Hawker Hall

98 Chapel St, Windsor



I really wanted to like Hawker Hall.  I liked the premise, it has great pedigree, and the vibe on entry was bustling.  We had to wait over an hour for a table but the service was very fast once we were seated.  Unfortunately that where things started to come unstuck.  We ordered the  chefs menu at $55 each.  We were feed a succession of dishes until we were stuffed.  However not one of those dishes was particularly good and at worst were barely edible.  The presentation was also fairly rough, although I guess it’s supposed to be street food inspired.


The charcoal chicken in particular tasted primarily of charcoal rather than chicken and this dish was left unfinished.

The multiple wait staff dealing with our table also started to get confused and brought us dishes we’d already had on multiple occasions.

With Windsor already having more than its fair share of great Asian restaurants I can’t see myself returning to Hawker Hall in a hurry – and that’s the shame, what a missed opportunity.  I have no doubt the restaurant will be financially successful for some time due to the Chris Lucas buzz and high clientele turnover in the area but I’m not sure it will be based on the merits of the restaurant.

Hawker Hall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Fat Monk

97 Chapel St, Windsor



Replacing the now shuttered Thai restaurant Ayatana, Fat Monk doesn’t seem to have fallen into the same trap of focusing on food to the detriment of vibe and decor. It’s a warm welcoming environment in matte black and kitsch murals.  They also win an award for the best/worst puns in their dish names.  We selected ‘Hit Me Baby One More Thai’m’ and ‘Thai Hard’.  We kicked off with some tiger prawn spring rolls and some chicken steamed buns.  Both were excellent and nicely presented.



The ‘Hit Me Baby One More Thai’m’ was a chu che barramundi and stir fried panang curry.  The ‘Thai Hard’ was Thai sweet basil and chilli with crispy pork belly.  The barramundi was definitely the better of the two dishes and I would highly recommend it.  The pork belly was very spicy and the pork was a little on the dry side.  They need to Thai a little harder with this dish.



Oddly missing from the dine in menu was the quite extensive curry list that is on the takeaway menu so I’m guessing any of these would be available if requested.  They can also provide delivery if required.

Fat Monk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


119 Chapel St, Windsor



I stumbled upon this new restaurant last night so immediately gave it a try.  I was particularly interested as I’d been to Cambodia earlier in the year and not only tried amok, I’d learned to make it in a cooking school.  Amok is one of the most traditional dishes of Cambodia and is a curried fish dish steamed in a banana leaf.

The styling of the restaurant would have to be described as varied at best.  There are many traditional Asian pieces around the room including paintings and stone busts.  These are interspersed with pieces that might normally be found in a restaurant with industrial styling including a large sign spelling AMOK behind the bar, made of what appears to be steel guttering and a large lighting fixture which is basically a roll of wire fencing with an LED strip through it.

The waitress who greeted us was very friendly and helpful.  Obviously the liquor licence hasn’t come through yet as currently the restaurant is BYO only so I was directed to the bottle store a few doors down to pick up some wine or beer.

The menu is full of mouth-watering flavours of Cambodia but many had a more modern Western twist as well.  Divided in ‘small’, ‘to share’ and ‘big’, we chose cured salmon with pomegranate and a young coconut dressing in a betel leaf, and naked prawn with chocolate bacon, smoked paprika, mayo and gherkin in a slider bun from the ‘small’ section for starters.


For mains we chose char grilled quail with puff rice, pickled papaya, longan fruit and tamarind dressing from the ‘to share’ menu and the fish amok with Tasmanian salmon from the ‘big’ section.  Oddly the char grilled quail was marked as a vegetarian option as was another dish with octopus so there maybe a cultural translation issue there.


The prawn slider and salmon in betel leaf were presented very nicely and the salmon dish in particular was delicious.  I got the prawn slider as the chocolate bacon intrigued me.  The chocolate flavour wasn’t prominent but it still tasted fantastic.


The quail was cooked nicely however the puffed rice in the salad did give me the impression of somebody pouring Rice Bubbles over my meal.  That said, it was still very good.  I thought the Tassie salmon was an odd choice for the amok since I believe it’s normally done with a white fish however I love salmon so who am I to complain and there are many many variations on how to cook an amok.  The result was excellent with a lovely curry flavour but if you’re looking for any heat in your curry though this is not what you’re after.  Cambodian food in general is much less spicy than some of its other South East Asian neighbours.


I think Amok has a lot going for it. I certainly want to go back and try other items on the menu.  There are a lot of Asian restaurants in the area but no other Cambodian ones that I know of.  This may be a boon for people who like Asian food at the milder end of the spice scale.  The modern take on traditional food seems to be well done.  The chef came out to chat to some of the diners about their experiences so they’re obviously not afraid of feedback.

I think the main issue the restaurant is facing is the decor.  It doesn’t have a modern Asian feel like other local restaurants such as Saigon Sally, Tokyo Tina and Mr Miyagi.  It’s sort of a half way house between modern and traditional and as such it lacks consistency and vibe.  They may not have the decor budget of these other restaurants however a simple consistent style could work wonders for the place.  The fact is, the only reason I was in Amok in the first place was that Tokyo Tina and Mr Miyagi had waits well in excess of an hour to get a table so it seems to be interior design is money well spent.

I imagine getting a liquor licence will be a priority for the owners as that’s generally where the best profits are.  I also think the menu needs a bit of a tidy up.  Beyond describing non-vegetarian meals as vegetarian, the descriptions of the meals could use work.

It would be a shame if these issues held the restaurant back from being a success as it certainly wouldn’t be the food at fault.  Let’s hope they know how to run Amok.

Click to add a blog post for Amok Restaurant on Zomato

Shanghai Street

145 Chapel Street Windsor 3181


So it’s been quite a while since my last review.  Apologies for that, but there are now a few new places for me to try.  Last weekend I popped into Shanghai Street – purveyors of xiao long bao and dumplings.

This restaurant is the baby sister restaurant to the Shanghai Street in Little Bourke St in the city and is at the site where Haruaki used to be.  First impressions are that the “reno” seems to consist of painting everything poo brown and sticking a Coke machine in the corner.  Certainly the focus hasn’t been on decor or vibe so hopefully the food is able to make up for it.

   2015-05-09 20.22.14

After we got the prerequisite Tsingtao beers in, we ordered some traditional xiao long bao (pork filled steamed buns) and some pan fried pork dumplings.  Get some pork on your chopstick doesn’t have quite the same ring to it but I like pork so I was happy to double up.  For the main we decided to share the stir fried eye fillet and garlic and cashew nuts.  Well cashew nut singular according to the menu but I was secretly hoping for more, especially since we were sharing.  A fight over a single cashew using chopsticks is always going to get messy.


Oddly, since it was supposed to be the main, it was the eye fillet that arrived first.  The fact that it was sitting prouder than a honeymooners dick on a leaf of iceberg lettuce let us know that it was the dish we’d ordered rather than them just clearing up some doggy do from their pet German Shepard which they mistakenly left on our table.  It wasn’t pretty, but we’d already determined that aesthetics wasn’t what this restaurant was about.  Luckily the meat was juicy and tender with lovely flavours, plenty of garlic… and more than one nut.


No long into our first bite, the xiao long bao and the dumplings turned up as well which required a bit of jostling to fit onto the table.  It was quite a sizable amount of food.  Luckily, I can eat a sizable amount of food.


The xiao long bao gave the impression of the pork being under done… but maybe they’re supposed to be that pink, I’m not sure.  It didn’t stop me from eating them, and they were pretty good but they were a lot better once I discovered the tin of chilli in oil on the table.  The chilli definitely added an extra taste dimension and is highly recommended.  The pan fried dumplings were more than a mouthful and very tasty.  Again, the chilli oil improved them significantly.

Would I go back?  Well, it was a good meal at a reasonable price in a less than salubrious environment.  And really that could be in any one of dozens of Chinese restaurants in inner Melbourne.  So, I guess whether I go back might be proportional to how many beers I’ve had and my prevailing care factor of poo brown decor.

Shanghai Street Dumpling & Mini Juicy Bun on Urbanspoon

Note: This is for CBD restaurant as the Chapel St one isn’t on Urban Spoon yet.



97 Chapel St, Windsor



I had visited the Thai restaurant that used to reside at this site a number of times but for some reason I hadn’t got around to going to Ayatana until now although I’d heard good things.  After it opened it seemed to be very quiet for quite a few weeks – before obviously word of mouth got around and now it is often full.  As soon as you walk in you can tell Ayatana is a more refined experience than its predecessor.  The décor is simple but classic, and the lighting is muted.  A good date destination I imagine.

The restaurant is small but you know what they say about good things.  The tables soon fill up but it doesn’t feel overly crowded.  The service is prompt and polite.  The menu is full of so many items that sound delicious none of us come to a quick decision over what to order.  In the end we selected the pan seared Japanese scallops, the minced pork and prawn rice paper rolls, and the five spiced duck breast steamed buns.

4 3 5

All of the entrees are delicious and presently beautifully.  A lot of care and attention has gone into the food and it’s obvious.  For mains, we ordered the hot, sweet and sour crispy barramundi fillets, the slow cooked massaman curry, and the roasted macadamia and cashew nuts stir fried with chicken breast fillets.  I had the barramundi and it was fantastic.  Just the right amount of kick, and the sweet and sour were balanced perfectly.  The barramundi was also nice and crispy.  By all accounts the other two mains were very well received as well.  I was impressed with the presentation of the stirfry in particular as too often that can just be a pile on a plate with no care in the presentation.  It also had a nice bite without being overpowering.

7 8 6

There were so many things that I missed out on trying I’ll definitely head back here soon to try more of it.  I can hear the pork belly calling me.  When the worst bit of the meal is when your scallop falls off its perch of sliced Granny Smith apple, you know you have very little to complain about.  Ayatana isn’t into trendy, it’s just into good food.

Note: There is also a take away menu available.

Ayatana on Urbanspoon

Basque Tapas and Wine

159 Chapel St, Windsor



Basque Tapas has been serving up Spanish food since 2003 but I haven’t eaten there before other than for a quick lunchtime burger with their $10 deal. On Friday night I popped in for a late dinner. The restaurant was reasonably quiet for 9:30pm so we took a seat in the street side outdoor alcove. The menus were delivered quickly although it took quite some time for our orders to be taken.

The menu is mainly tapas but there were also a few full meals and paella to share. There were also set menus available. The tapas seemed pricey to make a meal of, so we decided to share a wild rabbit and chicken paella, and start with the black pudding pan seared with apple and sage on bread, and patatas bravas picante, which are crispy potatoes served with aioli and spicy tomato sauce.


We also ordered a bottle of the house merlot from a wine menu that seemed over-priced. On the way home I noticed the house wine was selling at $8 a bottle at the store a few shops down so the $35 they were charging seemed a bit rich, even with restaurant mark up.

Points for authenticity go to the waitress taking our order. Her Spanish accent was strong enough to make her a little difficult to understand. The staff in general were friendly and helpful.


The potatoes were nice enough and a good sized helping. Perhaps it was a stretch to describe them as crispy on the menu though. The black pudding was excellent and I’d definitely have that again (excuse it being half eaten the photo). The paella was very good although the rabbit on the bone made eating a little difficult. It was a good helping and we were too full at the end of it to consider the desserts menu. I’m sure the staff appreciated this as we were the last people in the restaurant.

Everything about Basque was satisfactory without being standout. Still, it’s probably your best option for authentic Spanish in Prahran/Windsor if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s also your only option.

Basque Tapas & Wine on Urbanspoon

Colonel Tan’s

229 Chapel Street, Prahran, 3181



Revolver, Revs, Revolting… whatever you call it, Revolver Upstairs is as Melbourne as dim sims and hook turns.  I’ve lost more hours than I can count, or certainly remember, in its dark and sticky environs dancing away to Boogs and Spacey Space on a Sunday morning, surrounded by people for who sleep is but a distant memory and the only meal they’ve eaten in the last two days is the inside of their mouth.  It’s certainly not an image that conjures up the thought – yeah, that’s were I’d like to pop into for some delicious Thai food sometime, but if you don’t, you’re missing out.


Colonel Tan’s was created by Karen Batson of Cookie and The Toff in Town.  It’s named after Revolver co-owner and Thai pop star Tan Punturaumporn, with the Colonel ranking being a reference to the five spice chicken specialty and it’s Southern American cousin.

The stairs leading up to Colonel Tan’s are a decent workout, and I’ve seen plenty of people struggle to navigate them, but that’s mainly on the way down after 15 hours dancing inside.  The inside of the venue is lowly lit with a myriad of aging lampshades and chandeliers, and is littered with 80’s video game machines and old couches with an appetite for mobile phones and wallets.   The kitsch floral vinyl tablecloth clad tables are set out at the far end of the room near the utilitarian bar.  The walls (and ceiling) are an absolute joy at Revolver Upstairs.  They are full of artworks from brilliant artists and are always evolving.  Banksy and Shepard Fairey feature prominently among them, with works from prior to their global fame.  The more attention you pay the more fascinating art work you will find.


The food menu is quite extensive, but if you don’t like spicy food then you may be restricted a little.  The drinks menu is also very extensive and it’s nice to be able to order these from your table rather than fight your way to the front of the bar with sweaty patrons queued five deep as is the case on a weekend.  Fruit infused water is also provided.  We ordered a couple of baskets of the requisite Colonel’s five spice chicken, and betel leaf salad with snapper, peanuts, ginger, chilli and lime to start with.  The chicken kicks arse.  Or it would do if it’s legs weren’t amputated and deep-fried in a beautifully spiced and crispy coating.  It’s a definite winner when compared to that of the more famous Colonel.  Make sure you get at least one basket of this when you visit.  The betel leaf salad is a DIY dish where you wrap the snapper filling into a betel leaf.  It’s a cracking dish but be warned, it has some serious chilli kick.  You’ll be heading for a serviette or two after knocking back these two finger food dishes, the salad can be particularly sticky.


