Thursday, July 31

Menagerie Coffee (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Coffee is one of the first things I look for a in city, and Philadelphia is definitely not lacking in what I consider one of the best things in life!  After trying several cafes in this city abundant in cafes, Menagerie Coffee definitely comes out on top.  With a small inconspicuous storefront, this cafe features rustic interiors with simple decor, but obviously experienced baristas.

The beans they use are a delicious roast - not too dark, but still aromatic and strong - making a delicious latte.  They do all sorts of espresso drinks, as well as filter coffee, for those that prefer that.  The baristas are extremely friendly and willing to help when I asked for directions.  I make a mention of this, because I find that more and more, indie (and chain) coffee shops are ridden with snooty hipster baristas that are simply offish.  Another great thing about Menagerie Coffee is that it does have some seating indoors and a couple of seats outside to enjoy the lovely weather of Philadelphia in July.
Price: $
Rating: 5/5 for coffee

Menagerie Coffee
18 South 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA19106
#: (920) 579-0696
Menagerie Coffee on Urbanspoon

Sabrina's Cafe (Philadelphia, PA)

I've been lucky enough to travel during the weeks in between rotations, and this time, I chose Philadelphia!  Why travel the city of brotherly love, you ask?  (And yes, quite a few have asked)  I chose Philadelphia, because for one, it's the second largest city on the East Coast, but more importantly - it's a city full of museums and culture!  I love museums - science museums, art museums, aquariums...I love them all!  I'm greedy and my nerdy side enjoys spending hours in any kind of museum.  But enough of that!  While Sabrina's Cafe isn't the first stop I made on my four day trip to Philadelphia, it was one of the more memorable food stops I made.

I chose this place out of pure popularity on Yelp, Urbanspoon, and just from the "research" I did before traveling to Philly.  I have to admit, I arrived at around 2pm, so I was a bit on the hungrier side and there was no line, so my stop was a pleasant one.  The unfortunate truth of traveling alone is that I can't afford to try as many items (both financially and physically) - but I eventually decided on their popular dish, the huevos rancheros (10.99).  I substituted for sweet potato fries, since those were recommended by Yelpers, and they were indeed delicious!  Everything on my dish looked fresh, from the tortillas to the guacamole.  The ingredients looked fresh, the portion was very generous, and flavors were perfection!  Every part of the dish - the blue corn tortillas, the smoked chorizo, lime sour cream, guacamole, and fried jalapeno - each had its flavor that all balanced out.  There was so much food - but I actually managed to finish most of my dish because it was so delicious and I didn't want to leave any of it uneaten!  Such a glutton, but everything was so delicious, including the sweet potato fries!  They were some of the best sweet potato fries I've ever had.  There was so much food my fries got cold before I got to finish them...

The service was great, and the ambience is pretty cozy - but nothing too special.  Their wall chalkings are cute though!  My only complaint is that their espresso machine and cashier sits awkwardly outside on one side of the wall.  A minor detail, but sitting across from the espresso machine was a little weird...
Price: $-$$ | 10-15USDpp
Rating: 5/5
Tip: Go at off times to avoid lines! And shop the Italian Markets before or after at this location, or visit the other locations!  They even have a kids' menu!

Sabrina's Cafe (Menu)
910 Christian Street
Philadelphia, PA19147
#: (215) 574-1599
Sabrina's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 14

Chin Chin (Melbourne, VIC, Australia)

As one of the most popular restaurants in Melbourne, Chin Chin's normal wait time is almost too long to make it worth it, but I knew it would be a good while before I returned to Melbourne, so I decided to go.  I was late due to travels (oops!) and my friend ended up having to wait a while - but thankfully they have their "GOGO" Cocktail bar downstairs!

Though they claim their food is Thai, the ambience of the restaurant and their dishes are all more of a Thai fusion flavor.  We started with the Kingfish Sashimi (22), recommended by a friend and several diners.  While the flavors of the lime, chili, coconut and basil were a delicious blend, the mouthfeel of the fish ended up being soggy and a bit disappointing.  Next we ordered several dishes, including the classic Pad Thai (23) and Massaman Curry (26), as well as their Barbecue Pork Satay (23).  I wasn't a big fan of their take on pad thai, as the dish was a little lacking in spices for a Thai food.  The barbecue pork satay was even less impressive - as the meat was difficult to eat and the sauces being just mediocre.  The Massaman Curry, however, wowed the taste buds of me and my friend!  With a blend of kipfler potatoes, peanuts, fried shallots, and braised beef in curry, this was definitely the star of the night - and quite possibly one of the best curries I've had.

We each had drinks that were delicious and suited our dinner, and I would just about recommend one over the next.  The ambience is quite dark and modern, so if you're looking for a traditional Thai restaurant, this isn't it.  I love how Chin Chin feels - dark, spacious interiors with a modern industrial twist and a basement bar - but not only that, their service is decent even on an extremely busy night.  Though I feel like their food could be a hit or miss, I can fully understand the popularity of this place that is embedded in one of the hottest streets of Melbourne.

Price: $$-$$$
Rating: 3.5/5
Tips: arrive early after work! Open 7 days a week, 11AM till late

Chin Chin (Website)
Chin Chin (Facebook)
125 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, VIC
#: (03) 8663-2000
Chin Chin on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 16

300! No, it's not an army of men...

