed at the end.

Clockwise L-R: Calamari, sardines, chorizo (beef sausages) 


Paella!


Aaron and Shandell 


Shandell, me and Adam

Me and Ads now want to see if there are any good tapas places in the city in case we feel like it after work one night and when we can’t be bothered going to Johnston Street. Apparently Movida (just off Flinders Street) is a favourite but I heard that it gets busy. Hmmmmm.
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Shoya

25 Market Lane

Melbourne VIC 3000

+61 3 9650 0848

http://www.shoya.com.au

New Years Eve ~ Melbourne 2007. Yeah, it was apparently 40 degrees on the day. Or was it 41? 42? I can’t remember. It’s been hot every friggin’ day for the past week so all the days are kinda blurry in my mind. Anyway. Original plan was to have dinner at Shoya (otherwise known as that-Japanese-place-next-door-to-Flower-Drum) with Adam, my sister Janice and her boyfriend John. Bookings were made a few weeks in advance because it was NYE and all. But 3 hours before dinnertime, John rings me up and tells me that he and Janice “can’t make it to dinner.” Something about having to keep his best friend company while he (the best friend) goes on a date with a girl. Or something like that. Kids. I’m glad that Shoya didn’t charge a pay-in-advance-non-refundable-deposit fee like many Melbourne restaurants did for NYE but if they did, I would not have been happy.

Unitama(Scrambled egg with sea-urchin topped with salmon caviar). It was the first time I had sea urchin and although I initially retched at the very thought of eating something so vile and weird, it wasn’t too bad. The slightly buttery-almost-crayfish-like taste of the sea urchin coral meat was heightened by the tangy bubbles of salmon caviar that burst as I sunk my teeth into them. It tasted quite rich, like I was eating part of the ocean and all of Triton’s treasures. Mmm! Conversely, Adam just thought this dish was weird. You decide.

Broiled Duck Shoya Style (Thinly sliced and delicately cooked duck with tangy home made sauce). I loved this one! That’s all.

Wagyu Tartar (Fresh wagyu beef marinated with sweet soya sauce topped with egg plant and miso paste). A unique interpretation of the peking duck. I loved the sweet and spicy sauce, as well as the crispy pancake cone that housed the succulent slices of wagyu…


Sashimi – This one was my favourite. The sashimi was FRESH FRESH FRESH. From what I could recall, there were kingfish, salmon, tuna and a bunch of other fishies that I couldn’t remember the name of. It was so good that no soy sauce was required to enjoy the little fishy morsels.  Probably the best sashimi I’ve had in Melbourne so far (but if anyone can prove me wrong…) Also, check this out: the entire bowl was made out of ice!

Crab & Hotate Fillo Age (Tempura style crab meat & scallops served with abalone sauce). Nice enough.

Seven lucky God Sachet – whatever THAT meant. On Shoya’s website, it says “deep fried variety of 7 ingredients named after Japanese festive season’s 7 lucky gods.” All I remember was that I had a soup which contained all sorts of stuff in it, including a small lobster, enoki mushroom, beancurds amongst other goodies. To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether I liked this one…

Poached giant scallop with salmon, turnip and salmon caviar. I didn’t like how the bitter and pungent turnip contrasted sharply with the sweet succulent scallop and the fleshy salmon. It was just … a mess. The dish would’ve tasted better without the turnip, fo shizzle.


Miso Soup + mixed rice (had chicken, carrots and mushroom in it) + Amiyaki Karubi

(Grilled Wagyu beef rib with grated white radish and sliced onions + Japanese vinegar sauce)
Not bad, not bad at all. The miso and mixed rice were obviously the same sort of stuff that you’d expect to find at a normal Japanese cafe and while the wagyu was nice enough, I felt that the white radish was too big a distraction…

