HOT: Rice Paper Scissors, 19 Liverpool St, Melbourne

rice paper scissors melbourne

Rice Paper Scissors is a small South East Asian hawker-style eatery tucked away in Liverpool Street. I call it ‘Longrain-lite’, due in part to the postage stamp sized venue and its menu of Vietnamese and Thai street food.

We visited Rice Paper Scissors early on a Saturday night, when it was rammed to the rafters and with a waiting list to boot (they don’t take bookings). Even the tiny pavement tables were prime real estate in the shivery winter’s evening (thank goodness for the outdoor heaters). Indoors there was a mixture of seating, all high stools either at the bar or at communal tables.

rice paper scissors melbourne

The menu was easy to navigate – sharing plates on one side, booze on the other. They have a ‘get plattered for 2’ where you can choose any of the 5 sharing dishes for $45, which is a great way to scope out the menu. If you have a large appetite like mine then sharing 5 dishes will be *just* enough to make you full. So you may need to add a sixth!

We ordered our five dishes with our perky waitress and the food came quickly. It’s all business getting tables turned over quickly with such high demand for tables.

rice paper scissors melbourne

We started off with Son-in-law eggs which were not the whole eggs I was expecting but fried eggs sunny-side up with the yolks mingling with the chilli caramel dressing and crunchy shallots. Great punchy flavours but a real mess to eat.

rice paper scissors melbourne

Next up, betel leaf with fresh crab and peanut salad with a chilli caramel dressing. A sweet and spicy combination and while not as refined as the signature dish at Longrain, it will put fire in your belly.

rice paper scissors melbourne

We quite enjoyed the duck salad laab ped with lettuce leaves cupping a mixture of minced duck, roasted rice, herbs and a fiery dressing which wasn’t too fiery actually.

rice paper scissors melbourne

Better still were the sticky lamb ribs marinated in Mekong whiskey, the only sticking point (haha) was that there wasn’t too much meat on the bones and it was a little on the dry side. Loved the deep molassy flavours though.

rice paper scissors melbourne

The least successful dish was the Cambodian steamed fish amok, a sort of fish paste marinated in coconut cream and spices which again was not spicy enough for my palate.

It’s easy to see why Rice Paper Scissors is popular. It’s fun and convivial, with finger-lickin’ high flavour impact food that goes perfectly with a cocktail or three. Rice Paper Scissors continues the tradition of ‘cheap and cheerful’ food that characterises Chinatown, while still providing a funky dining experience.

Plus for a nightcap you can even skip next door to laneway bar veteran Double Happiness.

Rice Paper Scissors, 19 Liverpool St, Melbourne 0 03 9663 9890

Monday to Friday 12 until 3pm, 6pm till late

Saturday 5pm till late

Sunday closed

Rice Paper Scissors on Urbanspoon

HOT: Waffee Waffles + Coffee, 77 Swanston St, Melbourne

waffee

I can’t think of a better match for this freezing weather than a fresh waffle in one hand and a coffee (or hot chocolate in my case) in the other.

Waffee Waffles + Coffee is my new waffle destination in the CBD, with their original Altona shop expanding to a prominent Swanston St storefront and soon another store in Emporium.

Waffee in Swanston Street is a small cafe that you can smell before you see it. Nothing beats the aroma of baking dough on a cold day!

waffee

In a smart move their waffle-making operations are on display in the window so you can admire the quick flip-flip of the Belgian imported waffle machines as they turn out perfect, golden, Belgian style waffles straight onto the tantalising rack.

waffee

Inside the cool Scandi-chic Hecker Guthrie designed interior there are only a few tables and stools so it’s not a place for lingering. Make your waffle choice from the counter – original, chocolate glazed, cinnamon, chocolate stick, blueberry and white chocolate – then wait for a steaming parcel of sweetness to arrive.

waffee

As a true waffle-ite I’m a purist – no chocolate, strawberries or cream allowed! Waffee’s original waffle ($2.80) is thick and fluffy with a crunchy golden crust thanks to the crystallised pearl sugar – typical of Liege style Belgian waffles.

waffee

In the interests of research I did back to back waffle tastings with longstanding waffle vendor Waffle On (Degraves St) and the Waffle On ones are a little bit softer and more buttery in flavour. I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other, more of a personal preference. In my experience in Belgium the waffles will differ from town to town, even street to street.

