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.
This 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
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.
Shop 2, 168 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ramen-Ya has been on the Melbourne food scene since 2007. Their original restaurant is located at GPO, along an alleyway of sorts (of course, it’s Melbourne). Their primary cuisine is Japanese Ramen, but they also offer a selection of bento boxes. To keep you reassured, this is an authentic Japanese eatery, and quite a popular one at that, with another Ramen-Ya located further down on Bourke St.
Oddly enough, I ordered something not particularly authentic but becoming quite popular in Japanese restaurants. I saw many Japanese restaurants in Vancouver that had Korean fusion dishes. The Korean flavour to this ramen dish adds an interesting taste to the dish. It’s a bit sour and a tad spicy and mostly what Kimchi is. You can pick your soup base too, I chose the Miso one just to be a little different. I found it to be intriguing combination but the only downside is that the soup was lukewarm, and by the time you finish it, it’s basically cold! Other than that, it’s a delightful dish that’s mostly vegetarian apart from the charshu but having the soup hot would have made me like it even more.
Ramen-Ya’s Chicken Teriyaki bento is also nicely prepared. The chicken teriyaki has that usual teriyaki flavour, it needs a bit of the Japanese chilli powder just to give it a bit of a kick but the chicken was well cooked and seasoned. Really, what more could you ask for.
I really liked the taste of the Beef Sukiyaki, the beef is nice and soft and the sauce (albeit it’s on the sweet side) is delicious. You can get salad and miso soup, or any dish, for a small sum if you’re eager to round out your meal. The bite sized gyoza had a very substantial flavour to the filling, with that hint of ginger, and freshly cooked is also very pleasing.
Ramen-Ya serves up authentic Japanese cuisine that is certain to delight people’s tastebuds. You can really see why people come back for more but I really do hope the lukewarm soup base for my Ramen was a one time mistake (it was also an extremely warm day) as it can really detract from your dining experience. I never am quite satisfied when eating cold food that is supposed to be warm, it just doesn’t fill you up in the same way.
Shop 25G Melbourne GPO
350 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Glen Waverley VIC 3150
(03) 9560 9018