Where we ate and drank in Melbourne

In September, we had an amazing time eating and drinking our way around Melbourne. Although I had a huge list, we only had a small amount of time but still managed to get through a good deal of them. Here’s some of the places that we ended up visiting.

Eating Places

  • Fancy Hanks (Level 1, 79 Bourke St) – If you’re craving some good American style BBQ with a wide variety of sauces and craft beer, then Fancy’s Hanks is for you.
  • Dehli Streets (22 Katherine Pl) – A cheap and cheerful restaurant tucked away in an alley but was full even on a Monday evening. A good mix of Indian food served in a Thali which gives you a good option to try several things at once.
  • Sezar (6 Melbourne Pl) – A more upmarket restaurnat serving Armenian food which is an interesting mix of dishes that remind me of a mix between Turkish and middle Eastern dishes. Try the feast, although make sure you leave some room for dessert! Bookings essential.
  • Bibim Fresh (9/108 Bourke St) – A cheap and cheerful Korean restaurant serving focused on serving Korean stone bowls with fresh ingredients and a slightly healthier twist on the dishes such as brown instead of white rice.
  • Maha (21 Bond St) – An underground Turkish restaurant that offers both ala carte and an amazing 4-6 course tasting adventure. This is definitely a bit more fine-dining and we noted a number of people coming here for birthdays because it was nice.
  • +39 Pizza (362 Little Bourke St) – A popular but tiny pizza place that offers huge pizzas. The pizza was good but I was disappointed that the foccacia was basically a pizza dough, not a proper foccacia one. Cheap and cheerful.
  • Frances’ Food and Coffee (1/245 Franklin St) – We stumbled across this place looking for breakfast when we were near the QVM. I’m glad we did with good coffee, great variety of cooked breakfasts, seats in the sun and friendly service – what more does one need?
  • Dex2rose Nitrogen Gelateria & Cafe (377-379 Little Bourke St) – Instagram-friendly creative dessert cafe based on ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.

Drinking Places

  • Fall from Grace (Hidden bar in State of Grace at 477 Collins St) – One of those speakeasy bars that is hidden behind a retracting bookcase that will make you fall in love with the atmosphere. Cocktails take a while to whip up, and ordering them at the counter is worth watching the amount of preparation. Rather darkly lit on the inside but lots of comfy lounge areas if you come early enough.
  • Berlin Bar (Upper floor – 16 Corrs Ln) – I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this place. The reviews made me think it could be really cheesy… but it was really well done! Sit in the East or the West side and enjoy the creative and German-inspired drinks, the fitting atomsphere and some of the great entertainment (black and white film and an in-house magician!) Cocktails weren’t cheap AUD20 but were worth it for something unique. Even better is that everyone must sit at a table, so it’s never too crowded (but there was a line so come early or book)
  • Madame Brussels (59 Bourke St) – Brightly decorated tennis lawns, pink chairs and camp decorations make this jovial bar a delight to drink at. Why order a single cocktail when you can order the cocktails by the pitcher to share! They have a nice terrace that even in winter was used because of the outdoor heating. Light finger food made available (the sausage rolls were amazing!)

Coffee Places

  • Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke St) – This tiny place was just down from hotel we stayed at and was a place I remember from the last trip I had in Melbourne. It’s not really a huge place with lots of tables but works for a couple.
  • Duke’s Coffee (247 Flinders Ln) – Some of the folk from my office showed me this coffee place. Proper hipster style, with a long stream of regulars and often a line out of the door. They also offer some amazing looking cakes and pastries to snack on as well.
  • Manchester Press (8 Rankins Ln) – We actually dropped in here for breakfast. It’s a larger airy place that apparently is really crowded on weekends (we went on a weekday). I wasn’t particularly impressed by the breakfast offerings – various bagels with different toppings but the coffee was good with lots of seating area in a large warehouse-like environment.

Kim Chee

Kim Chee opened a long time ago in Holborn and is really popular with the huge number of people willing to queue outside to sit at the communal tables. The tall ceilings, dark paneling and nice interior reminds me of a Hakkasan-inspired restaurant without the prices.

Fortunately the food is still pretty good. I ended up here meeting a friend for an early lunch so we didn’t have to queue. Go at noon during the week and you get seated pretty quickly. Ordering happens via touch remote and food arrives relatively quickly. The menu is very well assembled – nice pictures but I opt to for the Dolsot Bibimbamp (a hot stone bowl served with raw beef and vegetables and rice that you mix together). They provided lots of hot chilli paste and the bowl very well heated to toast the rice in just the right spots.

