Long lines of chic wood, open fires of the robata and calm candlelights frame the restaurant of Toko. We started the night with sushi. Hiramasa maki kizami wasabi to dried blood lime zoe consisted of sweet, fresh kingfish, avocado and wasabi, topped with dried tart blood lime. Pirikara aburizake to avocado maki was a spicy seared salmon with avocado and cucumber, coated in a crispy squid ink tenkasu. Ebi tempura maki had crisp tempura prawns, cucumber, avocado and crispy tenkasu.

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Next came the warm robatayaki. Negima yakitori – toasted tender chicken separated by spring onions and dusted with sichimi pepper.

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Ko tori hoba oven yaki. The miso marinated spatchcock was shiny, sticky and succulent.

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Kohituji to yasai suzuke zoe. Marinated lamb cutlets, chilli miso and pickled cauliflower.

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Honetsuki butabara amagara jouyu. Sweet soy chilli marinated pork spare-ribs with meat flaking off the bone.

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We finished on a sweet note with Dengaku Nasu. Sweet, salty, umami miso layered onto a smoky soft eggplant.

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With the lingering of green tea as a palate cleanser, we left the lovely alcove and let the wind take us into the night.

  • Location: central Surry Hills
  • Price: $$
  • Service: 4/5

Toko | 490 Crown St, Surry Hills | 02 9357 6100 |
Toko Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Devon Café


Amongst the dredges of Sydney’s railways and Devonshire pubs lay five etchings. It marked a spot with candlelights, edgy camo walls and graffiti signposts – Devon Café. Deceptively small, we were escorted to the secretive extended dining area.

One matcha latte and soy mocha. The matcha latte was dark and rich, sweetened by the fresh milk.

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Mother bear ordered the Devon DJI burger. Crispy double fried Korean style chicken, brusselsprout kimchi slaw, roasted peanuts, gochujang sauce and chips.

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I was Breakfasting with the Sakuma’s. Layers of saltiness from the fermented soybeans of the miso and sea from the King salmon was tamed by the miso butter. A crescendo of textures were created from the 63 degree egg, moist salmon and crisp eel croquette. Freshness and tang were added by the radish salad. The dusting of seaweed, tempura, sesame flakes and kewpie mayonnaise added an extra layer of interest.

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Spoilt with flavour and satiety we headed back into the grey drizzle, memorising the route for the next visit.

  • Location: Street parking, across from Central Train Station
  • Price: $$
  • Service: 3.5/5

Devon Cafe | 76 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills |
Devon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



We stared up at the terracotta honeycombs, mesmerized. With a table by the window looking out on to the Yarra River, it reminded us where we were – caught between Elysium and Earth.

Our feast began with the fresh smell of Greek flatbreads. They were warm beds for our greedy fingers and a perfect canvas for the dips. The first pot was of smoky yoghurt and sweet pumpkin, the next was tart and vibrant beetroot, and the last was of feta and spinach with crisp filo.

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Next came another bowl bursting with Gazi Wings. Crisp chicken wings with moist meat and fooling those expecting the tedious bone to gnaw away. Paired with sharp pickled onions and luscious smoked black aleppo mayonnaise. To die for.

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The soft-shelled crab souvas were not to be missed off the selection. The crunch released sweet crab juices which were accentuated by the fragrant mint and coriander, topped with mayonnaise and swaddled in a soft flatbread. A side of watermelon salad was an understatement. Sweet cubes of cold melon boldened by balsamic vinegar and pickled cucumbers and sprinkles of parmesan and mizithra.

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A tantalizing meal to set us for a night of hypnotising tunes. Gazi truly reaches such great heights – an ode to Greece.

  • Service: 5/5
  • Price: $$$
  • Location: Central, niche, accessible

Gazi | 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne |
Gazi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar

Drenched in a red glow, we walked up the alleyway towards the light and sounds of laughter and temptation.  With the whoosh of the door, Red Macaron and I met all that is chic and contemporary with a mix of vintage modern China; all that is Lucy Liu.

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 Drinks began with a velvety texture, floral and hints of zesty notes with a smooth finish.

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To start, betel leaves with a fresh sashimi kingfish and cucumbers topped with a chilli and peanut sambal. Fresh and light with a good kick of chilli, all wrapped in a crisp herbaceous betel leaf.

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Sake cured ocean trout with soba noodles, radish, herbs and green apple. Beautifully cured morsels of ocean trout entangled with fresh coriander and mints, crisp green apple, fresh seaweed and radishes and tender soba noodles with a tangy light dressing.

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Red Macaron’s pork bun of crisp pork belly, Kimchi, coriander and Kewpie mayo encased between the loving arms of a tender soft steamed bun.

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Next, the green papaya salad. Finely julienned and bruised green papaya, sweet cherry tomatoes, green beans, coriander, fresh and Vietnamese mints, dried shrimp, chilli and peanuts create a beautifully scented yet textural salad.

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The dish of the day – the crisp masterstock free-range chicken and son-in-law egg. Mouth-crackling chicken with a hint of cinnamon and aniseed, dressed in a sweet and sticky glaze to cure the heat of the spicy Nam Prik and oozing yolk of the son-in-law egg. The squeeze of lemon and freshly cut salad underneath, tame the lusciousness of the chicken.

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It wasn’t long before we were left with polished plates. And into the night we headed, with a warm red glow on our bellies and hearts.

  • Price: $$$
  • Location: inner CBD, busy
  • Service: 4/5

Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar | 23 Oliver Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000 |

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Hatch & Co.

A botox injection for the face of Westfield Garden City has cultivated the expansion of the retail and food market. The previously unexciting Town Square, is now an alfresco dining oasis with a central water fountain – embracing the Queensland sun and outdoor lifestyle. Headlining restaurants include San Churro, Vapiano, Grill’d, Pancake Manor and Hatch & Co.

On this particular morning, with the warm fresh sun, lapping of water and honey brazen chairs, we lazed back and waited for Hatch & Co’s first weekend breakfast trial run.

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For Mum, the big breakfast of baked beans, poached eggs, bacon, roasted tomato, speck and sourdough toast.

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For me, the granola of warm toasted oats, coconut and almonds; chia, sunflower and flax seeds; soaked sultanas, fresh creamy yoghurt topped with juicy orange segments and a drizzle of earthy honey. As if each oat was rolled out one by one with each flake of coconut and almond toasted to perfection, the smokiness with a hint of spice was lightened by the fresh orange and yoghurt.

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Overall, a successful breakfast with much potential and standards set high.

  • Price: $$
  • Service: 4/5
  • Location: Spacious and easy

Hatch & Co. | Level 2 Westfield Garden City, Cnr Kessels Rd, Upper Mt Gravatt |

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Monk Bodhi Dharma

Paved by a cobblestone alleyway, a mural of a monk greets us with his two Bengal tigers. Red Macaron and I entered the temple hearing the ringing chimes of cutlery and smelling the coffee bean incense. The humble interior of aged wood, worn brick and neat tiles created warmth as we nestled at the communal dining table.

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We read the scriptures and our messages sent with love. Our prayers were soon answered.

A glass of smooth, sweetly aromatic coffee warmed the soul without the temptations of extra sugar. A frothy mug of Chai whispered tones of ginger and cinnamon.

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Red macaron received a blue plate of Umami Mushrooms. Glistening caps and stumps atop spinach and tomato polenta bread and finished with goats cheese and golden threads of enoki mushroom.

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For me, a Hungry Jimbo. Crispy hearty polenta bread smothered with vegemite. The salty spread contrasted with the creamy avocado; sweet popping, oven roasted cherry tomatoes; refreshing mint and basil leaves; sharp feta and a dressing of chilli oil.

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With our souls lifted, we continued on our pilgrimage of culinary enlightenment knowing we would cross paths with that monk again.

  • Price: $$
  • Location: behind the main road of Carlisle St, easily accessible
  • Service: 4/5

Monk Bodhi Dharma | Rear 202 Carlisle St, Balaclava, VIC |

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