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Shophouse Kitchen in QV, Melbourne is one of the many new Hong Kong restaurants that have been popping up around Melbourne in recent times. What makes Hong Kong cuisine stand apart from either Taiwanese or Chinese dishes is their fusion of Western and Eastern such as eating a pork cutlet with rice or spaghetti but Hong Kong cuisine of course still retains the Chinese influence and has many Chinese dishes without Western influences.

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This dish is not one of those distinctly Chinese dishes, instead this dish is called a Baked Chicken Chop on Rice. This dish is basically Fried Rice topped with a cheese and tomato sauce bake with a Crumbed Chicken Chop. You can also order this with a creamy sauce, akin to that of a Alfredo sauce or creamy garlic sauce. You can instantly tell this is Hong Kong style food, and the fusion here actually works well. The Fried Rice flavour is quite muted, which allows the flavour from the tomato sauce and cheese to come through. The generous serving of chicken is crisp and moist which is the centrepiece of the dish. Overall, I liked it but I didn’t love it.

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Here we have the Grilled Chicken Chop Rice Set served with blanched bok choy, a fried egg and white rice dressed with soy sauce. I found the grilled chicken here to be overcooked, and over charred which is unfortunate. The lack of sauce also is a disappointment as with dry meat, almost dry veggies and egg lacking in any sauce as well, it makes for a poor dish as a whole with nothing to gel everything together.

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 The Fried Chicken Chop Fried Rice dish is as the name suggests, Crispy fried chicken with veggies and served with Fried Rice. Again the Fried Rice lacks flavour and here would be a downside to the dish as there is nothing that really defines the fried rice here with steamed white rice. On the plus side, the crispy chicken was moist and yet extra crispy with plenty of seasoning.

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On the dessert side of things, I was intrigued by the Signature Durian Tofu Pudding but was sorely disappointed by the end result. You can instantly tell from the first mouthful that the durian here is just flavouring and not real/pureed durian to provide the flavour. The durian extract or flavouring here was used sparingly and it’s almost just a pudding with a hint of durian.

Impressions

Although the impression you may have here is that the dishes aren’t fantastic,  I would say it’s only the Western/fusion style dishes that come up a bit short as they are not either exceptional Western dishes nor are they tasty Chinese dishes. On the other hand, the more Chinese styled dishes such as their BBQ Pork and Fried Wonton (Dry La Mian Noodles) or their Asian Roast on Rice are tasty without question and would actually come back for.

Shophouse Kitchen ??? on Urbanspoon

Shophouse Kitchen
Shop 29, 210 Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 03000
Inside QV Square

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Mamasita’s popularity never seems to die down. Almost every night, you will find a line forming down the stairs and out into Collins Street, Melbourne. What Mamasita specialise in is Mexican cuisine and catered towards a younger demographic as you will find in the restaurant it feels more like a bar or pub at night. Once you try Mamasita, you’ll understand why people keep coming back for more.

We ordered the Camarones gigantes al ajillo, which is basically their grilled prawns placed on a toasted garlic and green almond sauce with garnish. The prawns here are cooked to perfection, still soft inside and crisp outside, and not too dry. The thickened sauce adds to the complexity of the prawns. Probably my only con for the dish is the prawns size which are to be honest small for the price you pay ($28) and you only receive 5 or 6 prawns which seems more like an entree than a “Comida para la familia” (Larger sharing plates)

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The Pancita de cerdo ($25) was probably my favourite of the night. Basically it’s Guajillo braised pork belly with habanero cream, fried parsley & dressed with lime juice. The pork belly was amazing, succulent and tender. How it should be. Complementing the dish with the preserved onions, sauce and slightly crunchy parsley it certainly is a delight to eat. I’d also say this was much more satisfying than the prawns.

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You can’t go to a Mexican restaurant and not order either a taco or quesadilla. Here is their “de Cordero” ($16), inside the quesadilla is braised lamb with queso criollo (cheese) and with a mint & jalapeño herb sauce and served with a slice of lemon. The lamb here is tender even in its shredded form but I found the flavour from the lamb to be a bit lacking. The herb sauce which was similar to a pesto added much needed flavour to the dish.

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As a side salad, we ordered Ensalada de quinoa ($10) aka Quinoa salad was a pleasant salad. The quinoa still had bite to it, and with the addition of fresh spinach, corn, coriander made this a winner.

Impressions

Atmosphere wise, I’m not fond of restaurants where you have to shout to talk with the person next to you and this is the case here. The other downside is the dim lighting that is prevalent in many restaurants in Melbourne.

Other than that, I found the food on the balance of things to be delicious but for the price paid to be slightly over priced and especially so for the grilled prawns mentioned earlier. I can see the attraction to this place but it definitely isn’t my idea of a good evening. Would I come back? I might …but not anytime soon.

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Mamasita

Level 1, 11 Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000

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During the last couple of months, my home grown parsley grew wild and unattended (oops). It almost looked like a small tree with a very thick and stern trunk/stem. Having an exorbitant amount of parsley I searched for recipes that used parsley in excess, which was really why I was growing parsley in the first place but never gotten around to cooking anything with it. Luckily, I found this seemingly quick and easy fresh vegetarian pasta recipe from Foodandwine.com which looked fantastic and turned out quite well too if I do say so myself. Check it out below!

Fettuccine with Walnut-Parsley Pesto
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients
3/4 cup walnut halves (3 ounces)
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus shavings for garnish
1/2 pound fettuccine (225 g)
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the walnuts in a pie plate for 7 minutes, or until golden; let cool. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup of walnuts and transfer to a bowl; add the 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and half of the grated Parmesan.

2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain.

3. In a mini food processor, pulse the remaining 1/2 cup of walnuts with the 1/4 cup of parsley leaves and the garlic until finely chopped. Add the remaining grated Parmesan cheese and the olive oil and process to a coarse purée. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

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4. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the vegetable stock and butter and simmer until the liquid is nearly absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the pesto and toss until combined. Transfer the pasta to a bowl, garnish with the walnut, parsley and Parmesan topping and Parmesan shavings and serve.

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Impressions
My only downfall with this dish was my failure of pouring in all the dry fettuccine into boiling water all at once. This resulted in clumping of the noodles and uneven cooking as some became thick strands (undercooked) and others cooked past al dente.

Flavour wise, it was pretty tasty for a dish that has minimal ingredients, the parsley pesto was extremely flavourful and a bit of a zing. As this dish has no meat, I’d actually prefer more walnuts to be added (maybe 1 cup) instead as I also added one whole bag full of fettuccine (probably too much actually). Other than that, I found this recipe to be one I’d be keen to try again.

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Passionflower is one of those places you come across and ask why is this place so popular. Located on Bourke Street, this little store has quite a following serving Melburnians with sugary Asian influenced delights. Most of their menu is at least $12+ but I guess that is the price you pay for in these dessert boutiques.

Pictured above is Passionflower’s Chocolate Waffles. The waffles are sweet and crunchy. The thickness of the waffles creates this airiness within the waffles and complements the outer crunchiness. With the waffles it comes with two scoops of ice cream (vanilla and chocolate) along with a warm and rich chocolate sauce. The ice cream is nothing to write home about and the chocolate sauce is almost tooth numbingly sweet but you really can’t go wrong with chocolate waffles. Well, apart from the ice cream which was oddly lacking in creaminess.

IMG_0420This dessert (the name forgets me) is one of their iced desserts with sweet red beans, black jelly, strawberries, ice cream and this ridiculously sweet red sugar syrup. I would say this dessert was a letdown, nothing out of the ordinary and for the price (which I believe was like $18) is quite frankly poor value for money. The sugar syrup is unnecessary and the shaved ice isn’t fine enough. It feels like all these separate ingredients are just thrown into this  one dessert but nothing tying them together. Disappointment

Impressions

While the waffles were nice, I really can’t say I would ever come back for them. You can easily find better waffles desserts elsewhere in Melbourne. The exorbitant prices are the killer here and without great tasting desserts to back it up, I really can’t see how it’s justified.

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Passionflower

Shop 2, 168 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

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