For mains we ordered Penang lamb curry, stir fried tumeric chicken, Pad Thai eggnet and stir fried red curry pork to share between the five of us.  The lamb and the pork were particularly good, with nice juicy pork belly chunks in the red curry and plenty of chilli kick in the lamb.  We were all close to letting out the belt a notch at the end of it, and the best bit, since Thursday is locals night, it’s half price for anybody with a 3181 post code or a Revolver membership.  Eight dishes of food ended up costing us less than $15 each.


There are two dinner sittings per evening, one at 6pm and one at 8pm, and it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays.  If you turn up on a Sunday you’re in for a whole different sort of evening.  Bookings are recommended for Thursdays.

Do yourself a favour – forget about the boozy nights and days where you ended up in Revolver and promised yourself you’d never return… and return.  Return for the food.

Colonel Tan's on Urbanspoon


Note: Most of the photos are not mine – it’s so dark in there the iPhone doesn’t really cut the mustard.

Melt Pizza

171 Chapel St, Windsor



Melt is a new pizza restaurant which aims to bring the traditional Napoli pizza to Chapel St, but with a modern twist.

The restaurant has a bright and modern feeling with white tiles and terracotta roof tiles on the wall, and the large stone pizza oven in the corner cranked up to 400 degrees.  In addition to the indoor seating, there is alfresco seating out the front and back of the restaurant, and a private room.


There is no shortage of hipster staff who were all very friendly, although shouldn’t the beardy ones be wearing beardnets?  The ordering process allows you to either pick a pizza from the menu or create your own from the large array of ingredients.  Either way, all the pizzas are 11 inches (although I’m not sure if that’s measured by a girl or a guy).  The dough goes from ball to cooked pizza remarkably quickly especially given it takes just 2 minute to cook in the oven.


The pizza had a crispy thin base and stacked with enough rocket to disguise the fact that there were supposed to be prawns on there somewhere.  It was very tasty and had a good chilli kick.  My sole complaint is that leaving tails on the prawns makes the pizza very messy to eat so I’d rather they were removed prior to cooking.


The restaurant is licenced and has a small but reasonable collection of wines and beers and ciders.  They also sell salads, panuozzos (woodfired sandwiches), doughballs, meatballs and gelato.  I think Melt is on to a good thing, and it was certainly busy enough to suggest it’ll be very successful.

Melt Pizza on Urbanspoon


50 Chapel St, Windsor


Maybe this place is a step above your average takeaway pizza joint but I’m not sure it offered enough to make me come rushing back.  The decor is inviting with Italian rustic charm and makes the most of the exposed red brick walls.  The waitress took ages to serve us as she was setting out cutlery on empty tables rather than serving the few customers they already had.  She was friendly but made me repeat my beer order a number of times until I got the Italian pronunciation correct – a bit like being back in school.

I ordered gnocchi ragu from the specials board, and my friends choose the linguine pescatore and the caprese pizza.  Ten minutes after ordering the waitress returned and asked my friend who ordered the linguine if it was food.  Or at least that’s what the three of us heard her ask even though it made no sense.  He said yes and she walked off happy.  She returned another five minutes later to ask if the linguine was with Napoli sauce or olive oil as she’d failed to ask when taking the order.  It was starting to not bode well for his meal.


When the food finally arrived it was all good hearty Italian fare so I can’t complain about the meals.  The pizza base was light and crispy and was cooked in a traditional wood fired oven.  The pastas were tasty and reasonable portions.  With more attentive service, the restaurant could certainly be quite appealing.

pizza linguine

Apologies to the random nature of the photos, I accidentally deleted half the photos from this evening.

One highlight of the place is, if you decide to get spaghetti and get sauce all over yourself, don’t worry too much, there is a shower in the bathroom – if you don’t mind standing on the Japanese rock garden.


Mulatta on Urbanspoon


145 Chapel St, Windsor


I decided to give this place a go last Sunday evening.  Chapel St was buzzing and restaurants were full – except Haruaki, which was emptier than a hermit’s address book.  To be honest I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a customer here.  The place doesn’t look that terrible so we pulled up a seat at a table on the street.

The menu is a fairly extensive collection of standard Japanese/Korean fare and I decided to go with the unagi don as I couldn’t recall trying eel before, and my friend went with a chicken teriyaki bento box.   The food was fairly quick to arrive as you’d hope in an empty restaurant, and the only hiccup was there was no sushi roll for the bento box but it was replaced with croquettes.

don bento

The food all tasted pretty good (the eel tastes like fish), it was reasonably priced, and the service was good.  I’m not quite sure why this place is often empty.  Maybe they do a roaring weekday lunchtime trade, they do have lunch specials.  There is certainly no shortage of Asian restaurants on Chapel St though so you have to do something to set yourself apart – and perhaps that is what’s missing here.  It’s good – but nothing special.

Haruaki on Urbanspoon