The Table Lamp

The Table Lamp delights with modern Asian fusion cuisine in ornate surrounds.
The dining room seeks to transport diners to Asia with Balinese art and beautiful birdcages.
We commenced our evening with a couple of outstanding cocktails.  The “Horse” was a skilful composition of Apple, Hennessy Cognac, Carton Apple liqueur and Earl Grey Tea.
The “Dragon” was similarly enjoyable.  Served in a traditional tokkuri with Bacardi Superior Rum, Sake, Lychee Juice, Lychee, Paraiso Lychee liqueur and Vodka, the flavours were light, bright and clean. We loved how the cocktails had beautifully balanced flavour combinations and drew from both Western and Eastern influences.
Basil corn fritters with tamarind jam

With their crunchy golden brown exterior, these corn nuggets of deep fried batter and succulently sweet corn kernels were delightful. 
Five spice wagyu beef with crispy vegetables and lemon sauce

A dish which highlights the robust beefiness of the Wagyu. We enjoyed the melt-in-the-mouth texture of each sliced which has been perfectly cooked.
Hat Yai Crispy chicken with grilled 3 chilli medley laces with ground rice and fish sauce

The meaty morsels of chicken were crusted with a flavoursome spice mix and then perfectly fried to achieve a moreishly crunchy exterior and were highly addictive.
Twice cooked pork belly with volcano curry

Harmonising a perfect balance of spices and sweetness, the accompanying volcano curry was delicious with the crisp pork belly pieces.  A very fresh and fragrant green apple salad provided a refreshing element to counterbalance the relatively rich pork belly.
Steamed barramundi fillet with Chinese soy, rice wine and ginger

An absolute highlight of our visit, the barramundi featured tried and true flavour combinations of soy, rice wine and ginger. The quality of the barramundi was exemplary and perfectly cooked resulting in a very delicate and moist piece of fish. A wonderfully simple dish that allowed the natural subtle sweetness of the fish to be enjoyed.
Soft shell crab with  with two types of peppercorns

We loved The Table Lamp’s enticing soft shell crab. The deep fried crustacean pieces were coated in a semi-thick crisp batter that encapsulated firm, sweet flesh. With a touch of fried garlic and 3 different kinds of pepper, this dish was simply superb.  
Banana in a parcel - banana wrapped in coconut infused sticky rice and a banana leaf, served with coconut ice cream

Our evening at The Table Lamp ended on a decadently sweet note with their “Banana in a parcel”. The morsels of glutinous rice were pleasantly chewy without being too sticky and harmonised perfectly with the gooey banana and creamy coconut ice cream.
With surrounds conducive for enjoying a few rounds of their delectable cocktails, The Table Lamp surprises with exquisite food best enjoyed when shared with others.

Location: Level 1, 280 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Phone: 1300 899 988 
Cuisine: Asian, Fusion, Bar & Grill

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Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of The Table Lamp.

Saigon Sally

Saigon Sally celebrates authentic family food designed for sharing. A leading player within the contemporary Asian restaurant industry in Melbourne the restaurant delights with its take on classic Vietnamese dishes.
The menu is a clever combination of traditional Vietnamese produce and classical technique, paired with high quality and locally sourced produce.
You got girlfriend Vietnam cocktail - Tanqueray gin, junmai sake, lime, cucmber, mint, jasmine tea

The décor is modern and contemporary, embodying a  vibrant vibe perfect for casual dining with friends over a couple of their delicious cocktails.
Kingfish ceviche - pomelo, green papaya, shallots and chilli on betel leaf

The ceviche was an excellent start to our dinner. Displaying technique and skilful restraint, the kingfish was beautifully presented and accompanied by a citrus-based marinade that cured the kingfish. It was a wonderful mélange of salinity, sweetness and acidity.
Fried chicken ribs - gocuchang, sesame, garlic and siracha mayo

The fried chicken was tender, juicy and distinctly flavoursome. We loved how this crispy bar staple was done impeccably well without compromise.
Seared scallop - green curry, apple and salmon roe

The scallops were beautifully seared and boasted natural sweetness while the decadent mixture of green curry, apple and salmon roe added a lovely salinity to the dish.
From left: Wagyu tartare - young coconut, Vietnamese mint, perilla and puffed rice paper; Banh xeo taco - prawn, pork, coconut, turmeric, bean shoots and spring onions
Bia can chicken - whole roasted chicken, bia Hanoi, hainanese style

The Bia can chicken was divine. The chicken was covered with a beautiful herb rub while the inside was wonderfully moist. We loved that it was exquisitely tender, falling-off-the-bone and encased in salty, herby, crispy skin.
Crispy barramundi - spicy pho, lettuce, clams and lemongrass

An absolute highlight of our visit was the Crispy Barramundi. The quality of the barramundi was exemplary. The skin of the fish was perfectly seared to be very crisp while the flesh was delicate and moist. It was a dish that allowed the natural subtle sweetness of the fish to be enjoyed. The accompanying broth boasted a decadent depth of flavour and was the perfect accompaniment to the fish.
Sticky lamb ribs - mandarin, oyster sauce, fennel and star anise

The sticky lamb ribs were expertly prepared - juicy and succulent from having been slow cooked. The outstanding ribs were slathered with a flavoursome mandarin, oyster sauce, fennel and star anise sauce.
Tira-mi-sally - macaron, Vietnamese coffee, parfait, condensed milk and peanut brittle

Cheekily described as a ‘Tira-mi-sally’, Saigon Sally’s rendition of this classic dessert was a wonderful surprise. Combining the flavour profile of a classic tiramisu, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Dame blanche - bounty chocolate meringue shell, coconut ice cream, coconut cremeux and molten chocolate

Pleasing to both the eyes and palate, this dessert of bounty chocolate meringue shell, coconut ice cream, coconut cremeux and molten chocolate was playful and delicious. The mellow, milkiness of the coconut ice cream and coconut cremeux paired exceptionally well with the dark molten chocolate.
Hidden in the backstreets of Windsor, Saigon Sally presents a journey of flavours: from light to rich, sweet to sour; within a very charming environment.

Location: 2 Duke Street, Prahran, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9939 5181
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Asian

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Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Saigon Sally.

Chow City Media Launch

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Chow City.
Chow City is the hottest addition to Melbourne’s Pan-Asian dining scene. Offering a playful approach to dining, Chow City owner, Thu Fampidi, draws on her Vietnamese heritage and love of Vietnamese cuisine in creating the venue.
The kitchen is led by Kim-Maree Moore (formerly of Seamstress and Robbie Steins) and her sous chef, Olivia Badaracco. Together, they bring a wealth of experience in Asian cuisine to the kitchen, placing the focus on fresh and authentic dishes, which are at the same time unapologetically modern and unapologetically traditionalist.
The restaurant presents a vibrant menu of Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and Malaysian plates, which feature a creative blend of authentic, traditional family-inspired dishes and modern street food. Small plates, like the Tom Sum and Thai Larb Moo (pork mince with lettuce cups) lead on to medium shared plates (although Chow City does not care if you share) including local Mt Martha mussels, Thit Kho Tau and Kim’s signature Crying Tiger.
The focus on stellar ingredients is clear with use of high quality, seasonal products from local, smaller farmers. 
Chow City’s beverage offering is delightful with interesting fusion-style cocktails featuring ingredients such as kaffir lime leaf, coriander, plum wine and rhubarb bitters. Local brews sit comfortably alongside imported Asian beers in a skilful blending of Asian and Melbourne dining cultures.

Low and slow, sticky plum lamb ribs, prickly ash rub & nam jim

The sticky plum lamb ribs were expertly prepared - juicy and succulent from having been slow cooked for over 12 hours. The outstanding ribs were slathered with a flavoursome sticky plum and served with delicious prickly ash rub & nam jim.

Blue eye ceviche, young coconut, nuoc cham, finger lime, radish, micro herbs, chilli oil, purple radish shoot.

The thick slices of very fresh blue eye were served with young coconut, nuoc cham, finger lime, radish, micro herbs, chilli oil, purple radish shoot. The dish was notable for the quality of the fish and the interplay between salinity, sweetness, heat and acidity. It was a simple but well executed dish.

Cauliflower, tofu, soy bean pods, mapo san choy bao herbs and crushed cashew crumble

This vegetarian delight was beautifully simple and delicious. Assembled similarly to any san choi bao, a lettuce cup is used as a “base” and then layered with the cauliflower, tofu and soy bean mix.

Slow roasted Kurabuta pork belly, Petite citrus and green mango, shallot and vietnamese mint

The slow roasted Kurabuta pork belly was another crowd favourite. Each pork belly slice had been succulently roasted to retain a porky juiciness, thereby achieving a healthy layer of melt-in-the-mouth fat in the process. The feature item was the crackling which possessed the ultimate crunch and acted as an ideal seasoning for the pork meat.

Beef Tataki Rare seared eye fillet, shredded daikon, ginger, heirloom tomato, radish, micro herbs tataki

The Beef Tataki was our favourite dish of the night. Displaying technique, elegance and skilful restraint, the tataki was both beautifully presented and absolutely delicious. The melt in your mouth slices of beef combined the best of both worlds (partially cooked, partially raw). A light searing ensured that each slice was lined with a thin crisp layer packed with caramelised beef flavour. It was a wonderful mélange of flavours and textures.

Lemongrass, ginger, red chilli coconut curry, snake beans, pumpkin, holy basil and kaffir lime with crispy duck

The perfectly seasoned curry possessed the customary punchy flavours exhibited by South East Asian curries and was a great match for the beautifully cooked duck. We loved the inclusion of sweet pumpkin and textural snake beans.
Chow City presents a journey of flavours: from light to rich, sweet to sour; inspired by ingredients, people, experiences, conversations and a visual environment, all with a very charming hidden sense of humour. 
Location: 287 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9663 7898
Cuisine: Asian, Bar, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese

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Cô Thư Quán

Cô Thư Quán offers up some authentic Vietnamese street food that will surprise and delight.
The menu features an array of unfamiliar Vietnamese delights which can range from "exciting" to "acquired taste".
There are also some of the usual suspects on the menu for the non-adventurous.
And a pretty neat drinks list too with lots of different things to try.
Perfect for the adventurous foodie. While we didn't enjoy everything we tried, it was definitely an interesting experience. Come here with an open mind or you're better off going to one of the other Vietnamese restaurants around the area.

Location: Shop 22, Little Saigon market, 63 Nicholson Street, Footscray
Phone: 0412 685 558
Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese

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Moo-light in the Jardin

Gastrology bloggers attended the event courtesy of Jardin Tan.
Melbourne chef and entrepreneur Shannon Bennett has extended his passion for food fusion and reinterpretation to include craft beers that also put their own spin on traditional styles.
Bennett formally launched his connection with Tasmanian craft brewery Moo Brew at his newly established “Jardin Tan” eatery at the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens last week. 
Moo Brew – known for its five premium craft beers and unique sculptural bottles labelled with John Kelly artworks – was the brainchild of fellow visionary entrepreneur David Walsh; the man behind Tasmania’s world-renowned MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art). 
Bennett sees Moo Brew as a great match given their reputation for stylistic beers that transcends core styles – but with their own twist with Jardin Tan which takes French Vietnamese cuisine and imbues it with farm to table philosophy. 
Gastrology was pleased to attend the Moo-light in the Jardin media launch which featured John Kelly artworks plus some new, exciting Bennett sourced artworks from David Teplitzky including Sigalit Landau: 4 Love Heaters, 2012, Heater and neon light, various light installations, launch of the Banh-Mi bikes (custom-made bikes which will deliver food to Jardin patrons around the Tan), Moo Brew installations and styled food.
Mini bo la lot burger

We adored the perfectly matched morsels that went hand-in-hand with beer.
Prawn and sweet potato fritter with pickled green chilli

The fritters had a crunchy golden brown exterior and were succulently sweet - the nuggets of deep fried batter brought pleasure to our taste buds. 

Mark Eather lemongrass fish skewer

The skewers were another highlight. Sufficiently seasoned and flavoursome, the skewers had benefited from sufficient time on the grill to achieve the perfect degree of outer charring.

Vietnamese spring rolls, nouc mam Cham

Bo la lot: Beef mince wrapped in betel leaves

The bite-sized appetiser of betel leaf with beef mince was a medley of aromatic and acidic ingredients and was thoroughly enjoyable.
Crispy tofu, fermented chilli, lemongrass salt
Mini pork Banh mi 

The traditional Vietnamese pork banh mi was a delight. The crunchy bread roll was shimmered with pâté and mayonnaise and filled with generous serves of pork, topped with a salad of sweet pickled carrots, cucumber, coriander and fresh chilli. It was both fresh and very tasty.
We adored the Moo Brew beers. The Dark Ale was our favourite of the bunch. An American Brown ale using resinous hop flavour, the beer was rich and dark with caramel and chocolate notes with a lightly roasted finish - beautiful.
The evening concluded with a decadent array of beautifully made desserts...
With the beautiful  Royal Botanic Gardens as a backdrop, Jardin Tan is at once warm and welcoming. The delicious menu draws influence from the Vietnamese/ French fusion cuisine which makes it perfect for sharing with friends for any occasion whilst knocking back on some delicious Moo Brew craft beer. 
Location: Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9691 3888
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Cocktails, Coffee

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