The Wanderer Thai Bar

The Wanderer is a new Thai restaurant in the CBD. We received an invitation from Paul, the restaurant owner, to come by and try their menu and share our thoughts with you.

It is seriously gorgeous inside.

Lots of orchids, a tree with fairy lights for leaves, vintage suitcases and more.

The decor is not traditionally thai, and slightly reminds me of a hotel lobby bar, but it is still stunning.

Check out those chainmail curtains and plush red booth seating.

The staff were really nice, and the owner, Paul, was friendly and open to questions.

I am allergic to nuts and let the restaurant know before we arrived, and let the waitress know when we were ordering. We carefully selected dishes that had no nuts, on the advice of the waitress. However… our first dish arrived with nuts in it. 😅

That being said, my dining companion thoroughly enjoyed the “mixed fruits Thai-style salad ($16.90)”. It was the perfect mix of sweet, salty and sour. There were so many different types of textures from the fresh fruits, and it was a great zingy appetizer.

The “Thai-style fried rice” ($17.90) was full of flavour, and a big portion with eggs, chicken and veggies. It was absolutely delicious, but we think the price point is a bit high for fried rice.

This “green curry chicken” ($18.90) did not arrive with rice, which we had to request. However, it was delicious, with apple eggplants and chicken. It was a very saucy curry, and we felt it could have had a bit more chicken/veggies in it.

The prices at The Wanderer are definitely higher than other places, but the ambience and flavours were of a high quality.
Sweet, spicy, zingy, sour, tangy : it was all in balance. Other than the mistake with the nuts in the dish (which could have killed someone), service was friendly.

We really enjoyed our visit to The Wanderer. Our rating: 3.5/5

The Wanderer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Fujitei, St Kilda

Fujitei is an authentic Japanese restaurant in St Kilda. It is a neighbourhood gem, run by passionate chefs who are driven to serve classic Japanese cuisine.

We were invited to try their menu, and really loved the relaxed, warm atmosphere and beautifully made dishes.

This inside out maki roll ($20) was filled with lots of tuna and salmon, coated with crispy tempura and topped with salmon caviar. I love that the simple fresh flavours of the raw fish gave the roll richness and creaminess, rather than the usual over the top mayonaise/sauce that you find in a lot of maki dishes. I really loved the tempura bits and the pop of caviar too. Super yum. A great dish to share!

This glossy grilled eel fillet ($29) had a sweet soy glaze, and was an indulgent delight. Eel always reminds me of Nasi Dengaku (fried miso eggplant) for some reason. I think it is that they are both melt-in mouth, creamy and saucy.

Beef takaki ($16) – a light dish with a citrusy/acidic sauce – a great starter.

Perfectly cooked miso flavoured cod fish ($28). I love this type of simply grilled fish. I find it so comforting. It is so light and soft, you can cut into it with a fork.

This little shell was filled with creamy mushrooms, a Hokkaido scallop and topped with salmon roe. Another great appetiser, it sure had the umami factor!

A gorgeous carpaccio in a Japanese/Mediterranean style, and a must order! It was lightly dressed in a basil olive oil vinaigrette, and was awesome. Different, but still super Japanese in flavour.

A giant mix platter of sushi/sashimi, stunningly presented and with lots of different things to try. 😍 Fish was perfectly cut and rice was the right temperature and firmness. A really great platter. I loved everything I tried. All fresh, and all done expertly.

I saved the best for last. I had never tried this before – wagu beef cooked on a giant fragrant Houba leaf ($50), which was painted with thick miso paste. A little box filled with coals was placed in the center of the table, and you could watch (and smell!) the fat in the meat melting away, the leaf releasing a toasty grassy fragrance and the miso caramelising! SO EPIC. A must order.

We seriously loved our visit to Fujitei. I can see it being a place to go when you want a no frills, relaxed environment with reliably delicious and authentic Japanese food.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fujitei Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer: we were invited to dine as guests of the restaurant. All our opinions are our own.

Uncle David’s Cafe

A new job in a new part of the city means lots of new cafes and eateries for me to explore!

I have declared Friday the day that I try a new place for lunch. #foodiefrontierday or something catchy like that. Let me know if you have any suggestions 😝

Anyway, last Friday I visited a new Malaysian Fusion cafe, run by the nicest family.

This is the type of cafe you want to be a local and loyal customer at. They have weekly deals (I may have bought a few $2 coffees during the week before Friday lunch), fun events such as a ‘breakfast tasting party’, they remember your name, keep loyalty cards in a little box, and are always up for a chat.

Uncle David’s is the kind of old school cafe that is becoming rare in the CBD.

It is a tiny little cafe hidden in a hybrid building lobby/arcade with a few other eateries and cafes that are on my list to visit.

It isn’t a swish set up, but it is cute and homey.

They have some homemade breakfast items for sale, including banana bread (made with coffee: the Nigella recipe, uncle David tells us), carrot and nut bread (secret ingredient being ginger juice), traditional savoury muffins, baked soft-egg muffins, sourdough toasties, breakfast burritos and more.

They also have a short but sweet lunch menu of some Malaysian classics (Beef Rendang, laksa) soups with crusty baguette, a kaarage chicken burger and curry.

The coffee here is good: a creamy comforting cup.

I could not resist ordering the Beef Rendang. It was really awesome. The beef was tender and its gravy rich. The egg was perfectly cooked and the yolk slowly oozed into the rice when I cut into it. The crispy wontons added crunch. It was a super filling lunch too.

I ended up attending that breakfast tasting party I mentioned, and Uncle David and Aunty Sylvia brought out a selection of delicious breakfast treats as well as…

…this awesome laksa – Sarawak style I think. Super hearty, comforting and spicy, with lots of galangal.

I’m looking forward to exploring more of their menu. This place is a beautiful hidden gem.

Rating: 4

Uncle David's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Charme, CBD.

When I first walked into Le Charme, I was stunned by how beautiful it was inside.

Fresh flowers, aqua panelled walls, tulip light fittings… plus so many little extra details which make Le Charme a gorgeous spot for date night.

Plus, the prices are so reasonable. In fact, you can even get a six course meal for 30pp.

Le Charme also offers a delicious a la carte menu, filled with asian fusion dishes.

Plus, they have a cool drinks menu. I loved the sound of their mocktails and cocktails, and we got to try a few!

The Strawberry Red Kiss ($12) was the sort of refreshing blended iced fruit smoothie that you get in tropical island resorts. It was a sweet and fruity mini holiday away from wintery Melbourne!

The Mock-Jito ($13) was similar but pineapple and mint flavoured.

The Peach Melba ($12) was a refreshing mix of peach nector, fresh lemon thyme, raspberries and soda water. Plus, it was a disco drink! So pretty.

Bai Hao Jasmine Tea ($4.50) was wonderfully fragrant and served in beautiful teaware.

Now, onto the food. You can order a few dishes to share over mocktails or grab one of the larger dishes as a main. We shared this time, but I can see myself coming back for a bowl of noodles!

These pan fried prawn and chicken dumplings ($7.90) were super juicy and flavourful with crispy chewy skins. Yumm.

This singapore seafood fried noodle ($14.80) was seriously delicious. My fave dish of the night. The noodles were light and not oily, and it was spicy and complex in flavour without being super hot. The veggies were perfectly cooked, giving the noodles some crisp fresh textures. I would order this again!

The Asian salt and pepper calamari ($10.90) was crispy, succulent, salty and a really generous serving. It was kind of like ‘popcorn calamari.’

I loved the DIY Crispy Duck with pancake ($18.90). The duck had perfectly caramelised and crispy skin, and the duck meat was soft. The sticky sweet sauce it was served with tasted great in the thin pancake with the fresh cucumber and lettuce. I do wish there had been a few more greens to go around though!

These colourful lettuce baskets were filled with mock chicken and colourful diced veggies (san choy bao $8.90). They tasted fresh, healthy, full of crunch, and interesting textures.

We had to try some dessert because, well… I’m me. These sweet banana fritters ($7.90) were a giant serving – definately one to share! The tempura batter was super crispy, the bananas were slightly caramelised and soft, and tasted amazing with the creamy, sweet vanilla icecream. Loved it.

I want to thank Le Charme for inviting us to try the menu. We think the restaurant is a fantastic addition to Chinatown. The food is delicious and well priced, plus the interiors are amazing. I recommend trying Le Charme for your next date night!

Rating: 4.5

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

Disclaimer: we were invited by Le Charme to try their menu. Our meal was complimentary. All our opinions are our own.

Unabara, Melbourne Central

Unabara Lobster and Oyster bar has two locations in the Melbourne CBD. We were invited to review the Melbourne Central restaurant but you can find them in the Emporium too.

The thing I love about Unabara is that you can stop to eat LOBSTER!!! midway through shopping for jeans. How lux is that?

We visited for dinner, and opted to sit outside the restaurant amongst the retail buzz. The waiters were friendly and attentive, and made some great suggestions about the menu.

We ordered:

The Lobster and Seafood Sapporo Miso Ramen ($32.90), opting for mild spice. This ramen comes with a heap of toppings, including: half a grilled Boston lobster,chashu, a grilled scallop, a tiger prawn and a nitamago (soft boiled) egg.

The miso lobster broth was seriously amazing. It is made with their lobster bisque, which simmers away for 12 hours along with herbs, onion, celery and tomato before it is ladelled into the bowl. It was rich, creamy, intensly flavoured and tasted super indulgent.

The ramen noodles were perfectly cooked, the scallop juicy and the egg velvety. The only thing that wasn’t spot on was the actual Boston lobster, which had been overcooked, and therefore was very chewy. I thought that was a bit disapointing considering that the restsurant specialises in Lobster!

The grilled half lobster was also overcooked, though it was well flavoured. The chips were crunchy and hot, and the generous serving of salad was fresh. A small pot of lobster bisque was rich and creamy, perfect for dipping chips into! There was also a thick slice of toasted brioche topped with a soft boiled egg.

The grilled Angus beef tenderloin ($28.90) was perfectly cooked and seasoned. A melt in mouth steak! The beer battered chips were crunchy and addictive, and the salad was great too. A well balanced and simple dish.

For dessert we ordered one of each of their softserve flavours: matcha, sakura/lychee/rose, and a swirl of the two flavours.

These were awesome! The matcha was rich and sweet, and the pink softserve smelt like rose, and tasted like sakura with a hint of lychee. Super yum.

Now that I know that these softserve flavours exist in Melbourne Central, I’ll probably have to stop for one every time I walk past. I have such a sweet tooth. 😝

We really enjoyed our visit to Unabara. That lobster ramen broth was delicious, hearty and was unlike anything we had tried before. A perfect winter warmer.

Rating: 3.5

Unabara Lobster & Oyster Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Papirica

Have you been to Japan recently and found yourself addicted to okonomiyaki?

Only to find that on your return back home, you couldn’t find a restaurant that made a proper one?

Your search has ended. I have found the okonomiyaki promised land.

Its name is Papirica.

I love a good cafe jungle.

Plus, it is super cute inside and the staff are mega friendly.

Papirica is typically open during the day, but they also do dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, which is when we visited.

We ordered some miso and agedashi tofu to start with.

The tofu was fresh, firm but silky, and a great snack before the main meal.

The miso ($4) had a white miso and shitake broth. It was super warming on the cold winter night that we visited and had lots of flavour.

There are quite a few types of okonomiyaki to choose from, and we ordered vegan ($13), vegetarian ($13) and seafood ($16).

Papirica also have lots of other delicious sounding things on their menu: including omurice and yakisoba. Going to try one of those next time I visit!

The vegetarian okonomiyaki was a generous serving. It was so yum. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and filled with veggies. The mayo and okonomiyaki sauce (specially made on premises) on top added some extra creaminess and salty/sweet flavour.