Close up of the Amiyaki Karubi

Dessert – some sort of layered green tea + red bean + chocolate pudding with strawberries between each layer. Once again, okay but not fantastic.
Verdict: The Age Good Food Guide 08 gave it 15.5/20 and one chef’s hat. I’d probably give it the same rating. The food was amazing and I’d definitely go again if only to ooh and ahhh over the superb presentation of the dishes and the warm hosts. I was, however, annoyed at how slow the service was (the other tables also felt the same way but they were more vocal about it than us). Sure, it’s NYE and sure, you may be short-staffed but at least let your patrons know about this so that they know what to expect. Or better still, offer them some compensation for the slow service. Otherwise, just get rid of a few tables so that there would be fewer people to look after. Heh. Let’s hope that they are quicker with their bringing-out-the-food next time…
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Bok Choy Tang

Level 2, The Crossbar Building
Federation Square
Cnr Flinders & Swanston Streets
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9650 8666

Graduation Day. After five years of piss farting hard work, yours truly finally became a graduate of Melbourne University. While I’m glad that I’ve managed to walk away with an Honours degree in Commerce (Management), I know that I’ll probably end up going back to uni once I start realising how much the corporate world sucks. Still, this did deserve a celebratory dinner of some sort and so my dad decided to shout us all dinner at Bok Choy Tang, the Northern Chinese restaurant at Fed Square.


The table. A quick roll call – Matty, Pat, Janice, Josh’s mum, mum, dad, Josh’s dad, Jonathan, Josh

(missing from this photo are Kenneth, Adam, Vicky and me)


Mmmmm…


Jiao Zi (dumplings) with turnip salad


Buddha vegetables. Man, Adam’s camera’s flash function was so bright that it gave us all an epileptic fit.


Crispy fried barramundi with lemon+honey sauceAt this stage, I stopped taking photos of food – we also had other stuff such as winter melon+prawn soup and crab with golden noodles. 

The Age Good Food Guide 2008 gave Bok Choy Tang 14/20. The ambience and service was good. The views from Fed Square were amazing. While the food was decent and all, I would’ve probably rated it a bit lower. It was worth while trying out some Chinese fare that was different to what we’re used to ordering in Chinatown but there are some Chinese restaurants in the city that make better food. Perhaps it’s my I-Think-That-Cantonese-Cuisine-Pwns-Over-All-Other-Chinese-Cuisine bias, but I wasn’t totally satisfied. Still, it’s definitely worth a visit.

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Melba @ The Langham

The Langham Hotel
1 Southgate Avenue
Southbank VIC 3006
1800 641 107

On Saturday night I took Adam to Melba at the Langham Hotel to celebrate our 6 months together. Having heard good things about the top-notch buffet restaurant from my old workmate Kim, we were excited about dining there after booking a table for the pre-theatre session at 17:30 because the proper dinner session was booked out. Prior to dinner, however, Adam had to vote in the federal election so we drove all the way back to Keilor Downs after his shift.  We knew that my his vote was hella unlikely to cause a massive swing to the-party-that-he-voted-for in his safe Labor seat but it was the principle that counted right? We then went back to his house to change for dinner before driving back to the city. Anyway, the photos:


Posing by the Langham fountains


Indian section at the buffet with its own naan bread oven + mussels!

More seafood!As much as we would’ve loved to take more photos of food, we decided that enough was enough because 1) we only had 2 hours to eat before they shooed us away for the next session, 2) we had to fit eating in the 2 hour timeslot somehow and 3) we were looking like idiots taking photos of food. 

So we stopped.
….

Until we got to dessert, that is .


Yum yum! – This is fun!
We had awesome seats by the window so we could watch the world go by as we ate.


Squidgy is enjoying himself too
And now for dessert…

 


The chocolate fountain


The dessert cabinet – I’m standing there in awe, unable to move. Wahhhhhhhh


Talk about awesomeness! *is all excited*


Adam prefers his bloody ice cream and gummy bears to the fancy desserts. Pfff, trust  


Adam with his ‘toys’! Haha this photo just cracks me up  

Overall, a great dining experience was had by the two of us. We would’ve loved to stay there much longer to sample the entire buffet but oh well, maybe next time. Because it was an all-you-can-eat joint, the food obviously wasn’t up to Teague Ezard/Neil Perry standards but it was of good standard for a buffet restaurant. Definitely better than bloody Foodstar and their cheapo cafeteria-style food[sic]!


Weeeeeeeeeee!

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