Team your Waffee waffle with a coffee from Coffee Supreme or a silky Belgian hot chocolate for a delicious wintery treat.

Waffee Waffles + Coffee, 77 Swanston St, Melbourne (and other locations) (03) 9041 4594

Mon-Thurs : 7.30am – 7.00pm

Fri : 7.30am – 11.00pm

Sat-Sun : 10.00am – 6.00pm

Waffee Waffles+Coffee (Swanston) on Urbanspoon

HOT: Wide Open Road, 274 Barkly St, Brunswick

wide open road

Melbourne cafes doesn’t get any more hipster than at Wide Open Road in Brunswick.

I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. Wide Open Road is an excellent cafe which is so into its coffee that it houses a roastery, green bean storage and coffee lab. It also stocks other cafes in Melbourne including Small Victories, The Fair Foodstore, Little Big Sugar Salt and Sookie La La.

wide open road

The baristas are bearded, tattooed and passionate about their brew and it seems that you can order your coffee in a hundred different ways.

wide open road

The fitout is peak hipster. The space is a converted warehouse and the former signage is still part of the frontage. There are fixie bikes parked against the backdrop of a large paste-up.

wide open road

The interior decor is all industrial chic with vintage school chairs, frosted light shades and even terrariums!

wide open road

My interest in Wide Open Road is mainly for its food. The seasonal menu has been awarded 3 stars in The Age Good Food Under $30 and a glance indicated an interesting, off-the-beaten track (pun intended) menu.

On a freezing winter’s morning the one menu item I gravitated towards was soup. I don’t think I’ve ever had soup for breakfast (except maybe when sick) and certainly not willingly ordered it from a breakfast menu. But fennel and white bean soup sounded like just the thing to cuddle up to on a frosty morning.

wide open road

The smooth, creamy soup was soothing and rich, with hits of savoury from the smoked cod, chorizo and added protein in the form of a floating poached egg ($15).

Craving something sweet I dithered between the banana split and the hazelnut and pear bread. When I asked the waitress which dish had more ‘wow’ factor she directed me to the banana split ($14.50).

wide open road

What came out was not the dingy Chinese restaurant version of the dessert but a sundae masquerading as breakfast. The glass contained cubes of passionfruit froyo, a sprinkle of peanut and coconut granola, freeze dried berries and cocoa nibs – sweet, cold and crunchy in every mouthful.

wide open road

The cakes are also all made on premises if you want a sweet treat to go with your coffee.

I enjoyed my breakfast at Wide Open Road and given their commitment to seasonal produce and to making cakes in house I’m keen to try more of the menu. It’s certainly a popular haunt on weekends so others must feel the same way.

Wide Open Road, 274 Barkly St, Brunswick (03) 9387 6079

Mon-Sat 7am-5pm, Sun 8am-5pm

Wide Open Road on Urbanspoon

HOT: Frying Colours, 520 Macaulay Road, Kensington

frying colours kensington
Frying Colours is a modern Korean restaurant in Kensington and it’s a dream come true and a labour of love by Min Hui Lee and his partner Robert. Min is the Korean chef and designer of the restaurant and Robert helps out at the front of house when he’s not at his day job. Together they present delicious food in relaxed surroundings.

frying colours kensington

Min was a designer in a former life and the restaurant is handsomely fitted out. There is lots of wood and concrete with elements of industria and I particularly liked the built-in waiter’s station.

frying colours kensington

My first impression of Frying Colours was the incredible hospitality they showed to our party when we turned up with diners ranging from a 9 month old baby to my parents in their 60s. They didn’t blink an eye, helping us settle in with two high chairs, packing prams in the corner and getting food to the table quickly.

Granted, I was lucky enough to win lunch at Frying Colours (through Facebook no less!) but I got the feeling that everyone’s warm and welcoming manner was genuine and not just because I’d won a competition. They also didn’t know that I wrote a blog until I started using my camera.

We let the kitchen decide what to serve us and boy did they create a feast.

frying colours kensington

To start we were presented with two plates of dumplings – kimchi dumplings with a soft silken skin and soy and sesame dipping sauce ($8) and steamed pork dumplings more suitable for gentler palates ($8).

frying colours kensington

Next up were some tender deep fried calamari ($16) which fooled the kids into thinking they were eating chips. The adults dunked them in some fiery gochujang and everyone was happy.

frying colours kensington

The pork belly and kim chi stew was hearty and hot and perfect for the winter’s day. It’s a huge bowl though so it won’t leave you much room to try anything else. Even shared between 4 adults we couldn’t finish it.

frying colours kensington

The vegetarian bibimbap ($16) came out sizzling in a hot stone bowl and was generously heaped with a neat fan of vegetables and a wobbly egg yolk in the middle.

frying colours kensington

It was an excellent rendition of the dish though next time I’d leave it in the bowl for longer before mixing so that there was more of the crusty rice bottom to scrape up.

frying colours kensington

If you like Korean barbecue then the FC Mixed Grill is the dish to order ($40). You can pick three out of five different meats and we were given chicken thigh, marinated scotch fillet cooked medium and pork belly. The ridges from the flame grill were branded on the meat and imparted everything with a smoky charred flavour without losing any of the meat’s juiciness.

frying colours kensington

Korean cuisine is famous for their fried chicken and at Frying Colours you can choose your fried chicken with original, spicy or sweet soy ($19-32). The chicken didn’t lose any juiciness from the frying and the crispy batter was just right in terms of thickness and crunch. We took some leftovers home and reheated them in the oven and they were still very moist (with some steamed rice and the leftover kimchi – fantastic!).

frying colours kensington

If you can handle the heat then I recommend the spicy version as the gochujang gives the dish a less KFC, more Korean flavour.

frying colours kensington

For sides my pick is the wasabislaw ($5), a piquant and fresh counterpoint to all the frying and grilling. Except for the kimchi of course, for you must try it.

frying colours kensington

Min makes all the kimchi based on his grandmother’s recipe and he started the fermentation process for the first batch of kimchi 6 months before opening the restaurant. We tried two versions – a traditional cabbage and a cooling cucumber kimchi, both served in cute mason jars (ask whether you can take the rest of it home!). Both versions were well balanced with the flavours of soy, bean paste and chilli all distinguishable without any of the flavours being overpowering.

An hour passed and the kids started getting restless. The adults were still working their way through the feast so I asked Robert whether they had any dessert. He replied that there was no dessert menu (yet) but he had some ice creams upstairs we could have. Not thinking, I said yes, only then realising that he was giving Drumsticks to my children from the personal stash in his house upstairs! While I was very embarrassed by my request I was very impressed that he went above and beyond to ensure that everyone enjoyed their meal.

Frying Colours Kensington

I really loved the food and atmosphere at Frying Colours. It’s evident that everything has been done with care and they go out of their way to ensure that everyone has a good time. Robert kept repeating that they loved having kids come in and make a mess.  So I’m sure we’ll be back as a family to do just that!

Just note that they take bookings but leave some tables for walk-ins as they want the place to become a favourite for locals – and there’s nothing worse than walking down to your local to find it so packed you can’t get in.

Frying Colours, 520 Macaulay Road, Kensington (03) 9939 9679

Mon-Fri 12pm – 2.30pm and 5.30pm – 9pm, Sat 12pm – 10pm

Frying Colours on Urbanspoon

HOT: ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tour

westside discovery tour culture mamas

Every 3 months Maribyrnong City Council hold free ‘Westside Discovery Tours’ where locals and visitors can discover the hidden secrets of Melbourne’s inner west. One of the sold out tours that I attended was the ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray which was held in conjunction with Culture Mamas.

westside discovery tour culture mamas

Photographer Terry Murphy led 8 mums and bubs on a relaxed 1.5 hour baby and pram-friendly walk around Footscray CBD. I discovered unexpected pockets of the area and most importantly some basic techniques to get the best out of my camera.

westside discovery tour culture mamas

The tour started with a windswept 360 degree panorama of Footscray and its surrounds from the rooftop carpark of Footscray Market. Here we learnt about the aspects to consider when taking a picture – composition, lighting and colour.

As most of us were guilty of shooting in auto all the time Terry took us through how to use the aperture function instead. We learnt about using different aperture settings, how to apply the correct white balance setting depending on the light conditions (shady, sunny, cloudy etc), how do adjust our ISO and making sure that images were processed in large fine jpg.

With those basics in mind we practised shooting a panorama image and some portraits of mums and bubs with Footscray in the background.

westside discovery tour culture mamas

Next up was a stop in a graffitied laneway in Footscray CBD with a massive paste-up by local street artist Baby Guerilla and other vibrant artworks which made a colourful backdrop for more portraits.

westside discovery tour culture mamas

After a brief stroll through Little Saigon and Hopkins Street, the main street in Footscray CBD, we stopped to discuss the best tips for shooting portraits. Turns out you will get better proportions and less distortion if you step back and use a long zoom rather than getting in close and using a short zoom. And always shoot from above or eye level.

westside discovery tour culture mamas

It was a shame that we’d run out of time to visit Footscray Park to learn more about shooting scenery and landscapes but it’s likely that there will be more photography tours with Culture Mamas in future. To stay in the loop check out their website.

Other free Westside Discovery Tours are running this week, from an arts crawl, historical walks and food tours (sold out but get on the waiting list). Check out the Maribyrnong City Council website for more info and mark your diaries to book a spot on the September tours.

Read my review of a previous Westside Discovery Tour ‘Vietnam on a Plate’.

‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tours with Culture Mamas

HOT: Syracuse, 23 Bank Place, Melbourne

syracase melbourne

Syracuse was one of the many restaurants I tried in my first year in Melbourne and since then it has become a stalwart of the CBD’s scene, particularly for the banker-and-lawyer end of town. It’s not a so-hip-it-hurts kind of place with queues streaming out the door – more of a quiet high achiever.

syracase melbourne

Syracuse’s decor has not changed much from my last visit. Still very elegant, with lofty ceilings and quiet subdued period features framed by a theatrical curtain swathing the front entrance.

syracase melbourne

syracase melbourne

I was invited to try their new menu, which has moved in a very different direction from my previous visits. It’s goodbye to Italian-influenced comfort food style of cuisine and hello to a lighter, more playful approach incorporating flavours and techniques from beyond the Mediterranean.

For lunch they have an Express Lunch menu with two courses and a glass of wine for $45 but we opted to order a la carte as we were intrigued by many of the dishes on the menu.

syracase melbourne

To start, To start, we shared some tender line caught calamari (more sustainable than traditionally netted calamari) with potatoes beurre fondue, braised leek and bottarga  ($16.50). A delicate entree with an inspired combination of textures.

syracase melbourne

While Syracuse has moved beyond traditional Italian cuisine generally you shouldn’t dismiss the kitchen’s skill with Italian dishes like the featherlight pan fried potato and porcini gnocchi ($23 entree size). This was served with earthy wild mushrooms, a dab of avocado and a surprising ‘garlic milk’. Basically it was a frothy light sauce infused with cloves of roasted garlic and was an inventive change from a basic cream sauce. I found the addition of avocado a bit too inventive though – for me there was just something not quite right with the addition of a cold avocado puree to the mix. I would have preferred a more tradition pea puree or nothing at all.

syracase melbourne

The hearty slow roasted Flinders Island lamb rump was incredibly tender and the tumbling combination of fermented tomatoes, black olive, macadamia and shanklish gave the dish a Mediterranean twist ($38).

syracase melbourne

In contrast the King George whiting, with a lineup of mandolined crayfish, pickled cabbage and watermelon ($40) was a delightfully zingy dish for Autumn and almost Japanese in its execution particularly with the garnish of roasted rice. It was certainly ornately presented.

syracase melbourne

To finish we shared a crème brûlée delicately scented with violets, combined with a drizzle of passionfruit caramel and ‘passionfruit crispies’ ($15). It was well-balanced in its sweetness despite the potential for overwhelming sugar in its combination of ingredients. A perfect sugar crust on the top too, perfect for cracking with the back of a spoon.

syracase melbourne

The Cherry Bombe was also well balanced with the meringue hiding the cherry ice cream within, though personally I could have done without the optional hit of limoncello ($16). I adored the pretty presentation.

Syracuse’s revised menu is an interesting departure from the traditional fare that it used to serve. Some of it was more successful than others but in general I enjoyed the ambience, service and the thoughtfully presented dishes. A restaurant that should definitely satisfy the gastronomes.

Syracuse, 23 Bank Place, Melbourne

Monday – Friday 7:00am-11:00pm

Saturday 6:00pm-11:00pm

Click to add a blog post for Syracuse on Zomato

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