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The Black Toro on Kingsway, Glen Waverley opened its doors in July 2012, replacing the Urban Burger before it. Their menu is Hispanic influenced  and is one of the few higher priced eateries in the area but it’s fine dining and it has good reason to be, the quality of food served here will speak for itself.

Their interior is mostly dark, with black tables and chairs. Aesthetically, it’s pleasant with a huge Toro artwork on the walls providing a hint of Mexico to Melbourne and adding to that Spanish music playing in the background. It’s a nice touch that creates a different atmosphere.

My two companions and I were a bit overwhelmed with the menu at first, undecided on what to eat. There is a nice selection of starters/entres, mains and desserts, not too many options but enough to ponder on. We wanted to try the Lamb barbacoa as our main but to our slight disappointment we were told it’s unavailable for lunch due to the lamb needing to be slow cooked.

Instead of choosing a couple of dishes, we opted for the $45 Set Menu, helping us decided instead. The waitress mentioned these Set Menu’s are the Chef’s choice, but as we wanted the Sher Wagyu rump as our main, she mentioned that it could be our main if we wanted to.

To start us of we were served Guacamole with tortilla chips, as shown above, and marinated olives (Not pictured). It’s pretty much your standard tortilla corn chips, but the guacamole didn’t appear to have enough avocado flavour to it but was creamy and tasty nonetheless.

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Our second dish was the Grilled corn on the cob with chipotle mayonnaise and toasted masa. As suggested by the waiter, we squeezed the cut lime on top . The corn was nice and juicy, and the mayonnaise not too rich but complementing the corn well. The toasted masa, gave it a hint of saltiness to the corn and mayo. The mayonnaise was delicious as it had a nice spiciness kick to it. A wonderful start to our lunch.

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We were then served each a piece of Potato and Chorizo croquette with manchengo foam. The croquette itself was nice and crunchy. The fried layer wasn’t too thick and the perfect ratio to the potato and chorizo inside. The foam was quite mild in taste, I couldn’t really describe the taste to be honest. It was slightly plain and a tad salty but it worked well with the crispiness of the croquette and potato and chorizo pieces inside. Overall, it’s very filling but very tasty.

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Our next dish was something I’d probably have never ordered but was glad to try. Pickled baby beetroot, goats cheese, quinoa and caperberries, it was an interesting combination of flavours. There was this jelly like diced pieces in this dish that I don’t think is mentioned in the menu, but it’s plentiful so I’m unsure why it’s not included in the dishes name. I found this dish to be overly salty. I’m unsure what it was that made it so salty. I think it might have been the goats cheese but because of the saltiness of the dish it was a bit off putting. I’d say it’s an interesting dish, but I’d probably not order that again.

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Pardon me for the awful picture above. We dug into this one too quickly before I remembered to take a snap. Oops. This was the Mezcal cured salmon, avocado puree, smashed coriander meringue.  The cured salmon was salty but still had a very nice salmon flavour to it. The avocado puree was smooth and I believe it had a hint of citrus juice that made it slightly sour. The smashed coriander meringue was slightly salty too but had an interesting coriander flavour. Quite something different to what I’ve eaten, to be honest. There was caviar on the dish too that wasn’t mentioned on the menu. Overall, it’s a pleasant, more refreshing dish to the two rich dishes before it.

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We had seen many patrons order the Wagyu beef sliders with onion, tomatillo relish & jack cheese before us. Before this we were full already from the croquettes but these little burgers were too appetising. The wagyu beef was so juicy, it was just delicious. Perfect. The cheese and tomato relish complemented the beef well, and really you couldn’t as for a better dish.

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At this point, we were wondering when would the food stop! This dish was the last one before the main. We were served, Pulled pork taco, shredded cabbage & sour cream. I loved this dish because of the surprising spiciness to the sauce. The pork was well cooked and really you couldn’t fault it. A winner in my books.

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Ah the main, the Sher Wagyu rump, chimichurri, parsley & shallot salad. It’s only one shared between the three of us so I’m uncertain how it may go for less or more people. The wagyu beef here was tender, still a bit tough due to the cut but that’s expected. I don’t know how it’s marinated but the juices from the beef were absolutely delicious and with the chimichurri sauce it was just perfect. With this you are served with a shallot salad (Unfortuntely, not pictured) but it reminds me of a coleslaw but without the rich mayonnaise. The bitterness of the salad worked well with the wagyu. A good match.

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We were also served a side of Triple cooked potatoes, paprika salt, garlic aioli, and my golly were these chips good. Boiled, and then deep fried twice, I think slightly different to how Heston Blumenthal does it but works just the same to obtain crispy chips but not overcooked inside. The chips are so crunchy and crispy but inside the potato it was still nice and soft. Delightful. I could certainly do without the garlic aioli and paprika salt as if I didn’t have a couple of salty dishes beforehand, this would have been perfectly fine though. The aioli was creamy but not rich enough like a mayonnaise would be so it went well with the crispy chips.

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Although we didn’t get the set menu with desserts, after seeing a couple of these desserts go out we thought let’s having something to finish our meal off. This was called Peanut butter cheesecake, honeycomb, chocolate sorbet, and as you can see the peanut butter cheesecake is slightly deconstructed. The crumbs of biscuit is what you’d normally find at the base of a cheesecake, and we have a quenelle of the peanut butter cheesecake. I have to say the cheesecake was so flavourful, and intense, delicious to boot. As you’d normally find in peanut butter, it’s a tad salty. My palette was overly salted but again, on its own, adequately salted. The chocolate biscuit crumb gave it that added texture to the dessert and was just as if you were eating a cheesecake.

The honeycomb was crunchy and sweet, but in the mouth it gets stuck to the teeth easily. I actually liked the chocolate sorbet, it had a beautiful chocolate flavour to it unlike most chocolate sorbet or ice-creams around where the chocolate is almost artificial in taste. The sorbet was so light, and melt in your mouth, I couldn’t have asked for something better. A fantastic dessert overall.

Impressions

The Black Toro goes high above what you’d find in Glen Waverley in terms of service and food quality but of course for a price. Their menu encapsulates the Hispanic flavours but makes it their own. My one main complaint would be the over use of salt in their dishes. If you have an aversion for salt, their dishes may not be too your liking. Although if you only order a few dishes, the salt probably won’t be as noticeable.

The Black Toro’s dishes overall are delicious, there are a few I’d probably not order again but many of them I definitely would. I would like to point out even the water had lemon flavour to it which was a nice touch.

The service here was excellent, the two staff members made our dining experience much more pleasant and fuss free. I tip my digital hat to them.

At first I was a bit hesitant to try The Black Toro, it’s not normally in our price range. For a special occasion though, it’s perfectly reasonable. Full to the brim, a bit less in the pocket but immensely satisfying.

The Black Toro on Urbanspoon

The Black Toro (Menu)

79 Kingsway

Glen Waverley VIC 3150

Lunch

Thursday – Sunday 12:00pm – 3:00pm

Dinner

Seven Days 6:00pm to late

T: 03 9561 9696

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On our little cupcake baking frenzy, we decided to make some chocolate cupcakes. We found a recipe in the The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook by Jennifer Graham, you can buy the recipe book here and check out their website and details on the official website. Their actual cupcakes are quite different to what we’ve decided to make, because we didn’t make the icing/toppings or add the little rock chocolates. However the cupcake itself is the same, apart from reducing the sugar but I’ve listed the entire recipe along with what you need to do for the decorations as they do look quite fancy.

Dinosaur Rock Cupcakes – Chocolate Birthday Cakes

Makes: 24

Ingredients
3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarb soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 cup hot water
1 cup cocoa
1 cup cold water
200g softened unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Icing sugar for dusting

Method
1. Preheat oven to 170C. Line two 12-hole muffin trays with chocolate-coloured cupcake papers

2. Sift together the flour, bicarb of soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the coffee, hot water,and cocoa until you have a smooth paste. Add the cold water and whisk until evenly combined.

3. In a separate bowl, creaming the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the castor sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

4. Add a quarter of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add a third of the cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Repeat this process twice more. Add the remaining quarter of the flour and beat until thoroughly combined, do not over-beat as this will toughen the mixture.

5. Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about three quarters full. To prevent the cupcakes cracking on top, allowing the mixture to sit in the cupcake papers for 20 minutes before baking. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean.Remove cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.

6. If you prefer no icing, and for simplicity, just dust some icing sugar over cooled cupcakes. Looks like Christmas!

Decoration
1 quantity Vanilla Buttercream
Food Colouring: Apple-Green, Wilton’s Buttercup Yellow
24 Dinosaur/star candles
Chocolate Sprinkles
Chocolate Rocks

1. Divide the buttercream into two small bowls.Add a couple of drops of apple-green food colouring to one bowl and a couple of drops of yellow to the other. Mix to create even colours.

2. Frost half the cupcakes with the yellow buttercream, add half with the green. Working quickly, before the buttercream dries, top each cupcake with a candle, and decorate with sprinkles and chocolate rocks.

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Impressions

The recipe itself is quite nice, the cupcakes are as light as a butter cupcake can be. I found the taste of chocolate to be very mild, as it only uses cocoa powder. I couldn’t really taste the coffee either, I think it’s because our coffee granules have been oxygenated for too long and it has lost most of its coffee aroma. I think I’d prefer a chocolate cupcake to use actual melted chocolate in its recipe because you can really taste the difference when one uses cocoa or chocolate.

