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Ajisen Ramen is a popular Japanese franchise that offers an array of Japanese dishes. Of course, going by the name, its main attraction is the Ramen. Ajisen Ramen’s first Melbourne restaurant was on Bourke St, Melbourne. It has been there for many years, I think ever since I was in high school. I remember my friend ordering an Aussie Ramen, it was one of the strangest fusion dishes I’d ever seen. I believe it had fried egg, beetroot and other “typical” Australian ingredients like you’d find in a burger. I don’t think it’s on their menu anymore, probably an indication of its extreme popularity. Ajisen Ramen is a more recent entry to Glen Waverley, after the seemingly empty Korean restaurant before it closed down, and most weekends during lunchtime, even in the late arvo, you’ll find this place full.

I ordered the Tonkatsu Ramen, as seen in the opening image. What we have here is Deep-Fried Pork, egg and an assortment of vegetables. I quite liked it, you kinda to either eat the pork quickly or take it out of the bowl in order for the pork to retain its crunchiness that you would typically find in a Tonkatsu Rice dish. If you leave it in too long, it kinda gets too soggy but the flavour is still there so if you don’t mind it then it really isn’t a con.

The soup is mild, but definitely has some flavour. I quite like it and even though the bowl appears a tad small, it is filling.

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This is the Spicy Ramen, with “Spicy Meat” which is not pictured. It’s servered separately on a plate. This is slightly different to the Tonkatsu Ramen as the soup base is spicy. It actually has quite a good hit, and it’s served with cabbage instead. Overall, it’s pleasant and the amount of heat is surprising for a Japanese restaurant.

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If you order a Sumo Combo, ($5.50 extra) it comes with your pick of Junior Donburi and Green Tea. Well worth it if you’re particularly famished. Here we have the Junior Unadon, which is Grilled Eel with Sauce on Rice. I’m not a big fan of eel, but the sauce makes all the difference here. Nice balance of sweet and salty.

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Here we have the Junior Teriyaki Salmon Don. I find the Junior serves if you don’t order the Sumo to be extremely poor value for money. It really is just a few mouthfuls, and for only a couple of dollars more you get a much larger serving. I also found the Teriyaki sauce here to be lacking, its mainly because the sauce is almost non existant! The Salmon was nicely cooked though, still pink inside so not overcooked. So overall the dish is a bit bland.

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I ordered the Katsu Curry, with Deep Fried Bread Crumbed Pork with Japanese Curry on Rice. I love Japanese Curry, it’s so different to the Malaysian-style curries that most people have come to love but it for me, it holds its own.

I find Ajisen Servings to be slightly smaller than most other Japanese restaurants, even the Japanese Cafe in Chinatown is gigantic compared to here but nonetheless it’s still filling. I just find that it’s generally more expensive but smaller portions. What I love about Ajisen’s offering is that it’s actually spicy! Not just a hint of spice but a good punch. So different to the standard curries I’ve ordered around town as they are usually much sweeter.

The Pork goes really nicely with the curry, and although the curry can make the battered layer of pork soft, it isn’t too bad. Compared to the Tonkatsu Ramen, it goes soft slower so it’s not too bad. With this you get your standard diced carrot and potato. In this case, they pre-fry the potatoes giving it a slightly potato fry kind of flavour to it. It’s a subtle but nice way to bring another element to the dish.

Overall, you can see why Ajisen Ramen is extremely popular day in day out. I’d say service is surprisingly decent too, they have these little PDAs to take your orders and the food comes quickly enough. I’d probably bet they just want you out of there as quickly as possible but it works well. As I’ve cautioned before, if you’re used to the large servings in the many other Asian restaurants in Glen Waverley, don’t expect them here. It’s slightly smaller and more expensive. However the major plus is that the food is pretty darn good. So if see empty seats in this popular eatery, grab it and enjoy!

Ajisen Ramen on Urbanspoon

Ajisen Ramen (Menu)

82 Kingsway
Glen Waverley VIC 3150
(03) 9560 9018

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I wanted to try these mini baked Cheesecakes from Junior’s, which is a popular Cheesecake store in New York. I hadn’t used this book in a while as I dislike the sponge base, I prefer the biscuit base and most if not all of the recipes in the Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook: 50 To-Die-For Recipes for New York-Style Cheesecake are in fact sponge based.

I made a Peanut Butter Cheesecake from this book and it turned out quite well, but wasn’t fond of the sponge cake base. I like the crunch and butteriness of the crumbed biscuits. The actual recipe calls for Raspberry puree, but I only had a packet of mixed assorted frozen berries (Raspberries, Blueberries and I think a few Black currents) but works quite well anyway. I’ve left the American measurements as is from the recipe book but added in the commonly used Australian measurements so you don’t have to!

Little Fella Raspberry Swirls

Makes 13 Little Fellas
Ingredients
6 ounces (about 2/3 cup/170g) dry-pack frozen whole raspberries (unsweetened, not in syrup) thawed and drained well
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese (only full fat) at room temperature (Roughly 450g)
2/3 cup sugar (I reduced it to 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
13 fresh raspberries (large, pretty ones) (I didn’t have any of these at the time)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (176 C). Line 13 standard muffin cups with silicone, foil, parchment or paper lines. (If you have only 12, use a custard cup for the thirteenth one)

2. Pulse the thawed raspberries in your food processor until smooth (you need 1/3 cup of puree). Set aside.

3. Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Blend in the remaining package of cream cheese. Increase the mixer seed to medium and beat in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until it’s completely blended. Be careful not to overmix!

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4. Divide the batter among the 13 muffin cups (fill each one almost up to the top). Drop a heaping teaspoon of the raspberry puree in the centre of each cup, pushing it down slightly into each little cake as you go. Using a thin, pointed knife, cut through the batter a few times, just until the raspberry swirls appear (do not mix in the puree completely or the cakes will turn pink and the swirls will disappear).

5. Place the muffin tin in a large shallow pan and pour hot water in until it comes about 1 inch (2.54cm) up the sides of the tin. Bake the cakes until set and the centres are slightly puffy and golden with red raspberry swirls, about 45 minutes. Remove the cakes from the water bath, transfer the tin to a wire rack and let cool for 2 hours. Cover the cakes with a plastic wrap (do not remove from the tin) and put in the freezer until cold, at least 1 hour.

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6. To remove the cakes, lift them out the cups with your hands ad peel off the liners. Place the cakes, top side up, on a serving platter or individual dessert plates. Top each with a raspberry and refrigerate until ready to serve. If there are any cakes left, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Or remove the fresh berries, then wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.

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Impressions

I like this recipe but it sure does take a seemingly long time to get any results.

Letting these babies cool for 2 hours felt like forever since I did it at night, and waiting another 1 hour in the freezer before placing it in the refrigerator for storage. So really what seemed like a short prep time, the waiting can be excruciating if you really had a cheesecake craving that night.

The water bath is a bit troublesome if you’ve never done it before. I also probably didn’t have a high enough pan to place my muffin trays on in order for the water to be high enough to reach 2.5 cm. Mine was probably around 1.5cm at most. So I have a feeling I may have over baked it, as I did leave it in the oven too long.

For that haven’t tried a well done one, you’d still be hard pressed to see any faults. Apart from the sullen appearance. You still get a nice cream cheese flavour, along with a touch of berry flavour. I wish I added more puree to be honest, or maybe my frozen berries weren’t very flavourful so I’ll give it another shot and see how those turn out. Overall, it’s a good recipe, I enjoyed the end results even though I know it wasn’t at all perfect (or even close). It doesn’t have a sponge or biscuit base at all. It’s more like a cheesecake muffin so if the the base is something you can’t live without you could probably add a biscuit base to a separate muffin tray (paper), let it set in the fridge and then once the cheesecakes are cooled, peel it off (if you put it in cups) and just place it on top of the base. I’m sure it’ll add a nice crunchy texture to it all.

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Crown’s Kitchen Workshop is one of my favourite buffet restaurants in Melbourne for its affordable pricing and all-round good food. What makes it a winner for me is its range of offerings and their dessert selections.

What makes Kitchen Workshop attractive is its offerings of 300g of fresh iced prawns or half a dozen fresh oysters. You get a coupon/ticket when you enter and you redeem it at the seafood bar.

Their prawns might I add are pretty darn good, along with the nice seafood sauce you can grab, these prawns are fresh and nicely cooked. You could probably make a meal out of just these but of course you don’t come to Kitchen Workshop for just their seafood.

