Recently came back from a 2.5 week trip to Australia, and this is a recap of my Melbourne leg of my trip, which was the last leg. (I've already posted my eating adventures in Sydney and Perth in separate posts.) I actually didn't eat much in Melbourne and did more snacking here and there, and there were a couple of places I just wandered into that didn't rise to the level of mentioning. Here's my recap:
** Cumulus Inc. and Cumulus Up. Probably no surprise here, I loved this place for the food, open kitchen view of the crew, and general hip casual vibe. I ate at both places and didn't have a problem getting a single seat at the bar. Went to Cumulus Up after arriving late to Melbourne on a Friday night and dropped in around 10 p.m. Really loved the signature duck waffle and foie gras, and also had the lamb riblets, octopus flatbread and kingfish crudo. Went to downstairs Cumulus Inc. on my last day for lunch, again sitting at the bar (which is larger downstairs) when I got there at noon. Probably ordered too much but loved the house-cured pastrami and tuna tartare with smashed peas. I think their only downside is desserts seem to lack the creativity or the expert execution. Otherwise, this was my favorite dining spot.
** Colourful Yunnan -- Low-key spot across from University of Melbourne (680 Swanston) is a bit of a ways to go if you're a tourist but worth making the trip if you really want to try authentic Yunnan cuisine. When I went for dinner, it was totally packed and had people waiting, and everyone dining were either Chinese or a white person who came with a Chinese speaker because everyone spoke Mandarin at the restaurant (although most could speak English if needed). Had the Cross Bridge Rice Noodles and they were nicely done, with a clean clear broth and tasty accompaniments. Only thing is sometimes the kitchen really fires up the food so smoke gets into the dining area like at Korean BBQ joints.
** The Commoner -- British style restaurant in Fitzroy area around corner from Brunswick Street. Very comfy decor with really interesting plating. Had one of the most beautiful beet salad in my life, just from the plating. The taste, though, was good but sometimes lacked a punch in flavor, more sublime I would say. Probably because they make all their ingredients, include the cow curds in the beet salad. Bit on the pricey side but really different.
** HuTong Dumpling Bar -- I was really looking forward to this place in Chinatown area because I love dumplings. And while they were good, they weren't amazing. The xiao lung bao (Shanghai soup dumplings) had a nice thin skin but the filling had maybe too much pork. Tried the duck dumplings and they were good but maybe needed a dipping sauce of hoisin or plum sauce. Mapo tofu I ordered for dinner was fresh but maybe a tad too much cornstarch. It was a busy place, and had nice decor, but did feel like it attracted a more non-Asian clientele.
You can see photos on my food blog. If you're reading this in the future, you can always click on the "travel" label to see all my reports from Australia.