Posts tagged ‘beer’

April 1, 2011

Izakaya Den, Melbourne

by minibites

Izakaya Den

Melbourne bars really make you work hard. To earn this feast and Asahi; we persisted through a number of spins, till we landed in front of a set of stairs, a heavy glass door, through a black curtain to lead us to the gorgeous vertical dining room of the Izakaya Den. We take a seat at the bar (and it’s a must) to watch all the Japanese chefs dressed in black and coloured bandanas in action.

Izakaya Den

Unroll the architecture map sized menus and your eyes wander up, down and across the variety of sakes, shochu, wines and beers. An izakaya is a casual bar in Japan with shared bar snacks; all the dishes are categorised as small, hot, cold and chargrill.

Izakaya Den Spicy tuna tataki, garlic soy

Izakaya Den
Sweet corn kaki-age

For entrees, the spicy tuna tataki sitting on a creamy garlic soy fire up our tastebuds. Tataki is type of technique to prepare fish and meats, particularly tuna, that slightly seared. Not a usual tuna fan, but this dish worked really well with the garlic soy to give it a firey kick, and one of the favourites of Izakaya Den. Next are the simple and sweet corn clusters which were amazing. Sweet, crunchy and light.

Izakaya Den AAco’s Wagyu grade 7+ porterhouse

Izakaya Den
Den fried chicken

Izakaya Den

For mains, the wagyu beef is off the char-grill menu, simple and plain, but served with a sweet soy that made all the difference – it adds a sweet touch to a plain steak, Jap style. Not crazy but the den fried chicken certainly is. It may look fried, bubbly and all things oily, but the different herbs and spices used to coat the chicken pieces are delicious. Best downed with half litre of imported premium Asahi.

Izakaya Den Black sesame brulee, orange peel

Izakaya Den Houjicha ice cream

While watching at the bar, my dining companion became fascinated by the Paco Jet machine on the counter. It’s a food processing machine that makes ice cream in a flash. So… dessert with ice cream was a no brainer.

To keep with the Japanese theme, dessert starts with a black sesame brulee with orange peel strings; and it tastes like good ol’ black sesame, and not the artificial kind. The brulee top cracks wonderfully and it’s absolutely addictive. We dig into the houjicha ice cream, an in-house made ice cream using the Paco Jet machine with roasted green tea. The flavours are subtle and so incredibly fresh – no icicles or wateriness.

Izakaya Den is as close as a Tokyo bar can get… including whether you can find it!

Izakaya Den
Basement, 114 Russell St

Izakaya Den on Urbanspoon

February 5, 2011

Cookie, Melbourne

by minibites

Cookie’s great. I love the low key vibe when you’re walking down the street, unaware that people up a flight of stairs are happily munching away on great food and delicious cocktails. And I love taking people to this place when we visit; with their first reaction as they enter the dark dirty stairwell, “where on earth are you taking us Jenny?!”

There’s plenty of different dishes to tempt anyone’s taste buds. And if there isn’t a table at the restaurant, the bar is right across the room with the same food and drinks menu, just bar service.

Chicken & lemongrass salad with banana blossom

Pad thai

Raving about the coconut rice again because it is amazing, and as simple as it sounds, it works well with a flavoursome dish like the chicken and lemongrass salad; shredded pieces of sweet and tangy marinated chicken with thinly sliced banana blossom, a common vegetable in Asian cooking. On the plainer side, we devour a chicken and prawn pad thai, simple yet surprisingly really good. The noodles are tossed and left with a little wok char to make it a little crispy yet still soft.

And don’t forget upstairs at the rooftop bar for faux grass, deck chairs and a beer!

Level 1, 252 Swanston St

Cookie on Urbanspoon

November 5, 2010

Shady Pines Saloon

by minibites

Moving along is the ol’ favourite that has been snapping up the awards, Shady Pines. The only sign this little bar holds is a gathering of people smoking in an alleyway and white sheets covering the windows. Once the door is opened, it’s like stepping onto a Texas movie set with animal heads peering from the walls, mismatching furniture, beer, bowls of raw peanuts and loud bursts of laughter – and really all this place needs is a mechanical bull. Standing behind the long wooden bar table are some serious bartenders with the moustaches to match the decor. Extensive beer list and its quirkiness is worth checking out.

Shady Pines Saloon
256 Crown St
Darlinghurst, Sydney

Shady Pines Saloon on Urbanspoon

June 1, 2010

LL Wine & Dine

by minibites

I’m so happy that I discovered this sooner than later. Hidden amongst the alleyways of Kings Cross, this restaurant bar has absolute potential, with a delicious collection of dishes, strong cocktails and a quirky interior. The restaurant captures the vibe of Hong Kong’s underground – and this space has been transformed from an once 1980s illegal casino, pornography dungeon and steel room.

From the outside, you can grab a drink in the skinny corridor-sized bar or wander inside past the pornographic wall, eccentric wall designs into a warm, Chinese influenced dining area.

Big trouble in little China

Unable to choose my cocktail, I quickly opt at the last minute for the Big trouble in little China, containing 42 below vodka, vanilla and pineapple shaken topped with fresh coriander. Surprisingly this becomes the favourite cocktail of the night and even though I’ve never had coriander in a cocktail before, it was a fantastic touch to this drink. Another recommendation would be the Red Dragon; a mixture of sweet and sour of coriander, raspberries pressed then shaken with chilli infused vodka, peach schannps and cranberry juice – unusual but hits the mark.

San choy bau of chicken

For entrees, we devour with LL’s twist on the san choy bau; instead of duck, there are pine nuts, chicken, lemongrass, mint, topped with spicy lemon dressing served in a large lettuce cup. A nice spicy kick start to the meal.

Black tea & star anise smoked duck breast pancakes

Next on the agenda are  DIY duck pancakes, served with traditional dipping soy bean sauce, cucumbers and spring onions. The duck pancakes are tender and cooked just perfect, with subtle hints of black tea and star anise flavours smoked through.

Beef eye fillet

More mains roll out on our miniscule table; beef eye fillet which are slow cooked and braised in house spices, served with chinese greens & baby carrots. Wonderfully tender meat that fell apart when served. The baby carrots also deserve a honorary mention, simple but blanched perfectly to maintain a soft yet crunchy touch.

A dish that I unfortunately forgot to capture due to the fact that I was too busy devouring and laughing the night away, is the chili & garlic crumbled soft shell crab served with wasabi mayonnaise – my favourite dish of the night. A definite must for those salt and pepper squid lovers who enjoy a great chili kick and more kapow from the wasabi dipping sauce.

Coconut cream, lychee and topioca panna cotta

Full to the brim, we share our dessert; the coconut, lychee and tapioca panna cotta, served with mango gelato and sugar pastry. Not your usual panna cotta but the flavours are refreshing and light, just perfect to top off our meal. It has a good jiggle but I was hoping for it to be a little more generous…

Great food and drinks with a fantastic atmosphere served by friendly and some pretty cute waiters too! Bookings are essential.

LL Wine & Dine
42 Llanklley Place
Kings Cross, Sydney

LL Wine & Dine on Urbanspoon

October 9, 2009

Pocket Bar

by minibites

Field mushroom & spinach crepe with a glass of Pinot Grigio

During the day, you would simply walk pass this hidden gem – it’s exterior is a garage with a roller door, but the interior has a feel of Melbourne – with indoor graffiti, wooden boxes as seating, stacks of old books and magazines and comfortable “sinkable” couches at the back.

We enjoy savory crepes for lunch with a glass of white wine. As suggested by staff, they ask you to savour the crepes as soon as they are served instead of waiting for everyone to receive their dishes. The crepe is light and delicate, filled with mushroom, spinach and melted cheese – my only complaint is the lack of filling but maybe I’m too overindulgent and greedy. Very pleasant and light lunch, definitely will be heading back to sample the other crepes!

Pocket Bar
13 Burton St
Darlinghurst, Sydney

Pocket on Urbanspoon

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