Asian Flavours

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St Kilda Bites presents a new regular feature in search of the tastiest Asian Restaurant in the St Kilda Area, the Food Dude and his Bites team of Miss Nibbles and Oakley Hunter, are in constant search mode to unearth the quintessential Asian cuisine, for all those locals that have an addiction for ‘spicy’ or ‘sweet and sour’!

‘U-Village brings the flavours and your friends together’

U-Village restaurant is the cutting edge in fine cuisine, collecting the best aspects of Asian cultures and combining them together to create a menu that is a contemporary and community based.

Zhai Kai Yee, the owner of the restaurant, has come from an experienced catering family with an established record of several successful restaurants in Malaysia, combining Malaysian and Hong Kong cuisine.

The acclaimed chef, Raymond Lim comes with 25 years of experience in restaurants specialising in Chinese and Malaysian cuisine. He has introduced an adventurous and exciting Asian Fusion Menu.

We stepped into the open dining space that was decorated with clean, crisp, plants hanging on the walls and shelves; the walls had been designed to represent the old Chinese walls, with a flirty rice pattern sprinkled across them. The scene has that beach ambiance and despite only being here for 8 months, it’s like U-Village has always been part of St Kilda.

We were greeted and seated by the bubbly staff and as I walked to the candle lit table and bopped along to the 60’s bubblegum pop soundtrack playing carefully in the background, I couldn’t wait to share this experience, the flavour and the culture.

The drinks list enticed us with a huge selection of beers and wines, both local and imported, but I just had to get a cocktail – The Asian Manhattan ($16) kept with the theme by twisting a classic with plum wine and bitters and a zesty touch.

The cuisine is heavily Malaysian, but combined with Chinese, Cantonese, Thai and Japanese influences. Catering to that community feel, with tapas, curries, wok style and fusion dishes, it was lucky for my friend dining with me that U-Village has a separate menu for dietary requirements; such as gluten free, vegetarian and vegan.

We were out to try everything, so we started at the tapas. I tried the five-spiced prawn with samba, lime and caramelised sugar on perilla leaf, while my companion had pan seared scallop with pomegranate, fried shallots and Nam Jim sauce within a perilla leaf (gluten free [$8 for two]). The combination of freshly ground spices covering the prawns was incredible, and we couldn’t get over the pomegranate flavour on the scallops. The chef was obviously a food fusion master.

For those who love to play with their food, the Duck San Choy Boa with pomegranate, pine nuts and sweet soy sauce ($10) is your tapa. Again, perfect flavours, and wrapped up in the lettuce leaves, the Cantonese/Chinese and Vietnamese style dish was a delightful concoction.

Next up was the chefs choice: the thick red Rendang Curry Soft Shell Crab with kaffir lime leaves, eggplant and mint ($25) – a mix of Thai Malaysian and Japanese. I was afraid the crab would be lost in a thick sickening sauce, but instead we were treated with a light coconut sauce infused with Thai lemongrass and spices. The crab was beautiful, light fluffy crunchy shell of crumbed spices and juicy meat inside. Served with a side of rice and crispy shallots and set off against a 2010 German Selbach Olste ‘Incline’ Reisling ($10 a glass), that quenches the thirst perfectly after the spiciness of the crab, a pure, full flavoured and enjoyable wine.

By now we were feeling our jeans waistbands a little more than before, but our empty plates were swapped for 24 hour Sweet Vinegar Braised Pork Belly with cinnamon, chilli, black peppercorns served with Paw Paw and Mango Salad ($25). Traditionally a Chinese dish, the Pork Belly was succulent, soft, and melted in your mouth, and the Thai styled Paw-Paw and Mayo Salad was spot on. Matching with a 2011 Yarra Valley Yering Station ‘Little Yering’ Pinot Noir ($9 a glass)

The penultimate reward for us, the pie’ce de resistance, is the dessert tasting platter;’ Something Sweet’ at a remarkable $16. We were treated to tastes of the 5 different dessert choices offered,  from rich Five Spice Flourless Chocolate Cake with its beautiful quince undertones, subtle Black Rice Pudding with caramel coconut toffee and cognac, Black Sesame Peanut Butter Parfait,  scrumptious Coconut and Chocolate Pannacotta and berry ice cream, to the U-Village’s signature dish ‘Pandon Creme Brûlée’ with salted honeycomb. Individually these are all priced very reasonably between $12 and $14.


U – Village

Shop 1, 29 Fitzroy St, St Kilda

Open for Lunch 12-3pm, Dinner 6pm-late. Monday, Thursday, Friday.

Phone: (03) 95371129

Dinner only Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 6pm-Late, then Saturday & Sunday All Day from 12pm.

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