My dining companion went for the tofu noodles because she was vegetarian. She mentioned it was pretty tasty though a bit hard to eat when the noodles arrived on a plate and you only had chopsticks to eat it with.

The restaurant filled up quickly but it wasn’t too hard to get the bill and, perhaps we were lucky, we didn’t feel rushed as one might expect in a place where the rent isn’t going to be cheap. I’d come back but I’m not so sure about the lining up thing.

Name: Kim Chee
Found at: 71 High Holborn, London WC1V 6EA
Website: http://www.kimchee.uk.com/

Bon Chon Round 2

On this trip to New York, I planned a number of return visits to places that I’ve been to before. I guess the true test of anywhere reasonable in NY is one that can survive the rent prices of New York, and the ever changing trends that Manhattan-ites seems to follow all the time. Fortunately it looks like the Korean Fried Chicken trend is here to stay and we returned to the Bonchon Chicken on John.

Unlike our previous visit to Bonchon, this one really resembled a place I’d imagine Korean Fried Chicken should really be eaten – in a bar, as finger food although this was definitely made much more North American with large TV displays showing sport. We sat at the bar where you can order the food as well.

The great thing about the korean fried chicken is the way that they cook it, and the the pieces are lightly coated in a sauce (sweet soy, or chilli in this case) although I have to admit that the spice level was turned way down to the point where I didn’t break into a sweat this time.

Bonchon is still the bomb, and for some pretty tasty fast food, I’d definitely recommend it.

Name: Bonchon on John
Found at:
Website: http://www.bonchononjohn.com/BonchononJohn/Home.asp

Kim Chi Princess

With the upcoming Chinese New Year, Sha Sha and I decided to host a closely related celebration at a Korean restuarnat, one that I’d found called Kim Chi Princess. Owned by the same people that own Angry Chicken, I thought the food was going to be pretty good. Located in Kreuzburg, literally next door to Angry Chicken, Kim Chi Princess focuses on the more traditional side to Korean food including individual meals, and the Korean BBQ that we all love and adore.

In this case, they bring portable gas BBQ plates to grill at the table, unlike the ones that have it embeded. Just like one would on a Chinese New Year, we seemed to over order on the food but walked away very satisfied and extremely happy.

Along with the meat, we somehow managed to get through quite a few bottles of red wine…

The result of over ordering on the meat meant that we ended up almost surrounded by portable grills of various kinds though due to various diet restrictions kept the beef down one end, and pork down the other.

The over ordering probably started with the appetisers, not realising how big their Korean pancakes were and some of us also ordering a set of dumplings. Here you can see the Kim Chi version, although I went for the more traditional seafood one.

Someone (Rachel!) couldn’t wait to dig into their dumplings. She did pretty well with the chopsticks don’t you think?

Unlike in London where you have to order a side dish, they brought out five or six different Bon Chon and an awesome salad that I couldn’t get enough of. Felix, commenting its similarirty to German sauerkraut, this cabbage version had enough sesame oil, plenty of spice and good depth of flavour that added to the meat.

Little rice bowls arrived as well.

Finally we have the meat grilling. We went for two different types of beef, and two different types of pork, although each plate is designed for two people. The pork belly, crisped up wasn’t as good as the other marinated pork, and the beef that I tried fell in between. I think the thinly slice Entrocote (that I didn’t try) probably wasn’t as nice as it was almost instantly cooked on the grill in its very thinly sliced form.

Not the cheapest of our meals in Berlin, I think it’s still pretty good value for Korean food when the equivalent in London for the food alone probably would have seen us hit £40. I think we paid EUR45 including four bottles of wine at the table, a number of bottles of sparkling water and the giant amount of food that saw, at least me, feeling like I needed to be rolled out.

For Korean food, I was quite surprised at how good it was. Not the best I’ve had but much better than I was expecting to find in Berlin.

Name: Kim Chi Princess
Found at: Skalitzer Strasse 36, Kreuzburg, Berlin, Germany (between Kottbusser Tor and Gorlitzer Bahnhof U-Bahn stops)
Website: http://www.kimchiprincess.com/


After coming back from Japan and having had some Korean food, I was particularly craving some more of it, particularly their hot stone bowl dish, dol bibimbap. I headed out for a Sunday lunch but it seemed like all the Korean restaurants in central London were shut so I kept walking around until I stumbled across Azzi, a fusion Japanese and Korean restaurant.


