Saturday, January 1, 2011

Izakaya Den: contemporary/Japanese/fusion/awesome food

There are plenty of people who harp on about the virtues of "authentic" food.

"No no, (insert restaurant here) doesn't taste anything like authentic (insert cuisine here)! You just have to try (insert snobby restaurant here/visit country) to get a taste for it!"

Well, if you are one of those people that makes statements like above, Izakaya Den is not for you. Stop reading this and find some authentic Gurkha food instead.

Izakaya Den, at it's simplest, is a Japanese restaurant. It, at it's most complex, is the essence of Japanese food combined with a lively/young/energetic atmosphere mixed with that new-fandangle "contemporary fusion". In other words: awesome!

The food there is served in servings made to share and as such I highly recommend going there in a small group. I say "small" since a) they don't take booking for less than 6 people and b) they can accommodate for 2 groups of 6 people at any given time. However, they have small table the they don't allow bookings for and seat on a "first-come, first served" basis.

Missing out on a table immediately is not necessarily a bad thing: one is seated near the entrance, where the bar is. Izakaya Den embodies the "fusion" sentiment not only it's food, but also in it's vibe: the place feels like a classy bar/lounge. While you're waiting for a table, you can enjoy some chilled sake while relaxing on their couch. The patrons there also tend to be young and decidedly well dressed/good looking (guaranteed to take your mind off the long wait).

When you do get your table, members of the staff are prompt and friendly with their service and tend to actually be authentic Japanese! They're more than happy to have chit-chats about places in Japan/food/whatever: an element that greatly contributes to it's warm and friendly vibe.

The food itself, if you have not yet gathered, is not typical traditional Japanese. Instead, you get such delicacies Eel with sweet sauce, Crumbed lamb ribs and (my favourite) tempura chicken with Japanese Mayonnaise. The cuisine is simple yet delicious and I found that my colleagues and I were getting second helpings of the tempura chicken in no time!

Izakaya Den might not satisfy hard-core foodies and their desire for a full degustation, but for a nice, chic restaurant that is perfect for the informal catch up/drinks with friends, you'd be silly to at least not give it a try. I'm sure you wont be disappointed.

Izakaya Den on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Soul Mama - Vegetarian restuarant

Stuck taking out vegetarian friends for dinner? Wish you could be biting into a nice steak, but instead have to settle for plant material? Then you may as well go for some nice vegetarian food at the least.

Soul Mama's is a restaurant located in St Kilda near the pier in the St Kilda sea baths. It is upstairs and has a great view of the ocean via a giant window from the restaurant. My first recommendation is to call, and make a booking, requesting a table by the window, it will make the meal that much nicer. The drinks menu is quite extensive, but be warned, the cool sounding juices are actually premade bottles, not freshly made (a bit of a dissapointment since you'd think a vegetarian joint would take their fruits with some seriousness).

The food service itself is quite interesting. You simply decide how many "curries" you want to have for your meal - 3, 4, or 5. You prepay this, then go to the front where they have various different vegetarian concoctions, ala a food court, and you simply pick out what you want (number depending on how much you prepaid) then they serve it out to you with rice. If your in a hurry or starving, this works great. On the contrary if your lazy and want food brought to your fatass to eat, then this probably doesn't work quite so well. On the topic of the food, its all very global with different influences in every dish. Even to a non-vegetarian, the food was actually quite nice, and being able to see and choose the food definately worked well. I personally ended up with kofta, tofu, eggplant tarts, and some mixed vegie curry. Overall very yummy, except the tofu was a bit plain.

In summary, if your stuck needing a vegetarian restaurant, i'd definately give this place the thumbs up.

Soulmama on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 24, 2010

Boxing Day Bargains

It's tradition in Melbourne to evacuate houses on Boxing Day and show rampant support for consumerism by giving oneself the "bargain hunter" status and embracing the wilderness of shopping centres to find that elusive bargain during the Boxing Day Sale. Often though, in this as-yet unofficial competitive sport, you enter a store where the pickings are slim and great bargains elsewhere pass you by...

To avoid that very situation, The Melbourne Minute has compiled a list of places known to discount items like crazy.

Dick Smith/Tandy Electronics

Having previously worked for this retail chain, I can personally vouch for the fact that certain items are literally given away at cost price! Not everything is on special but if you're the sort that likes to decorate your house so that it can be seen from space, you're in luck. Now is the time to stock up on X-mas lights. Toys are the other big items to get heavily discounted. During the September/October period, the electronics store get an oversupply of toys (especially remote controlled cars) to cater for the Xmas period. They gather dust during the rest of the year so there's always a concentrated effort to get rid of them early.

Myer/David Jones

Myer is infamous for it's crazy Boxing Day antics: Almost every section of the store has bargains that make you wonder just how much money they must be making off you during their normal trade practices. The deals change every year, but they're usually very good!

Just like Myer, David Jones usually does some crazy discounting too. Maybe I am biassed, but I tend to find slightly better bargains at Myer. However, if you happen to be a Dj's shareholder, you can always stack on your normal shareholder discount...


This is probably one of the best years for fashion shopping in Melbourne. The 2010/2011 summer has already produced erratic weather, making it unusually cold/rainy for this period. Because of this, many fashion retailers are finding it hard to move items. Oxford is known for it's quality fashionwear and I just happen to know that it will be selling certain ~$800 suits for around $200. Get in early to make sure your size is in stock!

Online shopping caused a flurry of news activity during this holiday period, so this is a nod to the new kid on the block. Catch of the day has bargains everyday, but they usually have something special cooked up for special days. I know I'll be checking there tomorrow! Besides, this is one place you don't have to wait in line...

Other notable places

Here's a link to The Age article on some other discounts that are going to happen tomorrow:


Dick Smith/Tandy
- X-mas lights
- Toys (esp. remote controlled toys)

Myer/David Jones
- store wide savings
- great fashion deals

- ~$800 suits for $200
- heavily discounted current fashion lines
- bargains everyday!

Hope you get great bargains!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Free Parking for the Privileged

I'm sure it's an old adage that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but now I'm beginning to see why!

Take for example, this current offer from American Express: If you have one of their platinum express charge cards, you're entitled to free valet car parking at specific Westfield Shopping Centres. That's right:


I just had to do that to make this look more like a newspaper- sorry I'm trying to make this site look pretty! Anyway, my point was this: as a lay person, you're out and about and you see these signs for valet parking and wonder "Man, I wish I was that rich that I could afford it!"

But guess what?!

The rich pricks get it for free! So, the poor sod, who just wants to show off, goes and pays for it (and possibly gets laughed at by the Valet staff since he's actually paying) when the guys with the Mercs and BMW's aren't losing a cent.

For anyone who's reading this who actually has a Platinum American Express Charge Card, please go and smile smugly and enjoy your new benefit- it's valid til March 2011. Just spare a thought for us lesser fortunates. Maybe you'd like to buy us parking instead?

Uber Journalist Checking In

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