Saturday, 30 June 2018

Taros Ramen - West End

Having gone to two ramen places recently, there is no doubt that next on my hit list would be the newest and largest Taros Ramen, which has opened on Melbourne Street in South Brisbane. Having just finished (and beat) a locked room game with a few good friends of mine, one of them mentioned that he had never been to any of the Taros stores before! I knew that I had to rectify the situation then and there, so I made the group trek all the way across from the city over to West End to get more hot soupy ramen, because honestly, who can get ever get enough ramen?

Arriving on a Saturday lunchtime, I was surprised at how empty it was. I did like the wooden booth seats though, which were cosy enough for our group of four.

Like the ascot store, we got to order via ipad rather than having to line up, which is always a relief. I liked how customiseable the ramen was, given a huge selection of alterations and additions, and we all took considerable time to put in our order.

After my disappointment at being charged for condiments at Genkotsu, I was super relieved and pleased to see the condiment table at Taros. So of course I loaded myself up on garlic.

Behold my small mountain of garlic!


Drinks arrived first, I liked how there was both local drinks in addition to foreign drinks. The sparkling fuji apple soda was fruity and delicious without being overly sweet.

To start, we had a shared plate of  wagyu beef with citrus ponzu. As you can see, the wagyu was wonderfully well marbled, but as it was served cold we really weren't able to enjoy the melt in your mouth sensation that can only be found in heated beef. Having said that, the meat texture was delightfully tender and coupled with the zing of citrus, made for a refreshing and light appetizer for our forthcoming meal.

One friend, who I shall now dub the Rice Queen, can rarely have a meal without rice, so despite the fact that we were at a renown ramen store, she still settled on a dish of karage chicken with a side of rice. I'm not one to order rice at a noodle store, but it cannot be denied that the rice was tender with a smooth texture, and the chicken was freshly fried with a thin but crunchy and crispy exterior. Coupled with the grated radish and garnish of spring onions, this really separated it out from the standard karage chicken that you could get at any other Japanese restaurants.

Wanting something out of the ordinary, Queen V opted for the Tsukemen with double portion of noodles. For those who are unaware, Tsukemen ramen consists of dry cold noodles served with toppings to a side, with a bowl of hot soup that is particularly concentrated and serves as a dipping sauce for the noodles before they are consumed. As you can see, the double portion of noodles was huge, and Queen V was definitely unable to finish it all. Compared to the straight white wheat noodles we had, she had curly egg noodles, which I love for the egg fragrance. She said the soup was also wonderful and strong in sesame taste.

As an experiment of sorts, my final companion ordered a black garlic ramen with kaedama, whereas I ordered an extra large bowl of black garlic ramen. I feel I got the larger serve.

I found my black garlic ramen to be wonderfully nourishing with a thick gelatinous porky soup that had an intricate depth of flavour. The smoky garlic was fragrant and delightful, and the noodles definitely had considerable bite to it. The only suggestions I'd make is that the pork was a bit too fatty and the egg erred on the side of being overdone slightly. Other than that, it was definitely a great bowl, and I can't wait to be back in July for Truffle Ramen!

Price: $15 - $30pp

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

Taro's Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Genkotsu Ramen - Mt Gravatt

Having just been to Men Ya Go, I was definitely inspired to keep going down my ramen hit list, which is what brought me to the newly opened Genkotsu Ramen at Mt Gravatt. Having been to their Runcorn store when it first opened, I recall the store was quite small and the queues were insane. Thankfully the new store at Mt Gravatt seems to definitely have rectified this, with this store being able to accommodate at least 50 patrons as opposed to 20. Arriving on a weeknight though, there was really very little competition for seats and almost no queue at all, which was a relief.

Like our previous experiences, we were able to order at the counter, with 15 bowls of noodles, a selection of five mini rice options and a bunch of sides, this was definitely a ramen store with more variety than the usual. I did note however that toppings which usually come complimentary such as takana and crushed garlic were chargeable, which I found to be quite disappointing. At least kaedama was free.

Making our order at the counter, we got a number and waited patiently for our food, which did come promptly at least. 

Both of my companions ordered the Gyokai ramen, with a standard tonkotsu mixed with a fish broth. The soup was rich and creamy with a thick gelatinous texture, the fish taste was strong without being overbearing and the noodles were very tasty, erring on the side of soft, the way my companions preferred it.