They have a mix of the usual Western and Asian dishes from pastas, to beef stews, Asian stir frys, and a selection of cooked meats. They also usually have one or two soups, the last time I went there I tried their Potato & Leek soup, and also their Tom Yum Soup. While the Leek soup was nice and creamy, their Tom Yum soup wasn’t as good as I hoped but seemed really popular anyway. The Roast Counter I find their meats to be a tad dry but with sauce it’s usually decent enough.

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Kitchen Workshop also has a Teppanyaki station where you can pick an assortment of vegetables and a protein, I think people usually go with pork and watch the chef cook you up something nice from your selection using their Teppanyaki grill. It’s usually extremely popular so get in quick when you see minimal people hovering around.

For those looking for a lighter meal, they have a salad bar with your selection of cold dishes and cheeses/meats. I’m not usually a fan of cold meals so I have no real comments on these but they do look desirable.

Okay, time to talk about their desserts. It’s slightly odd how all the desserts are right at the entrance but I’m digressing.    There are the usual treats, e.g tarts, cakes, custards and the like. Either fruit or chocolate, or both! They also have a chocolate fountain where you can dip strawberries or marshmallows.

I believe they also have some warm desserts, and pavlovas to boot but I can’t be certain because I usually go straight towards the one dessert.

The real star of the show, for me, is their self-serve soft-serve ice-cream machine. Phew, that was a bundle to say. However, my golly is it good. There are only two flavours, vanilla and chocolate (the chocolate being the more authentic tasting one) but you can also pick a variety of toppings, e.g syrups, sprinkles, m&ms, candies, you name it. I like it au naturale, and I could sit there all day eating just that. Probably not the healthiest thing to do, or even the cheapest option since McDonald’s do 30c Cones. Who needs cones anyway! However, it definitely is the greatest way to end a meal. Delicious.

Overall, Kitchen Workshop is pretty good value for money. It has a good range of foods and desserts plus service is usually very good (removing plates and providing drinks). I just checked their prices, it appears it may have gone up? $33.50 for dinner Fri-Sat/weekend lunch. I’m not too sure but still I’d recommend this over Conservatory any day. Unless you prefer more seafood, then go for broke at Conservatory, but be warned they have no soft-serve ice-cream there.

Kitchen Workshop on Urbanspoon

Kitchen Workshop

Ground Floor, Clarendon Street Entrance
8 Whiteman St
Crown Entertainment Complex
Melbourne VIC 3006

Opening hours
Lunch
Mon to Fri: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Sat: Midday – 2:30pm
Sun: Midday – 2:30pm

Dinner
Mon to Thur: 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Fri: 5:00pm – 9:30pm
Sat: 5:00pm – 10:30pm
Sun: 5:00pm – 9:30pm

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In Rye, across from the pier, there are a couple of ice-cream stores ready to fulfil your sweet desires. Cold Rock Ice-Creamery is one of the notable stores, but appears Vulcano Gelato has won the hearts (and mouths) of many visitors and locals alike.

You can see droves of people entering this very pink store but when looking in the other ice-cream stores, they are almost bare. I’ve taken some pics of the range of flavours below. Take a look!

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Vulcano Gelato serves a great variety of gelato and ice-cream flavours, most are your standard flavours you’ll find amongst most gelato stores.

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In this picture, you can see their own flavour, aptly called Vulcano. I didn’t get a chance to try it but it appears to be a choc full and looks likes devilishly rich.

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As you can see there are your nice chocolate flavours, yogurt, mango, coffee etc.

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I tried their Hazelnut and Pistachio flavours, being a nut flavoured ice-cream fan myself. Their Hazelnut one was quite nice, it definitely reminds me of Ferroro Rocher flavours like you’ll find in Il Dolce Freddo in Carlton.

To be honest it was nice, but really nothing too special about it. I’ve read reviews of Vulcano Gelato and it definitely is a favourite for most. Maybe I chose the wrong flavours. I’ll definitely give it another try if I’m ever in Rye again. Of course, any ice-cream is fantastic in a warm day. Well, even in cold weather gelato works a treat to brighten any day!

Vulcano Gelato on Urbanspoon

Vulcano Gelato
2387 Point Nepean Road
Rye Vic 3941
T: 03 5985 1800

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