Il Birrificio

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While looking for Italian restaurants in the east side of Melbourne, I came across Il Birrificio. Located on Toorak Road in Camberwell, its far away from the hustle and bustle around Camberwell Station as this little gem is actually quite close to Burwood. What Ill Birrificio does well is its Wood Fire pizzas but their pastas, starters and desserts aren’t neglected either.

Their Salsiccia & Scamorza pizza was very tasty. I loved the cheesy topping with the meat and the fresh tomato base on a thin, crisp crust.

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Il Birrificio has a few specials, on the night we dined they had the Fettuccine Gamberi which has this zingy lemon taste to it, with the fresh thyme flavour coming through.

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While an Antipasti board isn’t what I would typically order, the cold meats with the rosemary and sea salt focaccia made for a pretty good starter.

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I am not certain if they always have the Grapefruit beer on offer, but I do recommend trying it if you have not had something like this before. I loved the grapefruit flavour, and while the combination might be a bit odd on first looks it’s actually one of my favourite fruity beers.

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The Biramisu is another winner from Il Birrificio. The beer flavour comes through well, and it’s not too rich or sweet. A great twist on the classic tiramisu.

Last words
This hidden gem has fantastic Italian dishes on offer in a very chilled environment.

Il Birrificio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Il Birrificio
1385 Toorak Road
Camberwell VIC 3124

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Huxtaburger Eastland

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Eastland Shopping Centre’s new Town Square is a lovely space for restaurants and the Sunday market as well. Eastland managed to persuade popular burger joint Huxtaburger to open up a new eatery east of Melbourne. Now with five outlets around Melbourne, Huxtaburger offers American style burgers, snacks and drinks.

The Clair Burger has one huge piece of southern style fried chicken, plus jalapeno mayo and coleslaw with a sweet bun. It’s quite a tasty burger, I loved the spicy kick from the mayo and I love the flavour from the coleslaw with the crunchy and moist chicken. Though for the price, it is on the small side of things.

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The Chipotle seasoned chips are an interesting take on the standard fries. It’s not for the spice-averse though because it is has quite a kick to it. I’d say it has a bit too much seasoning, even for me who loves spicy things. 

Last words

Huxtaburger does burgers and fries well but it doesn’t offer value for money.

Huxtaburger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Huxtaburger – Eastland
R03 Town Square, Eastland
171-175 Maroondah Highway
Ringwood VIC 3134

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Kim Sing

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Kim Sing opened its doors earlier this year under new management after Madam Kwan closed down. Their menu has been tweaked and a number of menu items have been removed from the menu, but Kim Sing still has a mixture of Malaysian/Chinese style dishes on offer and they advertise itself as Kim Sing, Truly Malaysian Delights. So expectations are high with that statement.

More often than not, I always try a new Malaysian restaurant’s Curry Laksa to see if they can trump Laksa King and Chef Lagenda. Kim Sing’s Laksa is a letdown, and substantially poorer quality than its predecessor. It has this watery, curry powder flavoured taste to it. A Curry Laksa it ain’t.

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Their Char Kway Teow is served in a bowl, for some odd reason and with Madam Kwan’s logo still placed on all its crockery. It has that ‘wok’ flavour, so thank goodness for that but there are several oddities with this dish. It uses Char Siew (BBQ Pork) as its protein instead of Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage). The prawns are tiny, and they don’t add in the deep fried Pork Lard but usually I can live without that. We also ordered it spicy, but no heat to it whatsoever. The substitution of Lap Cheong with Char Siew completely changes the taste of the Char Kway Teow. Very strange.

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The Salt & Pepper Chicken Ribs with rice was actually quite nice. No chilli, which I think it needs to give it a bit of kick and depth of flavour but the chicken is crispy and still moist but they aren’t very generous with their fried capsicum and onion which I think is needed to give the chicken and rice much needed flavour. Decent but you can probably find better elsewhere in Box Hill.

Last words

Kim Sing unfortunately does not live up to its Truly Malaysian Delights statement. It serves quite frankly, mediocre dishes that are so disparate from traditional Malaysian dishes.

Kim Sing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kim Sing
Shop 3, 1 Main Street
Box Hill VIC 3128

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Shortstop.

