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

Wong’s Kitchen

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Not to be confused with Wong’s Lucky Bar, Wong’s Kitchen on Station Street in Box Hill is a Chinese/Cantonese restaurant that most people seem to come for their seafood dishes. Wong’s Kitchen isn’t a very large restaurant, so more often than not, bookings are required.

Crab and egg noodles are probably one of my favourite Chinese dishes as a kid. The crab flavour combined with the wok stir fried noodles is delicious and I could honestly eat just the noodles all on its own. The crab at Wong’s Kitchen is quite nice too, I might add.

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One of my favourite vegetables is Chinese broccoli (Kai Lan), there’s something about the crunchiness of the stem and you honestly don’t need much else apart from a bit of garlic. 

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According to the staff, their chicken served here is free range. I’m not certain how true that is, but it is a more lean as chicken. Not particularly memorable dish, it’s decent though.

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I remember having Salted Egg Yolk Prawns at Kingsway Seafood Restaurant, which is now sadly closed. The prawns here are quite nice, crispy and have that lovely egg yolk batter that covers the tender prawns. I can’t have too many though because it’s very rich, but I needed to have a few to satisfy my craving.

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A standard dish when we go out to a Chinese restaurant, is their fish. I love sauce that usually accompanies steamed fish, and here it’s just how I like it. The fish was also nicely cooked and fresh.

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Wong’s Kitchen also provide complimentary fruits and Red Bean Sago dessert. Lovely end to a meal.

Last words

While Wong’s Kitchen won’t wow you with it’s ambience or service, it’s food is tasty and doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Wong's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wong’s Kitchen
596 Station Street
Box Hill VIC 3128

Italy 1

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Before coming to Italy 1 on Bourke Road, Camberwell, I checked out the reviews for it on Urbanspoon and it was very mixed. Having that in mind, my overall experience with Italy 1 is good, it definitely is on the upper scale of your dining experience ($$$) but I found the food here to be mostly fantastic bar a few.

As an entree we ordered the Mussels  it is cooked with a tomato sugo and seasoned with garlic and tomatoes (mainly). The staff mentioned the mussels here are of a higher quality and so that’s why the mussels are tinier than in most places. The mussels were indeed lovely and fresh and I really couldn’t get enough of the slightly salty, spicy tomato sauce that is flavoured with mussels. 

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Italy 1’s Baked Scallops were a bit of a downer, the scallops were tiny comparatively to the shell it comes in with the cheesy crust on top being mostly too crusty to gel well with the soft scallop. The scallop was very tasty I must admit but for the price, I don’t believe it’s worth it.

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Onto the mains, the Roast Duck with greens was fantastic. The duck was perfectly cooked, and melts in your mouth with all the juices. The sauce that accompanies it, is interesting. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the ingredients sued but it went well with the duck and salad.

IMG_0437The “Rotolo” (hand rolled egg pasta) filled with Spinach and Ricotta, baked and served with burnt sage butter was absolutely divine. You certainly can’t have too much of this because it’s so damn rich with cheese, but the flavours of the ricotta and spinach are bursting out, and the cheesiness of it mixes so well. The baked pasta is crispy and almost pastry like, like a quiche but slightly delicate inside. Yummy

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The Duck Ragu with Sage and Pancetta Risotto wasn’t too great to be honest. Overly salty, either from the cheese or duck and slightly under seasoned. It lacked any real distinct flavours but the duck was very tender which is a plus along with the risotto itself cooked al dente.

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The Linguine Marinara with mussels, clams, prawns, scallops, fish and seasoned with chilli, parsley and garlic was another winner at Italy 1. The linguine was cooked perfectly (there wasn’t enough!) but I guess the centre pieces of the dish are the seafood so that’s understandable. Seafood overall were fresh and tasty and seasoned well. Really lovely.

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For dessert we ordered Tiramisu. Very light but creamy  and chocolatey, and with just enough liqueur to keep it moist. Distinct and defined layers. I do prefer Tiramisu to be slightly chilled and although it was served room temperature, it was delicious.

