The sunny summer weather is perfect for cafés but when the mercury hits 40 and above, sitting outdoors or anywhere without air conditioning doesn’t make for the most enjoyable experience. This is where cafés like Bare Witness are perfect- it’s indoors yes, but the big open space with glass floor to ceiling windows facing the water means it feels like you’re still making the most of the great weather without constantly sweating.
Before I begin, I’ll confess I did find this at the bottom of my ‘drafts’ folder, and may have forgotten to post about it. I’m leaving the best for last I guess?
One of the few remaining 50’s milk bars left in Australia, Bell’s Milk Bar is an attraction itself in Broken Hill. Not only is it fitted out with vintage 50’s style decor- there’s also a milk bar museum out the back!
And what’s a milk bar without milk shakes and spiders? Boasting over 50 different milkshake and spider flavours, the choosing one is definitely a difficult task. And for those who don’t have enough time to try all the flavours, they also have their flavoured syrups for sale so customers can recreate their drinks at home.
There’s not much on the menu in terms of food, but there is a small display fridge of pies and other small snacks. The vegetarian lasagne is surprisingly tasty, and quite filling too as it consists mostly of potatoes.
Milkshakes are available in small and large, and after much indecision I settle for the Hawaiian Delite which is a blended mixture of pineapple, coconut and chocolate powder. It’s a rather refreshing combination, and I quite enjoy the addition of chocolate powder- just enough to add some sweetness and flavour without overpowering the classic pineapple coconut pairing.
Because one visit wasn’t enough to try all the flavours we wanted to, we came back a week later to have another taste of the menu. We’d had our eyes on the waffles from the moment we read their menu online, but unfortunately their waffle machine had been turned off the first time we visited (they turn off their machines about half an hour before closing!) so we returned again at an earlier time to make sure we’d get a chance to try them!
Trash Spider (Small $5.65)
This time we’re after the spiders, which are mostly a mix of their flavoured syrups with soda plus a scoop of ice cream to top it off. I’ve had coke and lemonade spiders before, but nothing like the variety of flavours they offer on the menu here!
In attempt to try just about everything in one go, I try the Trash Spider- which is a mix of every flavour except for Sarsaparilla, Lemon and Ginger Beer (which is just as well as I’m not too much of a fan of those). I can’t say that I enjoyed this flavour combination too much- it’s a bit of a mess as you’d imagine.
Sarsaparilla Spider (Sml $5.65)
Sarsaparilla is a curious flavour offered on the menu- I’m not a fan of sarsaparilla myself, but my friend who ordered this seemed to enjoy it.
Bell’s Milk Bar
Address: 160 Patton St, Broken Hill NSW 2880
Phone:(08) 8087 5380
Our first meal in Osaka happened to be at the airport. This was a result of forgetting to order meals on our flight and surviving off only toasties and cup noodles for the 8 or so hours. Luckily for us, the airport had a pretty impressive selection of food outlets so we had quite a satisfying udon and unagi meal, although we gobbled everything up before I even remembered to bring out my camera.
The menu was in Japanese but thankfully it had plenty of pictures so it made it quite easy to order. I had absolutely no idea what the maze soba was, but seemed like a good option seeing as it was posted all over the store on posters and signs.
It’s an impressive bowl of thick noodles with a soy-like sauce mixed in, a piece of tender chashu pork and a mountain of toppings. Of which I’m pretty sure included a quite a bit of pig fat. And a generous serve of minced garlic to give you hours of garlic breath.
But if you cast your mind away from how unhealthy it may be and how bad your breath will smell afterwards, mix it all together and you have yourself a very very tasty bowl of noodles. Perhaps a little on the salty side for my tastes, but still very tasty indeed.
And we couldn’t go past the gyoza, at only 280yen for 6 pieces! Very delicate dumplings with a crispy bottom and a delicious filling- we would have ordered a serve each if not for the fact that we were feeling quite full!
It didn’t take us long to discover that three meals a day was not going to do it for us in Japan, as there’s food everywhere. A short walk down the Shinsaibashi shopping strip, and we find ourselves lured into this cafe from the display of waffles out the front.
There’s a huge cabinet of the cute liege waffles at the front of the store and they do them in four different flavours. These are pre-made however, so they’re of the more bready texture.
If you dine in, you also have the option of ordering the freshly made waffles which are definitely the better option- these come hot and are softer and fluffier than the liege variety. We love the presentation of the waffles, with quenelles of cream and ice cream, custard, bananas and chocolate sauce piled beautifully.
The melon pan are heated and the slab of ice cream is sandwiched between the bun when you order. This makes for a great combination of warm bun and cold ice cream with a particularly crunchy outer layer. If this is only second best, now I’m really curious as to how good is the best?
Amongst the many food vendors on the street was this scallop store which only sold the one thing- grilled scallops.
We were advised by a friend to visit during lunch hours, as their lunch sets are much cheaper than their dinner. For a 9 course crab feast, their lunch sets are great value- we picked the Ruri set for 4320yen per person and the Moegi set for 3780yen to try a bit of everything.
Ordering is via their iPad system which is quite simple to use- tap your selection and you’re ready to go!
We’re not completely sure we’d like the raw crab, as we’re not huge fans of raw anything other than salmon. Luckily it’s not as chewy or sticky as we’d thought, and rather sweet, although I don’t think we’re completely sold.
The claypot rice with crab is the last course, however, it’s brought to the table early to heat up and cook.
The grilled crab tastes quite similar to the boiled version, just a little drier.
What’s not to love about crab tempura? The pairing with okra tempura is rather odd, and though we’re not huge fans we’re happy to find that it’s not very slimy.
The crab gratin comes in the cutest mini claypot with a crab painting on the lid. And a cute spoon too!
All cuteness aside, it’s an amazing dish, with crab meat blanketed in creamy cheese sauce.
We can’t seem to figure out what the little colourful balls are- they’re a little like fish balls but not quite. Nevertheless the miso soup is quite enjoyable.
By the time we’d finished all the other courses, the claypot rices were ready. There’s a fragrant smell coming from the claypot when you open the lid, but unfortunately, the crab leg in the rice doesn’t impart as much flavour into the rice as we’d expected
And onto arguably my favourite course of the meal- ice cream! The waitress comes with perfectly round scoops of vanilla ice cream, and then whips up the matcha at the table before pouring it onto the ice cream. It’s the perfect ratio of matcha to ice cream to balance the bitterness of the green tea to the sweetness of the vanilla.
There’s menu also ranks their top choices by popularity, with asparagus wrapped in pork ranked number 1 so we had to try this. And we’re glad we did, though we’d rank the scallops higher than this one. The pork is cooked perfectly, without the asparagus being too soft or hard, accompanied by a light teriyaki-like sauce.
The waiter recommends these prawn toasts which are mini bite-sized toasts. Whilst there isn’t a whole lot of prawn on the toast, there’s just enough to impart enough flavour to leave us wishing we had ordered more.
As delicious as the skewers were, it didn’t take us long to figure out that it would take a ridiculous amount of skewers to fill us up so we decided after round two of skewers to find something a little more substantial to fill us up.
2-7-28 Nishishinsaibashi Chuo-ku Osaka Osaka
大阪府 大阪市中央区 西心斎橋 2-7-28 萬壽福ビル
Maison de Gigi
2−2−17 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka 〒542-0085 , Japan
Kani Doraku Dotombori Honten
〒542-0071 1-6-18, Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Teppan Jinja Dotonbori
1-6-4 Dotombori Chuo-Ku | Dotonbori Erika Bldg. B1, Osaka 542-0077, Osaka Prefecture
〒542-0084 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Souemoncho, 7−18, 1F
Seeing how popular the schnitzels were, we decided to get one each. The basic chicken schnitzel is $19.50 and comes with gravy and a side of chips and salad or roasted vegetables. But of course, we don’t want to boring like that so we choose from their 20 or so different toppings available.
It surprises most people that despite having lived in Australia all my life, I’ve never ventured much out of Sydney. With domestic airfares being dirt cheap most of the year nowadays, it was about time that I started exploring other states, starting with Melbourne.
Because the trip was a sudden decision and we had bigger plans for another holiday further down the track, we tried to keep costs to a minimum and there wasn’t much of a planning, with last minute searches on Urbanspoon to decide our dining destinations for the day. Nevertheless, much fun was to be had in this exciting city!
My friend had mentioned something about dumplings being cheap and tasty, so we searched up the nearest dumpling place to our hotel, and ended up at Shanghai street dumplings, which proved pretty popular, with plenty of diners even in the late afternoon when we rocked up.
The xiao long bao seem to be pretty popular, with almost every table having ordered one so we chose the chicken and prawn variety for a little something different. The pork versions did look a lot more enticing that these ones though, which were not as soft and delicate as we’d expected, nor was there much soup in these ones…..
We headed out to the Crown after dinner, where we did see quite beautiful night scenery which made me wish that I had brought my DSLR to capture it 🙂
And what’s a visit to Melbourne without at least a couple of visit to their famous cafes?
There’s too many good cafes in Melbourne to try in one trip, so to narrow down our search, we chose ones within close walking distance of our hotel, which is how we ended up here at Manchester Press. It’s hidden at the end of a laneway, easily missed were it not for the crowd gathering outside, waiting for their takeaway coffees and breakfasts which. There’s also plenty of people sitting inside so we’re lucky to grab a seat on the long wooden bench near the counter.
Coffee here is apparently really good, but seeing as neither me nor my friend were coffee drinkers, I don’t really have much of an opinion on that. The latte art was beautiful though 🙂
The menu consists mostly of bagels, and luckily online recommendations indicated two choices so we didn’t have to spend too much time deciding between the options. My fruit and nut bagel is a beautiful splash of pink and green, with a toasted bagel, mixed berry marscapone, strawberries and pistachio. Although it’s under the breakfast menu, I found it quite sweet for breakfast though- I could easily have had it for dessert! That said, I did really enjoy it though!
The smoked salmon bagel is quite a substantial serving, with a generous amount of smoked salmon on top of a bed of spring onion and chive cream cheese and toasted bagel, as well as a small side serving of salad. And it makes for a very satisfying start of the day!
I quite like exploring the many laneways in Melbourne, where you never know what you may find- funky bars, cafes, nice graffiti or some interesting shops. Unlike in Sydney, where a laneway is…..well just that.
And I can’t tell whether all of Melbourne’s cafes are hidden in laneways or if we just happened to only choose those which were, but for brunch another morning, we headed over to another café hidden in a laneway. Dip In Café specialises in dips, but it seemed that their baked bread bowls were equally as popular from online reviews.
The Shakshuka, which was a tomato based vegetarian filling with two baked eggs on top reminded me of café style baked eggs, just in a bread bowl rather than in a pan. It is a much larger serving than it may seem- you might not want to have your next meal until much later in the day!
Or you could always try to walk it off and squeeze in an extra meal somewhere in the middle!
With Melbourne’s free tram system in the CBD, we stayed mostly within the city, with much walking and tramming to cover most of the city within the first couple of days. The stroll along Southbank was surprisingly nice, with the nice water view and all types of interesting love locks on the bridge.
Melbourne’s Cat Café opened up not too long ago, the first of its kind here in Australia, so we decided to make a quick visit to see the cats, despite not being huge cat lovers. All of their cats are from rescue shelters, and we were lucky enough to visit on a day after three new kittens had been brought in.
There is a minimal entry fee to see the cats ($10 for an hour), but it certainly is a different sort of experience. They also have some food and beverages on offer, since it’s a café, but seeing as we were still quite full from brunch, we gave it a miss.
Apart from eating, we did do quite a lot of shopping in Melbourne, and I don’t know if I should be proud to mention this, but I did give H&M and visit every single day I was there (it was massive!). The shopping centres were rather similar to Sydney’s though so we didn’t stay there much.
We did make a visit to the Emporium though, for a chocolate fix at the Chokolait Emporium as we’d purchased a group buy deal online. It was great value, at $29 for more chocolate than two people can handle- two chocolate drinks and a chocolate platter.
There’s a choice between hot and cold chocolates so we went for one of each. The hot version was chocolate overload- so chocolatey that I don’t think I could have even made it to the chocolate platter if I’d drank that all myself. Definitely the perfect drink for a chocaholic though!
The cold version was easier to handle, being less chocolatey, despite looking the part, with a fancy chocolate drizzle on top.
And of course- the chocolate platter!
We’ve tried a chocolate platter at Lindt café in Sydney before, so we weren’t completely new to this. With four chocolate pieces, mud cake, mango and vanilla ice cream, it doesn’t seem like much, but it certainly fills you up a lot more than you’d expect. The handmade Belgian chocolate were nice and smooth, and we had much fun guessing what flavours they were, whilst the cake was pretty solid also. The ice creams served well to balance the chocolate so that it wasn’t too overwhelming, though it did mean that their flavours were a little overshadowed by the chocolate.
And for more beautiful Melbourne night scenery, we headed over to St Kilda to see some penguins, though it did take us a while to find. Which although it was cold and windy, meant that we did get to see the sun setting by the seaside which was quite pretty!
Walk right to the end of the pier and you might see a penguin if you’re lucky! We spotted two when we were there, including this super cute shedding penguin!
For something a little different, we ended up at Chan Charlie Chan for dinner, which interestingly enough was situated within Melbourne’s RMIT university. It’s a nice and quiet spot as we visited before the University semester had started so there weren’t many students around but did make me wish that I had a nice Malaysian eatery around on my uni campus too!
The entrée of satay chicken skewers was small and cute, and quite tasty too with a nice nutty flavour.
Although it was summer, it was surprisingly cold on the week we visited, which made it perfect for having a warm soup. The Bak Kut Teh, served in a clay pot, wasn’t quite as strong as I would have liked it, but was quite enjoyable, especially with the crispy dough sticks it’s served with.
We enjoyed the chicken laksa also, which came with pieces of smooth, tender chicken on top. The laksa soup is much spicier than anticipated though!
The lemongrass chicken is surprisingly tasty, with the lemongrass and other herbs imparting a unique fragrance to the grilled chicken. It’s great by itself, but we discover that it’s even better when you dip it in the sweet, vinegar sauce!
And because every day should finish with dessert, we visited Cacao Green for our fix of waffles. They’re a froyo bar, but we found that we quite enjoyed their waffle, which were made to order- they’re soft and fluffy and a great size for sharing. Topped with a sprinkle of fresh strawberries, a drizzle of nutella and a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream, the strawberry and nutella waffle was definitely a winner in my books- nothing super fancy, but a flavour combination that’s sure to please.
We had a little spare time towards the end of our trip, so we squeezed in a ride on the Melbourne Star. There was barely anyone there, so we managed to get the cabin to ourselves. The 360degree view is quite a sight, and it certainly gives you a different perspective of the city!
It is a 30 minute ride, though it feels much shorter than that- much like the whole trip in general. Before we knew it, we were on a plane back home! Will definitely be back again soon to continue exploring this city!
Cat Cafe Melbourne
375 Queen Street