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Shortstop is a popular donuts and coffee spot in the Melbourne CBD. Located on Sutherland Street and walking distance from Melbourne Central Station, the donuts there tend to be sold out before closing time so I’d recommend getting in there early or pre-ordering! At Shortstop, they usually have around 10 different donut flavours to choose from and their flavours do also change from time to time. Whilst the flavours may change, they usually have at least one of each type of donut (Raised, Cruller, Filled and Cake). The first time I visited Shortstop I had to try all the different types. Obviously.

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I ordered the Thai Milk Tea (Raised), Maple Walnut & Brown Butter (Raised), Tiramisu (Filled), Cookies & Cream (Filled), Triple Matcha (Cake) and Australian Honey & Sea Salt (Cruller) which sadly, is not pictured above.

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The Cake donuts are as you would think by the label given. They are cake shaped donuts. Freshly made, this Triple Matcha Cake donut is fluffy, with a bold matcha flavour to it with just a slight bitterness coming through. The white chocolate and matcha glaze is heavily on the sweet side but that’s par for the course for white chocolate and donuts in general. Love the matcha flavour but not the glaze so much.

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Eaten the Shortstop donuts fresh is amazing and I highly recommend you don’t keep the donuts for too long after as the texture, taste does change a bit. The Maple Walnut & Brown Butter Raise donut is incredible. Like the best damn donut I’ve ever tried. Crunchy and toasty maple walnuts with the just sweet enough brown butter glaze on top of this so fluffy raised donut it’s the perfect combination. 

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The Thai Milk Tea donut is interesting and in a good way. I love fusing Asian flavours with traditionally Western food so this one works for me. The Thai Milk Tea flavour does come through but it’s a bit more subtle than I would have liked but again the donut is top notch. Fluffy and not dry.

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The Tiramisu filled donut has a lovely coffee cream filling inside. The coffee flavour is surprisingly intense and might be a bit too strong for my liking with the fluffy donut. However, for those that love their coffee creams strong, this one is for you.

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Usually you can’t go wrong with a Cookie & Cream flavour or filling, and this is no different. The Cookies & Cream filling is tasty, the flavour comes through perfectly and the cream is so light and delicious paired with the fluffy donut.

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The Cruller’s are interesting. The texture of these donuts is quite airy which is nice, but the honey glaze is incredibly sweet. Too sweet to have the entire donut all to oneself to be honest. The sea salt seasoning does try and put the sweetness back in balance a bit but I wouldn’t order this particular flavour again.

Last words
Interesting flavours and more importantly tasty donuts. Donuts done right.

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shortstop
12 Sutherland Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Ba’get

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Authenticity is Ba’get’s motto, mission and lifeblood. Ba’get is providing authentic Vietnamese food, made from recipes that have been handed down through the generations. Ba’get not only have a wide variety of their signature Vietnamese Rolls (Banh Mi) but they also offer Vermicelli Rice Bowls where you can choose your preferred meat or vegetarian option. Ba’get have recently introduced Vietnamese Broken Rice to their menu, and you can also choose your choice of meat/veg and a sauce to go with it.

Meal vouchers kindly provided by Ba’get

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If you’ve never come to Ba’get, you wouldn’t pass the opportunity to try their Banh Mi. I ordered the Grilled Pork version but you get this with Grilled Meatballs, Grilled Chicken, Pulled Chicken, Tofu, Tomato Meatballs, Salad, Ham & Cheese, Salami and Cheese, Classic Meat, or even as a Breakfast Ba’get. Their Grilled Pork option has great flavour to the meat, a tad too dry for my liking but still tasty nonetheless.

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Ba’get’s Grilled Chicken Broken Rice with Fish Sauce (Com tam) has all the components of a great Vietnamese Broken Rice. The grilled chicken has a lovely grilled flavour to it, but I find it a bit dry. The fish sauce with the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers does help bring it all together. You can also the Broken Rice with Grilled Pork or Tofu with your choice of Fish or Soy Sauce.

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The Grilled Chicken Vermicelli Bowl (Bún thit nuong) is one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, and especially so in the spring or summer months when a bowl of steaming hot Pho is out of the question. While Ba’get’s offering doesn’t have the same sweet and sour notes that I’m used to for the sauce, the fish sauce that you can order with this works well together. It’s still quite a refreshing meal!

You can order this with Grilled Pork, Tomato Meatballs, Pulled Chicken, Crisp Salad, Classic Meat, Grilled Meatballs, or Tofu with your choice of Soy, Hoisin or Fish Sauce.

Ba’get also offer Rice Paper Rolls, Pork & Taro Spring Rolls, Vietnamese Puffs, Sesame Donuts and of course Vietnamese Ice Coffee to go with your meal so there’s something for everyone.

Last words

While Ba’get may not match the highs that you may find in Vietnamese hubs like Richmond or Springvale, it does provide a decent option for Vietnamese food in Melbourne CBD, Watergardens and Werribee.

Ba'get Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ba’get
132 Russell Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Ba’get – Elizabeth St
369 Elizabeth Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

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Indochine

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Indochine on Carrington Road is a popular eatery in Box Hill serving an array of authentic Vietnamese dishes.  You might be surprised to know that there are quite a number of Vietnamese restaurants in Box Hill such as the recently renovated Pho Huong Viet, Tien Dat, Pho 888, Tan Tan and the new kid on the block, Miss Saigon. Having tried a majority of these, nothing seems to compare to what you may come across in the Vietnamese hubs like Springvale, Richmond or Footscray.

The pho at Indochine is a mixed bag, while the broth is one of the better ones in Box Hill, it’s served at such a lukewarm temperature that you’d rather have a slightly poorer tasting Pho than order this again.

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Having been disappointed in the tomato rice dishes in Richmond, I finally found a great one. It’s on par with what I ordered in Springvale. The tomato rice is fried nicely, not too wet and not too dry and cooked with scrambled egg. The crispy chicken at Indochine is also pretty tasty, crispy skin and maybe just slightly over cooked chicken. Served with a slice of lemon and extra salt, which I find you won’t really need anyway.

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Last words
Come to Indochine for their tasty Vietnamese food but maybe not for their pho.

Indochine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Indochine

51 Carrington Road
Box Hill VIC 3128

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Ikkoryu Fukuoka

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Ikkoryu Fukuoka is located underground on Russell St in Melbourne’s CBD. Close to Flinders St station, it is one of the many Japanese ramen restaurants around Melbourne so certainly each ramen store has to entice diners somehow. Its menu offerings are similar to Hakata Gensuke and Ramen Bankara where you select your variation of the Tonkotsu broth, and choose from add ons such as sliced pork, seaweed and eggs and you are able to choose how you want your noodles to be cooked, whether that’d be soft, hard or in between . What makes this place a bit more special is that each diner has their own menu to write their choices and you include your name on this as well. So when your meal comes to you it’s on a name basis which I find to be a nice change to what is normally a very methodical ordering process.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka’s Chef selection is their Yuzu Tonkotsu which is green in colour. It’s an interesting broth, you can definitely taste the citric flavour of the Yuzu. I find it quite different to the usual more meatier broths like the standard Tonkotsu or the Miso Tonkotsu and I’m not entirely sure I’d choose it again but I’m glad I tried it anyway.

Warning though, if you do choose the Spicy Tobanjan Tonkotsu and pick level 3, it’s ridiculously spicy and I actually couldn’t eat it all because it was that spicy and I can usually take heat relatively well.

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Their Chips and Wasabi is like those wonton wrappers deep fried with a creamy wasabi dipping on the side. It’s nice and crunchy, and the wasabi taste comes through well so it’s great for wasabi fans. 

Last words

Ikkoryu Fukuoka has a premium feel to it, and it is certainly reflected in the pricing as well. Their ramen is decent, but I would have liked a few more broth choices instead of just Tonkotsu.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ikkoryu Fukuoka
Basement of 27 Russell Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
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Shanghai 1930

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From the outside, Shanghai 1930‘s appearance can be a bit deceiving. However, once you enter its doors you’ll find that it has a lovely contemporary yet traditional aesthetic. Shanghai 1930 offers traditional Chinese cuisine, with Shanghai influences on the menu as well. Their menu has a variety of dumplings to choose from, and many chicken, beef, seafood and vegetarian options as well.

Their Crispy Noodles with Beef was actually quite tasty with tender beef. The sauce that it comes with, however, is quite strong, and leans on the salty side but nonetheless the combination of crispy noodles and beef and vegetables, is a winning combination.

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Shanghai 1930 offer what they call “Grandma’s Secret Fried Rice”, and it’s apparent that it isn’t your typical fried rice. The use of chives and I believe spinach adds to the flavour of the fried rice, and it’s cooked with the traditionally used Chinese sausage. 