Of course, I ordered the black garlic shoyu ramen. It had a delectably fragrant and smoky garlic scent which I adored, a thick rich and decadent pork bone soup infused with a strong taste, and wonderfully textured noodles. I also loved that the pork melted in my mouth and the egg was done perfectly.

Gratuitous close up of the perfect egg.

We also had three bowls of kaedama, the noodles were fresh, tender and really hit the spot.

To share we also had a serve of gyoza. These were perfectly caramelised parcels of vegies and meat soaked in meat juices. I loved the thin skin and the crispy base. It probably makes for the best gyoza I've had in Brisbane in 2018.

Price Range: $10 - $20pp

Taste: 9/10
Value: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Environment: 8/10

Genkotsu Ramen, Upper Mount Gravatt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Men Ya Go - Brisbane CBD

Without a doubt, one of the biggest things I've missed since my holiday in Japan a few months ago is without a doubt the food. With the cold winter having firmly set in, I am definitely craving a bowl of hot soupy ramen. Of course from my crash course in Japanese, I would have done my research in asking my sensei where to find the best ramen in Brisbane. Expecting her to say Taros, I was super surprised when she actually said it was Men Ya Go. So of course, I grabbed my two buddies and made the trek to Elizabeth Street for some investigation.

The menu itself was simple enough, with merely 8 noodle dishes and 2 rice dishes. We ordered at the counter and were given a number which was called when our food was ready.

Seating was sparse, consisting of two isles in the store which could probably hold 30 people at full capacity. Luckily the ramen came out quick and we were also fast eaters.

My companion ordered the shio ramen. It was topped with sprouts, bamboo shoots, two pieces of charsiu, spring onion, nori and half an egg and served in a bowl of thick porky salt based broth. It was reportedly very tasty and very salty. The noodles were tender and soup was rich and thick.

I ordered the black garlic ramen. It didn't contain sprouts, but had all the other elements of egg, nori, spring onion, shoots and charsiu. I also had an extra serve of noodles cos I was so hungry. I absolutely adored the fragrant black garlic taste. The noodles had a wonderful texture, smooth and soft without being overly mushy. The broth had a depth which I found to be on par with Taros, and I the charsiu melted in my mouth. My only suggestion would have been that the egg was a little overcooked for my liking, and could be a bit more runny.

Price Range: $10 - $15pp

Taste: 8.5/10
Value: 9/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10

Men Ya Go Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 21 June 2018

MajesTea - Sunnybank

On the subject of new openings in Market Square, I tried out the newly opened MajesTea after getting malatang from Fill the Bowl.

Situated next to half time tea bar, I really wondered when Sunnybank would reach maximum saturation for their bubble tea market. It seems though, that this hasn't really occurred yet though. Like most of the new openings, it was more focused upon the fruity tea and milk foam types which seem to be super popular at the moment. My two companions perused the menu, were quite unimpressed at the price points and opted to skip. 

I tried the combination fruit green tea with a third sugar. For $7.50 it was definitely a very expensive cup of tea. The green tea itself was quite refreshing, though I would have preferred a little more fragrance. The fruits added some light sourness to the drink, making it quite tasty, but for the price, I don't think it justifies a return.

Price Range: $4.80 - $7.50

Taste: 7/10
Value: 4/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 5/10
Majestea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 18 June 2018

Mariosarti - Toowong

Those who have read my blog for a while now would know of my good friend, Iron Fist's hedonistic taste in food (and lifestyle in general), and how going around with him has resulted in my having to eat numerous meals of cup noodles. On the point of fine dining though, it is rare to find a restaurant that does a high quality fine dining experience with good food for an exorbitant price, which is why Mariosarti in Toowong is such a rarity in the market. Being situated along the main hub of Toowong that is Sherwood Road, Iron Fist and I went out for an indulgent after work meal last Tuesday. Despite how busy Toowong usually is, we were lucky enough to score street parking just outside of the restaurant.

Arriving at our booked time of 6pm, we got to choose between indoor and outdoor seating. Of course I settled on the cozy inside seating, especially given it was so cold outside. We both really appreciated the classical yet ritzy decor inside which was formal but still warm.


