Hobba – Autumn Menu Launch

Melbourne’s mid-autumn sunshine has been uncommonly kind (knock on wood). Inevitably, as we set aside our much loved Havianas and glasses of Pimms, the team at Hobba have been hard at work tweaking their autumn menu.

Head chef, Rhys Hunter has a decade of cooking experience working across Aussie icons: Giuseppe Arnaldo and Sons, St Ali and the Iceburgs Group in Sydney. With a few international stints, Rhy’s global perspective has influenced the Hobba menu, with touches of international inspiration. There’s plenty of warmth with slow-cooked pork, chilli con corne, root vegetables and all the other classic brunch dishes. As the dreary weather and yellowing foliage starts to creep in, Melbournians can take comfort at Hobba.

Hungrycookie was fortunate to sample the Autumn menu pre-launch. Highlights were the Pan Seared Snapper and the Wild Mushrooms.

Hobba’s Vietnamese Banh Mi w/ Marinated Cooked Pork, Pork Crackling Crumb, Asian Vegetables, Chicken Liver Pate, Wombok Slaw Salad 

The baguette – introduced to the Vietnamese by the French; has evolved to become a Vietnamese street-food staple. Hobba’s version is a western interpretation with scatterings of pork crackling crumb, marinated cooked pork and lemongrass in a sweet and buttery brioche bun. Abundantly fresh, spicy, vibrant and miles away from a Springvale or Footscray version, this is a Western version that I surprisingly enjoyed.

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Pan Seared Snapper w/ Cauliflower Puree, Potato Gratin, Asparagus, Heirloom Beets, Purple Cauliflower

The Pan Seared Snapper draws inspiration from the colours of autumn, in a mismatch of deep reds, purples and yellows. Delicate slices of autumn veggies & florals accompany the snapper to complete the picturesque dish. The fish was a little bit over. Who would notice with the distraction of a smooth and buttery cauliflower puree and an Irish approved potato gratin?

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Korean Western Fusion in Melbourne

Gangnam style and plastic surgery aside, there’s more to Korea than all things bubble-pop. Sliders, clean-eating, dumplings – Melbournians adore food trends to the point of over-indulgence. Do you remember the tsunami of macarons in 2012? Korean Fusion is no exception with restaurants popping left, right and centre.  Combining elements of traditional Korean with Western ingredients; has elevated the status of Korean dining from boring ol’ bibimbap to the likes of Korean tacos, Kim Chi fries and all things mouth-watering. The trend emanated from the food carts of NYC, spreading globally as diners realised the glory of Western/Korean Fusion. Mexican and Korean? BEST match ever.

Here are the best Korean Fusion restaurants in Melbourne:

ANJU RESTAURANT & BAR 

Anju Restaurant & Bar joins a growing list of trendy alleyway eats. Transforming traditional Korean food into hip fusion dishes, the menu captures the attention of adventurous eaters. Anju draws its inspiration from a number of Western and European styles. Fried rice cakes dusted with Korean Sweet Chilli pays homage to the famous Momofuku dish from NYC. BBQ corn with creamy miso chilli paste is an Asian twist on Mamacita’s Mexican version. Thinly sliced beef accompanied with apple slices and a refreshing watermelon salad was a modern interpretation of a French beef tartare.

The decor is uber-cool. Sitting amongst a graffiti-laden lane-way with graphic images projected onto the neighbouring cobblestone, creates an artsy vibe that would not look out of place on Melbourne’s White Night. Vintage movie posters and refurbished vintage pieces complete the industrial look.

Anju is slightly pricier than the norm. For a valuable experience, refrain from ordering traditional Korean dishes and order what Anju does best. Go for the Western inspired dishes that have become Anju’s specialty. Enjoy.

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Mörk Chocolate

Willy Wonka has moved to North Melbourne with the opening of Mörk Chocolate. Alas, there are no Oompa Loompas, but there is plenty of dark chocolate. With a name speaking to its devotion (Mörk is Swedish for ‘dark’), this diminutive North Melbourne cafe are true chocolate artisans. Differentiated from the larger chocolate franchises, Mörk’s hot chocolate is made with all-natural ingredients – Cocoa powder sourced from Ghana, Cacao Liquor from Venezuela and unrefined coconut blossom sugar (a diabetic friendly sweetener). Suddenly, hot chocolate is cool again.

From collaborations with LuxBite to Rooftop Honey, every 250g bag is prepared by hand and lovingly packaged for chocolate lovers to take home. The dine-in options are as innovative as it’s all-natural ingredients.

Vanilla Infused Sparkling Water 

The tasting began with a complimentary glass of vanilla-infused sparkling water. This acted as a palate cleanser, clearing the mouth for an arriving spectacle of chocolate.

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The Campfire

You can’t get more theatrical than ‘The Campfire.  Designed to emulate a campfire experience, it arrived on a wooden board, with a pitcher of hot chocolate, sea salt and a toasted marshmallow. The star of the show was the upturned glass, blowtorched with beechwood smoke. Momentarily, diners are tricked into thinking Heston prepared their drink, as the smoky aroma magically combines with the dark chocolate concoction. The sprinkling of salt enhances the chocolate flavour, stirred in with the toasted marshmallow skewer – guess Manny from Modern Family knew what he was talking about after all.

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Supernormal

What do you do when you have a successful business venture? Well, you expand of course. Andrew McConnell is no stranger to feeding crowds, with a string of successful restaurants including Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc, Builders Arm Hotel and Luxembourg. No matter the cuisine, Andrew delivers, creating a trendy vibe and a queue of eager foodies. With the Midas touch, I question whether he is in possession of a magical food wand.

Supernormal, with its crimson neon cherries acts as a gesticulation to hungry Melbournians to enter and salivate at the distinctive Asian Menu. The katakana signage and raw menu screams Japanese, but touches of Chinese and Korean, creates a fusion menu that takes diners on a journey through Asia. Freshly steamed baos, Szechuan lamb, sashimi – this is one red light district I would happily enter :P.

We tasted the banquet menu, as part of Zomato Australia’s first #zomatomeetup.

Pictured: Cucumber & Wakame Pickle, Grilled Baby Corn w/ Miso Butter

The subtle sweetness of the Wakame (seaweed) combined with the acidity of the pickle, created an addictive palate cleanser. The Japanese have always known that Wakame is high in vitamins and minerals. I’ll refrain from using the term ‘superfood’, because there is no such thing, but it definitely deserves a big tick for a healthy starter.

The Corn with Miso butter was simple and delicious. The miso accentuated the sweetness of the corn, for a modern interpretation of corn-on-the-cob. Plus, who doesn’t like butter?

Black Kingfish w/ Fennel on a Seaweed Cracker

This dish is yet to formally appear on the menu. We were lucky to have a first taste of this crunchy creation. Where there is sashimi, you will find me leaping in excitement. The subtle liquorice aftertaste of the fennel was a match in heaven.

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A Guide to Brunching in Flemington/Kensington

What springs to mind when you think of Flemington? ‘The races!’ ‘Future music festival!’ ‘Creepy guy on the 57 tram’. There’s more to this inner city suburb, than the occasional event. This ethnically diverse suburb is quiet on most days, with brunch places scattered around the Flemington, Kensington and the Travancore area. Admittedly, the cafes are cosy, but quality trumps quantity any day. Personal favourites were the ‘The Premises’, ‘STREAT’ and ‘ Mr Ed’.

MAMA BEAR

Transformed from a dingy ol’ Mexican restaurant into a trendy neighbourhood staple, Mama Bear’s graffitied murals bring a touch of vibrancy to the street. Embracing the rustic run-down look, Mama Bear has successfully replicated the look of a hip brunch cafe. Rotating specials keep the menu interesting.

Despite wanting to enjoy Mama bear, two visits have resulted in less than impressive dishes. The omelette, french Toast and fritters were bland. A real shame considering its prime location. Perhaps Mama Bear needs a Papa bear?

Savoury French Toast

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A beginner’s guide to New York City

New York’s iconic skyline has been an inspiration to many – from Jay Z to Sinatra to wide-eyed fashion interns, the allure of New York City has attracted both tourists and dreamers alike. This is a quick guide to travelling around the Big Apple for first timers.

TOURIST SPOTS

For the ‘first-timer’ you can’t miss these tourist attractions. Yes, there will be a ton of tourists. Yes, the lines will be very long , but you haven’t truly visited  NYC until you have seen these icons.

Times Square

Love it or hate it, Times Square screams consumerism and bright lights. The fact that it has the largest ‘ Toys-r-us’ in the world with a ginormous roaring mechatronic t-rex, life-sized Barbie house, working Ferris wheel and LEGO, LEGO, LEGO would make anybody’s inner child burst with excitement.  For the candy lovers, M&M world, Hershey’s Chocolate world and Dylan’s candy bar are certified sweet spots.

NYE: If you are fortunate enough to be present in NYC on new year’s eve; be prepared. Sections of Times Square are blockaded off as hoards of people congregate to witness the infamous ball drop. Either arrive early or purchase tickets for NYE events at surrounding bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants. See ‘Helpful links’ below for a NYE guide.

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The Vertue of the Coffee Drink

Melbournians are self-confessed coffee snobs, contemptuously turning up our noses at Starbucks and professing our undying love for Australian independent cafes. ‘I can’t start the day without my coffee!’, a common outcry on Monday morning, with the dawning realisation of a new working week. Coffee is integral to the Melbourne lifestyle, and with that comes a myriad of new openings with exceptional food and coffee. The Vertue of the Coffee Drink is no exception. Naturally, it’s located down a laneway (Raffa Pl).

A seemingly dilapidated white door opens to reveal a modern interior, with custom made wooden furniture, planter boxes reaching the ceiling and futuristic isometric globes from Lucretia Lightning. We sat on the mezzanine level, looking down on the beast itself – a gleaming new coffee roaster with copper plumbing, churning out freshly roasted coffee beans. A very impressive interior, where open spaces and natural lighting is king.

Scotch Eggs w/ Piccalilli Mayonnaise, Onion Marmalade, Crispy Pig Skin, Brioche Soldiers 

The Scotch Eggs wrapped in sausage meat, coated in a textured crumb, reveals an oozy golden yolk within. The tang of the Piccalilli Mayonnaise and onion marmalade was the perfect accompaniment. Who knew that Pig Skin could be so fluffy and light? It’s a far cry from the heaviness of a pork crackling.  A calorific surprise, indeed.

Scotch Eggs

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