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If you ever walk past this restaurant, you may notice the image of these dumplings. These are the Steamed Shanghai Dumplings that are fried on the bottom with sesame seeds. The pastry (or dough) reminds me of the dough used in Pork Buns, but a bit thinner. The crispy bottom with the traditional pork and ginger filling is an amazingly tasty combination and I’m so glad I tried it.

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Their soups you can order as one serve or for sharing. The Hot & Sour soup is what you’d expect, and has that lovely balance of heat and sourness, and just enough sweetness that nothing overwhelms the other. Yum.

Last words

While, Shanghai 1930 may not be one of the “cheap eats” in Box Hill, it certainly makes up for it with its delicious dishes on offer.

Shanghai 1930 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shanghai 1930
959 Whitehorse Road
Box Hill VIC 3128

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CJ Lunchbar

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CJ Lunchbar situated on the corner of Little Lonsdale St and Hardware St is a popular little eat out for those wanting a taste of Korea. CJ Lunchbar doesn’t just open for lunch like its name suggests, so you can get your Korean fix for dinner as well. What’s great about this place is that the food is good, very good and the servings are generous and value for money and their menu offers bento boxes, rice dishes, and a wide selection of hotplate and soup dishes to choose from.

Their Stonepot Bibimbap has all the ingredients for a tasty Bibimbap but it doesn’t come with the chilli paste that you’d often find provided with other Korean restaurants. Sometimes you find that the Bibimbap can be very bland, but fortunately this isn’t the case here.

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One of their popular items is the Cheese Chicken Bulgogi, one night I saw like the majority of tables order it. It’s a little bit spicy, but the combination of melted cheese and marinated chicken on a hotplate is one of the best dishes you’d find around. So good.

Last words

CJ Lunchbar won’t win awards for being a relaxing dining experience, the tables are small and service is so-so but the food here is worth it.

CJ Lunch Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CJ Lunchbar
Shop 2/391 Little Lonsdale Street (entrance on Hardware Street)
Melbourne VIC 3000
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Crystal Jade

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Located in Chinatown, Crystal Jade is a popular eatery for Chinese cuisine. They offer Yum Cha (Dim Sum) for brunch/lunch and your typical Chinese cuisine for dinner and of course seafood amongst many of their dishes. Bookings are essential for weekend Yum Cha but luckily they have two sessions available.

We had Yum Cha at Crystal Jade based on reviews on Zomato, and pretty much picked all our usual dishes to compare it against other Yum Cha places we have frequented.

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The Chee Cheong Fun (Rice Noodles with Prawns) at Crystal Jade was decent, it was lacking in a lot of flavour in the filling, and you kinda needed chilli sauce to add some punch to it.

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Not being of Cantonese background, I don’t actually know the name of this one but it was like this prawn dim sum, that also needed some extra seasoning, even a bit of salt to enhance the flavours would be good.

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The Century Egg Congee (Rice Porridge) on the other hand was great! I love the crispy things they added on top with the fresh spring onions. Great Century Egg flavour, and just how I like it.

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The Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) was actually again a bit bland. Goes well with the chilli sauce though which is on the salty side of things, so I guess it balances out. The pastry was also a bit thicker then I’d like.

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This particular dim sum was one of their specials at Crystal Jade, so you do pay a premium for it as it is topped with scallops. It had a nice seafood flavour to it but nothing spectacular.

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Siu Mai is probably my second favourite dim sum item, seems like you can’t go wrong with making it. Or I just haven’t come across a bad one yet.

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Lo Bak Go is my favourite dim sum item, I love this turnip cake and how I know it’s done right is the consistency. Shouldn’t be dense, and shouldn’t be too flour-ry, and with just enough salt, sugar and pepper seasoning and Chinese sausage pieces throughout it. Lastly, it should be crispy outside. At Crystal Jade, it pretty much checks all the boxes apart from the uneven frying which I can overlook because taste-wise it’s pretty good.

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We also ordered the Tofu Fa, it’s one of these desserts that you can have warm or cold. The lady that served didn’t do the proportions correctly, as we found it just needed quite a lot more of that sugar syrup otherwise it can be quite bland. We had to request for a small bowl of the syrup to adjust it to our liking, but at least it wasn’t too sweet as you wouldn’t be able to rectify that!

Last words

Overall, dining at Crystal Jade doesn’t leave a lasting impression. A few dishes seem to be lacking in flavour, and the other dishes, while are good, aren’t any better than the other places I’ve been to.

Crystal Jade Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crystal Jade
154 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000