Starting off with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon we were given menus to peruse.


I quite liked the menu, which comprised of quite a few delicious classical Italian dishes. Like all traditional Italian menus, it was sorted by entrees, first courses, pasta, second courses and sides. It took a little while, but Iron Fist and I were able to make a good selection amongst all the courses.

After making our selection, our friendly hostess took us around to view their private function room, which was as opulent as in the photos I had seen. Apparently there is a secret back entrance which means that high profile guests can come and go as they please.

Back at our table, our starter of house made garlic bread soon arrived. Apparently this toasted ciabatta is made on site every day, and it was topped with garlic and herb butter. We found the bread to be very rustic in the sense that it was quite heavy, dense and crumbly, making for a substantial and filling starter. I really quite enjoyed the fragrant garlic and her butter tastes as well.

Before long, the first two of our three entrees arrived, much to our excitement. 

First thing we tried was Iron Fist's most anticipated Pancetta di Maiale, being Mariosarti’s signature crispy skin pork belly accompanied with pumpkin and baby carrot puree, smashed peas and porcini jus. The pork belly had exceptionally crispy skin with a wonderfully crunchy crackling. The meat wasn't too fatty and had a wonderfully tender texture that melted in our mouth which we absolutely adored.

Next we had our most favourite entree Arancini, being crispy fried rice balls filled with smoked Mozzarella, Grana Padano, Gorgonzola served with garlic aioli. The arancini were deliciously crunchy with a batter that wasn't overly thick. The rice was tender and cheese-ily indulgent, which we really liked.

Our third and final entree was the Frutti di Mare Moreton Bay bug sauteed with chilli, garlic and ginger, finished in a light creamy tomato and cognac sauce served with crusty ciabatta. I loved the sauce in the cute little pot, being a marinara type of sauce with cream, making for a flavoursome but rich combination. The moreton bay bug was quite fresh and had a good bite to it. The ciabatta was the same from our garlic bread dish, rustic and wholesome. Needless to say we were quite full up even before the mains had arrived. 

Speaking of mains, they arrived quite quickly after our entrees were finished. As we were dining in an Italian restaurant, there was no way that I would not order pasta, so our two mains were pasta dishes.

First up was Iron Fist's dish of choice, the Spaghetti con Polpette with Black angus Wagyu meatballs filled with smoked white mozzarella, cooked in a rich Napoli sauce served with truffle infused ricotta and fresh herbs. Iron Fist and I both loved the meatballs which were bursting with flavour (and delicious mozzarella cheese). The sauce was sharp and rich with a fresh tomato taste, the pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente texture which meant it had considerable bite to it.

Our second pasta dish was the tortellini frutti di mare, handmade tortellini filled with blue swimmer crab and Mooloolaba prawn, Italian herbs in a light creamy tomato and white wine sauce. The dish was smaller than I had anticipated, given the portion of spaghetti we just had. Comprising of roughly 7 pieces of tortellini, it was more tender than the spaghetti and filled with an amazing crab and prawn concoction.


Although we were absolutely stuffed by then, there is no way that I could turn down dessert when the menu was presented, so of course we ordered some.

Both of them came quickly after ordering, and looked amazing.

First up was my all time favourite dessert, the tiramisu, a sweet Italian cream cheese with amaretto zabaglione between layers of espresso laced sponge fingers and whipped cream. The cream was delightfully light and creamy, the lady fingers soaked with espresso and chocolate sauce, making for probably the best commercial tiramisus I've ever had (only better is my home made one). 

 Our second dessert was the Fragole Grappa Vetri,  glazed strawberries topped with blood orange gelato, drizzled with brandy and basil reduction and toasted almonds. The strawberries were served warm and sweetened, contrasting the cold sour blood orange sorbet. I really enjoyed the crisp fruitiness of the dessert which cut through the very heavy and rich dinner we just had.

Finishing off, I had a glass of Italian hot chocolate infused with Baileys and Nocello. It was a very rich, thick, decadent and sweet concoction that made for a very wonderful ending for a brilliant meal

Price Range: $60 - $80pp

Taste: 9/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Environment: 9/10

Mariosarti Ristorante Italiano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato