Chasing a Plate were invite to dine as guests of United Kitchen Dining & Tapas
One of the things we love about blogging is the opportunity to meet new people and hear their story. United Kitchen Dining & Tapas in St Kilda has been around since November of last year. Head chef Tong Li, born and raised in Qingdao, China decided he wanted to learn to cook. He hightailed it to Mexico, got a tonne of experience, returned to China and set up 3 restaurants and then moved to Australia and opened United Kitchen in order to showcase what he learnt in the kitchens of Mexico. See? Great story.
The restaurant has a central bar which is flanked by tables, an open kitchen at the rear and lighting which is soft and inviting. All the staff are friendly and eager to see you have a good night. The menu is Latin American fusion and ranges from tapas to more substantial share plates. It’s a place to pop in for a nibble and a glass of something or to settle in for a longer evening. Their cocktail list contains some unique offerings- we sample the Winter Martini made up of 666 Butter vodka, Grand Marnier and burnt orange syrup (all the syrups are made in-house) and the Cupid’s Cup made with Pisco, lemon juice, Aperol and egg white. There’s also beer, wine and bubbles- make sure to try the Tecate, a Mexican beer to which the team add some hot sauce and lime.
We start with a few tapas: grilled cos, guacamole, ceviche and grilled corn. These are all stand-out, the flavours bold and lively. Half a baby cos has been slightly charred on the grill and sprinkled with Mossvale blue cheese and crushed peanuts, then drizzled with brown butter and a roasted sesame and garlic dressing. The lettuce remains crisp but has a depth of flavour from the grill that stands up to the strong flavours of the toppings. Delicious.
The yellow-fin tuna ceviche is served on a tostada- it’s light, has a hint of sweetness from the addition of pineapple and contains a slight kick from the chilli. The corn is a must order, slathered with finely grated parmesan, ancho chilli, blue vein cheese and a squeeze of lime, it is quite simply, addictive.
If you’re looking for larger plates to share- United Kitchen’s menu will keep most happy, from lamb ribs to soft shell crab, most proteins are covered. We eat the octopus- chunky tender pieces alongside King Edward potatoes, fresh chorizo and chimichurri and the beef cheek which is less Latin American influenced but tasty nonetheless. The meat collapses at the prod of a fork and is accompanied by creamy mash, beans, shaved carrot and a sticky beef jus.
If you only order one side- make it the papa fritta. These potatoes are out of this world. Golden, crunchy edges and pillowy soft inners- they’re some of the best I’ve had in a really long time. We can’t get enough of them!
We finish on a high- United Kitchen’s peanut butter spring roll. Served with vanilla bean ice-cream and caramel sauce, the crisp spring roll is filled with a thick salted caramel and peanut butter filling. It’s just sweet enough, not overpowering and the perfect size. Yum.
United Kitchen is a valuable addition to Fitzroy St. During the winter months the restaurant is warm and inviting, the menu offering hearty Latin American fare and come summer time United Kitchen will fling open its doors to diners looking for food and drink to partner the Melbourne sunshine.
Good to know:
Winter Martini $18
Grilled corn $4 per piece
Grilled cos lettuce $10.50
Ceviche $8.50 per piece
Beef cheek $26
Papa fritta $7.50
Parmesan cauliflower $7.50
Peanut butter spring roll $12
United Kitchen Dining & Tapas
2/52 Fitzroy Street
Telephone: +61 3 9534 4470
Tuesday to Saturday 5:00pm to late
Sunday 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Photographs: Thomas Southam