Universal Italian Restaurant – Great Food, Great Value


Chicken Avocado
“Tomato, cheese, mushroom, grilled chicken tenders & fresh avocado” 15.9

My good friends at FOOD-Pampering-Yourself gave me and several other bloggers an opportunity to be apart of their very first food trail which landed us a special feast at Universal Italian Restaurant. I was also delighted to meet Alfie the proud owner of Universal Italian Restaurant, given a tour of the upstairs function area, was able to meet several other awesome food bloggers and to top it off had a full and very satisfied stomach.

Right in the heart of Lygon St, Universal Italian Restaurant is a personal favourite on mine and the good news is, they’re expanding. They’ve acquired the space next door and will be opening up the place to integrate as one. They’ve also converted upstairs to a very nice function & bar area, including an open balcony for some fresh air and drinks.

We were presented with a massive line-up of food, from the starters, entrée, main, pizza, pasta and home made dessert menu. I felt spoilt and was absolutely content. The food looked amazing and now looking back at the menu and prices, they were all under $20 so I have to say that’s good value for some great food. But let the photos do the talking.

Bruschetta Roma
“Homemade pesto, fresh tomatoes & feta cooked on a pizza base” 8.5

Garlic Pizza
“Cheese & garlic pizza” 7.5

Oysters Naturale
“Fresh oysters”

Oysters Kilpatrick
“Baked oysters with bacon & Worcestershire sauce”

Buffalo Wings
“Marinated & grilled BBQ chicken wings” 8.5

I Am Angus
Tomato, cheese, Grilled beef strips, roasted red capsicum,onion, jalapeños & a drizzle of garlic mayo” 14.9

Porter-House
Certified Australian Angus, 150 day grain fed – 270g” 18.9

Slow Roasted Pork Ribs
“Slow roasted tender marinated pork ribsserved with roasted butternut pumpkin & corn on the cob” 19.9

Tuscan Chicken
“Tuscan marinated chicken breast fillet grilled &served with wild mushroom risotto” 15.5

Risotto Poseidon
Creamy risotto with pan seared tiger prawns, mussels, spinach & roasted capsicum, with a touch of spicy olio & napolitana sauce”  18.5

Salmon Fillet
Grilled fresh Atlantic salmon filletserved with vegetable ratatouille & roasted garlic aoli” 19.9

Gelato Tasting Plate for Two
“A variety of Italian gelato & premium ice cream” 7.5

Tiramisu
“Coffee & liqueur soaked savoiardi biscuits, smothered inmascarpone cream & chocolate shavings” 8.5

Panna Cotta
Vanilla bean & honey flavored panna cotta,with wild berry soup, caramel toffee shard & Persian fairy floss” 8.5

Blueberry Cheesecake
“New York cheesecake mixed with fresh blueberries on a biscuit crust” 8.5

Chocolate Mud Pudding
“A dense & moist mud pudding served with chocolate fudge,corinthian wafer & macadamia nut ice cream” 8.5

What a satisfying array of food from the Universal menu. I can’t wait to go back when they’ve fully renovated the restaurant and possibly put a few new items on the menu.

Checkout their website http://www.universalrestaurant.com.au for more information on their function facilities and options and also checkout their online menu which makes my life easier 🙂

Contemplating a visit to Lygon St or just happen to drop by? Why not give Universal Italian Restaurant a go. I recommend trying the Buffalo Wings, Porter House Steak, I am Angus pizza, the Tuscan Chicken with Mushroom Risotto and my favourite dessert was the Chocolate Mud Pudding…drooool!!!

Location: 139-141 Lygon St, Carlton VIC 3053, (03) 9347-4393
View Google Map

Kinya Japanese Cuisine – Hidden Treasure

Kinya Japanese Cuisine is a hidden treasure away from the hustle and bustle of the city along a quiet dock of the Yarra river in South Wharf. If you don’t know where I’m talking about, it’s just off Lorimer St, South Wharf area on the other side of the Docklands. The food is authentic Japanese Cuisine with a plentiful array of Japanese beer and wine. Their prices are a bit expensive with little on the plate but, aren’t all fancy Japanese restaurants?

Kinya caters for outdoor and indoor seating which may make sense on a beautiful summer night although in Melbourne, that’s a rare occasion. When I went, it was freezing and windy, plus there wasn’t many people around in that area so the outdoor seating area was a bit of a waste.


Their dinner menu is al le carte but I would of appreciated some banquet options.

The waitresses are all dressed in a kimono which made me feel like I was in Japan and they all smiled and were very polite.

The setting, ambience and decor was lovely and the sunken floor dining is a favourite of mine and would love to have that in my own home. They also have a regular seating area with high cushioned chairs (looks cosy) and a private room/area.
I tend to order sashimi as entree, plus I love the way they present the dish.

Also for entree we had some pickled vegetables with some shaved bonito flakes (it moves around like it’s alive). I’ve seen these bonito flakes before on top of some octopus balls and I thought my octopus was still alive. You need to see it to understand. Also some soba noodles which is nothing without its sauce. It was quite nice but I think the soba noodles at Yu-U are better.
It doesn’t look like it but this was the Asali Chawan Mushisteam egg custard with clams and Japanese mushroom. Somewhere buried inside the custard was those cute little mushrooms and clams but the flavour of the custard seemed a little strange to me but I still enjoyed it as I kept on tasting.
My favourite entree was the Salmon Tartar chopped fresh salmon with caviar top on quail egg. Just the name of the dish makes my mouth water. It was gorgeously plated up and a teaspoon of the salmon and quail egg just melts in your mouth.

Another dish that my partner and I seem to order is scampi. I just love the meat of the scampi and this dish was topped with a mushroom mornay sauce which complemented the scampi well. I could eat scampi all day.I can’t get enough of eel and I totally love the way the Japanese prepare the eel and the sweet sauce they dress it with which just brings out the best of the eel.

The Golden Fish – Grilled marinated snow fish with chef’s special miso (Kinya’s signature dish, a must try). Honestly I can’t remember what it tasted like but looking at the picture it looked very delicate, lightly seasoned and I would of most likely gobbled it up in 2 bites 🙂
Ikiyakigrilled squid, garnished with daikon, spring onion with mayonaise and pauzu sauce. The mayonaise and pauzu sauce complimented well with the grilled squid. I really enjoyed this dish and the scampi.

We opted for the Dessert Platter Combination of 3 types of desserts.. We chose the Vanilla Panacotta, Creme Brulee and the Banana Tempura. My eyes are always greedy so I wanted to taste everything but it served me right as I was really disappointed in the desserts. They were flavourless and very tiny for a large price. In my opinion, you’re better off without dessert but if you must, I suggest you go for the ice-cream option.

Kinya a bit pricey but the food speaks for itself and stays true to its descriptions on the menu. I can say that Kinya’s food is similar to that of Shoya but I still rate Shoya higher in food quality and presentation. Kinya is hidden but is a beautiful scene for a romantic dinner or a wonderful celebration as the food is authentic, well crafted and you get service with a smile. Honestly, the only reason I found out about Kinya was through Spreets group buy site but I’m glad I came across it even though we ended up spending double the discount price but it was all worth it and I wouldn’t mind eating there again but not any time soon.

Location:64A River Esp, Docklands VIC 3008, (03) 9646 2400
Show Google Map
www.kinya.com.au

 

Group Buying – Spreets, Sccopon – Are you in on the Deal?


Group Buying! Is it a fad, is it fun and is it affordable? The answer is, YES, yes & YES! Who doesn’t want to save money when they’re going out? Do you buy the entertainment book but hardly use it? Forget the entertainment book, online group buying is FREE to use, it’s dining and exploring on a budget and is easily accessible at home, work and on the move.

I personally use these sites to take advantage of good deals on restaurants, fine dining, winery tours and the odd experience package here and there. If you haven’t noticed, a number of my reviews have been enticed by the group buy system. Here’s a few tips if you haven’t tried it before or if you’re still a bit sceptical.

How does it work?

1. First thing to do is to sign up! My favourite group buys are Spreets and Scoopon.

2. See a deal you like, click on the Buy button (depending on site), fill in your details, put your credit card details in, complete the purchase and then you wait til there’s enough people to tip the deal (depending on the deal).

3. If the group buy is on, the site will charge your credit card and then send your voucher to your registered email or you can view it on your account page (make sure you entered your email correctly) and then it’s up to you to make the booking and use the deal.

4. When you make your booking, they’ll most likely ask you if you’re using a voucher but if they don’t ask let them know you are, just to save issues when you get there.

5. Always read the terms and conditions before buying. I went to a restaurant and a couple next to us sat down for their meal and just like us was asked for their voucher/s but the couple assumed it was a dinner for 2 with one voucher. Although the deal was one voucher per person. So the couple was asked to pay extra for the other person and you guessed what happened next, the couple were very upset and left the restaurant. Always read the fine print.

Can I trust these group buying sites?
Yes, but I would stick to the more popular Group Buy sites, such as Spreets, Scoopon, Cudo and Channel Ten’s OurDeal. The sites are secure and use SSL encryption but it would be nice if they used Paypal for their transactions.

If you are going to start somewhere, I recommend signing up to one of these sites:
Choose your city and sign up to Spreets! I’ve used Spreets several times now and all their deals have gone smoothly and if you refer a friend, you get a bonus $10 credit added to your account.
The above picture is an example of one of their awesome deals which I have taken advantage before (Previous Post Mandala). For $29 you get 2 mains, 2 desserts and a glass of wine for 2!!! See what I mean? What a steal! If that doesn’t convince you, checkout Scoopon.

Scoopon is hosted and partnered with the very popular and No.1 Australian Online site CatchOfTheDay. If Spreets deals don’t do me justice, Scoopon is there to pick up the pieces. Scoopon’s main deal today was a pampering package which I would only use for special occasions and when I want to spoil my loved ones but their side deals can also make me smile. If you own an iPhone, then Scoopon have their very own iPhone app to be used on the move.

Are you in on the deal? If you’re not using one of these many group buy sites, then you’re missing out on some awesome deals at affordable prices and missing out on places and things you wouldn’t normally go to or do unless there was a reason to. And that reason here is to indulge at the right price.