The vegan one was super delicious too, as it was creamier on the inside than the vegetarian one. It is made with besan, rice flour and tofu.

The seafood okonomiyaki was so prettily presented. I love watching Bonito flakes dance! If you don’t know what I mean, you should order this!

Our okonomiyaki craving was sorted. This place is fantastic and we will be back!

Rating: 4.5/5

Papirica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bincho Boss

As someone who loves to try new restaurants and eats out quite often, one of the major things I look for in an eatery is the concept of value.

A good value dining experience means a returning customer, i.e: me.

Good value doesn’t mean cheap. It means, the quality of my experience matches what I paid for it.

I did not feel that my meal or experience at newly opened Bincho Boss was good value, which is a shame, because I was excited to see a new Japanese restaurant open in the CBD (because as you know, I seriously love Japanese food).

Let me explain why.

I went in for lunch, and saw they had some lunch ‘gozen’ sets, with prices ranging from $28 to $20.
As you can see on their menu below (screenshot from Zomato page), the gozen sets include small side dishes, so splashing out 25 dollars on an udon lunch set (including coffee and cake) sounded like an awesome deal.

There are so many great Japanese restaurants and cafes in Melbourne who do great value lunch sets for around the $25 mark.

For example,nearby Torissong has this spectacular quality feast for $25 dollars:

Shimbashi Soba & Sake bar ( in Fitzroy & CBD) has a similar deals featuring soba from $20-$28.

Plus, my local fave Namoo has a weekend deal of entree, main and drink for $19, and to span out into Korean: Diner on Franklin’s $15 Babsang lunch set is delicious.

These places have top quality ingredients, beautiful interiors and great service too.

Look, I wasn’t too disappointed when the gozen set was placed in front of me. There was a nice bowl of udon, some tofu salad and some…potato wedges?

The tofu salad was really nice, as the tofu really silky and soft. It tasted fresh. The waiter said it was made on premises, which is awesome.

The wedges were a really weird addition. No sauce, crispy but boring. I didn’t finish them.

The udon was nicely chewy, the veggies were a bit overcooked and the sauce was very light. Gotta say, there wasn’t much flavour. Very expensive bowl of udon.

I asked if the udon noodles were made on premises, trying to find a reason behind the pricing. Nope, from the packet. Interesting…

Okay I thought: maybe dessert will save this.

Coffee and cake for an extra $5. I asked for a soy latte. This is Melbourne, if they screw up coffee….

I laughed out loud when I took a sip of this latte, thought it tasted very bitter and then saw that the milk had curdled. You can even see it in the photo above.

I even heard the staff member banging the milk jug as he was making it, and I thought, he is having trouble steaming the milk. Nope, he was just trying to get the milk right to pour into my cup. How he served it to me like that, seeing that it was so curdled: I have no idea.

Of course I told them. They tried to make another and he came back to me saying that he couldn’t get it to work. I politely said not to worry about it. He said he would deduct it from the cost of my meal.

So, dessert. A tiny slither of cheese cake, a bit of white wine jelly and a grape.

If you think it looks kinda big in this photo, think about the size of your average grape, and that should give you an idea. It was a small plate and a very small slice.

I thought: what a strange dessert to serve with coffee.

It was a very savoury cheese cake, almost unpleasantly so. It tasted a bit like off milk, though, that might have been the taste of that coffee still on my mind. The wine jelly tasted exactly like white wine, and the grape tasted okay too. Not a memorable or good value dessert sadly.

In the end, the waiter deducted $2.50 for the coffee, which made me laugh a bit : “exactly half of $5” he said.

Truthly, it was a pretty dismal lunch. Not a good value experience, especially when, (as you know, because I’ve reviewed them for you) there are so many amazing Japanese cafes and restaurants nearby.

After visiting so many Japanese restaurants, this is one of the few that I have been truly disappointed by. However, they did open quite recently. I hope that when or if you visit, you have a better experience.

Rating: 2.5/5

Bincho Boss Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato