Melbourne’s Night Noodle Market

November is a great time to be in Melbourne. If you can avoid the typical four seasons in one day that is almost at its worst in November, then you will probably get a couple of days of really nice pre-summer weather. None of that awful heat of the summer and lots of sunshine. It’s a bit of a gamble, you also get the cold, windy, thunder storming days in November too. But for the past two years there has been another reason to love November (or at least the last two weeks of it) in Melbourne; the night noodle markets.

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The night noodle markets are basically that one thing that makes Melbourne my favourite city in the world all rolled up into one: food, really good multicultural food. For two weeks in November, some of Melbourne’s best asian restaurants set up little stalls on the banks of the Yarra River showcasing a few of their speciality dishes. If you can forgive the crowds (or avoid them by getting there very early or very late) you are in for a great mix of atmosphere, culture and spectacular food. All of the Melbourne favourites such as Chin Chin, Kong, I Love Pho, Mamak and more are there, even Gelato Messina. It’s really everything Melbourne has to offer in food rolled into one beautifully decorated space.

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These are the dishes I managed to find room to try. If I had the time and the money I would have gone every night for two weeks in an attempt to try every dish in the place but unfortunately although my appetite is large I was limited in what I could fit in. These are the dishes from the two nights in a row that I went- although I’m not going to lie some of these dishes I had two nights in a row because they were so good I couldn’t walk away from them even if it meant sacrificing stomach space for a new dish.

Den Fried Chicken from Izakaya Den- $8 for a small, $14 for a large

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As we were waiting in line to get cash out from the ATM (seriously the line was huge- do the smart thing and get cash out beforehand) the girls behind us were munching on this chicken and I kept mumbling to my friend ‘please ask them where they got that from’. One of my other friends managed to use her eavesdropping skills and caught the name of the place ‘Izakaya Den’, a very popular japanese restaurant in Melbourne.

The line for this place was one of the largest and it seemed like every second person walking past had a cup full of this fried chicken. It was almost tempura like in that the batter on the chicken was so crispy but lacked the icky greasiness that usually comes with the fried chicken territory. It was cooked perfectly and combined with some awesome aioli and a splash of lemon is pretty much as close to food heaven as you are going to get. Let’s just say I regretted only getting the small size. But I made up for it by coming back for a repeat the night after!

Izakaya Den on Urbanspoon

Roti Canai with Curry Sauce and Sambal from Mamak- $6.50

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Mamak is a newish Melbourne institution. It grew to popularity in Sydney first before coming to Melbourne. I’ve got friends that have raved about it but I’ve never had the time to actually go there and eat it myself. If I’m getting Malaysia food you can bet I’m getting Roti- I must have lived off this stuff last time I was in Malaysia- particularly the type that they stuff with chicken. Mamak served it in a simpler version, plain roti with curry sauce, or you could get roti stuffed with egg with the same sauce. I went for the plain version and god it was roti perfection! It had that light, fluffy texture that only homemade, fresh roti has. None of the thickness, greasiness or heaviness of the store bought stuff. Definitely hands down the best roti I’ve had, even better than the stuff I had in Malaysia.
Mamak on Urbanspoon

Roti Canai with Curry Sauce and Dahl from Roti Road- $6

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On my second night at the market I definitely needed some more of that Roti in my life. I decided to be adventurous and try it from somewhere else. Roti Road has an equally good reputation and rating on urban spoon so I wasn’t so afraid to leave the familiarity of the Mamak roti. The Mamak roti won hands down- it was a lot fluffier and freshier. Edges of the Roti at Roti Road were a bit too charcoal for my liking and it just didn’t have the same lightness that made the Mamak roti so good. Although the one thing Roti Road does win on is that Dahl sauce- it was nice having two dipping sauces instead of just the one. But if I got to go back to the night noodle market a third time I would definitely be heading straight for Mamak!

Roti Road on Urbanspoon

Pork Dumplings from New Shanghai- 4 for $6.50

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What’s a night noodle market without some dumplings? One of the highlights of Melbourne asian cuisine. I came here both nights- the Wednesday night and the Thursday night. The Wednesday night was much quieter and New Shanghai were very efficient, we paid for the dumplings and they were in our hands straight away. On the Thursday night, the busier night it was chaos! It was quick to order (once you realised the people milling around were waiting for their number to be called rather than in the line to order), but then it was a very long wait to get your food. They were very disorganised and could just not keep up- not what you really want at a Noodle Market- even if you are willing to brave the order line you want the food to come relatively fast. And the poor girl who was 20 numbers above me was still waiting for her order that she had ordered at least 10 minutes before us, even though our order was exactly the same. It was a shambles. However lucky the dumplings were worth it, oozing with juices and having a beautiful taste. None of that fake pork gross dumpling taste was anywhere to be found near these babies. After a 20 minute wait it probably only took me 2 minutes to eat them all. 4 for $6.50 is pretty expensive for dumplings by Melbourne standard- but perhaps they are cheaper in house rather than at the market?

New Shanghai on Urbanspoon

BBQ Pork Belly from Hoy Pinoy- 2 for $10

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This is the very first stall you see when you come in and the line for it was always huge- no matter what time or day I was there. You are drawn in by the rotisseries of whole pig on show and the small of awesome bbq meat. The meat was juicy and fall of flavour- not your usual dry boring meat skewers. There is a reason why this place is one of the most popular at the market. It’s seriously delicious! The only downside is the 2 for $10 deal- I really only wanted the one and it would have been nice to get 1 for $5 or something like that. If you are with a friend I’d suggest splitting them. My friends had no belly space at this point so I was on my own!

Hoy Pinoy on Urbanspoon

Grilled Calamari Tantacles from Seafood King- $10

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After finally getting through the huge line for this place we hoped straight into another one and started eating. I could tell the people behind us, not being lovers of seafood like me were not impressed with the look of this dish. They were really yummy! But really really filing and probably not the best street food wise. They were not cut up very well and very difficult to eat in a street food sense. Would have been better if perhaps they came in smaller pieces so I didn’t have to resort to using my hands. There were also some fried ones other up at another place that looked delicious.

 Fresh Coconut Juice from I Love Pho- $5

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If you are driving (like I was) and can’t be at the Bar this is the next best thing. What’s Asian food without some fresh coconut? I’m a bit of a coconut addict, I routinely buy them from the supermarket and make my housemates mad by taking up all the fridge space and banging them open in the morning (sorry guys!). This coconut was obviously fresher than what I get off Coles shelves and really balanced out the saltiness in most of the dishes I had had. Again I got this both nights because it was that yummy. I do wish they had made more space at the top so I could eat the flesh easier. At one stage I was walking along basically fingering the coconut to get the meat out! Cam seemed to really like it though 😉

I Love Pho 264 on Urbanspoon

Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée from the Brûlée Cart- $9

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I know what you are thinking- what’s a French dessert doing at an Asian food festival? I guess it’s because if there is one market that Asian cuisine hasn’t quite cornered yet in Melbourne it’s dessert. Hence there was Brûlée, Gelato Messina and some pancakes to fill the gap. While $9 for a small dessert seemed like highway robbery it was bloody awesome. Everyone good about a creme brûlée- creaminess, full of flavour and a crispy top. Definitely worth the investment and a great way to finish my second night at the Melbourne Noodle Market.

The Brûlée Cart on Urbanspoon

You have two more nights to try it for yourself as the Night Noodle Market is finishing on 30th of November and won’t be back for another year.

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If you find yourself in Melbourne in the last two weeks of November the Night Noodle Market is not something to be missed! I’m pretty shattered I’ll be gone on my trip already this time next year and will miss it- although I guess the German Christmas Markets will make up for it!

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You Only Live ‘Once’

While everyone else was celebrating the end of exams by getting drunk and going to the After Exams Party or some other club, I was marking the end of my second year of university with a night out with my grandparents. This night out surely didn’t include alcohol (unless you count that sneaky glass of red wine at dinner), or club music or dancing, but a night out at the Princess Theatre.

Sneaky pre show snap

Sneaky pre show snap at Once the Musical

I’ve spoken before about my love of theatre and how it only recently got rekindled. ‘Once’ was my fourth musical this year and absolutely amazing.

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Performing at Once the Musical

For anyone who hasn’t already seen the movie Once is a rather simple love story, about a down on his luck middle aged musician who meets a young Czech mother on the streets of Dublin. She changes everything for him and encourages him to fulfil his musical dreams. This story is even better when brought to live on a stage with amazing musicians and beautiful soul-searching songs.

Once isn’t your typical musical. It doesn’t have an orchestra, instead the small cast of less than 20 play the music right on stage including some magnificent guitar, piano, violin and cello. It doesn’t have an intricate and complicated set of sets and special effects. In it’s simplicity, Once uses one set, a bar with mirrors that enhance the experience as you see a hand playing a guitar in one mirror, or the faces of the cast audience when Tom Parsons is playing music on the bar. While at first the scene shifts seem a tad bit clumsy their quirkiness are what makes Once so beautiful.

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Full Cast at Once the Musical

The music and the way the cast bring it to life doesn’t make you feel like you are just a voyeur to their stage show. Instead it feels like you yourself are sitting in a pub Ireland while people casually play brilliant music around you. The inclusion of the audience is only enhanced by the fact that before the show and at interval the audience can actually climb up on stage and buy drinks from the actual bar that they use in the show. At the beginning the cast came out well before the start of the show and started playing impromptu music that was reminiscent of what you would experience in an Ireland pub. This pre show show then slowly warps into the beginning of the actual performance and again leaves the audience with the notion that they are watching some private moment with people who love music, rather than simply watching a show that they brought tickets to.

Once left me with a heavy heart. A heavy heart that only beautiful music performed by talented musicians can give you. Tom Parsons’s voice sent shivers down my spine, and when coupled with our very own Madeleine Jones’ voice was really just amazing music that was stuck in my head for the whole weekend after.

Once is an original musical. It stands apart from the many revivals that have been in Melbourne before. Les Miserables, Wicked and the King and I have all featured in this city before, and have been around for a very long time. Once is a new musical and Melbourne was the first time Australian audiences got to experience it and from all accounts it seems like the vast majority of people loved it just as much as me. They have extended the show due to popularity and I highly encourage everyone to go along to see this spectacular performance!

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Battle of the Souvlaki

Souvlaki, kebab, gyros- whatever you call them are my go to hangover food, as well as a relatively cheap meal. I’ve been obsessed with them since I was little.

Thus I was really excited to move back to Clayton in June of this year, as it meant I was only 10 minutes away from Oakleigh which is pretty much the Meeca of Greek Food, especially souvlaki.

There are two stand out places to get Souvlaki in Oakleigh- the Orexi Souvlaki Bar which got voted the best Souvlaki in Melbourne by Matt Preston a couple of years ago, and the newly opened Kalimera Souvlaki Art. I’m excluding Meat Me because I just don’t believe it is up to the same standard! So on one particularly hungover day I decided to test out both. I ate at Orexi for lunch and Kalimera for dinner so that I could best compare these two places (really I just wanted an excuse to feed my hungover tummy with lots of souvlaki goodness).

Orexi Souvlaki

Orexi Souvlaki

I’ve been going to Orexi for years. Mum and I stumbled along it probably about 5 or 6 years ago on a trip up from Melbourne and since then every time we were in Oakleigh it was our go to place for Souvlaki. Sometimes we would even go out of our way to stop off here for lunch when we were visiting Melbourne. I even remember Dad calling me to tell me he was eating here in an attempt to make me extremely jealous (it definitely worked).

Kalimera Souvlaki- Mixed Chicken and Pork with Tzartzki and Kalimera sauce

Kalimera Souvlaki- Mixed Chicken and Pork with Tzartzki and Kalimera sauce

In comparison, Kalimera only recently landed on the Oakleigh strip. I ate there on a recommendation of a friend. These guys come straight from Greece and they do souvlakis the proper Greek way including popping chips in there. They also only offer pork or chicken, as apparently lamb only appears in souvlaki here in Australia because when large numbers of Greeks originally immigrated to Australia lamb was the affordable meal. In Greece it’s all about the chicken and pork and thus these souvlaki are uber traditional.

BEST VALUE

Orexi is by far the more expensive of the two souvlaki. Depending on your choice of meat and fillings a souvlaki will set you back about $11-$13. In comparison when I order my usual at Kalimera- mixed souvlaki with extra sauce it comes in at a very affordable $8.40. However the Orexi souvlaki is about twice the size of what you get at Kalimera- it’s so huge that even I struggle to finish it (and I have a huge appetite for souvlaki) and they jam pack it with loads of meat. So value wise Orexi probably comes slightly over Kalimera.

SETTING

Kalimera

Kalimera

Orexi is very cafe like with small tables and small chairs. Kalimera, being a new building is absolutely stunning. The decor is really original with large round wooden tables. Their rustic theme is topped off with the fact that your souvlaki usually comes in what could only be described as a cake baking tin lined with baking paper. It’s a pretty place to sit down and have a meal- if you can get a table as it’s always busy of a night time. Kalimera is also open for both lunch and dinner- every single day of the week. IN comparison Orexi only opens for lunch and not on Sunday. Kalimera definitely wins for setting and convenience.

TASTE

Kalimera meat!

Kalimera meat!

When it comes to souvlaki who really cares about value, or ambience- hell if it’s tasty I’d be happy to get it takeaway and eat it in my car! This is a hard comparison- as I think it comes down to personal preference. The Orexi meat is cooked more authentically- they actually cook it on a spit over actual burning coals. Kalimera uses the more traditional gas rotisseries. Thus in terms of flavour of the meat I think Orexi wins everytime. But for me Orexi souvlakis have too much meat in them- no matter how much extra sauce I order I can’t help but feel like I’m just eating gyros straight- the meat drowns out the pita, the sauce and the salad. So if you are a huge meat lover you will probably prefer Orexi. Whereas for me the balance of meat, salad, and that beautiful secret ‘Kalimera’ sauce they wrap into far superior pita brings Kalimera out on top. As a side note Kalimera also do amazing chips! They season them with salt and oregano and they are super yummy!

Chips at Kalimera

Chips at Kalimera

I think whether you eat at Orexi or Kalimera you are going to have a great Souvlaki experience. Both places offer authentic and beautifully marinated meat (in comparison to the cheap processed doner kebab shit that I hate), homemade pita and homemade sauce (whether it be traditionally tzartzki or kalimera sauce), and fresh salad. No matter where in Melbourne you live I think it’s definitely worth the hike out to Oakleigh to get a real taste of Greece.

Kalimera Souvlaki Art on Urbanspoon

Orexi Souvlaki Bar Cafe on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Food Review: Kyma Restaurant

My family on my Mum’s side is Greek. It’s probably why I love Greek Food so much. I’d put it above Italian, Chinese and even Vietnamese- which is saying a lot. Melbourne has a huge Greek population and thus there are so many great places to eat Greek both in the city and further out in many of the suburbs.

My friend and I decided to try a place out in St Kilda called Kyma Restaurant. I stumbled across this restaurant through a google search. I really wanted to find a Greek place with an affordable banquet- so we would have the opportunity to have a wide range of dishes. It also had to serve said banquet with only two people (many other restaurants had a minimum of 4). Kyma fit the bill.

This restaurant was pretty quiet for a Friday night. That’s a pretty ominous sign in my book, if I was walking along trying to pick a restaurant to eat in I would never have walked into such a quiet restaurant- usually the crowds speak for themselves. But I must say the food was pretty acceptable- definitely not the most astounding Greek food I’ve ever had but yet again I’ve eaten at lots of Greek food so my standard is pretty high.

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The banquet starts with mixed dips and pita. This is one of my favourite things to order whenever I order Greek. I love pita and I love eggplant dip, caviar dip and tzartzki which feature on pretty much any mixed dip plate you order at a Greek restaurant. I always feel there is never enough pita though- although it is probably a good thing or I’d probably fill up on pita first and wouldn’t get to the rest of my meal.

Saganaki

Saganaki

Next we got an entree of Saganaki. I didn’t really like their Saganki- it was more a fried dry piece of cheese than the beautiful melty Saganaki I had last time I went for Greek at Hellenic Republic. Even dipping it in our leftover dips I don’t think we managed to finish it.

Next was dolmades. These are a mixture of rice, herbs and often meat wrapped in vine leaves and coated in some olive oil/lemon goodness. They are my favourite Greek food and every birthday my Mum usually makes a heap of them and I sit there and just devour them. These dolmades were pretty good!

Dolmades and Pickled Octopus

Dolmades and Pickled Octopus

The final entree was the pickled octopus! I love pickled octopus! and This wasn’t too bad either.

Seafood Dish

Seafood Dish

Next was the calamari and prawns. The calamari was great- perfectly cooked and really tasty. I didn’t really like the taste of the prawns though- they didn’t seem very fresh to me.

Very authentic yummy Greek Salad

Very authentic yummy Greek Salad

By the time the meat platter with chargrilled vegetables came we were pretty full. We didn’t weren’t finishing all that meat! The meat also was a tad bit dry by my standards, it didn’t have the full flavour I’m used to getting at some of my local gyros places. Perhaps even just some more lemon would have made it a bit better! Not sure ifthe dryness would have felt the same if I wasn’t so full but combined with my full stomach it was not going down so well!

Chargrilled Vegetables and Meat

Chargrilled Vegetables and Meat

Dessert was a mixture of Greek desserts. I was wooing that we didn’t get any Baklava! Very dissapointing. Although I’m not a coffee drinker my friend seemed to think the coffee that was served with this dessert was ok.

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In terms of service it was pretty good- although I was a little annoyed we got the dips, saganaki and dolmades all at once. It might have been nicer if they came out a little slower, particularly given by the looks of the quiet restaurant speed wasn’t necessary for their service.

All in all I think that there are plenty of better places to eat Greek in the city, but it wasn’t such a bad experience at Kyma. 6.5 out of 10?

Kyma Greek Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Food Review: The Lobster Cave

A quick personal note…

I’ve been pretty absent lately huh? Exams kind of got in the way and I haven’t had much of a chance to update in the last month or so. But as my last exam is Spanish in a couple of days (which I am definitely procrastinating for) I’ll be getting back into posting more regularly as outside of work I will have a heap of time on my hands to write.

This food review is from a restaurant I ate in a while ago- so enjoy!

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The Lobster Cave, while located well out of the city in beachside Beaumaris has a reputation that proceeds itself. Our waiter, who I think was the maitre de got a bit excited telling us about how busy this place is. They get literally hundreds of people come through their door every week- in fact some weeks it might even reach the thousand mark. He said on most Sundays they receive over 300 sittings and they were booked out on Sundays all the way to Christmas. Not sure how true those statistics are, but the place was certainly busy enough for a Wednesday night when we were there.

Just a caveat- this restaurant is super expensive. It’s not for the budget traveller or a lowly student such as myself. I only benefitted from this beautiful dinner because my godparents decided to take me there for my 21st birthday dinner (I’m a lucky girl I know).

Firstly, this place is all class. The kind of class where the waiter is constantly refilling your water, bottle of wine etc. I absolutely loved the decor as well, big comfy cushioned seats, a fish tank and even some sand paintings of the sea that really set the atmosphere.

We decided to order a seafood platter between us- they are usually for 2 but we were able to upgrade it for 3 although I’m not even sure we needed that much food as we didn’t come very close to even finishing what we had.

One of the reasons my godmother decided to take me here is that I have a bit of an obsession with seafood. You know that question where someone asks ‘if you had to pick one food/food group to eat for the rest of your life what would it be’- for me the answer has always been seafood. And the top of my seafood list is oysters. I’m totally in love with them and thus we did order a bit of an entree of oysters to devour while we waited for our seafood platter.

Our oysters

Our oysters

They do oysters three way but I’m a bit of traditionalist- you can’t go past the mixture of natural oysters and oysters kilpatrick (oysters grilled with worcestershire sauce and bacon). The oysters were really fresh and as such full of flavour- nothing like the ones I’m used to eating at my local pub.

Our free salt and pepper squid

Our free salt and pepper squid

We had to wait a very long time between entree and main- and when our seafood platter came out, although spectacular it clearly wasn’t the one we had ordered- in fact I doubt it was any of the platters on the menu. Between the delay and the different platter we guessed that they had probably run out of some seafood, having more people come than expected. None of us had a problem with it but it perhaps would have been nice for them to at least mention it to us, rather than try to get away with it by plying our table with extra salt and pepper squid and a free round of drinks.

The whole platter- so much food

The whole platter- so much food

However I wasn’t going to be disappointed in our platter, because it was magnificent. For a seafood lover such as myself it wasn’t pretty much the best meal I have ever laid my eyes on, and with the exception of a lobster I had a couple of years back, one of the best meals I have had as well.

Crumbed salmon and more salt and pepper squid

Crumbed salmon and more salt and pepper squid

The salt and pepper squid was cooked perfectly- just the right amount of flavour and none of that bad rubbery texture. We got three types of fish- some were crumbed but the best were those ones on that top that had been lightly covered with flour and grilled. It was so crispy and so tasty! The prawns were also yummy, as was the paella type rice with salmon in it that came out as a side to our platter.

Scallops, Lobster Tail and Rice and Salmon Dish

Scallops, Lobster Tail and Rice and Salmon Dish

And we also got some more of those delicious oysters! Probably the only disappointment was the scallops- probably because last time I had them we had got them pretty much straight off the boat back near my home town and I don’t think much could beat those. The highlight for me was probably what many call the poor mans seafood- the mussels sitting on the top. They were cooked in this yummy tomato sauce and reminded of all the mussels I ate while on exchange in France. Let’s just say I may have polished the whole plate off.

Crispy fish on top of those yummy mussels@

Crispy fish on top of those yummy mussels@

This platter was huge and we all left very very full and very very satisfied. While probably not in most of my readers budgets I would definitely recommend this place for beautiful seafood for that special occasion when a massive splurge seems acceptable!

Lobster Cave on Urbanspoon

SYDNEY TAXI DRIVERS ARE SOME OF THE WORST IN THE WORLD

Sydney-Taxi

Anytime we visit a new city, or even every time we go out in our own city, we rely on taxi drivers to get us places. Included in this reliance is a hope that they will know where they are going, that they won’t rip us off by rigging the meter or taking indirect routes. Even more importantly we put trust in taxi drivers, particularly as a group of young women not to do anything untoward; everyone has heard of the taxi drivers taking advantaged of roofied girls, or the ‘rape’ taxis that pose as taxis and take advantage of female travelers as well as male travelers by stealing and assaulting them. From my experience a positive or negative experience in a country or city can be shaped by the kind of taxi drivers you come into contact with- one of the reasons why I usually take the bus and not just because it’s the cheaper option.

My experience with taxi drivers in Melbourne has been pretty good- we even once had a taxi driver pick us up at a tram stop and give us a free ride because he was going that way to pick people up. When I think of bad taxi drivers I automatically think of more developing countries, such as the taxi driver in Hanoi that tried to rip us off when he rigged his meter and charged us 4x the amount it would usually take to get from the train station back to our hotel. I never expected for the taxi drivers in Sydney to be as bad as they were.

It all started very well, the assistants at the taxi rank were able to get us a maxi taxi that fit all 9 of us- they didn’t even try to convince us to go into three smaller taxis to make more money. However the taxi driver didn’t seem to know where he was going- a theme that was soon to become apparent with our experiences of Sydney taxi drivers. He asked us which way we wanted to go and told us he wasn’t sure what the fastest way he should be going, he seemed to get lost at times, and he would constantly look at me to clarify directions ‘that the one near world square yes?’ to which my response was always ‘I don’t know I’m not a taxi driver in Sydney’. It was extremely frustrating.

We managed to get a few good taxi drivers in a row- they were friendly and knew where they were going which was really good. But we still managed to get more taxi drivers that didn’t know where they were going then we got ones that did. It wasn’t even like our destinations were difficult- surely every taxi driver in Sydney should know where the University of Sydney is!

naught sydney taxi

However the Sydney taxi drivers had left the worst for last. On our way home we had 16 people that needed to get to the airport, via our hotel to pick up our luggage. We ordered two maxi taxis and they arrived on time which was great. We had a taxi of 10 and a taxi of 6- both different sizes so therefore charged differently. However we were in the maxi of 6 and the guy absolutely refused to put the meter on- he said the meter was running in the 10 person maxi so it didn’t need to be on in ours. When we got to the airport both of the taxi drivers attempted to charge us $110 for the trip, even though we had four less people in ours and they had originally told us $74- which proportionately would have added up. They kept being adamant that there is no difference in the charge between different sized maxis in Sydney but I find that extremely hard to believe, as the taxi driver in our cab would have no incentive to not turn the meter on if he wasn’t trying to rip us off. They got very aggressive as we told them we were only paying $74 and I told them I would be reporting both of them to which they responded they would report us- which we thought was really laughable as they were clearly the ones in the wrong. We paid out $74 and got the hell out of there!

After that final experience it was clear- Sydney taxi drivers were really some of the worst in the world! Do you agree? Have you had similar experiences?

 

A Weekend Eating in Sydney

Last weekend I headed off to Sydney for the Australasian Women’s Debating Champions which was being held at the University of Sydney. I haven’t really talked about debating much but it is one of the very few things I make time for to enjoy. While others were playing football, netball or any other sport I was too clumsy to be good at, I was debating.

The tournament took up the whole weekend. We flew into Sydney (from Avalon airport- we managed to get $88 return flights with Jetstar), went to the first debating social on the Friday night, debated all weekend and then headed straight home after the final night social. Thus I can’t really talk about what to see or do in Sydney based on this trip anyways, because I didn’t see a lot outside of our hostel and the university and its surrounding areas. But we did manage to eat at a few places in Sydney!

Viet Town

The first night after a pretty dismissal amount of canapés at the opening night social, we were wandering the streets of Sydney attempting to find somewhere that would have room for about 20 of us and that was relatively priced. We ended up stumbling across Viet Town. Apparently they opened up a couple of weeks ago, so the décor in the restaurant is pretty beautiful. Not your classic hole in the wall Vietnamese place- Viet Town definitely had an element of class, at least as much as you can get while slurping down a $12 bowl of Pho. The service was 10/10- all of the girls working there, especially the hostess were really friendly and willing to help us by making room for 20 people and allowing us to order in blocks of 5 to make splitting the bill easier. They were so excited to have us there they even took a photo of us as a group and put it on their facebook page.

The group photo we took at Viet Town!

The group photo we took at Viet Town!

As I have mentioned before, I have a bit of obsession with Vietnamese food. I wasn’t extremely experimental about what I ordered at Viet Town. Like any other Vietnamese place I ordered my bowl of Pho Bo and some rice paper rolls. I’d say the food was average for me but half of that could be because I’ve eaten at some of Melbourne’s best Vietnamese places so I have especially high standards when it comes to my Pho. It was still tasty and I’d definitely go back- I just wouldn’t choose to eat their over a place like Hanoi Hannah for example. I’d probably give it about a 7/10- as the average food was made up by the exceptional service.

Viet Town on Urbanspoon

The Kathmandu Terrace
The organising committee of the tournament had organised a social at an Italian place on the Saturday night. Unfortunately there were a heap of us- and only one pizza machine. Everyone that got pizza said it was great but a group of us were just too hungry to wait and went in search of some food.

Our free pappadums

Our free pappadums

I’ve never actually given a bad review on this blog before, but Kathmandu Terrace is going to be my first. It also seemed very great in the beginning, we were lead to a virtually private room where they set a table for the 10 of us and all of the staff seemed really friendly. However friendliness only gets you so far when we had to wait a significant time for our food- which is strange in an Indian restaurant because most of the curries have been cooking on the stove all day and are almost ready to go. Maybe it seemed longer because we were so hungry but it was like waiting forever even though the restaurant was almost empty. Unfortunately free pappadums only get you so far.

Goat Curry at Kathmandu Terrace

Goat Curry at Kathmandu Terrace

All may have been forgiven if not for the complete lack of flavour in the food. I live in Clayton- home to some of the best Indian restaurants in Melbourne, where a $7.50 saag curry is exactly what you want out of an Indian dish- spicy, full of flavour and actually have decent meat in it. If I could describe the food of Kathmandu Terrace in one word it would be bland. Everything kind of tasted the same. The exception was the goat curry which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately I think we were racially profiled in the sense that I wouldn’t even label the curries mild when most of us on the table probably would have gone towards the medium scale of spice.

Saag, Butter Chicken, Coco Beef- All pretty plain

Saag, Butter Chicken, Coco Beef- All pretty plain

Although the end of our experience at this restaurant did bring a bit of a laugh! The meat eaters on our table and the vegetarians had ordered separately to make sharing easier, and I asked the waiter if I could pay for the meat dishes and the other group pay for their vegetarian. Earlier in the night he had told us we got a 20% discount as students (score!), and he flat out told me he couldn’t split the bill because he would then only be able to give me 10% discount on each, because if he gave me 20% on one bill and 20% on the other that would equal 40% and that was too much. The poor guy obviously had no real knowledge of how a percentage worked- bless his cotton socks.
The Kathmandu Terrace on Urbanspoon

Bodhi on the Park
Bodhi was the classy venue that the tournament picked for our championship dinner. Upon finding out it was purely vegan/vegetarian us meat eaters were fairly sceptical. However all scepticism disappeared upon tasting their honey soy ‘chicken’. It’s made from soya bean and comes pretty close to the real thing. Other dishes they provided such as dumplings were also pretty yummy. I was left very impressed with the food although I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to eat at a vegetarian restaurant by choice.
Bodhi in the Park on Urbanspoon

Uni Brothers Kebabs
I may have drunk a little bit too much at the championship dinner, and I may have been feeling slightly (or more like very) hungover the next day. When 10.30am hit with little to no improvement I knew there was only one answer- a morning kebab. Kebabs are the answer to most of my drunken nights and my hungover mornings after them. They always manage to hit the spot. When that kebab is as tasty as the ones at Uni Brothers Kebabs- conveniently located at the University of Sydney, I am one very happy woman. Throw all that flavour and beautifully cooked meat in with extra garlic sauce and tabouli, as well as a $7.50 price tag and it was almost enough for me to apply for a transfer to Sydney!
Uni Brothers Kebabs & Pizza on Urbanspoon

Eating in other capital cities makes me feel like a bit of a Melbourne snob. I can’t help but realise how exceptional dining in Melbourne is and the reason why I love to call this particular city home!