Thursday, December 11, 2014


Combi is a raw / vegan / organic cafe in St Kilda, two streets away from the Elwood beach foreshore. It is part of the wave of nouveau hippie restaurants like Yong Green Food and Supercharger who are making vegan relevant and accessible to the vegetarian-curious.

It looks like a relaxed Hawaiian beach bar / kiosk, moved indoors. There was a very long line (I think many of the online gripes are about the fact that it is very very busy and you get, you know, hangry). On the morning we came the line moved relatively quickly.

I must admit I feel a bit out of my depth describing the food here, given that there are many more extremely passionate people who are converts to this kind of lifestyle 100% of the time. I am just, I guess, a dabbler in raw eating.

I feel like in the past five years veganism has done an about face. Not long ago it used to be the butt of jokes in uni (people miming holding up the limp heads of starving vegans) but now, in our late 20's, in light of all these spontaneous food allergies to everything, I find people being more open to lifestyle changes.

Berry beloved smoothie
The drinks are incredibly involved which is great: this smoothie had raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, acai, lucuma, raw fermented protein powder, coconut flesh, banana, house made nut mylk. They had run out of a lot of things by the time we sat down so I guess that is another source of angst.

When you think about it, the values of eating raw / organic / vegan blend seamlessly into the yuppies (do we use that word anymore) of the 2010's - fitness, image conscious, health conscious, trendy, environmentally-friendly. We all love health kicks. It's a kind of redemption after being excessive, all the damn time.

The food is beautiful, by the way. Like, literally looks like flower bouquets.

Organic chia party.
You know the ingredients? Parfait of chia seeds, soaked in house nut mylk infused with orange rind,
layered with banana, berries crunchy activated chocolate buckinis, zesty incan berries and macadamias. Topped with house made coconut cashew yogurt and strawberry coulis. Phew.

Super acai bowl.

I admit I follow a few Instagram accounts of people who make this themselves at home. I consider myself healthy but I have never bought a packet of acai in my life. This one includes "antioxidant-loaded Acai blended with banana, blueberries, house made nut mylk then layered with crispy coconut flakes, activated caramelised buckinis, banana, maca and cranberries".

The soup was delicious. I would love to see more savory dishes on the Combi menu like this.

Daily soup special.
I really enjoyed this place. Not in a "yeah OK I'll take this as an alternative to what I REALLY want" kind of way, I could imagine myself eating this food forever. If only the lines were shorter and the prices were more accessible for every day eating.

140 Ormond Road

(03) 9531 0084

Combi on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 11, 2014

rochford wines

When 1405 and I got married almost two years ago we felt kind of like kids pretending to be grown up's. We were about a year out of uni and the first of our friends to do it. Two years on, our circle of friends are catching up to us in the wedding phase - I know some people hate this kind of thing but we are really genuinely enjoying it, every reception is like a reunion.

We attended our friends J and D's at Rochford Wines and were super impressed by the food, venue and of course our happy friends.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014


My sister turns 16 this year and to celebrate we picked a place which has been making rounds on WeChat, a mobile app which my mum uses to do her online social networking. This place, in the Chinese community on WeChat, is known as "that place with the old man who makes really yummy Japanese food, it's on Glenferrie Road".

This little shop is sandwiched between ethnic food stores and trams stops on quieter part of Glenferrie Road. Blink and miss. The interiors look like a suburban Japanese restaurant. Black lacquered tabletops, yellow lights, some pieces of art that people in Japan do not put on their own walls. Although it's not fancy or winning any awards in modern interior decorating it is clean and homely. The service is lovely and the non-Japanese waiters try really hard to leave a good impression.

We went for the full omakase experience - basically a degustation and a chance for the chef to show off. This usually begins with the cold experience (sushi, sashimi) and graduates to rice, soups, tempura and meat toward the end.

Here are some photos I managed to snap. With no photograph of the menu on Urbanspoon and no website I am left with wringing for memories of the deliciousness. Did I mention we also had LOTS of sake and celebrated in true Chinese / Japanese style?

Top: beef tataki

Bottom: oysters with caviar.

Seafood chawanmushi.

BOSS sashimi plattor complete with lobster, abalone, and all of the ocean.

Individual seafood soups.

Seafood tempura with vegetables.
8 (? I fell unconscious after the 4th or 5th course) courses later, we all rolled out of here - we, the family who order 6 dishes between 4 people because "it might not be enough". So delicious. Did not regret.

237 Glenferrie Road
9500 9424

Ayame on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 2, 2014

MELT pizza

We have been dormant for a while, been travelling (like Holly Golightly). So imagine our surprise when we were contacted by owner Dan Gold to eat at and review his pizza bar MELT off Chapel in Windsor. We love pizza, how can not eat?!

The area is aplumb with restaurants and trendy cafes, Lucky Coq jostling with Borsch Vodka and Tears for young and beautiful people and Sauce'd is down the road making pasta cool and young again.

But MELT is different. Clean, fresh, authentic in it's earnesty. Charming Dan and his beautiful wife Elise head this joint built on the idea of a healthy pizza. Not in a cardboard kind of way, like the way that your perfect friend who does yoga every day, has an amazing job and cooks all of her own meal would do. In other words, you want it.

The bases are seriously scrummy (chewy, made with no oil, fat or sugar) and you can customize to your heart's content. You can also have gluten-free bases for an extra $4.The ingredients are all local and free range, which makes the prices ($12-17 per pizza) really quite competitive. 

Dan plays old school hip hop and genuinely cares about his customers and his food. Elise brought us bird's eye chillies in olive oil, amazing!


Top: salami, red onion, mozzarella and pesto.
Bottom: Prawn, fresh chilli, garlic, capers, rocket.
If we lived in the area we would come here again and again.

Dan, I look forward to deliveries to Hawthorn and thanks for a great night!

MELT Pizza
171 Chapel Street
1300 116 358

Melt Pizza on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 27, 2014

admiral cheng ho

Eating vegetarian while you are in your 20's and do not have any religious or actual medically diagnosed health problems is choosing to be cool. I joke (half joke) with my friends that I am 70% vegetarian. So technically, I am 70% cool.

Admiral Cheng Ho is the sister cafe of the wildly popular (but such a pain to access if you don't live in the area) Monk Bodhi Dharma.

We got here on a windy September morning and were surprised at how cozy this place was.

It was bright, airy and unpretentious. I tend not to drink coffee because it makes me super high and ostensibly hit people in the face in my excitedness. But I have second hand information that it is very, very good here. The gravity with which ACH takes coffee is evident in the fact that half the menu is about bean varieties.

Despite the waitstaff all looking like they belonged in a special magazine for beautiful hipsters (one exists, yes?) the service was not great. Maybe I am spoiled by the super peppy wait staff at other Melbourne cafes - I felt that here the staff didn't know the menu very well nor were very enthusiastic. Maybe just hung over from partying with other beautiful people?

Northside quinoa pancakes
Umami mushrooms

Food was great. Pancakes according to 1405 tasted "healthy" - I think quinoa is still an acquired taste. I liked it. It was very dense and satisfying.

Mushrooms were a highlight. I loved that everything was vegan so even the cheese was made from cashews. Super vego-luxe.

As we left the cafe we saw what looked like a motorcycle rally - men, women, children, riding bikes. Wearing leather on what was now becoming an unseasonably hot day. God, north side, you're cool.

Admiral Cheng Ho
325 Johnston Street
Abbotsford 3067
9534 7250

Admiral Cheng-Ho on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 19, 2014

san telmo

This month my best friend P took a break from her jet setting expat life in Singapore and hung out for a few weeks in Melbourne.

P is an Instagram star and her life looks like it came straight from the pages of a heavy-paper magazine called "Travel" or "Jet" or "Style".

Anyway after a long walk around the Yarra at sunset catching up over lost months (like a couple of old people) I asked what she wanted to eat and she said immediately, "MEAT." Australian beef is valued highly in Asia, to the point where it becomes an unaffordable extravagance. P buys kilos of meat to take back every time she comes back - thinly sliced, vacuum sealed, frozen. So we called around and booked our table at San Telmo. Yes, a place that takes bookings in Melbourne, take my heart.

Dark and moody interiors are a great setting for the meaty courses to come.

It's not a Spanish meal without chorizo sausage.

Proveleta - fried provolone cheese.

Who knew fried cheese could taste so good? Definitely going to try this at home.

I love vegetables and I love restaurants that love their vegetables too. There is nothing sadder than a $10 bowl of tiny green salad. ST got their vegetables RIGHT.

Zanahorias - burnt carrots with hazelnuts, thyme and garlic goats curd.

Ensalada de farro - farro and coal roasted eggplant with pickled cauliflower, purple kale and almonds.
I could eat these kinds of vegetables all day, son. 

Then, came the beef short ribs which killed us softly. Sooo tender, the meat fell off the bone, full of flavour and moreish without being oily. 

Tira de asado - O'Conner premium pasture fed beef short ribs
I teetotalled tonight but P let me know that the wine list was impressive and the waitstaff were more than happy to let her try a few drinks before settling on one.

I will miss P again when she heads off in a few days but in the meantime, we will always have San Telmo. Also, some kickass photos of the sunset and looking thoughtful with the back of our head.

San Telmo
14 Meyers Place
9650 5525

San Telmo on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 29, 2014

the kettle black

One of the perks of working in South Melbourne is that I hear about and can eat at places like The Kettle Black during weekdays.

On an auspicious Friday my colleagues and I ran to this place for lunch to check out what all the hype was about. I have yet to go to Top Paddock but have heard that weekend crowds snake out the front - the same team have brought fancy food and gorgeous decor to this cafe.

The epitome of Melbourne chic, it operates out of a preserved Victorian townhouse that nestles into a hulking modern-looking dragon building. Relaxed luxury in the ridiculous ceilings, pot plants and lots of windows.One of my first thoughts was "I want my house to look like this". There was a coffee cart out the front that sported the legendary donuts.

I have mixed feelings about eating super fancy food for brunch (at the same price point as lunch at a French bistro). While I obviously enjoy fine dining I am also in love with the idea of street food like pho and banh mi for breakfast - how fancy can eggs get? TKB has come to answer that question.

Tataki ocean trout with a raw kale and pickled seaweed salad, nuts and poached eggs.

This fish was amazing - slightly sweet and salty, like freshly cured lox from Adelaide. Definitely a dish I would recommend. The presentation is impeccable and there is nothing to fault the food. 

I think the mixed online reviews reflect people who are asking themselves whether brunch can / should be elevated to the level of fine dining, whether it's taking itself too seriously or whether it's just a Melbourne thing and here to stay.

Clockwise from top: seasonal local mushrooms on toast with chestnut powder and fresh curd, polenta porridge with burnt apple, textures of strawberry and basil, tataki ocean trout with a raw kale and pickled seaweed salad, nuts and poached eggs.

The Kettle Black
50 Albert Road
South Melbourne
9088 0721

The Kettle Black on Urbanspoon