Nong Tang Noodle House

Nong Tang Noodle House is located on Bourke Street inside the Midcity arcade. I have to admit that I have not been inside this arcade much ever since Dessert House closed down, so it was a nice trip down memory lane. We were invited to attend their 1 year anniversary event and it certainly didn’t disappoint! They had rolled out the red carpet, and the entry felt like we were entering a club on a guest list. We sat down to a menu, and a red envelope. Nope… no money in there, but there was a rabbit lolly inside. We used to eat these all the time as kids so the nostalgia was strong!

After a quick intro by the organisers, we were on our way. We really appreciated David Yang (owner) explaining all the dishes to us along, with their Shanghai origins. The menus heading is a 10 course sampling menu, but let me tell you, there was no sampling. These dishes were full blown, and we ended up being more full than a wedding reception banquet! I won’t go through all the dishes one by one, but my favourites were the Xiao Long Bao, Shanghai braised pork meatballs in soy sauce, and the stir fried beef with Chinese broccoli.

I just laughed as I looked around, and seeing everyone squirting soup everywhere as they bit into the Xiao Long Bao. It was a tasty soup and the pork inside was flavoured really well. The skin also had great elasticity and bouncy texture, a must try dish. The Shanghai pork meatball was a dish I had never tried before. It had all the characteristics of quality Italian meatballs, and in a way I was expecting a tomato based sauce. However I was very impressed by the amount of soy sauce flavour they were able to infuse into the meatball.

I’m personally a huge fan of Chinese broccoli, and I always get told off by friends and family for ordering it! Their reasoning is that it’s a lot cheaper to make at home, so there should be no reason why I should ordering it when I’m out. DON’T CARE. I love it too much… and the Chinese broccoli at Nong Tang was the best I’ve ever had! Perfect crunch, extremely fresh, and only the best bits of the broccoli was used in this stir fried beef dish. I made a mention of the Chinese broccoli to David as I left, and he said he paid top dollar for it, I had no reason to doubt him.

The only dish which wasn’t as good as the rest, was the pork and prawn wonton in chilli oil. I felt as though they they may have toned down the spiciness for this event, and the wontons were overcooked. The wonton skin disintegrated as I picked up the wonton and all the filling came out. It was only one dish from the 10 course menu, so overall it was a highly successful event!

We’re fully aware that for an event like this, we would be eating the highest quality versions of each dish. I truly hope that the quality of these dishes carries through to other customers when it’s business as usual. They do have a relatively high score on Zomato prior to us coming, so we’re confident they’ll provide a great dining experience to everyone. We wish Nong Tang Noodle House all the best for years to come!

Nong Tang Noodle House
Approx $30 AUD per person
Address: Midcity Arcade, Shop 16/200 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9639 9258

Nong Tang Noodle House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Clec

Insert [fancy French name] and watch them roll through the doors! Don’t all eateries wish it was that easy, the fact and the matter is these guys work their butts off to get where they are. This was exactly what crossed our minds when we saw the high ratings for Le Clec, and we were eager to see whether these ratings was justified.

We rolled up and got positive vibes right off the bat. The place was bright, warm from the wooden setting, and they even had Scandinavian style chairs, everybody loves Scandi chairs right? We were escorted to the enclosed back area which had plenty of natural light, without the bothersome bees. I seem to be a bee magnet, they always find me when I’m sitting outside!

There were 4 things which I loved about this menu, normally I don’t have 4 things to love about any menu.

1) They list their kitchen closing time (2:45PM). YES YES YES! Everyone could learn from this, especially the brunch cafes. Most cafes don’t serve food till their closing time, so let’s be transparent and put it on the menu.
2) There’s a ‘must try’ logo on their signature dishes. This is advertising the dishes they do best, takes the guesswork out.
3) Creative dishes – plenty of ways to skin a cat, all their dishes have their own special twist to it and it looked very promising indeed.
4) Reasonable prices! All the dishes on the menu were priced very well. To give you an example, my crispy salmon was $22 and a glass of wine to go with it was $6. A salmon and wine for under $30 presents exceptional value.

Well anyway, enough with the menu admiration, let’s move onto the food! My crispy salmon was out of this world! The skin was as promised – CRISPY, but the highlight was without a doubt the lemongrass, chilli broth. The broth complimented the perfectly cooked salmon beautifully. It was sour with a little chilli kick, very appetising! I was not expecting to be getting flavours like this for my first meal of the day, but I certainly wasn’t complaining. Being a huge mushroom fan, to get King Oyster mushrooms with this dish was just the cherry on top.

I looked across the table at Helen to get a glimpse of her reaction with her truffle scrambled eggs. I asked her how the eggs were, she responded with “It’s salty”. At this point sweat is building up on my forehead and I could feel my body shivering. She eats so much saltier than me, and for Helen to say something is salty, it must be pretty bad! I tried some of the scrambled eggs and my jaw just dropped, gasping for water. This was way over my salt tolerance threshold, and in this case Helen’s as well. She didn’t end up finishing it, and when the waiter come around we told him about it. To our surprise, his response was along the lines of ‘I’m sorry about that, however next time you should ask the chef to put less salt if you prefer to eat more plain’, suggesting that Helen was being particular. I just looked at him as if to say ‘Are you serious dude? Did you just apologise, but not apologise?’ I know for a fact that Helen eats really salty, and for him to just make this assumption without tasting the food was completely absurd! I didn’t feel like he was being intentionally rude, but he just sounded a little condescending. I never knew it was our responsibility to control the salt levels from their kitchen, otherwise it would work like bubble tea right? (No salt, 25% salt, 50% salt, etc.)

Credit where it’s due, the salmon was amazing but the truffled eggs + waiter, was not good at all. The saltiness could be a one off, and others may have had a different experience, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here. They offered us a discount voucher as we were paying the bill, but whether that would entice us back is a different story. All in all, I wouldn’t rule out Le Clec as one of my recommendations to other people, it just may not be a place we’ll be returning to in the foreseeable future.

Le Clec
Approx $25 AUD per person
Address: 727 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122
Phone: +61 3 9818 8969
Website: leclec.com.au

Le Clec Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aunty Franklee (Hawthorn)

We recently dined at Aunty Franklee in Hawthorn, a place we’ve had on our list for some time given we’ve heard great things about it. And boy did they not disappoint! Specialising in Malaysian cuisine, the first thing I noticed when I entered the restaurant was how lovely the decor was. Bright lighting, white polished floors with outdoor furniture and a colourful corner for kids to hang out and play made it feel like you were dining at a cute outdoorsy place even though it was indoors. Loved it!

As usual, we ordered with our eyes and not with our stomachs! Everything on the menu sounded amazing. We finally settled with sharing the chicken skewers, grilled “bakars” short beef ribs, char kuey teow, and the old fashioned bak kut teh (soup). We could not fault any of the dishes!

The short beef ribs were braised in lovely herbs and spices, and finished on the chargrill. They were so juicy and tender, falling apart when you touched it. The dish was served with this delicious pickled purple cabbage and peanut sauce, and was not short on flavour at all.

The char kuey teow dish was what surprised me. We’ve had plenty of char kuey teow in the past but this was probably the best I’ve had in awhile. For those that may not know, char kuey teow is a popular stir fried Malaysian noodle dish. This one wowed us with its wok fried silky flat rice noodles with prawns, fish cake, chinese sausage, egg, chives and bean sprouts. It had lovely smoky flavours and was one of those dishes where we just gobbled up very quickly because it was so good!

Now the old fashioned bak kut teh (soup) was on another level of its own. It was SO delicious! It was a pork bone broth with 23 different herbs braised for 6 hours, and was full of flavours which included cloves, cinnamon, liquorice, pepper, garlic, and other chinese herbs. It was a lovely rich tasting broth which had dried squid, pork, tofu and mushrooms. As soon as I took the first sip of the soup, I felt like I was transported to someone’s house, eating their family’s homemade soup in which the recipe may have been passed down from generation to generation. I was no longer in a restaurant. You know the soup is amazing when it makes you feel this way.

To finish we had their papaya ice cream which was homemade with papaya, coconut and condensed milk. We’ve never had papaya ice cream before but it was really nice! The tropical flavours of the papaya made it really refreshing!

The service was also excellent. The staff were really friendly, and the food came out super quick for us. Adding to the fact that every single dish that came out was delicious, this is a place we will certainly think of when we’re in the mood for some great Malaysian cuisine.

Aunty Franklee (Hawthorn)
Approx $30 AUD per person
Address: 64 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122
Phone: +61 3 9818 6719
Website: auntyfranklee.com

Aunty Franklee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato