Mikoshi

This post should really be titled “How Hayley Discovered Sushi Hot Dogs and Flipped Out So Extensively She Essentially Has Been Incapable of Doing Anything Other Than Drawing Smiling Anthropomorphic Sushi Dogs Everywhere Ever Since.”

Hitting the harried ambiance of Fitzroy Street to find some sustenance before a gig at the Palais Theatre, Muffin and I had already bypassed a few restaurants we’d scribbled the addresses out of the Good Food Guide when we came to a stop outside Mikoshi. And all it took was for me to see the word “sushi” adjacent to the word “dog” for me to firmly state, “We are eating HERE.”

Mikoshi’s menu proclaims its food as being “Asian fusion at its best!” Now I don’t blame you if you baulk at the term fusion; a lot of late 90s/early 2000s eateries killed the idea of fusion stone dead by merging together foods into hideous abominations That Should Never Have Been. But Mikoshi’s version is not only super tasty, it’s a stroke of sensible genius. There’s nothing in these dishes that is out of place or weird. It’s simply Japanese, served in a clever fashion.

For entree, of course we had to have a sushi dog each. I went with the seitan “cali-dog”, whereas Muffin had the tuna-filled option. The sushi comes out ostensibly as a big, regular roll, but it’s split down the middle and crammed full of exciting fillings – as well as marinated seitan mine had some tempura vegies as well. They even do a sauce and mustard style drizzle with the sushi mayo! It was ridiculously amazing.

There’s also sushi burgers, which we didn’t order, but I spied some at another table and am now intrigued by them, seeing as they appeared to be domes of iceburg lettuce that hid… what, I wonder? It’s a mystery! A potentially¬† delicious mystery.

We also ordered some other, less creatively exciting yet still awesomely delicious dishes. There were vegetable gyoza, with noticable chunks of shiitake inside, which is my marker these days for acceptable gyoza. Well, these were way more than just acceptable, they rated pretty highly on my “best gyoza to be had” scorecard.

I also ordered the yasai ramen. This was made with a shiitake infused broth, and the vegetables had been stir-fried before they were added to the soup. The fact that the vegies had been stir-fried gave the whole dish this amazing smoky flavour, which kind of ramped up all the other components. It was honestly a highly impressive dish, and probably the best soup discovery I’ve had in a long while (SO stealing the stir-fry method for my homemade ramen soups).

Muffin ordered the chicken bento box (Muffin likes bento boxes because she likes the fact that they’re basically compartmentalised culinary surprises). This bento was comprised of teriyaki chicken, kingfish, tuna and salmon sashimi chicken strips that seemed to have been tempura’d, tofu and wakame salad and a rice ball. She enjoyed everything greatly, and thought it was a very well put together bento.

Mikoshi has heaps of interesting vegie options, which makes me far more enamoured of it than the similar-but-nowhere-near-as-good Sushi Burger in the CDB, which I decided not to blog as it only had one vegie option. I can’t wait to go back and order a sushi burger. What lurks under that crisp lettuce shell? Oh, the delicious anticipation!

Mikoshi

151-153 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda

Ph: 9534 9559

Yang’s Hot Works Noodle and Dumpling Restaurant

Do you sometimes find yourself craving an el cheapo dumpling experience such as Camy’s or Shanghai Dumpling House, only to exclaim, “But I am stuck in the wastelands of the outer eastern suburbs and cannot be bothered trekking all the way into the city, MY LIFE IS WOE AND DESOLATION.” Never fear, you can still fill yourself with inexpensive dumpling delights in, of all places, Bayswater!

Credit goes to my little sis Megan for letting me in on the discovery that is Yang’s, which is by far and away her favourite place to eat. We’d had a quite hideous day: my car had broken down, we’d had to tow it from Carlton to my mechanic in Heathmont, oh, and then it rained on us. Sensing my growing aura of complete despair (and the fact that she hadn’t had a decent meal all day), she took charge. “Right, we’re going to Baysie for dumplings. MOVE.”

Yang’s is a very similar dining experience to most other cheap-and-cheerful dumpling places you’re probably familiar with (the similarity to Camy’s even goes down to having the exact same bowls and plates). But how do the dumplings stack up against those familiar city purveyors? Well, the vegie dumplings I sampled were pretty damn impressive. They contained a rich variety of ingredients that trumped most vegie dumplings that I’ve had before; lots of different mushrooms (including shiitake, button and maybe even a threading of black fungus), carrot, bright greenery, and it all comes together to pack a fresh, satisfying punch. Nice wrappers too, not too thick or stodgy. I wish I’d had room for a lot more, and the servings are big enough as it is! While I only had eyes for dumplings on this visit, it was also satisfying to notice that there is a nice varied number of vegetarian dishes on the menu that I’m quite keen to go back and sample.

As a sign that we saw in a shop window as we meandered back to the car said, “$5 is cheap even for Bayswater.” While not quite as cheap as $5, you’ll get yourself a nice, filling and delicious meal of dumplings at Yang’s that will keep your pocket light and your tum richly satisfied.

