Tokar Estate Winery & Restaurant – Yarra Valley

Have you ever been driving down the Maroondah Hwy through Coldstream on the way to Healesville and seen the Spanish style, beautiful orange roof buildings amongst acres and hills of grape vines and trees?

Well, that place is Tokar Estate Winery. Having been to Healsville several times and eaten at Bella Vedere, I wanted to checkout Tokar Estate Winery solely because of its picturesque views of the valley and skyline.

Obviously this shows that harvest is finished, winter has kicked in, the air crisp and cold but the views still take your breath away. Tokar Estate is not all about the wines, they also have a beautiful family owned restaurant with inside and alfresco dining open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.

The restaurant is run by Leon and Rita Tokar who are very lovely hosts and gave their time to talk to myself and my partner and answered all the questions we threw at them.We arrived for lunch took some beautiful pictures outside and made our way into the restaurant. We built ourselves a little bit of an appetite and didn’t waste any time to order. We learnt that the menu changes every 2 weeks or so depending on some of the produce from the local markets and the vegetables and herbs they grow in the garden.

We also learnt from Leon that there’s no beef farmers in the Yarra Valley so it’s obviously sourced elsewhere but there is a game meat supplier in the area which they source venison and rabbit from (yummm!). Unfortunately they weren’t on the menu that day. To wet our taste pallets we ordered a tasting plate of liver parfait, bruchetta, cheese and other nibblies.

The tasting plate definitely got the ball rolling and my favourite was the liver parfait with crackers and a bit of this pickled radish type side. Also tried some mushroom soup which was creamy and delish.For mains we had a Salmon with potato kipflers dressed in honey mustard sauce and a beef steak served with a layered potato slice and vegetables.To complement our dishes our waiter suggested the Chardonnay for our entrees and Tokar’s signature wine the Tempranillo for our mains. Good choice waiter! The Tempranillo went very well with the steak. Next time we serve up some steak for dinner I’m going get the family to try this out.Now to my favourite course, dessert. My partner and I were keen to get one dessert to share but then our wandering and greedy eyes got us ordering the assiette of desserts (served on one large late) which landed us three very nice and super good tasting desserts.Here we have a dark chocolate ganache tart served with homemade vanilla ice-cream. To get the full enjoyment out of it you had to eat each component combined with the vanilla ice-cream.Above we have the chocolate moose served with a berry side. This was my partners favorite and I couldn’t agree more. The moose and tart it was in cased in was beautiful and together with the berry, it was a match made in heaven.The cheesecake looked amazing and instead of a biscuit base there’s macadamia nuts which go really well with the cheesecake and don’t forget to have it with the vanilla consummate.I waited until the restaurant cleared a little so I could take this wonderful picture of the view from inside the restaurant. If you’re seated near the window or sitting out on the alfresco dining area you can enjoy the beautiful food, fresh air and picturesque scenery of the valley. Perfect for a romantic day or night out and make sure to book on the weekends as they can get quite busy.Tokar Estate Winery and Restaurant has been ticked off on my Yarra Valley to do list and can be put onto my to visit again in spring or summer list. The tasting plate and desserts were the highlights for me and I enjoyed the Tempranilla wine which I will be trying again. Good food, good wine and great scenery makes Tokar Estate a must do on the Yarra Valley list.

A big thank you to Yarra Valley Secrets for organising a table for me at Tokar Estate on a very last minute notice and thank you to Leon and Rita Tokar for their very warm hospitality.

Location: 6 Maddens Lane, Coldstream, VIC 3770
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Phone: (03) 5964 9585

 

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
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www.kinya.com.au

 

FOG Bar & Restaurant – Great Buzz In The Heart of Prahran

 

FOG is a classy restaurant in the heart of Prahran, serving for brunch, lunch and dinner. It’s down Greville St with a nice credible selection of great Cafes, Bars and Restaurants that I’m keen to review soon.

Ms J works close by and one night when I went to pick her up, we ended up having dinner with her boss and his wife. Great company! There was no intention of a “proper” night out so we were all dressed quite casually and started to feel very under-dressed that Friday when the herd of party people started to rock by to the cocktail birthday out at the back deck (around 6:30pm). Whoops! Others frocked up quite nicely as they came by for  drinks to kick start the weekend. With smiles all round, we didn’t care. It was a lovely start to the evening.

I’m not usually a wine drinker but the bottle that we picked was to my liking, (sorry I didn’t pay attention to the name of the wine) but I did take notice of their wine glasses (above photo)

Fog is participating in the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2011 (March 4th-14th), see here for more details.

For entree we shared a tasting plate of dips, crackers, cheese, olives & sun-dried tomatoes.Sashimi too…And I can’t forget the Thai Style Seared, Rare Beef Salad which was a delight to try and came with some crispy shallotsTasmanian Salmon which sat ontop of some black sticky rice and a bit of greens. Looks like black balls.Ms J tried the Braised Veal Ragout, I tried some too and the veal just melted in my mouth.We also picked on a salad that tasted fresh and went well with my main.My main was the Rangers Valley Angus Rump with creamy mash and some asparagus.
The food was great, the atmosphere was buzzing with lots of chatter and laughs and the service was top notch. I highly recommend trying this place out. www.fog.com.au

Location: 142 Greville Street, Prahran VIC 3181
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China Bar Signature – All You Can Eat


Love asian food? Wish you could eat all the oysters and peking duck you can eat? Then you have to try China Bar Signature Buffet in Burwood!!! It was like a dream come true walking into that place.

The tables are prepared nicely, there’s plenty of space and the place is nice and clean.


Their dinner sessions are from 5:45pm-7:45pm & 8pm-10pm. 2hrs you say? Trust me it’s plenty of time and I advise you to take your time because it’s easy to get full at this place.

Want some raw fish? Ask the sushi chef and he’d slice you some raw salmon, yellowtail & raw tuna. I couldn’t stop myself from having too much sushi & sashimi but thought to myself I can get sushi anytime, so I diverted my tactics to seafood!!!

I probably had 2 dozens oysters, a dozen prawns and a whole lot of scallops.

Peking duck is my favourite and there was an unlimited supply of it. There were two chefs stationed at the peking duck and duck soup section making sure there was enough duck to go around. At one point they were struggling to keep up but managed to keep up with my demands.

They even had a section for noodle lovers, where you could tell the chef to put together the ingredients and then he’d cook the noodle dish for you.

You can’t call it an asian buffet without the dim sim section.

I didn’t manage my time well and got full with 45mins. I had another 1hr 15mins to go but couldn’t help myself to the beautiful wall of desserts!!!

And if you’re a fan of those $1 asian flavoured ice-creams at your local asian grocery store then stuff your face with all these (I know I did)

I would have to make this place one of my top 10 restaurants to try and I’m going to make any excuse to go here at least once a year from now on.
There’s plenty more food there but I can’t cover it all, so only my favourites this time around.

Here’s a few tips for you:
-No need to arrive early (just make sure you book – plenty of tables)
-Take your time (eat slowly)
-Don’t have too much sushi (filled with rice = get full quickly)
-Don’t waste food, I think they have a disclaimer that they’ll charge you if you waste food
AND
-Make sure you leave room for dessert!!!!

Checkout their website for prices, times and reservation details

http://www.chinabarsignature.com/

Location:380 Burwood Highway, Burwood East, VIC 3151
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