Both Japan Vegan and Sweet Potato Soul were impressed by Komaki Syokudo.
8-2 Kanda Neribeicho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 101-0022 (in the Chabara building)
menu: one, two
I’ve eaten at Madame K at least four times, so obviously I like it. I didn’t write any blog posts about the first few visits because either we scoffed the food before taking any photos or the photos were poor.
I have to say I am pretty impressed with the food here. It is at the high end of the scale for mock meat. In fact some of the mock meat is so realistic, it is a bit scary.
The menu is a roam around Asia, with Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian and Japanese dishes all making an appearance so there is a lot of choice. All of it is vegan with a handful of desserts able to veganised with the swapping of dairy for soy icecream. Over the course of those 4 visits I’ve eaten the massaman “lamb” curry several times. I’ve taken a non vegan friend here and he was impressed with the food.
This latest visit was an impromptu one after a comedy festival show (Denise Scott – fabulous). We jumped off the tram in the vegan section of Brunswick St, and decided on Madame K for dinner.
This time we resisted the temptation to eat the massaman curry again and opted instead for several small plates, some of which were on the specials menu.
We chose betel leaves with fresh coconut, quinoa, black beans and a sweetish dipping sauce, followed by some crispy chive stuffed sticky rice dumplings with a soy based dipping sauce. These were so delicious we ordered a second serve. Then came some lamb ‘sliders’ in roti, which were not really what I think of as sliders at all, but completely delicious with chewy ‘lamb’ wrapped in flaky roti and doused with a sweet sesame flavoured sauce. Lastly we ate a sweet and sour mushroom salad which I thought was OK but not up to the standard of the other dishes.
Madame K is always reliably good and it will remain a regular favourite on my list.
367 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9415 6099
A recent night out at the Melbourne Comedy Festival started with drinks at the delightfully quirky Cookie beer hall in Swanston Street followed by a delicious and authentic vegetarian Chinese meal at Gong De Lin.
Tucked away on the third floor of 264 Swanston Street it’s easy to miss Gong De Lin. In fact we nearly did. We were walking past actually looking for dumplings when we spotted the sign saying vegetarian restaurant. Memories of wonderful vegetarian restaurants tucked away on obscure levels of skyscrapers in Hong Kong instantly came to mind. We decided we needed to investigate further and took the lift up.
Time was of the essence as we only had about 45 minutes to spare but the service was prompt. The restaurant interior has an airy feel despite the fact that it is quite small and we had a great booth with a view overlooking Swanston Street.
We started with steamed dumplings which were good but not amazing. The filling was tasty but the open double pocket style meant there was quite a lot of dough. We also tried the vegetarian pancake which was crispy and delicious especially with a sprinkling of Chinese vinegar – which I have to admit to being just slightly addicted to!
The highlight of the meal was definitely the sweet and sour mock pork. It was absolutely wonderful. Crispy, sweet balls of deliciousness with chunks of pineapple and veggies mixed through the sauce. It worked well with the veg fried rice – a huge portion that we struggled to finish.
There are lots of really interesting dishes on the menu, most of which are completely vegan, and I plan to return before too long to try out more. Gong De Lin was a great find and the fact that it evokes memories of high level dining in the hubbub of Hong Kong made it all the better in my eyes.
Gong De Lin
level 3, 264 Swanston Street, Melbourne 3000
Overall rating: 7/10
If you have ever had the good luck to eat at Maha, you have probably tasted the truffled fava puree. I have eaten it each time I have been there, and though it may not look like much, it packs a delicious punch of flavour that makes me go weak at the knees.
I’ve wanted to try making this ever since the first time I ate it, and I finally went searching for a recipe after my latest visit to Maha. I found the recipe on the SBS food site with a video demonstration by Shane Delia himself. It is one of the recipes featured on his program Spice Journey. Strangely, the recipe on the website differs in technique to the video so I am sticking with Shane and following his directions. It is part of a larger non vegan recipe, but the puree itself is vegan in the original.
I had assumed that the name of it meant that it contained fava (broad) beans, but in fact it is made from yellow split peas.
It is smooth, sweet and unctuous with the heady flavour and aroma of truffle.
It works well as a dip, as a sauce with some grilled vegetables and flaked almonds or frankly, just eaten off a spoon, which is what I am doing as I write this post.
This weekend I was out with a friend and we had some vegetarian tom yum soup from an Asian noodle place and it was delicious, so I decided to try making it myself. What could be more warming and happy than spicy soup in cold weather?
I didn't manage to get the taste exactly like I remembered it, but it was still pretty tasty! I used this recipe and substituted what veggies I had, which were carrots, red pepper and bok choi, and some chick'n pieces. I also added some vegetarian fish sauce in place of half the soy sauce, and a couple of tablespoons more lime juice because I like it sour. :-)
Earlier this weekend I also made some sweet potato curry samosas to freeze for my bento lunches. I found this great simple recipe and substituted sweet potatoes because that's what I had on hand. I also added some peas, corn and carrots. The pastry was relatively easy and they turned out delicious! Definitely making again, and may adapt for potato pierogies. I had some in my bento lunch today (pictured below).
The best foods for warming the soul in Melbourne pre-winter!
I’ve been to Trang six times this year and have so far failed to blog about it. Five of those times have been at the Smith St shop and the one other time was at the new shop in the city in Hardware Street. A review is well overdue.
I love banh mi, I make them at home and I eat them out whenever I have the chance, so I’ve eaten a lot of them. I’m prepared to call these the best banh mi I’ve eaten.
At Trang there are six vegan options on the menu, ranging from lemongrass tofu and a crispy crumbed eggplant to several types of vegan mock meat – duck, chicken, ham and prawns.
There’s almost always a queue at the door, the turnover is huge and the ingredients always fresh.
So far I have tried the lemongrass tofu, the crispy eggplant, the vegan chicken and the vegan duck. I have a hard time choosing between the tofu for its flavour and the eggplant for its texture, so today I ordered one with a combination of both.
The baguettes are nicely crunchy and come packed with some eggplant and capsicum relish, salad, herbs, whatever filling you choose, some chilli, crunchy fried shallots, crushed peanuts and delicious sauces.
There are a couple of tables outside where you can sit to eat at both shops, but a banh mi is also perfect for eating on the run.
I’ll be back to try all the vegan options, but I think I’ll have a hard time getting past that eggplant and tofu combo.
Trang Bakery and Cafe
382 Smith St,
03 9416 3988
119 Hardware St
03 9670 4761
Let me state up front, I love brussels sprouts. I know there are people that don’t, but I’m convinced that people that don’t like them just haven’t had them cooked properly.
So if your experience with sprouts is a miserable childhood memory of being forced to eat them boiled until they are grey, please just give them another go. The absolutely best way to eat them is when they are blackened, either by frying or roasting.
Brussels sprouts haters, I’m hoping this dish may convert you.
This is one of my favourite dishes when I want a quick satisfying meal. It is easy to prep and only contains two (or three) ingredients not counting the oil and salt, but I think it is much more than the sum of its parts. There are delicious caramelised flavours and contrasting textures between the soft potato, the still slightly dense bite of the sprouts and the completely crispy bits of sprout leaves that have separated.
I love it with just the potatoes and sprouts, but it is extra special with some caramelised onions added just before serving.
So after reading a lot about chickpea juice and its amazing similarity to egg whites for vegan meringue baking, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I used this recipe for Chocolate Amaretto Macarons, and substituted Frangelico for the liquor in the icing.
And so my first attempt* at macarons was a moderate success!
It worked! Mostly... I think I added too much vanilla and piped some too big so they spread too much. Also they are a little gooey and undercooked inside, but otherwise very yummy!
I think next time I need more chickpea juice (everyone is calling it aqua faba now), less vanilla essence, and to pipe them smaller and bake a little longer.
(*There was one other attempt with a packet mix, but that was such a dismal failure that melted all over my oven that we don't speak of it)
Early in March, sixteen members of our vegan dining group got together to eat at Maha.
Maha is one of my favourite fine dining restaurants and they look after vegans incredibly well.
We had a visit to the table from Shane Delia. He said that they no longer have a vegetarian menu but a vegan menu with vegetarian additions. This is such a wonderful approach. I have eaten far too many vegan dishes that started life as vegetarian with all the flavour removed. He said that the chefs in the kitchen all like the challenge of cooking for vegans. It was great to see vegan food taken seriously.
We ordered the five course banquet at $95. Here is what we ate. Unfortunately the batteries on my camera were flat so all I have are photos from my phone.
We started with two shared plates, some spiced chickpea chips and carrots dressed with lemon.
Next came the individual plates.
Zucchini falafel with spiced pumpkin puree, tomato and zataar sesame wafer.
Next a beautiful dish of grilled baby corn, enoki mushrooms and hazelnuts on a cauliflower puree.
The next dish was probably the dish of the night for most of us. Grilled asparagus on a truffled fava puree with a hint of chilli in the dressing, crispy almonds and a toasted walnut crumb. If this was my last meal on earth I’d be happy. A perfect combination of flavours and textures,
More shared plates followed.
These included roasted ras el hanout pumpkin, radishes and mint. A fattoush salad which was incredibly delicious with its tart flavours. A rice pilaf with toasted pumpkin seeds. And lastly some red lentil stuffed manti (Turkish dumplings) with a carrot puree and aleppo pepper dressing.
Dessert was a pistachio sponge with pineapple foam and a watermelon and rosewater granita.
Those of us who’ve been lucky enough to eat at Maha before, know how delicious the turkish delight stuffed donuts are, so we ordered a donut each.
Maha is so good for vegans. Delicious flavours and a combination of rustic and refined food at what I think is a very reasonable price for the quality. Lunch is a particular bargain at around half the price of dinner with similar food.
I’ve been three times and I’d always be happy to go again. Now I just need to work out how to make that truffled fava puree…
21 Bond St, Melbourne
So I know I've been AWOL for a while, I've been recovering from ankle surgery and busy getting back into work. But I'm still bento-ing!
Here are some photos from my recent efforts, including epic cooking day today in which I made spicy lentil balls, carrot and parsnip kinpara, mini green pea burgers, and teeny muffin pan tofu omelets with red bell pepper and mushrooms (from Isa Does It, this is the easiest and best way to make omelets ever). [Not pictured: mini black bean burgers and daikon radish pickle.]
I always like to support vegetarian and vegan focused restaurants. I love having a wide selection of dishes to choose from on the menu rather than feeling the frustration of running my eye down the menu and finding only one or two things I can order. I know many places will make changes to meals if you ask, but really, should you have to ask?!
This weekend I checked out Capitan Fracassa Café in Carlisle St, Balaclava for Saturday brunch. The café is proud to offer plenty of options for both vegans and meat eaters with the menu clearly marked as the ‘vegan side’ and the ‘meat side’. I liked the fact that I knew where to look from the outset. The café staff was really friendly and the décor quirky and fun. Top marks for ambiance.
I ordered the Big V brekky and hubby ordered the Corn Fritters. The Big V was super big and looked impressive. Unfortunately it didn’t taste quite as good as it looked. The good parts – the pesto tofu scramble was amazing, I loved the home made beans (despite the fact that they were only tepid in temperature) and the roast tomato was deliciously flavoursome. I wish the meal had stopped there. The mushrooms weren’t cooked through properly and the hash browns had come from a packet. Worst of all though was the vegie bacon. It was bad – basically just slices of tofu in a smoky marinade, just warmed through and not crispy at all.
Hubby’s corn fritters were okay but not crunchy enough on the outside and almost too corny to be enjoyable. I know it sounds strange to call a corn fritter too corny, but there wasn’t enough other stuff going on to keep them interesting after the first few mouthfuls. The salad on top was nice though.
I had high hopes for Capitan Fracassa but came away feeling more than a little disappointed. The café has lots of potential with its interesting half vegan menu concept and the good vibe, but unfortunately the chef missed on too many elements in both meals to make me want to return anytime soon.
Capitan Fracassa Café
115 Carlisle St, Balaclava, VIC 3183
Overall rating: 6/10