Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dex2Rose Nitrogen Gelato

Dex2Rose Nitrogen Gelato, as its name suggest, is the new kid on the block, specialising in gelato made fresh to order using liquid nitrogen.

Dex2Rose, pronounced as dex-trose, a form of glucose (ie. sugar) with the alphabet 't' replaced with the number '2' (representing liquid nitrogen abbreviation LN2) is located in the heart of Melbourne CBD, within Racing Club Lane, a small alleyway off Little Bourke Street.

Owner and head chef Jesse who hails from Singapore, developed a liking to gelato upon his first taste of freshly made liquid nitrogen gelato a few years ago.

Jesse loved his fresh gelato so much that he went on to train under Nick Palumbo of Gelato Messina and months later founded Dex2Rose.

Dex2rose is the sort of place where you are warmly welcomed whenever you choose to drop in, be it for a quick sugar fix or even to sit down and hang out for a couple of hours with your friends.

A lovely, laid back and cosy ambience welcomes you as soon as you enter. They have a few small tables to cater for smaller groups and a big communal table to seat a group of up to 12 comfortably.

The menu changes every fortnight, and Jesse shared on how he spends days and nights with very little sleep, to experiment new flavours.

It was interesting to learn that the chef has to keep a clean palette to ensure that the flavours are right when tastings are done.

I have a pretty clean palette, considering I don't smoke, drink or eat a lot of spicy food, so hey Jesse, I'm up for tastings! :P

There are currently 8 flavours available, and Jesse hopes to expand the number of flavours over time. Out of the 8 that week, we were lucky enough to sample 5 different flavours.

My absolute favourite that night was the "Lazy Dinner" - a combination of entree, main and dessert rolled into one.

The subtle hint of sage, combined with burnt butter and finished off with caramel, oh, the result of this combo was just amazing. Drizzled with sticky caramel sauce to boot, what's not to like?

The "Honey Stash" stood out as my second favourite. Made with top quality Italian ingredients, this pistachio and honey gelato surprises you with crunchy, honeyed nut clusters.

Creamy and velvety smooth gelato with a contrasting crunch, yum! I'm not too sure about the crowned raspberry cream though.

I personally thought it'd be better without the cream, but that's because I personally don't like cream.

Next up was "It's a MATCH Ah!" which I really really enjoyed. But let me put it this way, you'll love this if you love your matcha strong. Jesse pointed out that some might find the matcha flavour a little too strong for their liking, but to me, it was perfect.

I could not get enough of the crunchy sugared peanut powder which added on a contrasting texture to the smooth gelato. I hope they bring it back! *big puppy eyes*

As for those who appreciates an alcoholic treat, the "Pink Flamingo" would be a good flavour for you to try. This Peach and Rose moscato sorbet, topped with rosewater coconut cream will not leave you pink in the face but it sure was very refreshing, and went down a treat.

For those who aren't big fans of creamy ice cream or gelato (how could you though?), the sorbets would be your go-to-option. ;)

Last but not least, the "Rockkaido" which really screamed "TRY ME!" when I first perused the menu, however it did not quite taste like how I expected it to.

Whilst the texture was consistently smooth, the flavour was not quite my cup of tea as I found the Hokkaido milk powder to be a tad overpowering.

All in all, I found the five flavours we sampled to be consistent in texture; the gelati creamy and smooth, and the sorbets smooth, not too icy, and certainly light and refreshing.

I also really appreciate that none of the flavours were too rich, nor too sweet. You'd be able to finish a whole cup of gelato by yourself without feeling jelak, or unpleasantly satiated.

For those with dietary requirements, fret not! You'd be able to enjoy a treat too as Jesse ensures that he has a few options which are either vegan, gluten-free (GF) or/and dairy-free (DF) to cater to your needs.

For those just wanting a drink, how about some beer nitrobrew coffee? Yeap,  you read that right. This is the nitrogen-charged-coffee, being dispensed right out of a beer tap yo!