Other than that it’s a simple recipe, but if you went all out with decorations, I’m sure it would have tasted even better.

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Suddenly there are a multitude of Dessert Story stores across Victoria. I don’t know what sparked this craze but this Taiwanese Dessert franchise is everywhere. My first thoughts were DESSERTS YES! MORE PLEASE! However, I was hesitant to try it  gawking at the prices of their desserts. Alas, it seems like it’s the trend here where desserts are almost as expensive as a main meal. So I might as well give up that fight. We tried the outlet in Glen Waverley were it sadly took over Claypot King, one of my favourite Malaysian eateries on Kingsway.

For some reason we tried two variations of red bean desserts. The red bean soup with palm seeds and coconut is quite interesting. I definitely enjoyed the palm seeds, well I like it in any dessert really. The red bean soup here really is a soup, as it’s quite runny. It still retains the red bean skin which gives it an added texture from the smooth and silky toppings of the coconut and palm seed. The flavour of the red bean soup was good, it wasn’t too sweet which is good in my books .

One thing I would prefer was if our hot dessert was actually hot! It came out luke warm, and to top it off, it was an extremely cold day where a steaming hot dessert was sorely needed. All in all, it was decent, the warm nature of the dessert certainly left a cold taste in my mouth though.

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We also tried the Red Bean and Black Sesame dessert, which basically is just one side with red bean soup and the other side with black sesame soup. The soups here are thicker and more akin to those you’d find in Malaysia.  The red bean soup was nice, still having the beans in there for taste, but again it was just warm, borderline reaching room temperature. I’m not sure what goes on in the kitchen  but warming the dish up to a higher temperature certainly wasn’t on their minds. The red bean soup was pleasant, it had a very comforting flavour, bringing me back to the the tastes of Malaysian desserts.

Strangely enough though, the black sesame soup (almost paste like) was super hot. It was a very odd to taste both the red bean and black sesame together and get this mix of hot and cold. A bit off putting to be honest, luckily the black sesame soup was hot enough to make the red bean warm enough. What I loved about the black sesame soup, yes love, was that it was bitter like it should be. Not overloaded with sugar to butt heads with the bitterness, but enough sugar to complement the black sesame. A real joy to eat.

Impressions

The range of desserts at Dessert Story is quite extensive. They have a wide variety of combinations of fruit and ice cold  desserts. With a smaller, yet varied selection of hot desserts. Their execution on this desserts is what was lacking and that, unfortunately, played a huge part in the overall impressions. Had it been hot enough, I’d be in praise mode but with both dishes coming up almost cold, there is really no excuse for that.

Unfortunate mistakes? Yes, definitely. I just hope that it won’t happen again. Give it a go, I dare you. Haha, seriously though, it should be good for a nice treat all things considered.

Dessert Story on Urbanspoon

Dessert Story
72 Kingsway
Glen Waverley VIC 3150

 

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Pho Hung Vuong has been around ever since I can remember.  Located in Springvale, the South East’s bustling Vietnamese community, has one of the most popular Vietnamese restaurants in Victoria. Not only is it always packed full of people, but is well known for its delicious and authentic Pho. It used to have a few other restaurants, one on Victoria Street, Richmond, I think it’s called Pho Hung Vuong 2 (Original!) but I’m not too sure if there are owned by the same people.

Pho Hung Vuong doesn’t go out of its way to impress you, the place looks like it hasn’t been maintained since the shopping centre opened way back when. Although it’s not the most pleasant experience, the food does more than make up for it.

Everybody that visits Pho Hung Vuong comes for their famous Pho. In three different sizes, like most Pho eateries, small, medium and large, with your choice of chicken, beef, mixed or even with added sausage. There are quite a few other ingredients you can add to your order but the above mentioned ones are the most popular.

What makes their Pho so good is the soup. It is packed full of flavour, I don’t know if it’s also packed full of MSG (Probably) but it is one of the best tasting soups around so it’s hard to make a fuss about it. The chicken/beef are perfectly cooked, with the beef gently cooking in the hot soup while you eat. It’s tender and delicious, what more could you ask for.

Of course they just don’t serve Pho, as it is a Vietnamese restaurant you can get the Fried Pork/Chicken dishes with Vietnamese salad/vegetables and rice, and all the other standards you would normally find in a Vietnamese eatery. My lack of discussion over their other food isn’t meant to be an indication of the quality of their other dishes. It’s by all means quite good. It’s just when you come to Pho Hung Vuong, you definitely come for the Pho.

You really would be hard pressed to find a better Pho restaurant in Victoria.

Pho Hung Vuong on Urbanspoon

Pho Hung Vuong 

Shop 2 / 15 Balmoral Avenue
Springvale VIC 3171

03 9558 5147

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