Saturday, 13 September 2014

Overdosa (HORRIBLE PICTURE ALERT)

Overdosa, back from six months in India (did anyone else keep up with their FB? I sure did.), are very much back in the swing of things and spinning dosas at The Emerald Peacock for the month of September. I finally made it there. They didn't disappoint!
They're tucked upstairs and there's a handy sign alerting you out on the Lonsdale St. sidewalk:
Fair warning, these pics are horrible. There was almost no light upstairs. Either way, we split two dosa, the spicy tamarind pumpkin and a potato masala, $10 each:
As well as these bites of heaven: DOSACADO. Deep fried avocado chunks in a salty spicy crispy batter with lemon to squeeze over:
Both of these were amazing. The food was delivered at the speed of light - seriously, I think the dosa arrived in about two minutes flat. The dosa themselves were lovely - super thin and crispy. A potato masala filling is always delicious, but the pumpkin was crazy good: chunky smash with a sour tamarind hit and a nice burn. Yum. As for the avocado - they called this vegan fish and chips, and that's a pretty good comparison. The squeeze of lemon cut through the fat and made these completely addictive. As far as Melbourne deep fried snacks go, this was pretty much the best drunk food I've ever encountered. I hope it becomes a permanent option wherever these guys end up.

AND. Because delicious food wasn't enough, the bartender screwed up and the lovely guys gave us the avocado for free! So naturally, I wandered up to the bar and grabbed some lentil poppers as well, $6:
These are some kooky snacks.There's something distinctly fishfingery about them and I have no idea what, but it's tasty - if they were rectangular and served with lemon I'd have a hard time telling the difference. Inside they're even fluffy and white like a fish finger:
Overdosa are well worth the hype: nice people, service under 5 minutes (at 8 pm on a Friday! if that isn't magic I don't know what is) and the food is incredible - I love dosa and these were probably the best I've had. Please go and support these guys, they're brilliant and I can't wait to see where they end up next!

Overdosa
currently spinning at 233 Lonsdale St, CBD
4 pm - late
Overdosa on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Simplicity

For some reason our local fruit and veg shop has been carrying amazing tomatoes: deep red, juicy and flavoursome - and three bucks a kilo! I've been going nuts for tomato recipes. Stumbling upon The Kitchn's roasted garlic and tomato sauce recipe was a godsend: this is brilliant. Tomato, lots of garlic and a combo of olive oil and butter roasted slowly in the oven ends up with a glorious sauce: rich, warm and chunky, but not too chunky - perfect for pasta, or even on toast. Absolutely perfect with homemade gnocchi fried up: today I tried it with polenta. Genius.

You start out with this beautiful-looking dish (I use pyrex - The Kitchn says to use foil, but I think you'd lose a lot of the delicious bits that way). Here's my first batch. Fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, good olive oil and small chunks of Nuttelex:
And here's how it turns out - as shown by my lunch today, served on cheesy polenta (Bio-Life cheese - fairly neutral on it, although I think the Cornish is now using it on their parmas and that's delicious. Can anyone confirm?). This one involved red and green capsicum which was even better than the original. This is the kind of comfort food I love to eat: slow, simple, the kind of thing you eat snuggled up in a warm jumper with a good book. I can't wait for spring but this'll do pretty nicely in the meantime!
Slow Roasted Tomato-Capsicum-Garlic Sauce (originally from The Kitchn; altered by me)

approx. one kilo of tomatoes - whatever kind takes your fancy, anything works!
one small red capsicum
one small green capsicum
around six cloves of garlic, peeled and diced fairly small
a generous handful of fresh basil, torn
two tablespoons olive oil
about the same of Nuttelex
a splash of red wine vinegar
salt/pepper

This is very simple. Preheat your oven to 180. Chop your tomatoes into rough chunks, and your capsicum into smaller chunks (think around an inch or less). Pop them into a suitably large baking dish, preferably pyrex. Season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter in your torn basil, garlic and drizzle generously with red wine vinegar. Add your olive oil and Nuttelex in smaller chunks dotted around. Toss everything a little and pop it in the oven for three hours. Check it at least every half hour and just give everything a little squish - this way you're encouraging everything to break down to a sauce-like consistency. When it's done, you should see a little blackening but no unusuable bits. Serve it on polenta, your favourite pasta, as a spread on toast (it'd be smashing on pizza too) or just eat it from the pan.. I have. It's worth it.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Fukuryu Ramen, CBD

One day a while ago I googled 'vegan ramen melbourne' out of vague curiosity. Turns out there's at least three vegetarian options in the CBD - Menya, Little Ramen Bar and Fukuryu. We set out for Little Ramen Bar a couple of weeks ago but were turned away by the massive lines. Our visit to Fukuryu was a much bigger success.

