Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hi R (Sarona Market, Tel Aviv) 12/2015

Sarona, an area of Tel Aviv, is known for it's very large covered market. Not like the usual market it is packed with small, and not so small, restaurants. It also has a sprinkling of expensive purveyors of organic foods, 
of kitchen shops,  ice cream and gelati shops
sweet shops, these are rounds of different halvas

olive shops, and more.
Still crowded at 10.00 pm 

we sat at a tiny table 

for a pho at Hi R
I think the ingredients were more or less what you get in a pho with minced beef. It looked more or less like a pho but that is where the likeness ended. It was too salty, the broth was all wrong as were the noodles. Bean sprouts were nice.
 Comments: A faux pho at about twice the price it would cost in Australia
Score: 12.75/20.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ha Turkit (Or Yehuda, Near Tel Aviv) 12/2015

We reviewed this restaurant in 2011 and 2013 and nothing seems to have changed. Even many of the staff are the same. The salads were fresh and plentiful with the usual wide variety

 and they have some roast vegetables.
They seem to have conquered the art of cooking chips too. 
The shashlicks were excellent 

Chicken and they still serve 
foie gras , the real thing at a price unimaginably cheap A$25 for a perfecyly delicious dish.
Ask for a BBQ chicken breast and that's exactly what you get.

Comments: Every time we come I like it better. It will never come within coee of a Michelin star but you get a sound unpretentious meal at a reasonable price. 
Score: 14/20

Friday, December 25, 2015

Cordelia (Tel Aviv/Yafo) 12/2015

This restaurant occupies an old stone building full of character. It is somewhat over decorated with an eclectic collection of frescoes and paintings. 
Candelabras on the tables have little oil lamps instead of candles,
and chandeliers hang from the ceiling.
There is a Bistro/bar 
and a fine dining restaurant. 
The chef owner Nir Zook is well known, has written a book and appeared on TV. We were full of eager anticipation.
The restaurant is spread through several rooms. Tables a large with white linen cloths and napkins. Except for the butter knife 
cutlery is very ordinary, as is the crockery, One dish I was served had a chip in it. 
Glassware was reasonable but not exquisite. 
B read and butter came early.

There is an a la carte and a tasting menu, which we chose. (IS250 about A$100/person)
Before the meal we were served a small dish of Jerusalem artichoke in a light peanut sauce which was a nice start.
This was followed by a goose liver terrine, which was very smooth and bland with a big lump of glace eggplant, sweet and dominating. Each persons dish was served with the food in different positions, that is the terrine could be at the left the right or front of the plate.

Seasonal soup was a pleasant underseasoned tomato soup, somewhat improved when we requested some Parmesan - nothing like a bit of umami!
Truffle Tortelline , four of them, were heavy and claggy with no hint of truffle recognizable, something I might get in a cheap Italian restaurant.
The next dish was even worse.  A seriously overcooked small piece of dry salmon on a bed of lentils. A plain, undistinguished peasant dish. No sauce and almost no seasoning
I'm not sure what the menu meant to say but this was a ballotine of chicken  wrapped around some forcemeat that was supposed to be goose with some mushroom and mashed potatoes, served, yet again, with a cream sauce. The potato was tasty but the ballotine was dry and pretty well taste free.
We were offered an additional dish which I specially requested to be very lightly cooked. It came in another cream sauce with a fair amount of pepper, At least it was not overcooked.
A "Pre Dessert" followed. this was a small fruit salad covered with a very soft meringue.
And then the "Gourmandez" 
We drank a local 2013 Merlot sirah which would be good for a BBQ. (IS158)
Coffee came in an unusual cup which I rather liked and the coffee was good too.
A small fountain and pool at the entrance
Comments: One of the worst meals I have ever eaten, served by pleasant but not very professional staff in an interesting venue. 
Expensive for what you get.
Score:12.5 /20

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Golden Dragon Palace , (GDP) (Lower Templestowe) 12/2015

*Click on a pic to enlarge it.

Elizabeth Chong, the doyen of the Chinese culinary community in Melbourne,

organized this gala Cantonese banquet at GDP for her Gourmet Club . This is a big restaurant seating about 200 patrons and offering a la carte and yum cha meals seven days a week under the guidance of John Chan, recently from Quanjude.
They have quite a few 10 seat round tables 

as well as many smaller ones. There is a well stocked bar at the far end of the restaurant.

It's spacious . Decor is pleasant with bas relief wooden panels high on the walls, 

large frosted glass walls between rooms

 and lots of large Chinese decorative vases. 

The appetisers, according to Elizabeth, was a great selection of Cantonese Exotics to placate the ferocity of any hungry Dragon.
It included Spicy cucumber

Only lightly spiced, Jelly fish, with just a touch of chilli,

sliced pork knuckle, a bit bland.

Sauteed black fungus, a textural dish,

Star anise beef, something you might get on a charcuterie 

and fabulous roast suckling pig.
These were followed by entrees and soup. Two large steamed oysters in shell, one with a delicate black bean sauce and a second with ginger and shallots.

Shredded fish maw and dried scallop soup, a dish which takes a very long time to prepare and is reserved for the most important people. 

Eat it and you will know why. It is packed with flavour. Slightly thick, full of umami, it's an experience. Maw is the swim bladder of a large fish that allow it to submerge or rise in the water.

There were two sets of main courses. The first was another dish for the aristocracy.

Whole baby abalone with 'plump and juicy' Shitake mushrooms. It lived up to its reputation. 

It takes about two days to prepare this dish which is so full of flavour and tender abalone to create one of the best dishes we have eaten for years.
South Australian prawns with black truffles were excellent but could not match the abalone

The Pei Pa duck was also as good as it gets.

We then had an intermission to recover with an Elvis impersonator.

He was a lot of fun.
Here are a couple of the sauces they use.

The next few dishes were to be accompanied by steam rice which would have been nice earlier to help enjoy the sauces but then we might have gotten so full we might not have enjoyed the latter dishes at all.
The Feisty Dragon Flame Fired Chicken with Spices and Garlic was a fun dish too and thoroughly enjoyable

Dry fried fillet with mandarinsauce even better with crisp texture and very slightly sweet taste

Tender snow pea sprouts with fresh crab meat now seemed too bland.

Finally the dessert.
Two delish agar jellies, one with ed beans init, the othe with Goji berris.

How many ways can you say delicious!
We have an extremely good kitchen with almost everything anyone could want and have trouble cooking a decent meal for eight. 
These guys manage for 100's day after day

Elizabeth is on the right next to John Chan. 
A good Chinese banquet can be likened to a piece of classical music. It has a form in which variety is crucial.
It should be distinguished by considerable variation of colour, texture, temperature, spiciness,  presentation and timing but not particularly by the number of courses which can be in the 100's for some royal occasions. Of course no one is expected to eat them all. This sort of meal might reduce the chance of the emperor being poisoned as he might only taste a dozen of the dishes presented!! 
You don't need to be royalty to enjoy this banquet. John Chan assured me for about $70 / person he could reproduce this meal as long as there were 10 customers.
We have no time this year but, for sure, we will be back for the most pleasing Cantonese meal in Melbourne, probably in Australia.. 
Score:17 /20