The result? Smooth, full-bodied coffee, infused with apple (granny smith and royal gala), strawberry and Tahitian vanilla bean, complete with a layer of creamy, foamy head. It's also naturally sweetened, so there's no need for sugar.

Oh, it was surprisingly refreshing! I'd have a nitrobrew coffee over beer, anytime. ;)

Dex2rose Nitrogen Gelato on Urbanspoon
I'll be honest and say we were not entirely sure of what to expect upon receiving the invitation for a tasting, but at the end of the evening, we were blown away by Jesse's passion for gelato and his take on the innovative and creative flavours that Dex2Rose has to offer.

Pictured sourced from Dex2Rose's Facebook page
They've got a great team there; Jesse and his team are really friendly and always served with a smile. I love that Jesse is very open to suggestions and feedback, which to me, is the best way forward.

Dex2Rose is open everyday, from 12pm daily until late. If you're not sure of where to go after dinner on a Friday night, or if you need a chill out place during the weekend, and craving a little treat, pop in to Dex2rose to have some nitrobrew coffee and gelato.

Just like we did, several weeks after the tasting, when I learnt that Dex2Rose introduced a new menu. A couple of the flavours intrigued me so The Boyfriend and I returned again, this time on our own dollar.

This is the modified version of Peanut Butter Capp as I opted to have mine without freshly whipped cream. It's a cappuccino gelato, with smashed Reese mini peanut butter cups, drizzled with chocolate sauce.

I had hoped for the espresso flavour to stand out a little more, but the peanut butteryness was quite overpowering. Still delicious though!

The Original Mr. Grey sits in the background; Earl Grey tea and Italian hazelnut gelato, with bits and pieces of hazelnut churned through. The Boyfriend really enjoyed it, and I bet you would too, if you like earl grey and hazelnut, as they make a great pair.

Again, we loved how smooth and creamy the gelati were! You will definitely find us at Dex2Rose again, and again. ;)

Disclaimer: The Boyfriend and I were invited for a tasting, but returned again last week on our own dollar.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shinwa Izakaya

I am very embarrassed to admit this, but boy, this post is way, way overdue. I won't say exactly how long ago, but a few months back, Raymond (my high school buddy and amazing self-taught baker) invited me along with Daisy and Nancy to dinner at Shinwa Izakaya.

Ray and Nancy are both friends with the founders of Shinwa, and were invited to dine as guests. Ray brought me along as his +1.

We were served with sake and edamame (salted, and chilli in the background) to snack on as soon as we were seated, and left the order for the evening to the owner.

I particularly also love the lotus roots chips. My mum usually boils them in soups and by then they'd lose all their delicious-ness, but the chips were crisp and I loved how it was a good variation of texture.

We kick started with this plate of sashimi which was fresh and very beautifully presented.

It was followed with sushi (I can't for the life of me remember which this is) and from hereon, the flow of food just did not stop.

Soon enough, I found myself in love with these thinly sliced premium wagyu tataki beef (marble 7 yo!!) topped with shredded onions, alfalfa sprouts and flying fish roe served with housemade dipping sauce!!

One of my favourites that night was the Kingfish Carpaccio; kingfish sashimi infused in really delicious, tangy housemade salad dressing of tomato, onions and grounded leeks, then topped with alfalfa sprouts.

You know what's the best kind of salad? Crispy soft shell crab salad served with sakura ebi and Shinwa's housemade yuzu dressing! Salad never tasted this good. Om nom nom...

Super tasty pork belly okonomiyaki!!! You can't find this anywhere else in Melbourne, only at Shinwa. I am drooling looking at my pictures and think I need to organise another trip back.

If I had to choose an ultimate favourite, it will have to be these chizu-fry!! Deep fried lightly battered cheese (3 types, uh-huh!) wrapped in Japanese oba leaf. So freaking good, my taste buds were crying tears of joy. I've never had anything like this before.

The Shinwa Tonkatsu was fried to a crisp perfection with the meat still succulent within, but the highlight for me was the housemade potato salad - it was so good, I can eat a whole bowl.