Its entrance makes it appear quite small restaurant with only four tables visible. A bunch of Korean ladies catching up occupied one of them while another group of Swedish tourists took another, apparently umming and ahhing over what to order. They had a couple of small tables by the main counter so I took one of them. They do have some tables out back as I saw plenty of people head out back but I have no idea how many. Their menu was interesting, less fusion that advertised and more just serving both Japanese and Korean dishes. It didn’t really matter to me since they had what I wanted, the dol bibimbap.


I ordered the dol bibimbap and a lemonade that, with the 12.5% service came to just over £10. I thought it was fairly reasonable since the dish came with miso soup and a side of kim chi, something that many other Korean restaurants charge extra for. The hot stone bowl soon arrived accompanied by the distinctive sound of sizzling rice and vegetables. It certainly looked impressive with a semi fried egg on top soon to be mixed in to the rest of the ingredients with chilli sauce.

Overall I was pretty impressed by it. Tasty, crispy rice and plenty of flavour throughout it. Although the service was friendly, I don’t think it was super prompt as I had to wait for the bill and not really worth the 12.5%. I’d still probably return though and try a few other dishes.

Name: Azzi
Address: 47 Poland Street, London, W1F 7NB
Website: None that I could find
The good: Reasonably priced dol bibimbap with soup and kim chi included in the price
The not so good: 12.5% service? Hmmm…

The KFC Phenomenon – Bon Chon Chicken

KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), not the southern Kentucky kind, is taking over the streets of New York, or at least according to the NY Times. Perhaps it’s the twice cooked, Chinese style frying technique that renders the skin super thin and crispy that makes it so appealing. Or perhaps it’s the care and the diligence that they have about only preparing the chicken fresh so everyone can enjoy the hot and aromatic smells.

Since I didn’t get to go to any Korean Fried Chicken joints on my previous trips to New York, I made some effort to have at least a lunch at one of them, and ended up in the Flushings location of Bon Chon Chicken, conveniently located very near to where I was staying with some relatives. Apparently the chicken is more popular at evening time, when people clock off from work and want a few beers which might explain how we were the only people eating here at lunch time. A few people did ring ahead for their takeaway orders since they have the refreshingly strict, only cook to order policy.

Popcorn Shrimp

A waiter greeted us promptly when we entered, asking us if we’d been here before and gave us some time to peruse the menu. We thought we’d start with a small selection of wings, and pig out on the fries and popcorn shrimp as I’d read about how they seasoned the fries instead of simply pouring salt on them.

Strangely, he delivered the fries and popcorn shrimp first, as if it was an appetiser, although considering how large the serve was, it would have been plenty for lunch for the both of us. Sprinkled liberally with garlic and rosemary, the shrimp and fries were amazingly crisp and super tasty. Combined with three types of dipping sauces (sweet chilli, hot chilli and a tomato ketchup), we cycled through the different sensations as we finished off the large bowl.

Korean Fried Chicken Wings And Drumsticks at Bon Chon Chicken

It wasn’t too shortly after than he brought out the chicken wings and drumsticks, I think a combination of four pieces of each type. They offer a choice of sauces, and in order to trial both of them, ended up having half and half, the first, a sweet garlic soy, and the other, a hot chilli sauce.

I have to admit that the Korean fried chicken impressed me. The skin stayed super crisp for the entire time, with the insides succulent and juice. What sauce they had didn’t overpower the flavour of the chicken, instead adding a different dimension. They also make it so that the sauce isn’t like what you’d have on buffalo chicken wings – a messy covering that ends up everywhere including your hands and your face. Instead, it seemed like a thin-glaze that somehow stayed on the chicken itself to continually make the chicken stand out.

I have to admit I had a hard time trying to decide which one was my favourite flavours out of the two. The garlic soy was slightly sweet, and the perfect balance, neither being too sweet, nor excessively garlicky. The hot sauce, on the other hand, lived true to its name, even to the point it started to make me sweat. The sauce also wasn’t just hot, it had some nice flavours and I appreciated the fact that the sauce brought on a continual heat, rather than the mustard or wasabi inspired instantaneous hit you might expect.

After our meal, a very reasonable price as well, I can understand why it’s becoming more and more popular. KFC is not a fast food to be taken lightly. It’s a different spin on something very classic and manages to deliver in surprising ways.

Name: Bon Chon Chicken
Found at: 157-18 Northern Blvd, Flushing, NY 11354
Website: http://www.bonchon.com/
The Good: Crisp, amazingly fresh flavours and a unique twist on the classic fried chicken. This location is also a nice place to hang out, having been renovated recently and looking pretty stylish.
The Not So Good: Don’t be fooled by their website describing their chicken as healthy. It may not have as much coating to soak oil up, but fried chicken is still fried chicken.