Today marks my first 300 posts on Edesian Feast!  While it's not some dandy cause for celebration where I'm being fed free food (I wish) - I find myself gaining a little more clout in this nebulous world of food blogging.  I started Edesian Feast because of an encouragement of a friend - and I'm continuing it because food is what I love.  Food is universal, food is essential, and food is the way to everyone's heart (or so I like to believe).  I wonder sometimes if Edesian Feast is being seen by anyone other than me and my mum - but whether it's the content or the photos, I hope it tips some scales on deciding where to eat.  After all, part of my foodie philosophy is to never let fate decide what you will eat.

I'm passionate about food - from my Nutritional Science degree from Cal to finding the best burgers in town.  I'm continuously looking for great food, great company to share it with - and maybe Tabelog, which I joined today, will drive that even more!  I already waste enough time on Yelp and Urbanspoon, and now I'm adding another foodie site to my network.  Uh, oh!  All in search of the best foods in the world...

Anyway, to celebrate by myself, here are some of foodie highlights, and the bear(s) that started it all.
Hog Island Oyster Co. in San Francisco 
Patricia in Melbourne, VIC, Australia 
Taceaux Loceaux in New Orleans, Louisiana
Cochon in New Orleans, Louisiana
Sourced Grocer in Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Sourced Grocer, Brisbane, QLD, AUS 
Cheese Board, Berkeley, CA, USA
Gregoire's, Berkeley, CA, USA
Bear Bones Espresso, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Le Petit Gateau, Melbourne, VIC, AUS
Bruxie, Orange, CA, USA (My hometown!)
Criniti's, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Aunt Stella's, Taichung, Taiwan
Dazzling Cafe Mint, Taipei, Taiwan
Gramercy, Brisbane, QLD, Australia (My most frequented cafe in Brissy!) 
Paladar Fumior Salon, Brisbane, QLD, AUS

Jaques-Imo's Cafe (New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)

One of the first restaurants I found myself in with my mum here in New Orleans was Jaques-Imo's - which was recommended to us by a couple of locals during our first week here.  We wanted to try some real Cajun style food, and so we found ourselves in this very local, popular restaurant.  There was quite a wait (45 minutes if I remember correctly), and when we were finally seated, we walked past a pungent kitchen and were seated in a dimly lit room with walls painted as if we were in floating in the bayou.  I wouldn't quite go so much to say it was romantic, but it was nice and homey.

First they started us with some cornbread, which was delicious, but I was weary of how much butter they must've used.  They then gave us both spinach salads with a single fried oyster.  While the presentation was lacking, the food tasted good.  What really drew to me to come to Jaques-Imo's was actually their Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake (9.0).  It took some convincing for my mom to agree to share this with me - and I understand why - but it ended up being a pretty impressive savory "cheesecake."  It was Cajun, it was flavorful, and it was satisfying (and rather filling).  We also got the Blackened Redfish (27.95), which was local, flavorful, and tender and perfectly paired with crab chili hollandaise.  Other than it being on the pricy side, I would recommend this dish.  For the complimentary sides we got the Red Beans and Rice (of course!) and the Corn Macque Choux, both of which were just ok.

The service was friendly and the ambience appropriate, and in my opinion a good restaurant to dine at as a visitor.  If it weren't for the difficulty parking, the wait, and the slight expensiveness of this restaurant, I wouldn't be opposed to returning.  After all, the sign outside reads "Warm Beer, Lousy Food, Poor Service."

I apologize for the photos - the restaurant is super dark!  But to get an idea of the food...
Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake
Blackened Redfish

Price: 25-45/person | $$-$$$
Rating: 3.5/5
Tip: Only open for dinner! 5pm-10/11pm Mon-Sat

Jacques Imo's (Website)
8324 Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
#: (504) 861-0886
Jacques-Imo's Café on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 15

Merchant (New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)

Searching for more coffee in the city of New Orleans, I trekked out onto the constantly constructed roads to Merchant.  I found myself at a minimalistic cafe with white interiors with a very modern look.  I had myself a latte (3.0) and the 'buon giorno' croissant (8.0) - both of which were decent.  The coffee was dark and strong, but not exactly my taste.  The croissant was just decent, with egg, ham, soppressata, and fontina.  The flavor was nothing special, and the croissant tasted stale.  Perhaps I'm not the biggest fan of fancy deli meats, but nevertheless, it didn't even compare to Satsuma's green eggs and ham croissant.  On top of that, the girls at the counter weren't friendly and the cafe filled with them gossiping over the spaciness in the cafe.
buon giorno

Price: 10-15USD/person | $-$$
Rating: 3/5

Merchant (Website)
800 Common Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
#: (504) 571-9580
Merchant on Urbanspoon

Blockheads Shavery Co. (West LA, Los Angeles, CA)

Taiwanese shaved ice is one of those desserts that I constantly crave during the summer, and Blockheads Shavery is one of those places that brings me back to the motherland.  For some, the mouthfeel of this kind of shaved ice is strange, but I think it's the best!  The ice is more like snow than shaved pieces of ice, and many places, including this one, features flavored shaved ice.  Green tea and mango are just some of the more popular flavors.

First, you choose the flavor of your shaved ice, then choose your toppings!  It's like the more familiar Yogurtland, but with many more Asian toppings such as red bean and boba (but of course, they still have the mangoes and strawberries).  Though Blockheads wouldn't be the best shaved ice station I've been to, it's definitely one of those places I'd go to satisfy my shaved ice cravings!
Price: $-$$
Rating: 4/5

Blockheads Shavery Co. (Website)
11311 Mississippi Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
#: (310) 445-8725
Blockheads Shavery Co on Urbanspoon