Melbourne, Australia Dinner: Rockwell and Sons

While in Melbourne, Tocqueville and I decided to check out the pub culture.  We strolled down Brunswick Street, stopped in a couple places for a pint, and made it to our dinner destination: Rockwell and Sons.

We chose this spot for dinner because the food was not too “gourmet” (we just weren’t in the mood for something fancy) yet the menu was creative and intriguing.  In fact, many of the dishes seemed to be inspired by southern USA flavors (e.g., Lexington BBQ sauced lamb ribs).

We chose to sample the soft shelled crab, fried and served with asparagus, fennel puree, and buttermilk dill sauce.  We also had the lamb meatballs, accompanied by greens, mint, and cucumber sauces.  Two sides rounded out our meal: mac n’ cheese and a salad dressed with a vinegar-based buttermilk dressing.  Paired with a local brew (Mountain Goat) and a house made blueberry soda, we were in business.

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Hong Kong, China to Bangkok, Thailand: Thai Airways First Class Fare

On our flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok, Tocqueville and I had our first taste of first class fare.  It all started off with a 2004 Dom Perignon champagne.  I checked online, and these bottles appear to be selling at about $175 a pop.  We also concluded the meal with a glass of the Baron Otard 1795 Extra Cognac, which seems to retail around $260 a bottle.  Wow!

Thankfully Tocqueville had done his research, and he knew to pre-order the Lobster Thermidor.  You’ll notice it’s not listed on the menu below.  When it arrived on our amply-sized first-class cabin tables, more than a few fellow passengers seemed to be eying our entrees with jealousy.  Let me just say it was delicious!  Absolutely mouth-watering, rich, and tender.  I hope you enjoy the visual feast below.

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Canapes:

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First course: boiled scallop and marinated prawn, served with a fava bean, tomato, and mint salad

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Main course: Lobster Thermidor served with mashed potatoes, broiled asparagus, and roasted red and yellow peppers

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Cheese and fruit course:

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Dessert: Raspberry sorbet with a glass of the cognac

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I never expected airplane food to taste so good.  This was truly a memorable experience we were blessed to have had!

Kyoto, Japan Dinner: Issian Pontocho

In Kyoto, Japan we were feeling like hibachi. We located a place called Issian Pontocho through TripAdvisor. Turns out, this place is a bit different from hibachi. They cook food on a hot stone right in front of you.

We opted for what’s the equivalent of a “sampler” platter which included a spinach salad, rice, grilled vegetables, squid, shrimp, chicken neck/breast/thigh, pork bacon, and (for a small upcharge) wagyu beef. The meal was concluded with a scoop of sherbert.

Overall the restaurant experience was great. I will say that the meats fell flat to me. The style of cooking is supposed to be simple, however the meats weren’t marinated or seasoned much at all. They just tasted grilled (especially the seafood and chicken, meats that don’t have a lot of inherent flavor). While we had salt, soy sauce, and ponzu sauce available to dip the meats in, there just wasn’t a spark to the meal. With that said, the wagyu beef was so naturally flavorful, it certainly didn’t need any seasoning or marinating at all.  With that said, enjoy the pictures below.

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Tokyo, Japan Dinner: Kurosatsuma

Tocqueville had been in Tokyo, Japan 10 years prior and had experienced “shabu-shabu” at that time. Shabu-shabu is a style of Japanese cuisine where thinly sliced pieces of meat are cooked in hot broth tableside.  Now, as you can imagine, this cuisine can be experienced at all different price points.  Picture the high-end of experience of kobe beef cooked and served by geisha-like women.  Given our amazing asado experiences several weeks prior, we weren’t looking for the high-end experience.  We just wanted to experience this style of cuisine in an authentic setting.  After some searching, we came upon Kurosatsuma located close to our hotel and decided to check it out.

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Based on our research we thought that there would be an English speaker at the restaurant.  Our waitress spoke some English, though really very little.  Given some pointing at the menu and gesturing, we found out that this restaurant serves pork shabu-shabu.  We settled on the pork and a carafe of saki.

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The pot of broth was prepared on a hotplate on our table, and a box of vegetables and the pork was placed beside.  The vegetables included what looked like iceberg lettuce pieces, some shredded onion, another more green lettuce that looked sort of like arugula, a couple mushrooms, and some bricks of white stuff that we didn’t have a clue about (more on that below).  To be honest, we weren’t sure what to do.  Was the lettuce to be used as wraps for the pork?  After some blank stares at each other, our waitress came over to politely show us what to do.

She placed a little of all the vegetables into the broth.  Ah ha!  So the vegetables are to be cooked!  After about a minute, she placed the vegetables in our bowls and spooned some broth on top.  Yum!  Veggie soup!  She then cooked a couple pieces of meat for us, and we ate those with the veggie broth.  Once we knew what to do, she let us handle it from there.  We finished one plate of pork and ordered one more.  We were pretty sure that the meat was unlimited (i.e., additional plates could be ordered at no additional cost), but given we couldn’t communicate, we weren’t sure and hoped we weren’t getting ourselves in too deep.

After the second plate of pork, we had eaten all the vegetables and only had those white bricks left.  Our waitress came our rescue again and showed us that it was some type of rice pasta that turned really gooey when cooked in the broth.

A couple of carafes of saki later, we asked for the bill and held our breath.  Whew!  We weren’t sure what all the line items were for, but the total was just about what we expected and very reasonable for shabu-shabu in Roppongi district.  Another culinary win!