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I believe the desserts change slightly on their specials board, but when we dined there the gelato selection was Raspberry, Goat’s Milk and Cassata with crunchy caramel shards. For a sweet treat, the Raspberry gelato was bursting full of raspberry flavour (and slightly sour). I’m finding it that I actually prefer cream based ice cream as opposed to water based simply because the water based varieties are simply much too sweet but on this occasion it wasn’t too bad (it was the sweetest of the three)

The Cassata flavour I believe is based on the cassata cake dessert which is a sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or liqueur, ricotta cheese, cream and candied peel. This was definitely an interesting flavour, and mixed with it were I believe some candied fruit pieces. I’ve never tried this before but would definitely order it again. Tasty

The goat’s milk on first taste was slightly odd because I’ve never tried an ice cream that was just milk but after my initial shock I really enjoyed it. It was milky (of course) and creamy and not too sweet. Probably the best of the three actually.

Impressions

As mentioned in my opening paragraph, some of the dishes weren’t as good as others but overall I found it to be a very satisfying experience and the staff here are lovely too. Great food, nice ambience on a Saturday night. Price might be an issue for some but it’s good for a night out once in a while.

Italy 1 at Camberwell on Urbanspoon

Italy 1 
823 Burke Rd
Camberwell VIC 3124

PappaRich (Chadstone)

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PappaRich fever has hit Australia. It seems like it’s the sister franchise to PappaRoti (Update: I’ve been informed they are completely separate entities). With its first franchise opening up in QV where Old Town Kopitiam Mamak was, earlier this year. They have quickly opened up two more stores, one in Doncaster and the latest one in Chadstone Shopping Centre (Outside but close to Aldi) with probably more to come. If you haven’t guessed already, they serve Malaysian food and quite a good variety of food at that.

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We ordered Nasi Briyani with Eggplant, Curry Prawns and Fried Chicken and Pappadam. I don’t think very many places serve Nasi Briyani, so it was a pleasant surprise to see it on the menu. The Briyani was fantastic, it had a very strong but not overpowering flavour, nicely cooked with all the spices. I’m not a big fan of sultanas in Briyani though, but it is a staple for most.

The Curry Prawns aren’t overly spicy, it’s mostly sweet actually and these prawns are the bite sized kind. I prefer the King Prawns but these little prawns suffice. The eggplant adds a nice spicy flavour to it to. Overall, it’s definitely a good meal, with a wide variety of flavours that all work well together. A must for Briyani lovers.

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Their Curry Laksa is very different to the popular Laksa’s around. It tastes very home-made and it also lacks that huge punch of coconut milk/cream. Which is a good thing in my book! Sometimes I prefer a milder, less rich Laksa and this hits the sweet spot. There are a couple of Laksa varieties of the menu, Chicken, Vegetarian, and Seafood. I chose the Chicken version and it is served with chicken (of course),  fried bean curd, bean curd, eggplant and a hint of mint. It also only has Hokkien Mee (no Bee Hoon as some Laksa’s have) so it really depends on your preferences. There is a lot to like with PappaRich’s Laksa as mentioned above, the curry soup is delicious as it retains a nice curry flavour but also adds a kick of spice. Overall, I’m pretty happy with this dish it is a definite change of pace.

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You can’t go to a Malaysian restaurant and not see Nasi Lemak, here we ordered the Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken and Sambal. I’ve got to say that Sambal is superb. It’s sweet, and my golly does it have a huge hit of heat. I’m in love, best Sambal I’ve had in a while. The Curry Chicken is slightly sweet, but it’s nice. I’d order this dish just for the Sambal to be honest.

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Their Drinks menu is quite large too, here we ordered the Soya Bean with Grass Jelly. I liked this because it has a strong soya flavour but also it isn’t too sweet so for those that would like a nice refreshing drink but not overly sweet. Here it is!

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PappaRich’s Teh Tarik is pretty good too, has a nice tea flavour but not overwhelming. Same with the sweetness, although I still prefer Chilli Padi Mamak‘s Teh Tarik. It’s also a tad smaller then what you’d get elsewhere, so there is a bit of a trade off.

Impressions

PappaRich has definitely made an impression on me. It’s menu is full of things to try, from their Roti’s and snacks, to Noodles and Rice dishes and a great selection of desserts and drinks. Although their ABC Ice Kacang is definitely the most expensively priced item I’ve seen, priced at roughly $7  I didn’t even try it. I’m a bit wary of the portion size but also if it leads to disappointment as I think it would.

I do have to warn you for first timers that you order by writing down your selection on the pads found on the side and once you’re down you wave down one of the staff to take your paper. They then give you your receipt which you pay at the end of your meal at the receipt counter. I don’t think some of the staff do tell you that so best be warned before sitting there for minutes waiting for service.

Other than that, the service was surprisingly good. We had to wait roughly 10 minutes to get seats as PappaRich still is affected by the “new/curious” diners (like me) but once we ordered, food came within another 5/10 minutes. Pretty good actually for a full house.

Overall, I would dine again just to try their other items and it means there is actually some good Malaysian food in Chadstone, apart from Chadstone Shopping Centre’s Chilli Mama (Located in the Food Court) and Nudle (Near Nandos/Cinemas). It actually makes me want to go to Chadstone more often!

PappaRich (Chadstone Shopping Centre) on Urbanspoon

PappaRich Chadstone
Shop F029
Chadstone Shopping Centre
Chadstone VIC 3148

Lynbrook Hotel

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I came across the Lynbrook Hotel after browsing Urbanspoon’s top Melbourne Buffet Restaurants. Having already tried China Bar, Consevatory and Kitchenworkshop (3 of the top 5), I was surprised to see Lynbrook Hotel so far up the top. Lynbrook? Lynbrook has a hotel?

After my initial shock, I checked out the official website, it said it had a International Buffet Bistro, offering European, Asian and Australian cuisines. This piqued my interest and afterall their prices were quite reasonable too.
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We went to try it out for my father’s birthday, and booked the earlier session to avoid the large cohords of people (I expected anyway). Their eating area is quite spacious and clean. It makes for a welcoming dining experience.

The food is grouped into several categories, from Asian (Chinese), European (Italian), Australian, and Indian with a bit of Thai, and of course Desserts.

The Food

While I didn’t take photographs of the food itself (I was too busy eating), the food was decent and there was a great variety of dishes.

In the Asian corner, they have Fried Rice, and a few stir frys which were surprisingly decent for a restaurant primarily served by Indian chefs.

There was a good selection of seafood, from fresh prawns, to steamed fish and a few of your standard ‘Fish and Chip shop’ items, and also roast items like roast beef and potatoes, vegetables in another area.

In their European flavoured area they served mostly Italian food, i.e pastas, lasagne and pizza.

Their Indian area took me by surprise, as it smelt great. A few different styled curries, and bite sized snack food. As I mentioned before they served Thai fish cake, which was spicy! However when my parents when again for a friend’s birthday celebration, they didn’t have these on offer. So it seems their selection of food varies slightly per week.

Their dessert menu consisted of a lot of cakes and sugary treats. My favourite was the warm almond cake, and the chocolate mousse. Of course, they served ice-cream for the kids, which was running empty by the hours end. I’ll admit their selection of desserts was great, but nothing can top soft serve ice-cream at Kitchen Workshop.

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There were a couple of downsides, their pizzas weren’t cooked long enough so the bread was still doughly. Perhaps their second run of pizzas were better, I didn’t attempt to try it again.

As mentioned earlier, their 3 tubs of ice-cream were probably sitting there for a while so it wasn’t replaced as quickly (or at all) during our session. Some of their dishes were slightly overcooked but I can overlook that as it wasn’t terribly bad.

Overall impressions

The Lynbrook Hotel serves a great selection of food, for what you pay for, you do get your monies worth.  Compared to Kitchen Workshop which is roughly the same price, I’d prefer Kitchen Workshop but if you’re looking for some tasty Asian dishes Lynbrook is your best bet.

Lynbrook Hotel on Urbanspoon

Lynbrook Hotel

550 South Gippsland Highway
Lynbrook
VIC 3975
Bistro Prices and Sessions Here

 

Brandy Creek Wines & View Cafe

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Brandy Creek Wines & View Cafe have been on many travel Melbourne shows for it’s pleasant scenery and of course, good food.

It has been shown on Postcards, a Melbourne TV travel and food show,  a while back and I couldn’t catch it’s name. So I searched endlessly and gave up eventually. However, maybe a year or two later it was shown on Coxy’s Big Break, but I missed the name again. For some reason, I just ended up searching ‘Victoria Paella’ and Brandy Creek Wines shows up at the top.

Curious enough, I looked to see what they had, and the Paella Feast piqued my interest. We also had my parent’s anniversary coming up, so it was good timing.

Located in Drouin East, near Warragul, their Paella Feasts are quite an attraction. With 6 large bowls of 5 different styles of Paella, and one cazuella. You definitely get your monies worth here.

IMG_5529Outside you can see their beautiful vineyard. Although it was drizzling that day, it was nonetheless a pleasant viewing experience.

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IMG_5521With their Paella Feasts, you are provided a selection of tapas. The golden brown potato tapas (Obvious I don’t know much about Spanish food isn’t it?) was fantastic. This was preapared by Head Chef Courtney Websdale.

IMG_5522Nice fresh bread to go along with the tapas.

IMG_5547Now for the main meal…IMG_5546This particular paella was made for Vegetarians. However, that’s not to say it was in anyway inferior. It didn’t need any meat to make it taste good. With all these fresh vegetables cooked with a tasty stock and nicely cooked rice, what could go wrong?

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This Paella is a Photographer’s delight. Also a Pork lover’s delight too, might I add. Their Paella Cerdo y Conejo is a mix of succulent pork, rabbit and apple Paella, topped with amazingly crunchy crackling pork. I have nothing else to say about this one, it was fantastic, and also the first time I’ve eaten rabbit, which had a great flavour to it.

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The Paella Machega is cooked with beef, mushroom, quail and egg. The beef was very tender and I can’t really fault it.

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The Chicken & Chorizo Cazuella was probably my favourite one. Funnily enough, it isn’t a paella but tasted great nonetheless.

This had tender chicken, and spicy chorizo with saffron rice. The slightly salted chorizo combined with the tomato based sauced, it just appeals to the inner Italian in me.

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The Paella de Marisco aka Seafood Paella, had all the great makings of a great seafood paella. Jam packed with fish, prawns, mussels, claims, calamari and baby octopus. It definitely was a seafood lover’s dish. For me it had an overpowering mussel flavour, only because I made my Seafood Risotto not long before this and that was packed full of mussels. So I definitely had my mussel fix by then, and of course I could only notice the mussel flavour here so although it wasn’t something I would go back for that day. I can’t ignore that it was well cooked and had great flavours to boot.

IMG_5560My selection of paella from the 6 dishes.

IMG_5564You also get a choice of three desserts. Since there were three of us, we managed to try them all!

This ice-cream was smooth and crunchy (from the honeycomb) and had a great caramel flavour to it. Delicious

IMG_5567These Spanish doughnuts can be found in a couple of Melbourne eateries now adays, and these crunchy little things were quite tasty I must admit. The chocolate sauce wasn’t too sweet like you can find in Spanish Doughnuts Churros franchises, and these churros have a higher crispy to dough ratio (because they are thinner) but it was really good.

IMG_5569This was probably my favourite dessert. Yes yes it’s just a panna cotta, but it was an (If I can recall correctly) an Vanilla  Panna Cotta, with Candied Walnuts and an Orange sauce. It was simply silky smooth and tasted amazing.

IMG_5570Along with your desserts you get to sample their in-house liquers. They definitely go well with their desserts and I had to unfortunately lay the responsibility of designated driver onto my mother because who can resist free tastings of liquers.

IMG_5579To top it off you can order coffee or tea to end your fantastic meal.

Although their Paella Feasts are probably more on the pricey end, a great selection of paella (which you can go back for seconds or thirds, or even takeaway some too!), dessert, tapas, samples of their alcohol and warm drink to complete your meal. It definitely is worth it.

You will need to book for these as there are limited seats (I believe it houses 100) each weekend and they fill up quickly!

Also be warned, you will be satisfied.

Brandy Creek Wines & View Cafe on Urbanspoon

Brandy Creek Wines & View Cafe

570 Buln Buln Rd
Drouin East, 3818
(03) 5625 4498

Koko at Crown

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Koko at Crown serves beautiful Japanese cuisine. Located a few floors above the famous Crown water fountains, and the Conservatory buffet restaurant. Koko would be considered slightly pricey but you definitely get your monies worth. Well we did anyway.

DSC00355Their restaurant has a small water feature in the middle of the restaurant, surrounded by the Teppanyaki grills and tables.  We ordered their set Teppanyaki Lunch set menus, but you can also order a la carte, and for dinner there is a different albeit more expensive teppanyaki sets’ for everyone to choose from. We ordered the Seafood,  and Beef sets and you are welcomed by the lovely staff and also greeted by the chef who will be cooking your meal. A lovely touch!

Each lunch set comes with appetisers and sashimi to start.

DSC00359The special set comes with a warm egg pudding like entree. It was quite nice actually.

DSC00360The vegetable tempura had a lovely thin but crispy batter, with the flavours of the vegetables still shining through.

DSC00361We are also served miso soup, rice and then the real fire starts! I don’t know why I never took pictures of the actual chef cooking our meals but do have an image of the end result.

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The three of us shared our sets so we could try a bit of everything. The beef was so soft and delicate, and packed full of flavour. The potatoes, mushrooms,  spinach and bean sprouts all were delicious. I was definitely satisfied and full after all that.

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Last but not least was the Green Tea ice-cream and that is always a winner for me.

Koko at Crown is definitely a great place to eat, I probably couldn’t afford to dine there regularly but it definitely will be on my list of great Melbourne restaurants to celebrate a special occassion. Great food, great atmosphere and great service.

Koko on Urbanspoon

Koko at Crown
Crown Towers
8 Whiteman St
Southbank, 3006
(03) 9292 6886

Kingsway Seafood Restaurant

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Kingsway Seafood Restaurant is a recent entry to the heart of Glen Waverley.  Opening earlier this year, if my memory serves me correctly. There aren’t that many Chinese restaurants where you can have a nice dinner on Kingsway or near the train station.  Maybe, the Hakka Teahouse across from Glen Waverley train station but the more the merrier I suppose.

It also isn’t a bad thing that the prices are reasonable for what they serve and well the last Chinese dinner I had was at Eastern Palace in Rowville, and the bill left an unpleasant taste in our mouths.

IMG_5349We orderd a fish and tofu dish for dinner and it had a nice taste to it,  with cooked but crunchy carrots, vegetables and mushrooms. Overall it was quite pleasant. Nothing really to run home about, it basically is the standard flavours you may find in your typical Chinese restaurant.
IMG_5350We also ordered another vegetable dish (Kai Lan with beef), and that was great but I didn’t managed to take a picture of it. Not that it was picture worthy anyway since it was quite simple, but I love kai lan so we had to order it.

However, this prawn dish was the standout. The prawns are covered in a salted egg batter and my golly was it something special. It had a great saltiness to the prawns, but the prawn flavour wasn’t overpowered by the salted egg batter.  The batter thinly covered the whole prawn, and was light and crisp, and definitely not heavy that you feel you’re eating a great deal of oil. I think I would go back here just to order this delicious and surprisngly delightful dish again.

I would probably only come here on special occassions though since if you eat regularly here, it would take quite a big chunk out of your food budget!

Kingsway Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kingsway Seafood Restaurant
100 Kingsway
Glen Waverley, 3150
(03) 9562 2688

Casey-Berwick Farmers’ Market

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On every fourth Saturday of the month, the Casey Farmers’ Association (Berwick Rotary Club) hold their monthly Farmers’ Market for Casey residents and well anybody that wants to support local farmers’, grocers and the local community in general.
It’s also a place to get fresh food and produce or just to try the different foods on offer.

It’s located in Berwick at the Old Cheese Factory, and with many merchants and things to try while you’re there and even though we arrived at around 9am, it was surprisingly busy already.

It costs a few dollars to enter but supporting the Farmers’ in your area, it’s nothing to complain about.

At the front, near the car park, they sell large quantities of fruit and once you enter there are a variety of berries on offer too.

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On the left of this image, they sell a variety of breads from sour bread to wholemeal. It’s all reasonably priced too.

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The merchants on the left sell fresh seafood, while the one on the right sells a great selection of wines.

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Homemade sauces are sold here, quick a few might I add.

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Fresh garlic from Dannic Garlic. Chemical free, and grown on the Mornington Peninsula.

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Quite a wide selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, all packed to store in their freshness, straight from the back of their van. Hehe

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Our second purchase of the morning, the first being some nice sourdough bread, was Spicy Venison sausages. We cooked them at home, it’s quite lean and with a hint of spice. It wasn’t too bad actually, might try their other Venison cuts next time.

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Mornington Peninsula Ice cream, it looked really nice but wasn’t in the mood for it. Looking back, I would have gotten a tub.

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More fresh food, if you look closely you can see the prices. It’s probably more than you’d pay at your local supermarket but I feel the money goes straight to the farmers and not split between farmers and the conglomerate.

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The smell of sausages in the morning is quite an appealing thing. So by the smell we were lead to the Alloway Buffalo stall and just had to purchase a roll.

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Here it is, in all it’s glory. Buffalo meat. A buffalo hot dog with a really tasty sauce. It had a hint of spice and was just nicely cooked, as was the sausage.

There were also quite a few meat sellers, and places to buy fresh juices and drinks too.

Check it out, it’s quite a nice experience. Or check out your local Farmers’ market instead, it’s worth it.

 

Casey-Berwick Farmers’ Market

8am to 12.30pm

The Old Cheese Factory

34 Homestead Rd

Berwick

Victoria

 

(The next one in May is on the 28th, June on the 25th)