Monday, 31 October 2016

Hato Gyoza and Grill - Brisbane CBD

Being a regular at Sushi Edo, a couple months ago, I noticed that a new Gyoza bar was in the process of construction next door. Whilst I had made plans to grab dinner at another restaurant before watching Dr Strange yesterday, once I saw that it had opened, I promptly cancelled my plans for the other restaurant, and told my companions that we definitely had to try this new place. Hato, is situated in a little nook in the hallway in 123 Albert St next to Men Ya Go (if we are lucky, this place may develop into the "new" Elizabeth arcade). 


The wall was adorned with quite a few sampuru. All of them appeared to be quite vibrant and captivating, coupled with the variety of dishes on the menu, we had quite a hard time deciding what to order.

Despite the restaurant setup, it was still counter service, and we ordered and got a number, which came as a very cute wooden spatula in a jug.

On the topic of restaurant setups, both my companions and I were very impressed with the decor, which made us almost completely forget that we were sitting in a corporate alleyway in Brisbane.

Other than being super impressed by the decor, I was also very impressed in the speed in which food was served, as my prawn termpura udon came around 10 mins after ordering. Whilst initially being hesitant at the apparently very exorbitant price for a prawn udon (other than in fine dining restaurants, I would't consider a prawn udon to deviate much from the market value of approx $12 per serve, whereas Hato's sold for $18), but given the very generous portion of prawn tempura and sides given (three prawns, enoki mushrooms and one leaf), I found it to be worth the extra couple dollars. The noodles were the delicious square variety (rather than the store bought preserved sour round variety), The tempura were freshly fried, but for some reason not served with tempura sauce though.

Another main we ordered was the Unagi Don, which came with a side of pipi soup. Whilst other places serve just unagi with rice, we really appreciated Hato's interpretation, which came with an additional fried egg, some pickled radish and edamame to give the dish a broader variety of tastes. The unagi was quite delicious, grilled to a crisp on the outside whilst soft and tender on the inside. The soup was light, but very appetising, and came with a fresh pipi flavour.

My third companion got the Yakitori Grill. He found the meal to be very interactive from your initial choice of protein, (yakitori, steak, panko chicken etc), which came with vegetables including brocolini, and the baby carrot, the fried egg to the way you mix your sauce into the meal, this meal is designed for you to play with it. My friend chose the yakitori as the steak was a bit too much for him that day but he noted the chicken was tender and well seasoned. Much to my delight, they gave four skewers (just like the display!) which definitely makes the meal shareable and a refreshing change. The vegetables were cooked in a familiar stir fried fashion but were very vibrant to look at. My friend found the carrot a bit dry but enjoyed the greens. Whilst a bit random my friend found the fried mantou a pleasant addition as it was just the right serving size. The egg was fried well not overdone and well seasoned though small. In terms of the spaghetti my friend was disappointed at the small portion but found them not overdone and a good match with the black pepper sauce which had a pinch of spicy but nothing strong. Overall, with its vibrant colours and so many elements to play with, my friend definitely enjoyed it and would look to try it with other combos of meats.

Other than mains, we also shared a large variety of snacks, which completely filled our table.

The gyoza came with dipping sauce, and the skin was one of the thinnest that I've ever had! Whilst the filling didnt have soup, and wasn't as tasty as Taros, it was still a very good mix, and we really enjoyed it.

We ordered a serve of takoyaki,  which cost $10, but came with 8 balls. As a side, I would have preferred the option of a smaller portion for a reduced price, however since there were three of us to finish it off, it wasn't too much. We liked the crispy exterior, and the smooth creamy interior of the takoyaki, but especially appreciated the heated grill, which made sure our takoyaki stayed warm for a little longer.

Our last full sized "side" was the mixed share platter of tempura. It came again with quite a few prawns, but this time had some calamari and also some sweet potato, pumpkin, eggplant and a leaf. Again, it was freshly fried (so much that a companion burn their mouth on when he hastily shoved a piece in his mouth the second it was placed on our table (karma!)). Again the prawns were very big, and fresh, but what we really enjoyed was the super tender calamari, which was one of the softest we had ever tasted.

Price Range: $20 - $30pp

Taste: 8.5/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 8/10

Hato Gyoza and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 28 October 2016

Nitrogenie - Indooroopilly

After our very delicious gyoza dinner, my companion considered heading home, until we noticed the Nitrogenie next door. Unable to pass a good dessert to round off a delicious meal, we headed in to grab some dessert.

Like most nitrongen ice cream places, we could only choose one flavour (rather than multiple scoops like other gelato parlours), and rather than being on display, the flavours were available on the signs. 

Having made our selection, my companion and I marveled at the theatrics of our dessert being made.

Being big fans of chocolate, we both settled on Nutella Ella. The ice cream itself was quite dense and rich in texture, but super smooth. Despite the heavy texture, it still light on sweetness but strong on hazelnut flavours. Whilst it was a bit pricey compared to other gelato parlours, it was definitely one of the better ice creams I've had.

Price Range: $5 - $10pp

Taste: 8/10
Value: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10

Nitrogenie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Harajuku Gyoza - Indooroopilly

Most west side foodies would know, the Station Road dining precinct offers a number of delectable restaurant options for shoppers, conveniently situated right outside of Indooroopilly shopping centre. Having spent a long hard day shopping (after a healthy dose of retail therapy :P), we decided to grab some lunch at Harajuku Gyoza.

Other than being able to see the menu from outside the restaurant, there was also appreciate the chefs wrapping dumplings from the glass panel in the wall, which provided us assurance that the dumplings were freshly made.

We were welcomed into the restaurant with a hearty Irasshaimase from all the staff, and given a table very promptly. Having gone to the other stores in Albert lane, Fortitude Valley and Southbank, I really appreciated the commitment to styling their decor in a consistent manner.

Like the other stores, the menu doubled up as a menu. 

After ordering, and a short wait, our food came.
Between my companion and I, we shared two main meals and two plates of dumplings.

The first main I tried was the pork katsudon. Whilst the pork katsu was soaked by the sauce and egg, it did mean that the rice became very saucy and moist, which I did enjoy very much. Whilst the portion was a little small, the seasoning was very strong, and the taste of soy and egg were super intense, which made it quite delicious.

On the topic of soy and egg, we also shared the shoyu ramen, which came topped with half a perfectly gelatinous, semi runny egg. The noodles also had more of an egg taste to them when compared to the wheat based noodles that Taros serves, but this was definitely not Hakata style ramen, but more akin to Tokyo style with its clear broth and curly noodles. Whilst this was quite nourishing and comforting, my companion and I both agreed that we did not like how exceptionally fatty the two slices of meat were. They were so fat that we only ended up eating the meaty portions and left around two thirds of it.

Our gyoza, was quite delicious although the duck gyoza was somewhat more burnt at the bottom, they proved to be nice and crispy at the bottom. Whilst not soupy on the inside, I liked the think skin and meaty filling. The duck had a heavier gamier taste, which overpowered whatever vegetable they had in it, whereas the pork was definitely a lot lighter, and struck a good balance with the other elements of the gyoza.

Price Range: $20 - $30pp

Taste: 7.5/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Environment: 8/10

Harajuku Gyoza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Half time tea bar - Sunnybank

Most of my readers would know, since my introduction to leisurely weekend brunches last year, I've taken it up with much enthusiasm, and gone to quite a few cafe style breakfast joints. Last week though, as I was trawling through new places to try out, I came to the realisation that despite going to different cafes, my breakfast never really deviates from the regular bacon/egg/avocado/salmon combinations, so to shake things up a bit, this week we went to Half Time Tea Bar for a Taiwanese style breakfast.

Whilst I didn't get much of a photo, the restaurant was full to the top and quite chaotic. It took a moment for us to realise that we had to order at the counter and find our own seats. 

We picked up a menu and made our order at the counter. Service was probably one of the fastest I've ever had.

For our breakfast choices we chose Stir Fried Noodles, Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Pork Intestines, Deep Fried Breadsticks and some Pan Fried Dumplings. 

My friend took the stir fry noodles, which was served with mushrooms and seasoned vegetables in a soy sauce base. My friend found the soy sauce base was quite enjoyable and the occasional vege treats to be the right mix ratio to noodles. My friend found the serving size to be just right for a breakfast and the noodles were not overly oily. 

I on the other hand had the Vermicelli Noodle Soup with pork intestines. The flavours were very strong yet quite comforting (especially with the strong garlic taste). The noodles were very soft, such that it almost felt more soup like than a noodle dish, and I really liked the chewiness of the pork intestines.

As a side we ordered some dumplings to compliment our choice of mains. The dumplings were soft not overcooked and quite juicy. The skin was not thick and the meat was well seasoned. However I found the base wasn’t overly crispy which may have been because it wasn't freshly panfried. 

As if to make sure we could not possibly be hungry, we added a side of Deep fried bread sticks. My friend found them very crispy but they were also very chewy and doughy on the inside. What I did note however was it was a bit too oily. 

To wash our very filling breakfast down, we ordered Taiwanese milk tea to finish off. However it was definitely a different interpretation of milk tea compared to the Hong Kong styles I am used to. For my friend it reminded him of Ovaltine due to its soft mellow overtones. Overall Half Time Tea Bar is definitely a solid choice for a taste of what a Taiwanese breakfast is like. With it’s no frills service it is good value for money.

Price Range: $10 - $15pp

Taste: 8/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10

Half Time Tea Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Comuna Cantina - Brisbane CBD

Being quite a regular at Vapiano in Albert Lane means that I pass by Comuna Cantina quite regularly. Having read that they offer quite a refreshing taken on Mexican food, a friend and I decided to try it out last week.

We were quickly seated upon entry and menus were already placed on the table like a place mat. Having previously perused the menu on line, we made our mind up very quickly and put our orders in.

First to arrive were two chicken tacos. Like other reviewers, I found the size to be smaller than previously envisaged, but the fillings were generous and tended to spill out of the taco as we tried to eat it. I liked the flavoursome grilled chicken, and found it to have complimented the freshness of the salad on top. I particularly liked the guacamole which made all the difference, but found the taco wrap to be a little too coarse for my liking.

I also got to try some of my companion's Mexican Beef Burger, with a side of chips. The charcoal brioche bun was definitely very striking, and still managed to be somewhat soft on the inside. I was quite impressed with the Mexican twist on the burger, as the salsa and guacamole really did set it apart from the other burgers. I also really enjoyed the chips, which were super crispy on the outside, but not too fluffy on the inside (maybe overcooked), which were redeemed by the yummy cheese on top.

Price Range: $10 - $15pp

Taste: 7/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 8/10

Comuna Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato