Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A fulfilling Dinner @ Hanabishi, Melbourne

After reading a lot of good reviews from the press and ravings from friends who have been to Hanabishi, I decided to try it out with three other friends on Monday. One of them have previously been to Hanabishi and was one of the reason why I wanted to try it out, so we let him have the honor of ordering the meal .

We made a reservation and arrived around 6:30pm at the restaurant where we were the first customer. The decoration of the restaurant was very simple, but I guess its main focus is on its food, not the atmosphere. Though I've heard quite a bit of complaints about their service being slow, I was quite happy with the level of service I've received as the waitress was friendly and attentive. This may be due to the fact that it was a Monday night and the restaurant was not that busy, but I would certainly hope to see more waitresses if the restaurant gets more crowded.

The first dish that arrived was a complimentary appetizer, which was a mini meatball soaked in slightly sweet soy based sauce. The meatball was a mixture of beef and pork, it was flavorful and moist.

Mini Appetizer, Meat ball, Japanese style.

Our next dish was Scampi Sashimi with Yuzu Sauce. This was probably the first time I've had raw scampi as I'm not a big fan of raw food, but since we were at a restaurant so famous for its raw fish, I decided to give it a go. It was very refreshing indeed! Almost as good as the Scallop Sashimi I had at Gunther's in Singapore.

Scampi Sashimi with Yuzu Sauce (Japanese citrus) topped with Japanese herbs.
The freshness of the scampi was outstanding, the Yuzu sauce also gave an interesting flavor to it.

Quick Seared Tuna With Onion Sauce
This arrived right after the Scampi Sashimi and at the same time as the Scampi Mino Age, so I decided to leave it until the end and go for the hot Scampi Mino Age before it turns soggy. I think I left it too long that the seared part of it became a bit dry. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually preferred the fresh one!

Scampi Mino Age
This dish was scampi wrapped in shredded potato and deep fried until crisp, it was very light and crispy.

The next dish was a small size of Chef's choice assorted Sashimi which was served on bamboo boats over ice dish. The presentation was beautiful, but the portion was quite small so we ordered a Moriawase to satisfy our cravings.

The Sashimi consisted of Salmon, Kingfish, Tuna and was amazingly fresh. I'm not normally a fan of raw fish either but the quality of the fish here was so outstanding that I actually enjoyed eating it!

Next up was the deep-fried soft shell crab which I was not as good as I'd expected. I'm quite particular about my soft shell crab and the best one I've had so far was in Singapore. I did not like the taste of the internal cavity of the soft shell crab here but my friends loved it.

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab

This dish consisted of assorted sashimi, nigiri and sushi rolls. The sushi rolls were spicy tuna maki and spanner crab maki. Despite the amazingly fresh fish slices, I was slightly disappointed with the makis. The rice was too mushy was for my liking and did not hold together as well. I wasn't sure if this was on purpose.

Black cod is probably one my favorite fish ever and one restaurant that cooks it very well is Shin Taro in Bangkok. The Black cod with Miso sauce here was decent, it was not as good as I'd hope as the miso sauce gave the fish a slightly fishy after taste.

Black Cod with Miso

Gyu Sashimi or Beef Sashimi
I did not find this dish particularly special, especially after being spoiled by the Kobe Sashimi in Japan.

Awabi Croquette (Abalone croquette)

We underestimated the size of this dish and ordered four portions! We were shocked when the waitress delivered it to our table and I had trouble finishing it as it was so rich. The abalone croquette was served with Tonkatsu sauce to help tone down the richneess of the croquette. The presentation was beautiful but I would've preferred it if it were served in smaller portion so that there is a higher crispy crust vs rich filling ratio.

After the heavy meal, we decided to try out the Hanabishi signature assorted desserts.

Hanabishi Deluxe
9 assorted desserts served on top of a beautiful serving plate filled with ice.

The deluxe plate consisted of Creme Brulee, Mango Pudding, Almond Jelly, Chocolate Cake, fruit salad, kiwi jelly, vanilla custard, and assorted ice cream and sorbet. The desserts were refreshing, but wasn't mind blowing for me. The chocolate cake was very normal for me.

Green Tea Ice cream, Coconut Sorbet and Calpis Sorbet.

Green Tea Ice cream with Red bean and jelly in sweet syrup

My friends still had more room for more desserts and since we did not enjoy all the desserts, we decided to order the green tea ice cream with red bean and jelly in sweet syrup which was a good pick.

Overall it was a beautiful dinner, though the price is definitely on the high side. Do try out Hanabishi for a special occasion or when you are craving quality, authentic Japanese food!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ants Bistro Vol II

Sorry for being MIA for a long long time. I've recently bought a new laptop and started a new journey of my life, that's why I've been missing from the whole blogging society. I still do take pictures of food, cook, bake and eat out a lot, but just less blogging, hence I have tons of photos in my hard disk waiting to be published.

Lately, Ants Bistro is probably the first restaurant on the top of my head when someone asks me for a decent, reasonably priced Chinese restaurant. I felt it offers a slightly different taste to the usual Chinese/Cantonese food we are used to. Here are several dishes I had on my last visit to Ants Bistro.

Light and refreshing cold entree--"Tasty Chicken", pieces of chicken with peanuts and coriander.
I really enjoyed this dish and had to order two as one just was not enough!

Mapo Dofu, one of my favourite!
I think this is probably the best Mapo Dofu I've had so far, in my opinion that is. The flavor was just perfect without being too spicy or salty!

Minister Chicken--Deep fried battered chicken wings with slightly tangy and spicy sauce.

Stir Fried Snow pea sprouts in garlic sauce
This was better than other Chinese restaurants I've tried so far as it was comparatively less oily.

Braised pork knuckle
This was huge, so make sure you have big eaters with you! The pork knuckle was so tender that it almost fell off the bone. The sauce also went perfectly with a bowl hot steaming rice! It's a perfect winter dish, even though it's not even winter yet in Melbourne. The braised pork knuckle was served with steamed quartered bok choy, which I would have preferred if they were cut into smaller pieces as they were pretty hard to eat without looking greedy and messy. Be mindful that you have to order this atleast 20 min advance as the pork knuckle needs time to braise.

There goes my first post in 3 months, I will try to update this blog as much as possible, and thanks to all my faithful reader who are still reading! :)