EVEN MORE Meals in Melbourne

The City, The Cuisine

Flower Drum

This restaurant is a Melbourne classic located in Chinatown.  It is a large restaurant located on the second floor of a warehouse-looking building on a small laneway in the midst of Chinatown.  Inside it is bigger than expected, separated by carved wooden screens.  The service is impeccable and the classic Chinese dishes are excellent.

Saute Chicken with Pine Nuts

Chicken with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, bamboo shoots, and pine nuts


Eggplant in Spicy Salt

Fried eggplant in spicy salt stuffed with carrots, yam, pine nuts, and served with crispy enoki mushrooms


Gai Lan in Shaoxing Wine

Chinese broccoli stir-fried in rice wine and ginger


Singapore Noodles

Stir-fried Vermicelli noodles with prawns, BBQ pork, snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, onion, and chili


‘Typhoon Shelter” Lamb Cutlets

Flinders Island saltbush lamb cutlets stir-fried with fried crispy garlic, chili, and scallions


Great Ocean Road Brewhouse

Roast Lamb Dinner

Sliced roast lamb with roasted potatoes and seasonal steamed vegetables all covered in a rich gravy, served with a dollop of mint jelly


Fish and Chips


Mexican Chicken Parma

Basically nachos on top of a parma–an interesting idea…


Chocolate Mousse in a Chocolate Shell with cream


Chocolate Mud Cake with vanilla ice cream


Sticky Date Pudding with vanilla ice cream

One of the best desserts I’ve had here!  So full of caramel and rich pudding–delectable!


Shamrock Hotel

Eggs Benedict

Another day, another Eggs Benedict.  Almost too much bacon on this one, but nevertheless still delicious.


Brekky Burger

Very Australian and super good– the bun was almost Brioche-y.


Eggs and Bacon


Queen Victoria Market

Hedgehog Slice

A super rich chocolate-y, fudge-y slice with pieces of shortbread biscuit interspersed throughout and with a layer of coconut shavings on top–absolutely amazing!


Red Ochre Grill

Cripsy Onion Rings with Citrus Aioli


Pulled Pork Burger

The pulled pork was not our favourite kind (we love the vinegar-y Carolina kind!) and it was also too sweet.  But the bun, fries, and salad were all great!


Aussie Burger

This included the two most common Aussie items put on a burger: an egg and beetroot.  Even Macca’s serves burger with these items.


Veal Schnitzel with Killpatrick Sauce

Killpatrick sauce is Worcestershire sauce with bacon and cheese.  The first bites were very good, but as is usually the case with Worchestershire sauce, it gets a bit much eventually.


Chicken Parma

A solid parma with a sizable amount of ham; the chips and salad were good, as usual.


Kulata Training Academy

This is a hands-on trade school for Indigenous youths.  It’s a great group and the food was very delicious.

Bacon and Egg Panini

With onion jam (the unusual, and most delicious, aspect)


Desert Lime Melting Moment

Two shortbread cookies with a very generous swirl of buttercream–so rich!  The desert lime flavour was really good, definitely lime-y but with a hint of something else a little herb-like.


Melbourne Real Estate

The City, The Culture

The Melbourne real estate market is absolutely insane!

Right now, the average price for a home is AUD $826,000 while the average price for a unit is AUD $583,000  It blows our minds how the average person here buys a house/unit.

The buying process begins with inspections.  They are not what you think of when you hear ‘inspection.’  An inspection is like an open house, where you can come to the location and ‘inspect’ it and scope it out.

Every thing is much more regimented here because the market is so competitive.  Inspections have to be registered for, so it is not exactly the same as an open house.

Real estate agents only work for the seller, not the buyer.  People have to do their own research, attend inspections on their own, and place bids by themselves.  The real estate agents host the inspections and auctions and handle the legal side of selling.

The weirdest thing about Australian real estate is the fact that they have auctions for all of their properties.

There is usually an inspection a week or two before the auction and then another inspection just before the auction begins.  The real estate agent starts the bidding at/near the seller’s reserve price (what they won’t take below).  Then, depending on the popularity of the house/unit, the bidding either continues fast and furiously or more slowly.

Auctions are usually held out in the street in front of the house/unit and are open to the public to come and watch.  However, to participate in an auction you have to have previously registered and submitted an offer price.

The auction format makes buying a house so competitive.  People basically have to commit to the highest end of their budget first to even have a chance at participating in the auction.

At the house auctions we’ve been to (in an up-and-coming, nice neighborhood of Melbourne), the houses have ended up going for 1.160 and 1.650 million (usually for a 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 garage townhouse).  Unit auctions we’ve seen (again in a nice area) have been around the $500,000-650,000 mark.