The lamb I found was a tad too salty for my liking and truth be told, this is probably the only dish I did not enjoy.

We proceeded with some yakitori thereafter. These were the cheese, yuzuwasabi and mentaiko yakitori. Basically chicken thigh topped with the respective housemade sauce which flew me right to yumtown. I really thought these were delicious... until...

...the buta lychee yakitori arrived! Lychee wrapped in sliced pork belly? OH MY GOD, IT WAS SO FREAKING GOOD! I wish I didn't have to share because I can easily have one whole skewer to myself.

I also really enjoyed the gyutan (premium ox tongue). It was very tender and flavourful. In fact, every single stick of yakitori that we had were good and had a good burst of flavours. Even the grilled saba fish you can see in the background, that was yum too.

We ended our meal with these fried mochi and goodness me, by then I was so full I felt like I was going to need to roll home. Thankfully Nancy and Ray were kind enough to give me a lift home.

All in all, I was really impressed with the food, and would definitely love to return. We don't venture out to Brunswick as often as I'd like to, but I've got Shinwa at top of mind for a while now and been wanting to bring The Boyfriend here. I bet he'll love that buta lychee skewer!

As I was invited to dine as a guest of Shinwa Izakaya, I am not too sure about the pricing, but it looks fairly reasonable if I'm basing it off their menu online.

Shinwa Izakaya - Japanese Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon
The restaurant has a good vibe, and service was great. If you're in for some good izakaya (tapas) food and a drink with your mates, I'd highly recommend Shinwa. They have by far some of the best yakitori's I've had in Melbourne. ;)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Darac Grill & Bar - Revisited

Annyeonghaseyo! :)

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I'm a big BIG fan of Korean food. The Boyfriend and I have K-food at least once a week. Sometimes twice a week.

I even have a growing lot of Korean ingredients in my pantry as I have started cooking my own K-food at home too.

I often send pictures of my homecooked lunch/dinner to my mum (often Korean or Japanese dishes) and she said to me the other day, "Are you Chinese or Korean?" Oops!

Anyways! Today I am sharing about my recent craze for budaejjigae, also known to many as Korean army stew at the busy Darac.

I blogged about Darac before, where I shared about how I didn't enjoy the cheesy buldak but seeing how this place has been so highly raved about, I decided to give them a second chance.

They're really popular for their army stew so I thought okay, that's what I will have. And boy, am I glad I did! I've since gone back four times for the stew. ;)

The stew comes in either medium size for 2-3 people ($29) or large size for a bigger group ($38). I like to add ramen ($4) to throw in at the end. *slurpppps*

The spicy stew is really quite spicy, and it sent my tummy on a roller coaster the following morning. So having learnt my lesson, I now order the non-spicy one and request extra chilli paste so I can adjust the level of spiciness to my liking.

The budaejjigae is really perfect for upcoming, cold autumn or winter nights. I'm going to try the cheesy kimchi stew next, as I love my cheese in every dish! ;)

On days when I'm filling like I want to load up on carbs, I'd opt for their pork or beef bibimbap which I also really enjoy!

With lots and lots of gochujang and sweet sauce hehe! Give it a good mix, and voila! Such a simple dish, but so so delicious.

Another favourite dish that I often order at Darac is the Korean Hamburg Steak - tteokgalbi. I'm drooling as I type this.

The meat patties are juicy, succulent, and so full of flavour! I reckon Darac does one of the best tteokgalbi's in town, my other fav place being Mahn Doo.

I live so close to Darac, I'm there every now and again whenever I'm craving either one of the three dishes above.

Darac Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon
Whilst my first experience was a let down, I'm so glad I gave Darac a second chance. I will continue to return to Darac, I just won't order the cheesy buldak haha. :P

If you know of any other places that does good army stew, bibimbap or tteokgalbi, please do let me know! I always love trying new K-restaurants. :)

Have a great week ahead, everyone!
Click on 'OLDER POSTS' for more! :)