Yang’s Hot Works Noodle and Dumpling Restaurant

735 Mountain Highway, Bayswater

Ph: 9729 6688

The Station Hotel

Birthdays! The biggest excuse, in our family at least, for dressing up (complete with a pre-emptively loose set of trousers) and heading out to eat ourselves stupid. Food, as I imagine it is in a lot of families, really brings us together, and we tend to make a big effort to celebrate milestones by trying to insert as much delicious food and alcoholic beverages into us as humanly possible.

Which is how we all found ourselves in Footscray on Mum’s birthday, scrambling from out of the maxi-taxi into The Station’s Hotel’s carpark, ravenous and anticipatory. I was enormously keen to sample The Age Good Food Guide’s 2011 Pub of the Year, and had been bolstered in my keen-ness by my dad, who is a sharp foodie himself and has been a fan of The Station Hotel’s offerings for years.

A cursory glance at the menu might make vegetarians baulk slightly. The Station’s speciality is steak, and their beefy offerings takes up a goodly chunk of the menu. But what surprised me was that although the vegie options are a little scarce (along with my main I think there may have been only two other vegie options in the entrees section), my meal ended up being one of the most impressive, most delicious, and just damn GOOD that I’ve ever had.

For my main I had the eggplant parmagiana with buffalo mozzarella and heritage tomatoes. Now, an introduction to serving sizes at the Station: they are absolutely MAMMOTH! Seriously, I’m a fan of ample servings, but this thing came out in a huge baking dish that could have happily served about three people. I’m not entirely sure if I should be proud or appalled that I managed to polish it all off, but it was hard to stop. The eggplant was gorgeously plump and well-seasoned, the bubbling tomato sauce all sharply piquant and intriguingly complex (I think I found tiny green grapes in the tomatoes! I have no idea what they were doing in there, but they were delicious so who cares!). It was gorgeous, and honestly as perfect a dish as you’re ever going to find.

After consuming such hugely decadent meal, I’m betting that you’re thinking that I passed on dessert. Well, that’s what a sensible person would have done, but if the past nine months of food rambling has taught you anything, is that I am clearly not sensible at all when it comes to portions. So of course I placed in a swift order for the hot Valrhona chocolate cake with rhubarb jam and vanilla ice cream. Just like the eggplant parma, the chocolate cake was ridiculously huge, presented in a wide, round quiche platter containing a sea of cake, with a big white scoop of ice cream on top, like a delicious bobble hat. It was rich, it was chocolate heaven, and the gold lay right at the bottom of the dish with a slightly caramelised layer of rhubarb jam, which pretty much sent me into a heightened state of rapturous glee. The fact that I got so full that I had to leave a fat sliver untouched, filling me with a profound, aching sadness that took a good few days to leave me, should stand testament to how damn good a dish it was.

I was not only me who was having a revelatory dining experience. All up and down our table came a chorus of delighted gasps, sighs and any number of satisfied foodie sounds. I haven’t eaten out with such a big group before where every single member was left so completely in awe of the food, the service (which really was impeccable, strikingly that tricky balance between attentive and inobstrusive) and the experience as a whole.

So find yourself your own special occasion, or heck, just make one up, and head on down. Bounties await you!

The Station Hotel

59 Napier Street, Footscray

Ph: 9687 2913

www.thestationhotel.com.au

Top of the Noms 2010

Why hello there! It was all rather disgustingly quiet around here in December, wasn’t it? Well I didn’t want it that way but fate forced my hand into an extended internet break when a downloading snaffoo committed by a sibling resulted in the Blintz household having no internet access for the majority of last month. The wailing and misery that this caused cannot be measured by traditional means.

But at least it means I have an impressive backlog of content to churn out in January! And I figure we should start the year off with a little round up of the best things that I got to sample in the past year, and it gives you a sneak peak at some of the places I’ll be reviewing in the next couple weeks. Onwards!

Best Savoury Dish

Footscray’s The Station Hotel takes this out with their eggplant parma.

Best Dessert

The Station Hotel very nearly took this out as well for their astounding chocolate cake with rhubarb jam, but then I remembered the pear tarte tatin from Madame Sousou. Sweet, heavenly joy on a plate.

Best Breakfast

A tie between Monk Bodhi Dharma’s orgasmic French toast, and The Hardware Societe’s fried brioche with caramelised blood oranges. My blood sugar levels just rose spontaneously.

Best Designed Cafe That Makes You Feel Adorable Yourself Just By Being In It

The Bell Jar, closely followed by Brighton’s The Little Ox.

Best Japanese

Being me, this is totally the most important category! Mikoshi in St Kilda wins this one pretty much purely for these three words: SUSHI HOT DOGS! Hells yes Japan. Honourable mention to Wood Spoon Kitchen.

Best Place That I Wish Was My Local Because Then I Wouldn’t Have To Leave

Bebida Bar and Cafe.

Best All Together Experience

The Station Hotel. Just impeccable. And that review is next on the list, so you’ll be able to read just why it was so good very soon!

Food Resolution for 2011

Being that 2011 celebrates my ten year anniversary of turning vegetarian, I want to make a concerted effort to visit more places solely devoted to vegetarian/vegan cuisine. Ever more vegie goodness awaits us!