It is kind of fun to attend an auction (especially for us Americans) when you don’t have to go through the stress of bidding.  The real estate agent usually has a gavel and smacks it on his folder or rolled up papers–a dramatic conclusion to a thrilling auction.

We think we may have seen the top of the market as real estate prices have been continually falling for the past couple weeks.  However, the sticker prices are still shocking us.

Apparently… Sydney is even worse…


EVEN MORE Meals in Melbourne

The City, The Cuisine


Vegetable Lasagne


Chicken Parm


Lamb Pie with Peas and Potatoes



Avo Smash


Eggs Benedict

My dad’s quest continues…


Big Brekky


Aroma of India

Mango Lassi


Chicken Tikka Masala


Chicken Korma


Lamb Vindaloo


Red Lion Restaurant

Vegetable Omelette


Eggs Benedict


Eggs and Toast with Bacon


Persian Kebab House

Lamb Shashlik


Ghormeh Sabzi




Parndana Hotel

Schnitzel with Marron in Creamy Garlic Sauce

Marron are a delicacy on Kangaroo Island.  It tastes similar to lobster.


Chicken Parm

Delicious, and heart-shaped too!


Mississippi Mud Cake


Carrot Cake


Hahndorf Inn


Comprising of bratwurst, debraciner, knockwurst,  bockwurst, case trainer, nurnberger bratwursts, sauerkraut, and Bavarian potato salad.


Chicken Caesar Salad


Kinder Surprise Egg

This candy is illegal in the US, so I had to give it a try while I have the chance.  The US has had a ban on candy with toys embedded in it since 1938.

The Haus

Hot Chocolate


Eggs and Toast with Smoked Salmon

The salmon was from the Harris Smokehouse which is right up the street from this restaurant.


Eggs and Toast with a Tomato Relish


Pancakes with Banana, Maple Syrup, and Chantilly Cream



The smokiest and most-like-bacon-to-me bacon we’ve had here.  Bacon is usually served more like Canadian bacon.


The Coffee Club

Corn Fritters with Bacon


Eggs Benedict


Ultimate Brekky Roll


Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival

The City, The Culture

The Plaza

The place to see and be seen while waiting for the runway shows.  All of the sponsors of the festival had booths with very Instagramable photo-ops and backgrounds set up.  Street-style photographers were on the prowl looking for the perfect outfit to capture.

The Venue

The Royal Exhibition Building is an amazing building built for the World Exhibition in Melbourne in 1880.  Today it is an event venue.  The runway ran down the length of the building centered under the beautiful painted dome.  Lighting and sound rigs were set up all over, but the architecture of the building still shone through.

The Runways

Premium Runway 5–Misha Collection, Thurley, Camilla, By Johnny, White Suede, Zhivago, Rachel Gilbert

I have to say, I liked this first runway the best, out of the two we saw.  But just seeing any runway and being there was fantastic.  The ambience is amazing and the whole sensory experience really allows you to understand the collection and the vibe the designer is going for.  While we weren’t in the front row, I still felt like I was right up close to the action.  Because it is a consumer event, the clothes being modeled are for the upcoming season, not 6 months in advance and they are shoppable directly after the show.

All in all, an incredible experience.


Premium Runway 6–Anna Quan, Bul, Kacey/Devlin, KUWAII, Wiktora & Woods, Celeste Tesoriero, RYDER

Yarraville-Sun Theatre

The City

The Sun Theatre in Yarraville was opened in 1938 as a single-screen cinema.  It has since expanded to hold eight screens but maintains its historic luxury.

The inside is all done in an Art Deco style and each of the eight theaters has it’s own personal style.

We saw La La Land, which is still in cinemas here.  Our theatre was the St. George’s, one of the smallest with only about 40 seats.  This theatre is taller than it is wide, so the architects decided to put in a spiral staircase up to a balcony where there are only 10 seats.  It was fun to sit up there, where the viewing of the screen was great.  Every seat in the St. George is more like an armchair and has a small side table next to it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Tram Museum

The City, The Culture

Trams are such an important part of Melbourne.

The public transport here is fantastic, especially the trams, which go everywhere within the CBD and a lot of places in the near surrounds.  In some portions of the city, only trams and pedestrians are allowed.

Melbourne has the largest urban tram network in the world with 250 km of double track (that’s part of what makes it the most livable city in the world!).  Trams have been operating in Melbourne since 1884 and they are now a symbol of the city.  You can’t be in Melbourne without hearing the ding of tram bells warning that they’re coming through.

Out at the Hawthorn Tram Depot, there is an amazing collection of old trams that go on display to the public twice a month.


The Hawthorn Tram Depot Museum also houses tons of tram-themed memorabilia from tickets throughout the ages, to old conductor uniforms, to diagrams and blueprints showing the inner workings of the machines.

There are many different classes of tram, each one more modern and better than the last.  All of the trams currently running on the PTV routes have been built after 1984, with the exception of the tourist City Circle tram route, which still uses historic trams from the 1920’s-1950’s.

It was really awesome to see all of the old trams and how seating, ticketing, and design have all changed throughout the years (no longer are there conductors collecting tickets, only tapping cards on electronic machines).

One of the biggest features in the oldest trams was the reversible seat backs that moved from one side of the bench to the other, so that which ever way the tram was traveling the passengers could be seated facing forward.  That design went by the wayside as it became a safety concern (fingers being caught in the mechanisms).  Today there are both forward and backward benches that face each other in order to fit more people in the same space.

I was in the same boat as the 5 year olds that were there, standing (or sitting depending on the tram) up in the driver’s compartments, pretending to drive a tram, ringing the bell, and having the time of my life.

One of the Z-class trams (the kind that runs on the City Circle route) was decorated like a Karachi bus for the 2006 Commonwealth Games which were held in Melbourne.  The tram ran on the City Circle route during the Games.  Karachi buses are known for their extravagant designs and blaring music; the tram version even had flashing lights.

Herring Island

The City, The Sights

Herring Island is the only island in the Yarra River.  It is man-made and was built in 1929 to help alleviate flooding in the river.  The trees were planted on the island to stop it from flooding.  At only 2.8 hectares, the island is small, but it’s beautiful.  Today, Herring Island is a conservation park managed by Melbourne Parks and waterways.

To get there, you catch a small punt that travels about 6 m to the dock on the island.

During the summer, Herring Island hosts an Arts Festival which rotates through various artists every few weeks.  When we were there, the Victorian Basketmakers Association were on display.  An unexpected medium for art, but it was actually really awesome; weaving and basketry can be incorporated into so many cool things.

The vegetation on Herring Island is quintessentially Australian.  I got the opportunity to touch the Yarra River, which isn’t possible anywhere else in the city, as most other places are elevated from the water.  This is one of the places that is the closest to bushwalking that we’ve come.  Herring Island is an environmental oasis in the middle of a busy city river.

Across the street is Como Park, which is home to a beautifully maintained oval.  On weekends, you can almost always catch a cricket game, as we did.


White Night

The City, The Sights

For the last four years, Melbourne has lit up for one night in February.  From 7 pm to 7 pm the city is bustling with music, dance, installations, and, most importantly, light shows.  The best light shows were the projections on the facade of large, important buildings downtown; they made a great canvas.

Starting up at the north of the city in Carlton Gardens, there were a few light installations. There were lanterns in trees, colored illumination on trees, and a glowing, almost pulsing, sphere of light.  The sphere was really cool as you could get up close and touch it and see the lights within.

The first major projection light show we saw was on the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens and it turned out to also be the best one.  The projection was so well coordinated with the architecture and there was such great attention to detail.  It was absolutely fantastic.

More than half a million people were expected at this year’s celebration and they came out in force.  The streets were full to bursting even with the roads closed down to trams and cars.  Many of them were wearing some kind of light-up headband or necklace, which added nicely to the whole glowing theme.  A few of the statues of famous explorers or politicians were dressed up and illuminated.  And even some of the cranes from the many construction projects going on joined in the fun.

The State Library of Victoria was also completely lit up.  It had a garden theme and the projections showed various types of flowers blooming and growing.  Again, the way the projections line up with the columns is simply amazing.

Smaller light shows were dotted around the city as well.  Some were large LCD screens on the side of utes, some were small projections on the side of buildings (like St. Paul’s Cathedral below), and some were made of neon lights (such as the angel wings, which were a great photo op)

The next major projection was not on any particular building, just on a row of stores along Flinders Street.  However, the projections themselves took on the wonder as they told the stories of fairytales.  Every few minutes, a new series of projections would come up that were fairytales in almost comic book form.  Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk,  and Rapunzel were all represented, as well as a few others.

Flinders Street Station and the Arts Centre (the Eiffel-Tower-like thing a little bit down the street) were both illuminated.  Flinders Street Station was also home to another major projection; this one told the history of Australia.

EVEN MORE Meals in Melbourne

The City, The Cuisine

Redcliffe Tavern-Barramundi with Roasted Potatoes and Balsamic Glaze

For a pub-like restaurant, the food was high-quality and very delicious–a little surprising to us.


Fettuccini Alfredo


Mexican Tortilla Bowl


Settlers Inn Hotel-Seasame Honey Glazed Ribs with Chips and Salad


Eastbank-Salt and Pepper Calamari


Margherita Pizza

Continuing on my quest for the best margherita pizza…this one wasn’t fantastic.  It was good and definitely delicious, but not on my top list.


Tagliatelle Bolognese


 Tuna Nicoise


Prosciutto and Rocket Salad


Bar Bellaccino-Brekkie Roll

With coffee (not pictured), the best flat white in Australia so far!


French Toast with Berries


i-creamy Gelato-9-Scoop Gelato Platter

(top to bottom, left to right)  Coconut, Espresso, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Black Sesame, Milo, Thai Tea, Cookies and Cream, White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake, Cream Soda


It is also served with a smaller platter of whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate shavings.


Brown Sugar-Corn Fritters with Bacon and Pesto

One of our favorite CBD finds, Brown Sugar is hidden down a narrow laneway off Little Collins Street.  It’s small and cramped, but the food is amazing.


Vanilla Pancakes with Berries


Salmon and Pesto Risotto


Rock, Paper, Scissors-Toast with Salmon and a Rosti

A rosti is like a potato cake, the fancy version of a hash brown.


Rosti Breakfast


Toast with Bacon and Avocado


Government House-Australia Day Tea and Scones from the Country Women’s Association

We also got a small bag of the classic ANZAC Biscuits, an oat and golden syrup biscuit.

We found a new brand of tea we love– Bushell’s Blue Label, Australian tea that is really rich and dark.


Ants Bistro-Prawn Toast

In the small, cramped streets of Chinatown, Ants Bistro is an authentic restaurant serving Asian classics.  We sat upstairs on a balcony with just a few tables, where we could look out over the rest of the restaurant.


Spicy Beef Hotpot with Glass Noodles


Schezuan Pork and Noodles


Chicken and Vegetables on Crispy Noodles


Crown Chinese New Year Street Festival-Twisty Potato

When you see people walking around with these creations, how can you not get one?  It actually tasted good too–just like a huge twisty chip.


Eureka Tower and Skydeck

The City, The Sights

Looking at the skyline of Melbourne, the Eureka Tower stands out.  Not only is it the tallest building in the skyline, but the windows of the top 10 stories are gold plated, which really reflects in the sunshine.  The Eureka Tower is a mostly a residential building, but the 88th floor houses an observation level and the 89 floor is a restaurant, both open to the public.

The tower is located on the banks of the Yarra River in the suburb of Southbank, directly across the river from the CBD.  The Skydeck on the 88th floor, 285 m high, has amazing 360 degree views of the CBD and inner suburbs.

Looking south over South Melbourne to Albert Park and its lake.  Beyond that, St. Kilda and Port Phillip Bay.


Looking southwest to the top of Port Phillip Bay where the Port of Melbourne is.  The large cruise ship is docked at Station Pier in Port Melbourne.


A panoramic sweep of St. Kilda to Port Melbourne.


To the north, Melbourne CBD, which is laid out in a neat, grid-like pattern on the north bank of the Yarra and the northern suburbs in the distance.


To the northwest, the Yarra River winding through Melbourne and Docklands: the port area in the CBD.



Not only is the Eureka Tower the tallest building in Melbourne, but also the tallest building in the southern hemisphere… at least for a few more years.fullsizeoutput_1139

Looking down from the 88th floor and to the north, one of the main intersections of the CBD.  Flinders Street Station, the long yellow building in the bottom left. Federation Square, bottom right.  St. Paul’s Cathedral, top right.


The northern section of the CBD.  The roads in the distance all run directly north out of the city.  The dome in the top centre of the picture is the State Library of Victoria on Swanston St.


Looking east over the Arts Centre (Eiffel-Tower-like structure) to the sports precinct of Melbourne Park and Olympic Park including the MCG, Rod Laver/Margaret Court Arenas, and AAMI Park.  The Dandenong Ranges are in the far distance.


The Arts Centre and Queen Victoria Gardens.


Fed Square and the bottom corner of the CBD with Fitzroy Gardens just beyond the edge.


Two of the many bridges stretching across the Yarra, one pedestrian and one automotive.


Melbourne CBD!


The Governor of Victoria’s house, Government House, situated in the middle of the Royal Botanic Gardens.


The Shrine of Remembrance and the neighborhood of South Yarra behind it.


In the bottom left of this photo, you can see the gold plating on the windows of the top of the Eureka Tower.


Looking out over the neighborhoods of Southbank, then South Melbourne, then Port Melbourne, all the way to Port Phillip Bay.


Kings Domain, with the white tent of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, which stretch down the side of St. Kilda Road.


There is also the option of doing “The Edge” experience, which we chose not to do.  In The Edge, you step inside an opaque glass cube which then slides out 3 meters over the side of the building to stick straight out.  Once the cube is all the way outside, the opacity disappears and you are 297 meters in the air with only a few centimeters of glass as the only thing to stop you from falling.  When the time is up, the cube simply slides back inside.