Despite being in a little laneway off Chinatown, it's quick and easy to find. Up a flight of stairs and you walk into a warm spacious area filled with small tables. Ordering happens at the front of the store, then you take an electronic order whatsit and sit and wait for your meal to come to you. Super easy. There's a good variety of drinks too - you can have the usual Coke et cetera, a Ramune, or Japanese beer and cider (they carry three varieties of Kirin - apple and mandarin, apple and apple/umeboshi). I'm fairly sure Kirin is v-friendly - next time I'll be giving them a go.

Your only vegan ramen option is the Vegetarian Miso Ramen ($12.90), ordered without buttered corn and egg. But it's SO worth it - and honestly, this doesn't need the extra toppings. Rather than pork and egg, this comes with fine slices of grilled pumpkin, crispy nori, enoki mushrooms and pumpkin seeds. The broth is lovely - savoury and a little rich - but the pumpkin and seeds are the perfect toppings. Each table has bottles of chili oil, shichimi togarashi, chili paste and sesame seeds, so you can spicify your ramen if that's your jam. Either way, this was brilliant and by the time I'd finished it I was already making plans for my next bowl. This is an incredibly well thought out vegan option, instead of "let's throw a bunch of veggies on some broth", and I'm just plain excited it exists.
Oh, and where the omnis have chicken karaage and beef bowls and such - we can have fried nori tofu, $4.90:
This was delicious; paper-thin batter encasing soft tofu, so hot it burnt your mouth, and scattered with nori salt and pepper which made the perfect ramen side. I forgot to ask for it mayo-less, so if you're vegan make sure to do so. I just got Omni Boyfriend to eat the mayo'd pieces and all was well. He had the (meaty) Tam Tam ramen and half my tofu and thought both were brilliant.

Fukuryu Ramen is cheap, cheerful and absolutely delicious. The service was stupidly fast, the waitresses lovely and it was a great place to sit and enjoy a meal out of the torrential Melbourne rain. The reviews are true: this place rocks. Get on it.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Cajun Kitchen, CBD

My SO and I have recently developed a fondness for Young and Jacksons' bar - especially the rooftop cider bar, where they're currently serving the Hills Cider Co's limited pomegranate cider (has anyone tried this? it's vegan friendly and incredible). So we've been looking more and more at v-friendly CBD eats. After our first plan of action fell through, we saw the word 'tofu' and decided to wander into Cajun Kitchen on Elizabeth Street.

The menu isn't extensive for veg*ns - you basically have three choices: chips, a salad (which, to be fair, looks pretty good) or the Cajun Tofu Wrap, $9.90, which I went for:
It was.. okay. The tofu was tasty but there wasn't nearly enough of it - just two small strips. You have a choice of heaps of sauces, and silly me grabbed the hot sauce despite being a chilli wuss which may have affected my judgement a bit. The SO, a raging meat-eater, ordered the pulled beef wrap and said it tasted like nothing else, just beef, which is a bit disappointing. I like the concept of what they're trying to do, but for around $10 in the city you have so many more options within the CBD itself: Shandong Mama's zucchini dumplings, Panzerotti, LOTF,  at least two v-friendly ramen shops, etc. I probably won't be back, but I'm glad I checked it out all the same!

One great thing they are stocking is Fentiman's rose lemonade:
This stuff is excellent: a fresh lemony kick with rose and a few other things mixed in. It doesn't taste too floral and was incredibly refreshing - one of my favourite carbonated drinks I've tried. If you happen to walk past, grabbing a bottle is a good idea - it's different enough that it's worth a try. If anyone tries the chips, let me know if the seasoning is worth a revisit!

Monday, 14 July 2014

BBQ Night at the Cornish Arms

So. This is a horrible photo because The Cornish's lighting is horrible at night but who even cares. BBQ NIGHT.
This is the vegan big plate, $20: you're looking at a veggie frank with a gorgeous semi-spicy black beany chili and cheeze, chick'n strips, pork skewers, deep fried pickles (AW YES), slaw and a gorgeous BBQ sauce to slather it all in. Plus, not pictured, cuminy seasoned shoestring fries and a roll to assemble your own carbwich. I have no words, you need to get on this.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Vegetarian Delight, Adelaide

I had one place on my absolutely must have gotta visit list for Adelaide: Vegetarian Delight. They're scheduled to close at the end of July so I figured it was a now-or-never chance to see how Adelaide does mock-meaty Chinese.

The restaurant is nostalgically similar to the neighbourhood Chinese joints of my childhood. Inside was cosy and warm (the centre table has a giant Lazy Susan set up - so awesome) and we were assured that anything without "creamy" or "honey" in the name was vegan. Awesome! I had to try the prawn toast, $8 for 3 pieces:

This was tasty, although a little soft-textured for my liking. The filling was prawny (as pronounced so by my meat-eater father) and had a purple tinge that makes me think it was taro based.

My dad decided to grab the deep-fried sesame shiitake mushrooms, $16?

I have to confess on a whole I'm not a mushroom fan. I want to be. My father is a country boy and knows his 'shrooms, so I've eaten them straight out of the ground, as tasty as you can get.. but they're not my thing. Apparently that has changed.
This dish was incredible. Meaty long strips of fresh shiitake in a crunchy crunchy batter with a sweet-and-sour-esque sauce and sesame seeds. It blew my mind and I want to try and make it at home because the texture was utterly fantastic. If you're going to eat one thing at this place, make it these mushrooms.

Also make time for some fried rice (small serve below, $7):


Upon getting this, we were reassured that the yellow stuff was tofu, not egg - I love when places make an effort to do that. The tofu 'egg' was salty and filled the profile of egg in a good fried rice perfectly, so it was up there with the best vegan fried rices I've had. Yum.

And the not so good: this sizzling Mongolian Beef, $16ish:

I wanted to like this, but the beef was just.. nope. Father delightfully described it as a flavourless mix between rubber and cardboard, and he was right (and not just being a picky omni either). I have no idea how that happened, but we barely touched this and just stuffed our faces with the mushrooms. Not appealing in the slightest.

That said, I'm sad this place is closing and I won't get to go back - they have great customer service and the mushrooms are worth a second (or third, or fourth) visit alone. They have a great social media presence and seem to have enough fans to keep them going, so maybe they'll pull through? Here's hoping! 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Adelaide Eats 2

Found myself back in Adelaide this week and seized the opportunity to grab as many vegan eats as I could - Adelaide is a surprisingly veg-friendly town! There's so much more I would have liked to eat but that'll have to wait for next time.

We went to a Korean food festival where I seized these sweet potato noodles. They were delicious: mildly flavoured with strips of veggies, kombu and shiitake mushrooms. If I could get this near me I'd eat it all the time - it was brilliant:
There was also gimbap or "Korean sushi" as it was sold to me:
Simple but tasty: pickled daikon, carrot, cucumber and avo. I love pickled daikon so I was stoked to find these.

I made kimchi pancakes but forgot to get a pic of the finished product so here's the batter. It's super simple: kimchi, spring onion, salt, flour, water (or kimchi juice if you like spice). Chop the first two up fine and mix until you get this consistency, then fry. Tasty stuff.
Ended up horribly, horribly sick with a stomach bug on the second day so my dad made Dad Soup: a hearty veggie-packed thing that's so thick you can almost stand a spoon up in it. Crusty bread with garlic, chives and parsley from the garden and some good olive oil - if you don't have vegan butter to make garlic bread this is a pretty good substitute:
My favourite news headline from the trip: if this doesn't personify the Aussie spirit I don't know what does!
We went for a wander up the Barossa Valley - it's beautiful, but mostly a place to go if you like a) Maggie Beer or b) wine.
But I stumbled into a cafe somewhere along the way and ended up with the best vegan brownie of my life, you guys. Dense, biscuity brownie with generous chunks of hazelnut and dark chocolate throughout it. IT WAS AMAZING:
Went to Pure Vegetarian for the sweet and sour gluten. It's so weirdly addictive. The noodles are just okay but I wish I knew what the gluten was / how they prep it - it's delicious:
Stopped by Bliss Organic and came out with raw Ferrero Rocher and Bounty balls. They were fairly nice - the Bounty had a bit too much cashew in it, which was a bit like eating a cheesecake ball (which is not a bad thing, but a bit suss when you're expecting coconut).


And last... THIS PLACE. Holy shit, you guys. These below treats came from Al Mina Mediterranean Patisserie and they were incredible. Middle Eastern sweets (including the best baklava I've ever tasted) and raw lemon pistachio and peanut crunch cake (I'm assuming raw anyway - lemon definitely was). 
These were seriously some of the best cheesecakes I've had in five years of veganism. The lemon and pistachio worked perfectly and the peanut crunch blew my mind; peanutty without being pasty, and the crust was almost a toffee crunch. I have no idea what it was but it was incredible. Apparently they normally have an entire cooler of vegan things, but they were down one so my only options were pastries or cheesecake (as if that's a bad thing). 
These were so good I went back the next day and grabbed the two same, plus a berry-choc cake and a salted caramel one to take home with me. (They were equally amazing.) The man behind the counter was incredibly nice about explaining the vegan options and seemed pretty tickled that I came back twice; I wish they were in Melbourne - the prices are great and the food was amazing! Raw cakes are $4.50 for the below size and $2.50 for the smalls. So jealous of Adelaide folks for having this place. So very jealous.


Shameless plug:

Al Mina Mediterranean Patisserie
Shop 2, 362 Main North Road
Adelaide, SA 5084 (really, it's in Enfield I think)

If you can: go there. If you can't, sorry for the food porn!