Saturday, August 13

Pan Asian

A dinner for two, three course meal, on Stardeals/Groupon for $45 ($134 in value). We ordered a few more dishes and went as a group of five. I generally dislike generic "Asian" restaurants without a focus on a specific type of Asian food. But after this yummy meal I gladly say, okay, a hybrid of cuisines can work well.

Location: 267 Chapel St, Prahran - situated on a street jam packed with restaurants, shops, pubs etc. See map.

Website: official website, extensive urbanspoon reviews and links to many blog reviews, a lunch review with beautiful photographs, and another blogger's dinner.

Price: a full menu is available on the website, average is ~$25 for mains, ~$10 for entree and sides.


Entree platter - first up was this lovely plate of tempura prawns, crispy skin confit pork belly and grilled chicken satay. Tempura prawns were hot with crispy batter, delicious! The pork meat was tender and perfectly cooked, but the "crispy" skin was unlike your crunchy normal crispy skin pork - it was tough and difficult to chew. Chicken satay was served with a tasty peanut sauce. Mmm there was enough entree for five of us to nibble at and share!

Jungle vegetable green curry - we ordered a chicken or seafood green curry as one of our extra dishes on the night, and it tasted exactly the same as the vegetable curry. The sauce was a tad bland, and too creamy.

Grilled chicken tikka - wow look at the pile of grilled chicken! Chicken tikka is, according to Wikipedia, a popular dish in Indian and Pakistani cuisine where boneless chicken are marinated in spices and yoghurt. The grilled aroma was there, but any hint of yoghurt or spice flavouring was fairly mild.

Slow braised ox cheek with tamarind and honey  - I know what you're thinking - hmm (eww?) ox cheek. I think this is a variation of Thai braised beef cheeks. Anyway, it was a great dish! Such tender pieces of beef, melting into a flavourful and balanced sauce - sour, cinnamon-y, sweet, spicy, all at the same time.

Dong-po - "American pork ribs with Chinese caramel shoyu, goji berries and daikon fondant". All dishes in this review except for this one, came with the dinner for two deal. The pork here was soft and tasty, but we were surprised because dong-po (东坡肉) is supposed to be a large square portion of pork belly, which can be cut with a spoon and melts into your mouth (probably because of the high fat content, haha). I don't know if you could substitute pork belly for the healthier alternative of pork ribs and still call it dong-po!

Roti with gado gado sauce and tomato chutney - this was a side dish that came with our meal. The roti was soft, rather than crispy. The "gado gado sauce" was essentially the same as the peanut sauce for our satay. I always love roti, so it was quite enjoyable.

Brownies - the meal came with a chocolate chilli brownie, and we had an extra brownie thrown in for free (which gives them extra brownie points - ah couldn't resist making that comment). Chilli brownie had similar spices, and tastes to the chilli chocolate at the Chocolate Mill. Both brownies were crispy on the outside, moist and dense inside.

Kaffir lime and galangal pannacotta - the grand finale to our epic meal. I've never had pannacotta - apparently panna cotta is cooked cream in Italian, and is basically an eggless custard. This had lovely texture, with the distinct kaffir lime taste, which was initially strange because we're used to having kaffir lime in curries and savoury dishes. But overally, it was a really special and lovely milky dessert.


We went on a Friday and there were only several tables of customers, but gradually filled up throughout the evening. Great atmosphere, comfortable seating, and interesting stylised paintings of faces on the wall (see above).

Rating: definitely 5/5! I really enjoyed having a bountiful and affordable meal at a special restaurant. Most dishes were tasty with flavours that worked well even if they weren't traditional. It was good (in my opinion) to have a restaurant where dishes tended to have less salt, rather than too much salt. The quantities were very generous. However, the meal would have been pricey compared to our usual haunts, if it wasn't for the coupons.

Pan Asian on Urbanspoon

Portico on Sturt

Farewell Ballarat :( last month we were at Portico on Sturt, a new cafe on Sturt street. An artsy cafe, with affiliations to the film society, the writer's centre and the Ballarat Foto Biennales. It seems that Portico on Sturt is a new project of the owners of Portico at 203 Dana St.

Location: 31 Sturt St - see map. A new cafe on Sturt street!

Website: the official website and information on AGFG, urbanspoon and the FB group!

Price: the menu is available on the cafe website, however I've included the drinks menu as that doesn't seem to be loading properly. Prices were $6.50 for baguettes, ~$10 for tapas, ~$30 for dinner mains, $4 to $5 for hot and cold drinks.


Smoked chicken baguette - with "avocado, sundried tomato mayo & greens". The bread was crispy, served warm. And the chicken was accompanied by a mild sweet relish. Pleasant, but not special. Plus I remember buying a baguette double that portion in Melbourne CBD for the same price!

Hot chocolate - not too sweet, not too watery, and with a lovely layer of frothed milk. But being spoilt with hot chocolate made from melted chocolate, such as that from the Chocolate Mill or various hot chocolate places in the city, it's hard to be content with powdered hot chocolate. Because, well, powdered hot chocolate really does have a strange powdery taste to it.

Frou frou cordial shots - I was curious what the cordial shots were about. The cordial was served in a small shot glass, next to a tall glass of plain soda water.

Other: because the cafe was newly opened, it felt like a huge mansion seated with only two tables of customers. The interior design was interesting, a mix of arches and fancy wallpapers, modern lighting, and graffiti art all along the counter (see below).

Rating: 3/5 the cafe has an unique feel, and would be a good environment when it's buzzing with customers. Food was average but I would need to taste a few more tapas and mains to make a fair comment.

Portico on Sturt on Urbanspoon