The Fast & Furious PHO24

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of PHO24.
PHO24 now has its first restaurant in Melbourne which is conveniently located opposite the Southern Cross Station on the corner of Little Bourke and Spencer Street. PHO24 prepares delicious bowls of chicken, fish or beef pho express-style, using only the freshest ingredients.
A household name in Vietnam PHO24 first opened in Saigon in 2003 and now have 73 vibrant eateries across Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Hong Kong. 
The kitchen space incorporates a unique design of nickel-plated vats, which control evaporation, flavour and temperature – creating a consistent clear amber broth that infuses the flavours of French, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines into the dishes.
Celebrating authentic Vietnamese flavours with a contemporary twist, the menu offers traditional staples such as rice paper rolls, spring rolls, banh mi and pho.
What sets this Vietnamese eatery apart is their ability to serve fresh ‘pho on the go’ in under a minute. Unlike most pho eateries, which invite you to sit at a table before a waitress brings you a menu, PHO24 is much more interactive. 
Set up like a traditional tuckshop, with an open kitchen and a canteen-style counter, the restaurant invites customers to observe the menu being prepared in front of them. After picking up a bowl of hot noodles, customers choose their own broth before cutting their own herbs and adding some extra condiments such as lemon, hoisin sauce and chili, all served in under a minute.
Slow-cooked pulled pork steamed buns

The Slow-cooked pulled pork steamed buns were an absolute winner. The fluffy, moist and slightly sweet buns were filled with an addictive medley of julienned carrots, fresh lettuce and tender morsels of pulled pork. The pulled pork was both tender and delicious, with caramel undertones courtesy of being slow-braised in an earthy Asian braising sauce.
Traditional Vietnamese pork banh mi 

The traditional Vietnamese pork banh mi was another highlight. The crunchy bread roll was shimmered with pâté and mayonnaise and filled with generous serves of smoked paprika pork, topped with a salad of sweet pickled carrots, cucumber, coriander and fresh chilli glossed in a hoi sin glaze. It was both fresh and very tasty.
Poached chicken pho

We enjoyed PHO24’s chicken Pho. Possessing a heartier and richer flavour than the traditional pho broth, the pho was an absolute delight.
With the aim of being the fastest and tastiest pho restaurant in the west, PHO24 incorporates the sous-vide process, ensuring its meats are moist, tender and consistently delicious day-to-day.
PHO24 has already carved a niche in a competitive market, having taken Melbourne’s culinary scene by storm and since January. Perfect for local workers, city dwellers, tourists and sports or music fans en route to Etihad Stadium, PHO24 is redefining how we eat Vietnam’s national dish.

Location: 656 Little Bourke St At Spencer Melbourne
Phone: 03 5915 9047
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Breakfast, Fast Food

Pho24 on Urbanspoon

There's a new kid on the block that's MELT[ing] the hearts of pizza lovers

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of MELT.
A new concept in fast-casual dining, MELT has opened just in time for winter.
A creation of Dan and Elise Gold, MELT uses an assembly line format that lets patrons order one of the menu’s classic pizzas or create one of their own, choosing from a wide selection of fresh, artisanal toppings. 
The generously sized personal pizzas are then sent to a blazing 400 degree hot stone oven, where dedicated pizza makers ensure that the thin-crust pizzas are “super-fast baked” in a scant 120 seconds. 
MELT’s fast-casual environment is comfortably hip with architectural notes inspired by fire and foundries such as the terracotta tiles which adorn parts of the bright walls and the hot stone oven, the centrepiece of the eatery. Borosilicate glass hanging vases provide a clever accent against the comfortable wooden furnishing.
We loved how the pizzas are freshly made in every sense of the word. Each pizza starts with a perfectly proofed dough ball and is pressed into a pizza base right before your eyes.
Custom pizza: Crushed tomato base, chicken & prawns, mixed mushrooms, goats cheese, garlic oil

Made from fresh produce, each element on our custom-made pizza was delicious. The house-made dough which was made from a recipe that does not utilise any oil, fat or sugar resulted in a pizza base which was light-as-air and crisp. We loved the use of this simple base which was the perfect canvas for the, meats, vegetables and sauce.
Classic pizza: Italian sausage - Free range Italian sausage, friarielli, fresh mozzarella, crushed tomato, extra virgin olive oil

The Italian sausage pizza was picture perfect in appearance and outstanding in taste. Layers of mozzarella were teamed with juicy crushed tomatoes and mellow friarielli leaves. Encircled with a puffy crisp crust, this pizza was superb.
Meatballs - Grass fed free range beef meatballs, spicy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, oven roasted capsicum, rocket
Superfood salad - Oven roasted sweet potato, beetroot, broccoli, red quinoa, white quinoa, red rice, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almond flakes with a yoghurt and tahini dressing. 

The superfood salad was yet another highlight of our evening. We savoured every moreish morsel.
Gelato by 7 Apples

For dessert, a selection of gelato by 7 Apples are available to end your visit on a sweet note. One of Melbourne’s premium gelato stores, 7 Apples’ gelato and sorbets are made fresh daily using fresh ingredients. We loved both the salted caramel and hazelnut gelato we had. The salted caramel gelato which Elise described as “life changing” was velvety and decadently sweet while the hazelnut gelato was a well-made and refreshing classic.
Dan and Elise are on to a winner - unbelievably good pizzas, lightning fast, at affordable prices, what’s not to love?

Location: 171 Chapel Street, Windsor
Phone: 03 9533 7110
Cuisine: Pizza, Salad, Sandwiches/Subs

 7 Apples Gelato on Urbanspoon Melt Pizza on Urbanspoon

Charlie & Co Burgers @ Emporium Melbourne

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Charlie & Co.
Showcasing a menu that maintains the integrity of premium produce, Charlie & Co is a brilliant addition to Emporium’s distinctly cosmopolitan café court.
The chain strives to create flavoursome and juicy burgers like no other – and we think they’ve done just that.
Mighty Charlie Burger

With a rich and succulent beef pattie (made from 100% pure Australian Wagyu), the hamburger had, sandwiched between two halves of a slightly sweet and perfectly toasted artisan bun, deliciously smoked middle bacon, free range egg, melted cheddar cheese, sun ripened tomato, pickled gherkins, caramelised onions, garden leaves, aioli  and Charlie’s signature tomato sauce. It was a classic burger and was absolutely delicious. We loved the generous serve and had no trouble putting it away.
Southern Belle Chicken Burger

The chicken burger was beautiful. It was an almighty burger with generous amounts of tender and flavoursome southern spiced free-range chicken breast, tangy and bold smoked chilli coleslaw, tart sun ripened tomatoes and oozy melted cheddar. Each element was precisely portioned and cooked with love. 
Both the parmesan & truffle fries and the beer battered onion rings were addictively good. 
The aromatic fries were beautifully crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

The onion rings had us doing it Gollum style - fighting for the last ring. They were deliciously sweet, soft, sticky and encased by cripsy batter. 
And guess what? They serve excellent coffee too.
A testament to using ingredients that are of the highest quality and expertly judged fillings, Charlie & Co burgers are a winner.

Charlie & Co Burgers on Urbanspoon

New Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar 2014 Menu

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Crust.
Crust has just added eleven new flavour sensations to their menu this month, and as part of this product launch Gastrology was invited to sample a couple of items from their new menu.

The new menu features some mouth-watering additions including Singapore Chilli Crab pizza made with King Crab and a decadent dessert pizza, the Elvis Crumble.
We tried the Sangria Duck Ragu pizza and the Roast Beetroot pizza from Crust’s Port Melbourne store.

The duck pizza was delicious. The tender pieces of duck had been marinated in Sangria Infused Jus and were full of flavour. The Mandarin Segments added a lovely hint of acidity and sweetness to the pizza. We loved the addition of freshly shredded Radicchio.
The Beetroot pizza was a lovely vegetarian pizza. The Beetroot was earthy and sweet and the Harissa Infused Hummus base was aromatic and went perfectly with the crunchy Crushed Walnuts and Honey.

Crust always showcases its new products as real, honest food and its latest new menu is no different. We are told the premium gourmet pizzas are made with only the finest ingredients; measured by hand and combined to create Crust’s unique flavour combinations.

To find out more, order online or find your local Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar visit

Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon

Grill’d introduces sliders and new sides to the menu

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Grill'd.
Grill’d restaurants launched their new range of sliders and sides on Tuesday 15 April. The new menu additions feature provedore inspired ingredients which are a delightful addition to the existing menu.

The new range of sliders and sides continues to focus on fresh and high quality ingredients. Costing $15 for 3 or 2 for $12, we thought they were well-priced.
We tasted the entire range of sliders and sides at our local Grill’d in South Melbourne. 
Our favourite slider was the 'Grilled chicken breast with pomegranate and mild wasabi slaw'. The chicken breast was moist, juicy and well-seasoned while the wasabi slaw acted as the perfect accompaniment. We loved the slight hint of wasabi which added a desirable "kick".

The new 'Sweet potato chip' side was another highlight. Each chip was beautifully crisp and delicious.

Grill'd South Melbourne on Urbanspoon

New Premium Stacked Burgers @ TGI Fridays [April 1 to May 13]

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of TGI Fridays (Melbourne Central).
TGI Fridays has taken a page from its own legendary playbook, taking the burger, an all-time American bar and grill favourite, and raising it (quite literally) to new heights.
TGI Fridays has recently introduced a new burger menu that includes the following 5 Stacked Burgers served with freshly-baked, buttery, brioche-style buns:

1. French Onion
Creamy melted Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses topped with savoury caramelized onions, frizzled onions and drizzled with horseradish sauce.

2. Mushroom chicken mushroom
Filled with crispy breaded chicken breast, melted Mozzarella cheese and horseradish sauce topped with sauteed mushrooms, balsamic onions and battered Portobello mushrooms.

3. New York Deli
Freshly carved corned beef, tart sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing topped with an oversized dill pickle. 

4. Philly cheese steak
Thinly shaved rib eye steak, melted Mozzarella cheese, horseradish sauce, and oven roasted capsicum, onion, and mushrooms topped with creamy queso sauce.

5. Twisted Southwest
Our favourite Stacked Burger, the Twisted Southwest has a real “kick”. Topped with crisp Potato Twisters and oozing with melted Cheddar cheese, the burger is filled with freshly made Pico de Gallo, pickled jalapenos and chopped cilantro and finished with warm queso cheese sauce.
We loved that each burger is served with crisp iceberg lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, crunchy pickles and sliced onions in freshly-baked buns. The result is an indulgently delicious taste in every bite.
TGI Fridays is an American casual bar and grill that differentiates itself with a unique point of view, promising to deliver an energizing Friday feeling for every guest – any day of the week.

The new Stacked Burger line-up takes TGI’ Friday’s classic burgers to a new level, delivering on TGI Friday’s promise to provide great food to every guest through innovative menu items that highlight freshness and premium ingredients.

These premium stacked burgers will be available until the 13th of May.

TGI Fridays on Urbanspoon

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of TGI Fridays (Melbourne Central).

Review: Sakura Kaiten Sushi | Fairfield Park Boathouse & Tea Gardens | Koutouki Cafe | Pud Thai Vs. Pho | China Bar

Sakura Kaiten Sushi

Sakura Kaiten’s sushi train has become a popular and distinctive eating out experience in Melbourne.
Prepared by chefs and instantly send on your way, Sakura Kaiten’s sushi train is a dining encounter that satisfies all types. 
Sakura Kaiten is certainly worth a visit for any avid sushi eater. While we found what was on offer on the pricier side and lacked traditional sushi styles, we enjoyed the modern Japanese fusion take on some of the selections.

Sakura Kaiten Sushi on Urbanspoon

Fairfield Park Boathouse & Tea Gardens
Set in an amazing location, Fairfield Park Boathouse is the perfect place to laze the afternoon away. What is on offer is simple but the food is not the main reason for its popularity.
We loved the incredibly friendly service and the coffee is not bad too. With a view like that, it's quite a special spot.
Fairfield Park Boathouse & Tea Gardens on Urbanspoon

Koutouki Cafe
Koutoki Cafe is a neighbourhood gem. 
Serving good Greek food in seriously generous portions, in a welcoming environment it is one of our favourite places to visit. The restaurant immediately welcomes you and you feel like you've come home.
Koutouki Cafe on Urbanspoon

Pud Thai vs Pho
Pud Thai Vs. Pho serves cheap, cheerful and delicious Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Located on lovely WTC South Wharf, the restaurant allows for BYO too. 
A brilliant place to catch up with friends that won't break the bank. 
Pud Thai Vs. Pho on Urbanspoon

China Bar
China Bar is a family-friendly, all you can eat Chinese eatery. The desserts are not great, but the savouries are of a pretty good standard. We enjoyed the roasts in particular.
Where quantity is a quality in itself, China Bar reigns supreme. All in all, a great place to stuff your face.
China Bar Signature on Urbanspoon China Bar on Urbanspoon China Bar Signature on Urbanspoon

Review: Hot Star Taiwanese Fried Chicken | Gong Cha

 Hot Star Taiwanese Fried Chicken
Taiwanese fried chicken, Hot Star, is the latest trend in fried chicken which is sweeping through Asia. And now, it’s in Melbourne.
With lines all the way to the road at its 233 Swanston St store, the team from Hot Star have now opened up a second Hot Star venue at 429 Elizabeth Street.
Hot Star’s  delicious 250 gram hand cut pieces of real chicken breast that are thirty centimetres in length ensure that they are being mobbed by crowds daily.
Established in 1992 by Mr. Wang in the famous Taiwanese Shilin Night Market, Hot Star is unique for several different reasons, one of which is the special cross section slice, which includes the chicken breast bone. Cooking the meat on the bone ensures the chicken is tender, juicy and distinctly flavoursome. 

Most importantly, Hot Star is fried to order; this takes five and a half to six minutes but ensures a succulent, golden brown and delicious end result. The entire chicken breast is served whole in a bag and finished off with salt and pepper and a spicy chilli seasoning.
Left: Taiwanese fried thumb bite pieces with basil and sichuan pepper salt
Right: Hand cut sweet potato chips with a tangy Plum Salt

The Hot Star menu also includes unique vegetarian offerings, including deep fried oyster mushrooms, and hand cut sweet potato chips.
A classic example of one item done impeccably well without compromise, Hot Star has indeed found a new home in Melbourne with foodies queuing up on a daily basis for their crispy chicken fix. 

Gong Cha
Gong Cha is the fastest growing tea brand in Asia and aims to provide the best quality tea and beverages to its customers (and the perfect accompaniment to your Hot Star Taiwanese Fried Chicken!)

What differentiates Gong Cha from other bubble tea outlets is the use of high quality, fresh ingredients such as fresh Taiwanese tea leaves and real, not powdered, milk. Gong Cha also allows you to customise your drink by adjusting the level of sweetness and quantity of ice. All their tea is freshly brewed daily at each respective outlet.
Their taro milk tea is particularly good. It tastes very natural and the bits of creamy taro are absolutely delicious and add a nice textural element to the drink.  

Gong Cha on Urbanspoon

Gong Cha and Hot Star are located next to each other in the following 2 locations:
Hot Star Large Fried Chicken on Urbanspoon Hot Star/Gong Cha on Urbanspoon

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Hot Star and Gong Cha.

Review: Rice Workshop

Location: 238 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9650 6663
Cuisine: Japanese
Overall Impression: 8.5/10
Japanese Chef, Tomohiro Suzuki has partnered with David Loh the creative spark behind Food Republik, ShopHouse Kitchen, Dessert Story and Taiwan Café, to bring Melbourne locals fast, healthy and fresh Japanese eating – the Rice Workshop.
Diners start by choosing a base dish (rice or noodle bowl) and then have the option of adding extra "toppings" from the counter.
From left: Tempura prawn, Takoyaki, Chicken karaage

The Rice Workshop offers five fresh and flavoursome base dishes, including a range of delicious bowls. The bowl options include the Beef, the Chicken, the Salmon, the Salad bowl and the Japanese Curry bowl.
Teriyaki Chicken bowl 

Diners can then choose to add a variety of extras to their delicious combo, such as miso soup and house made sauces. A signature addition to a Rice Workshop meal is the gently poached egg over stewed beef and rice. 
Ontama Salmon bowl

Simple and elegant in Japanese style, but big on statement design and flavour, Rice Workshop features 3D tiles, cubist lighting, backlit illumination, linear lines and bladelike wall details to offer different points of view for the casual diner. 
There is a lot to love about Rice Workshop. The food is fresh and tastes sensational. And what’s more, our meal was ready within a mere 2 minutes and almost everything on the menu is under the $10 mark.
The restaurant aims to keep the food experience delicious, affordable, fast and friendly – and from what we’ve experienced, it most certainly achieves those aims.
Situated between Tattersall’s Laneway and Little Bourke Street, Rice Workshop channels the Japanese eighties version take on fast food and take out and is a must visit destination for the epicurious on a budget.

 Rice Workshop on Urbanspoon
Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Rice Workshop.

Review: WonderBao

Location: 4/19-37 A'Beckett Street, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9654 7887
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Fast Food
Overall Impression: 6/10
Offering nothing but bao (or steamed buns for the uninitiated…), Wonderbao has rapidly gained popularity in Melbourne. Gastrology bloggers recently headed down the little alleyway behind RMIT that Wonderbao calls home to see what all the fuss is about.
The menu is small, much like the venue, and offers a range of regular bao and, after 10:30 am, gua bao (best described as open bao wraps with more gourmet fillings).

In order to test drive Wonderbao, we ordered 2 bao classics – taro bao and char siu bao and the roast pork belly gua bao.
From left: Roast pork belly gua bao, Char siu bao, Taro bao

Unfortunately, the taro bao and char siu bao were entirely unexceptional. Whilst of a good standard, they were no better than those freely available in the freezer of any asian grocery store for a fraction of the price.  At the end of the day, what you are really paying your $2 for at Wonderbao is the act of steaming the bun, not really the bun itself. 

The roast pork belly gua bao was pleasant. Featuring the tried and true flavour combination of cucumber, carrots and hoisin sauce, it contained a generous piece of good quality, tender pork belly.
Wonderbao has rapidly built up a loyal following as a result of offering convenient snack food at "spare change" prices. Whilst not terrible by any means, we were simply not impressed by both the quality and value of the standard bao offerings.

The gua baos are more unique and flavoursome and, unlike the standard baos, can't be purchased frozen in bags of 6 for $3 from Asian grocers. However, at $4.20 each, the value proposition does start to become less compelling, especially if you need to buy several for lunch. 

At the end of the day, Wonderbao is achieving great success because it satisfies the pent up demand of Melbournians for fresh bao on the go for reasonable prices. However, having tasted the food on offer, we believe the hype is unjustified. 

Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

VIP Luncheon at The Lunch Room @ Collins Square

Location: Collins Square, 727 Collins Street, Docklands
Gastrology bloggers experienced the VIP lunchroom experience and indulged in a delightful Luncheon within the Lunch Room.

Antipasto from Harvest Juice Bar

The Lunch Room launched on July 30 2013 at 727 Collins Street and has brought to Melbourne a brand new and seriously stylish, food destination. 
Designed by collaboration between blackmilk interior design and Walker Corporation, The Lunch Room looks like a restaurant, but it will serve honest to goodness sandwiches, freshly rolled sushi, salsas and more. 

Salmon bento from Sobo Japanese
Berry juice from Harvest Juice Bar

Providing hungry stomachs with a broad and exciting range of tempting cuisines from Mexican and Asian, through to modern Australian, The Lunch Room is the fashionable new home for Think Asia (Asian and Thai), Papadam (Indian cuisine), Nashi (Sandwiches), Rhumbas (Rolls), Edamama (Salad Bar), Salsaʼs (Tex Mex Grill), Sobo Japanese, Big Italiano, Harvest Juice Bar and Hudsons, a specialty coffee shop. Winner of the ʻGolden Bean Best Coffee Chain/Franchiseʼ, humble sandwich shop, Nashi is committed to providing both coffee and food at the highest level. 
Owner, Sam Nash, believes Collins Square represents the lunch venue of the future. “The Lunch Room is actually a beautiful architectural designed space and the perfect venue for Nashi” says Sam. 

Potato Dosa from Papadam

The Lunch Room is the first food venue within Walker Corporationʼs Collins Square, the new link between Melbourneʼs CBD and the Docklands. Collins Square encompasses 10,000 sqm of retail precinct that will create a vibrant and active heart for the Melbourne CBD to deliver every amenity and everyday essential to local workers and residents. The Collins Square site covers more than two hectares of land, will have up to 200,000 sqm of commercial space and holds 200m of prime Collins Street frontage. Collins Square retail will be opened in three stages, with The Lunch Room being the first to have launched. 
Stop by the Lunch Room for a re-fuelling pit stop!

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Collins Square.

Review: HERO - Born in Brooklyn Raised in Melbourne

Location: Stewart Street at the back of 445 Swanston Street, Melbourne (RMIT SAB Building 80)
Phone: 03 9995 4655
Cuisine: American, Fast Food, Sandwiches/Subs
Overall Impression: 8/10

A revolution of the sandwich kind has arrived in Melbourne. 

Since the opening of The Grain Store, Michael and Eleena have been busy putting together their new food concept called HERO, now open at Stewart Street. 

Taking its inspiration from gourmet ‘Hero-style’ sandwiches made famous in and around Brooklyn-Queens, New York, HERO has taken the art of the simple sandwich baguette and applied the Melbourne shuffle to its big sandwich flavours. 
The HERO baguettes are oversized sandwiches with big, bold flavours and gourmet fillings to match. HERO has worked closely with some of Melbourne's best artisan food suppliers to develop unique flavours, from the bread (Empire bakery) right through to the meats (Castricum), veggies (Biviano & Sons) and NYC-style bagels (Five & Dime Bagel Co). 

We were pleased to enjoy some HERO baguettes at their new neighbourhood over the weekend. 
Apart from delicious subs, HERO also serves some delicious Brooklyn-style treats including maple chipotle (smokey, sticky and spicy BBQ wings) and hot ball donuts which have unique fillings and are sprinkled with flavoured sugar toppings.
Spreading love, the Brooklyn way, HERO subs are taking Melbourne by storm. Their hand-made over-sized gourmet baguettes are filled with the freshest produce and ingredients and this is evident in how it tastes. Big, bold sandwich flavours which are delicious and affordable – what more could you want?

Hero on Urbanspoon

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of HERO.