Pentolina

Pentolina is a stylish Italian eatery in the Melbourne CBD. It has a luxurious industrial vibe, and is kind of hidden on a laneway off a little street – very Melbourne!

We went for an early lunch on a weekend in November and were greeted warmly by staff.

Complimentary bread and butter was served, which was delicious, and a nice touch.

We ordered the Spaghetti Bolognese and a simple olive oil based pasta, to which we added zucchini.

The pasta was good, but not amazing – we love that fresh egg pasta taste, and these pasta dishes lacked that.

The bolognese was a bit bland – not rich and tomato-y, but more meaty/gravy tasting.

The olive oil pasta was literally dripping with butter and oil. It was a bit much and there was an oil/butter soup left over after we had eaten the pasta.

The good thing about the dishes here is that they were generous servings!

We had ordered through Eatclub, and so recieved 30% off, so it was a good value meal. Otherwise, we feel it would have been a bit overpriced.

So overall, we thought Pentolina was fine, but could have been better.

Rating: 3

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

(Review has been updated to clarify when we visited: in early November).

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Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu

We were excited to recieve an invitation to visit and review Momo Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu on Little Bourke street in Melbourne CBD. This little hot pot place is local to us, and it is so fantastic to discover new places nearby.

The restaurant is part of the Gyoza Gyoza group of restaurants, and shares its space with a Gyoza Gyoza store.

Dimly lit, and with rustic industial style interiors, Momo is a moody den to spend a few hours surrounding a bubbling hot pot with friends & family.

Staff were friendly, and attentive. They kept checking on us through out lunch, topping up our soup, making sure the pot was bubbling away and telling us about the different cuts of meat and marbling grades.

Before the dishes were served, we got to create a special meat dipping sauce made up of various sauces and toppings – the Shabu sauce was a sticky sweet soy, and tasted delicious, so I used that – I popped in some sesame seeds and chopped spring onion to complete my masterpiece. :p

We ordered some drinks – the iced matcha topped with matcha/houjicha swirl soft serve ($5) was yummy. The matcha drink was a bit weak but the softserve made up for it – it had a nice tea flavour, not too bitter/not too sweet. The honey yuzu iced tea ($4.8) was spot on in flavour.

The drinks looked so cute!

We ordered some wafu salad ($7.5) to start, and while it looked pretty, it sadly wasn’t amazing. It was a bit limp, and weirdly came with a swirl of mayonnaise.

Sashimi ($7.5) was our second course, which was also presented beautifully. Look at that cute wasabi leaf! However, the fish tasted dry, which we thought was strange for sashimi.

Sometimes a place which specialises in a type of food, really shines in just that dish! This is a restaurant to order what the place specialises in: Shabu Shabu, because it is awesome.

We chose two soup bases: spicy miso and yuzu konbu ($25). Each came with a selection of veggies, as you can see below: gorgeous enoki mushrooms, radish, cabbage, and fungi. Staff refill the soup throughout your time eating at the restaurant, so that the pot never goes dry.

The soups tasted great, but we did not taste any yuzu in the konbu soup base, and the spicy miso tasted like kimchi to us, rather than miso. We love kimchi and spice, so that broth was our favourite.

We ordered some extra things to dip into the soup: asparagus ($7) and some wonderfully marbled wagyu beef scotch ($28.50) & shank beef ($18) as well.

Look at the marbling! You dip the meat into the soup broth for 10 seconds and then voila: melt in mouth goodness! Dipping the meat into the extra sauces after the soup was also fun : lots of different flavours to try.

We really loved the Shabu Shabu experience, sharing the veggies and meat, slurping soup, trying veggies at different stages of cooking, it was a really interactive and enjoyable lunch.

We were so full afterwards! Like woah. So much yummy food.

However, I somehow had space to fit in a matcha/houjicha swirl soft serve because I loved it so much in the matcha drink. 😍

Overall, Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu is a great spot for a hot pot style lunch or dinner. Prices are reasonable for the portions and everything is presented nicely.

We look forward to visiting again during the colder months – the food is comforting, delicious and warming.

Thank you to Momo Sukiyaki for inviting us to try the menu.

Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cento Mani

Ever since I started using the Eatclub app, I’ve been exploring Melbourne’s restaurant scene even more, and have been eating at a bunch of new places. I mean, at up to 40% off the bill, can you you afford not to?

One of these is Cento Mani, a columbian cafe which serves a mix of traditional columbian dishes and standard Melbourne-style brunch/lunch fare.

We visited Cento Mani for breakfast, and it was quite busy. The cafe is small with not a lot of seating, and it was a hot day, so it was a tad bit uncomfortable in there.

However, the menu sounded great and the kitchen smelt delicious, so we stayed despite feeling cramped!

We simply had to try the Colombian hot chocolate with cheese – the cheese was light and became delightfully stretchy when melted, kind of like mozzarella. The hot chocolate was lightly spiced, and smelt wonderful. It was a fun experience!

We ordered a cheesy arepa with scrambled eggs and empanadas to share.

The arepa was beautiful, soft and filled with melted cheese, which tasted amazing with the perfectly cooked eggs. However, it needed a bit more complexity or a different texture to lift it – by the end, it got repetitive. I decided to add some of the spicy salsa that came with the empanadas to the top of the eggs, and that tasted so so good.

The empanadas were corn based, so they were yellow! We loved them. They were warmly spiced, and generously filled. Full of flavour and the salsa they came with was a meal highlight.

I look forward to visiting Cento Mani to try more of their dishes – there is a hearty chicken soup on the menu that I’m thinking will keep my belly warm when winter rolls around.

Cento Mani Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ilza Cafe

I have a serious love for Japanese cafe food. Dishes like curry, thick cut toast, sandwhiches, rice bowls, salads and lunch sets filled with a variety of tasty mini-dishes : this is the food I crave on a daily basis.

When I saw that a new Japanese cafe had opened in the Melbourne CBD I got excited.

Ilza is sort of hidden away in the Marvel stadium : next to door 6.

Inside it is cosy and has an industrial/rustic vibe. Staff are super friendly and relaxed. They seriously treated me with such warmth that I felt really welcomed, and as if I had been eating there for ages.

The menu is simple but still has something for everyone. There was a daily onigiri/salad/rice bowl, katsu sandwiches or ‘sandos’, and a variety of other rice bowls. They also have your cafe drinks standards: coffee, hot chocolates and matcha. It all looked mega appealing and really, I wanted to order everything.

Prices are really good, and reasonable. The onigiri, crisy sweet potato topped salad, miso soup and matcha latte I had came to around $12.50.

The onigiri flavours change daily and I chose the mix veggie. I really loved the texture of the corn, sticky seasoned rice and topping of fried crispy veggies. It was so good. Best I’ve ever tasted.

The salad was simple but complimented the onigiri really well.

The miso soup which I think either might come with the salad/rice combo or was complimentary ( I didn’t order it, and it was a nice surprise) was a classic clean tasting soup with tofu/seaweed.

It was a meal that was light but filling.

The matcha latte was wonderful – it used actual matcha and was rich and creamy. I would go back to Ilza even just for the matcha alone!

I can’t wait to head back to Ilza to try their katsu-based dishes and more onigiri!

Ilza Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I will keep you updated on what else I try on my Instagram @goodfoodgoodkarma

We have so many Japanese cafes in Melbourne at the moment, what are some of your faves/suggestions?

Diner on Franklin

I was scrolling through Instagram while eating dinner at home one night and came upon the Diner on Franklin instagram. The photos looked so good that I immediately wanted to pop the rest of my dinner into the fridge and head on over.

Look, I didn’t do that. But I did visit Diner On Franklin a week later for lunch.

I was particularly interested in trying their babsang meal set ($15.80) as it sounded like such great value, and filled with variety ( plus it looked so good on the ‘gram!)

However, the rest of the menu looked so inviting that I doubted my order for a second, and considered ordering a few other dishes. However, I stuck with it, and we ordered two babsang sets ( with a side order of rice cake skewer 😆😛). We will head back to try the rest of the menu soon!

I loved the interior design of the restaurant – very industrial and chic, very ‘now.’

We ordered some iced citron drinks( $4 each) which were super sweet but super delicious and refreshing. These are made with a jam which you can buy in good Asian groceries ( some restaurants also make their own) – the best thing about these drinks is the yuzu flavour and rind – it really packs a punch! I love citron tea jam and have several varieties at home. Hot citron tea is so comforting and has heaps of vitamin C.

The meal sets were seriously epic. So much food and so delicious! You choose a main from a list of awesome sounding dishes – we got the chilli chicken bulgogi and the Japchae ( chewy glass noodles).

Then served along with your main are a variety of dishes: such as fried wonton dumplings with the most amazing CRUNCH, crispy cauliflower drizzled with chilli mayo, beautiful kimchi, chopped rice cake with crispy edges, salad, freshly cut fruit and the most amazing brownie.

Eating that brownie was a closed eyes experience. Talking to the chef afterwards, he said that people say it is so good that they come back just for the brownie!

As if that wasn’t enough food, the rice skewer I ordered on a whim, was soft, chewy and covered in gochujang, a slightly sweet and sticky chilli sauce.

Not only did everything look beautiful, but it tasted wonderful. Seriously really really great. We rolled out of there afterwards feeling super happy, going on about how amazing it all was.

I highly recommend visiting this newly opened restaurant. There is very clearly a lot of passion, expertise and creativity put into the food and dining experience from the chef and owners.

Diner on Franklin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MatchaYu and my matcha obsession

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I am in love with everything matcha.

I thought I would tell you a bit more about matcha, including how to make it, and some background around a beautiful matcha brand I recently got to try.

Matcha is Japanese green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder.

Usually when you make a cup of tea, you are steeping the leaves, extracting the flavour of the tea into the water.

However, when you make a cup of matcha, you are actually drinking the leaves! You are dissolving the powder to make a green tea drink.

If you think of it that way, you can understand why people say that matcha is so good for you – normally brewed green tea has a heap of antioxidants, so actually drinking the tea leaves themselves would have a lot more.

Matcha is also a great source of energy – kind of like coffee, but less of a blast of caffeine and more of a slow release. It still gives you a noticeable buzz though.

HOWEVER: best thing about matcha is that it tastes really great – the powder foams up when it is whisked into hot water, and develops a crema (kind of like coffee). It takes creamy and like a green hug. I’m obsessed.

It is also so easy to make. Here is a video on how to make matcha:

There are so many companies sourcing matcha from Japan these days, and it can be a hard deciding which to go with.

MatchaYu reached out to me recently and I got to try some samples of their certified organic matcha. Taste test confirmed that their matcha is really great quality. It is smooth, balanced and bright green. They even recently won best Matcha in the Golden Leaf Tea Awards.

I also love that it is a Melbourne based company, fuelled by a love of Japan and matcha (of course!) Plus, their packaging is home compostable.

Erin started MatchaYu after living in Kyoto in 2011, falling in love with Japanese culture and developing a healthy obsession with Matcha.

She says ” I took great joy in sitting quietly in a temple teahouse sipping on rich fragrant Matcha and taking in my surroundings, a totally zen experience!

Sounds dreamy. 😍

She returned back home to Melbourne, missing matcha and it’s magic, and wanting to give others the opportunity to experience it for themselves: so she created MatchaYu.

Erin says: “I have a deep love and knowledge of Japanese culture and have forged a wonderful connection over many years with my Japanese supplier, Kifukuen Tea Farm in Uji, Japan.”

I really love supporting Melbourne tea businesses like MatchaYu: the care, passion and love for what they do really shines through. So I recommend them!

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions about Matcha, or just want to share how much you love it too, tell me in the comments below. 💕

Stovetop cafe, Melbourne.

We stumbled upon Stovetop after trying to get into a cafe nearby which had a wait time of an hour, which is a common problem on a Saturday morning in Melbourne. Stovetop had no lines, and the friendly staff sat us down in a light filled/instagram ready cafe with lots of greenery and light-wood furniture.

After perusing the delicious sounding menu, which had lots of vegan and veggie options, we decided on the below.

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An amazingly indulgent and yummy Golden Gaytime milkshake, which we would order again in a heartbeat! Sweet, cold and creamy – a proper old school milkshake with a twist!

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The NEW ZEALAND KING SALMON which included: dry brined & smoked king salmon, potato latke, goats cheese creme, pastrami cure, salmon pearls, poached egg, dill herb salad. We loved this dish – it was deceptively hearty and the potato, goats cheese and salmon went together like a dream.

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The ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA FRITTERS which also included crushed avocado, persian fetta, dukkah crumbed egg, chilli and rye toast. I was told that the dukkah crumbed egg was awesome, and that it was pretty cool that it was included in the dish without having to pay extra for it, which seems to be a sad trend in Melbourne cafes this days. In fact, this dish included smashed avo, a poached egg and fritters, and it was only $16.50! Great value!

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Lastly, we ordered : CHIA PUDDING, which was vegan and included toasted coconut, granola, dragon fruit, lychee, fresh berries, agave. Seriously, this dish looked beautiful and was probably the prettiest out of all of them. So fresh and healthy, but still filling with all that granola, chia and fruit.  This dish was also great value at only $10.50

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We were so happy that we found Stovetop – the food was delicious, the staff lovely, atmosphere buzzing, and the place was filled with light and perfect for food photography. Also, the food was such great value – we left feeling like we had a gorgeous brunch at a reasonable price, which isn’t something that happens often in Melbourne.

Highly recommended!

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