Good Vietnamese in an arid area

1 Comment
an1

 

An Phat Pho Restaurant, 65a Ashley Street, Braybrook. Phone: 9077 7984

Where do all the newly arrived residents of West Footscray’s Bunbury Village do their shopping?

Sims doesn’t seem to be all that much busier – and we visit there often.

Nor do they appear to be hitting Braybrook’s Central West Plaza shopping centre, which appears to have had the same moribund vibe for years.

As well, food-wise Central West has never kicked any goals for us.

So that makes the arrival of An Dat Pho well worth celebrating.

 

an2

 

It’s situated on the other side of the car-park from Central West central, sharing a smaller business precinct with a fish and chippery, a charcoal chicken shop, a kebab/pizza place, a noodle shop, a TAB and a Subway.

I’ve tried them all except the latter two – nothing disastrous eventuated but nor did anything that inspired me to post on CTS.

So An Dat Pho is good news for locals – Vietnamese food in an area about midway between the riches of Footscray and Sunshine.

This is especially true as the very good Quan Viet, just up the road a bit on South Road, has closed, seemingly to be replaced in due course by some sort of noodle cafe.

On our visit, Bennie and I enjoy some good, solid if not spectacular Vietnamese food.

 

an3

 

Grilled pork skewers (nem nuon, $7) are yummy wrapped in lettuce leaves with herbs and dunked in dipping sauce.

 

an5

 

Com ga nuong (grilled chicken with tomato rice, $10) is a hit, with nicely flavoursome chook and fine chicken broth to accompany.

 

an4

 

Combination stir-fried thick rice noodles ($12) lets the meal down somewhat.

It’s OK but almost swimmingly wet – in fact, you could just about call it soup!

No problem – we like An Dat Pho and where it’s at, and the service has been grand.

We suspect gravitating towards the vermicelli, pho and rice dishes is the go here.

 

An Dat Pho Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

an6

Sayonara, Samsung

3 Comments

sam21

 

My mobile phone saga – first reported upon here – has finally, belatedly and perhaps even happily come to end.

I can laugh about it now but at the time these somewhat crazed events unfolded, humour was hard to find.

So my very expensive, very big Samsung phone went of to be fixed, being returned to me on schedule a week later … with the same fault.

So off my very expensive, very big Samsung went again to Sydney … to be assessed.

At this point, I was demanding a full refund or a new phone.

Over the course of a week, I spoke to many Samsung employees.

I suspect they were speaking to me from various different parts of the globe.

I didn’t ask.

All of them sympathised with my plight.

Several were plainly embarrassed.

A couple frankly suggested I take the matter to a third party, such as Consumer Affairs.

The Samsung employee who runs the company’s social media in Australia, including its Facebook page, suggested to me by email they were prepared to offer a free repair job on my phone.

My very expensive, very big Samsung phone THAT WAS STILL UNDER WARRANTY!

Hahahahaha.

What was plain during all this was that while all the Samsung people with whom I spoke were sympathetic and quite happy to roll out multiple apologies, not a single one of them was able to do a thing to help me in any meaningful way.

Yes, embarrassing.

Finally, my phone found its way to a Samsung department known as VOC.

It was with some disgust but no surprise that I learned that VOC is an acronym that stands for “Voice Of The Customer”.

How’s that for Orwellian?

Finally my case ended up on the desk of a bloke named Benn, who was first Samsung employee able to, um, expedite matters.

He was a good operator and will also be the last Samsung employee with whom I ever have to deal.

Even then, I was required to provide proof of purchase (I refused, saying the Highpoint shop could do that even if it added a couple of days to settlement) and also fill out forms and email them to Benn.

Finally, today, a bank cheque for the full refund amount arrived in the mail.

In the meantime, several weeks before this denouement, I had given up and bought a brand new phone.

It’s a Motorola – not as slick or sophisticated as its predecessor, but it does everything I need.

Best part – it cost $270!

So thanks to Rosemary for a great tip!

Guest post – Yarraville Japanese

Leave a comment

kawa32

 

Kenny says: Laura is a long-time CTS reader and commenter. We have yet to meet face-to-face – but she’s promised to attend a CTS Feast next year! We discovered early on there’s way less than one degree of separation between us – her sister was a wonderful colleague of mine at the Geelong Advertiser. Alison is still there! In the meantime, our inter-action has lately become a little more chatty, culminating in her asking if I had a recent menu from Kawa-Sake. I told her, no; in fact, we haven’t been to that Yarraville eatery for more than two years. Laura made her own arrangements – and reported back. My next question was obvious: “Did you take pics?” From there, it was easy to tempt her into writing her very own CTS post. Thank you! We love a guest post …

Kawa-Sake Sushi Boat & Grill Bar, 3 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 8690

Words and photographs: Laura Esperanza

Being my birthday week, the choice for takeout dinner was mine.

My good old, faithful of choice is always Japanese – in fact, sashimi and sushi were on the menu for lunch that day – and Kawa-Sake Sushi Boat & Grill Bar was featured top of the list based on past experience and close proximity.

I did, however, email Kenny to get his opinion on something local and I considered Ajitoya in Charles Street, Seddon, but it was not an option – being a Monday, they were closed.

As we wanted takeout, the plan was to get my hands on a copy of their menu, dial ahead and the partner N would collect on the way home from work.

 

kawa34

 

I couldn’t locate a menu online and was messaged a copy of their menu on my phone after a call and follow-up reminder a few hours later (I had actually given up having Japanese until I got the text sometime after 6pm).

The plan was for collection at 7.40pm. N was running 10 minutes late and I called ahead to change the pick up time to 8.10pm (always try to have contingency plan!) so that the food wouldn’t be cold.

By 7.50pm, N called to say that the meeting had run late and we would be lucky to collect the food by 8.20pm.  I didn’t worry about calling back and resolved not to be stressed as it was out of my control.

Arriving home with dinner, Japanese beer and a bottle of vino, we were back on track to tuck into the meal.

We drank the beer out of champagne glasses (celebratory birthday week, after all) and started on our feast.

 

kawa33

 

I ordered us a grilled beef with teriyaki sauce skewer for the partner ($3.90), the old favourite, seaweed salad ($4.50), and the Kawa-Sake sushi platter ($49.80).

Yes, total treat territory – but, again, birthday week.

The sushi platter consisted of three different raw fishes, four nigri, ebi tempura (crispy large prawns in tempura and darn good), salmon age rolls (fried roll with salmon, avocado, eel) , chicken tempura inside out, and prawn avo sushi.

I’m told the teriayki beef skewer tasted like sesame with a light sauce – not too heavy and very tasty.

Next choice was the prawn tempura – always a past winner. It had a cripsy, light batter, was tasty and we enjoyed the extra mayo to dip in.

It had a nice, crunchy texture and was a winner all round. Even though I’m not into fried foods, it was very light.

The salmon age roll with chili mayo was very tasty and was combined with eel. The rice was a little dry but it was picked up 20 minutes late, second call around.

The prawn avo sushi was fresh and enjoyable.

 

kawa31

 

My two least enjoyable dishes were the fried salmon, eel and avo as it had a crispy, thicker batter (too heavy for my liking) and seaweed salad, which was quite tasty and zesty but too runny to be enjoyed it without dropping liquid in the journey from chopsticks to mouth.

Overall I find Kawa-Sake a safe and winning option whenever we have it, either in the restaurant or take out.

While it’s not the most amazing Japanese I’ve had, it has so far had a 100 per cent pass rate and is a fresh and convenient option.

Is it the cheapest?

No.

Have I had better?

Yes.

Would I go back again?

Absolutely.

See earlier reviews here and here.

 

Kawa-Sake Sushi Boat & Grill Bar on Urbanspoon

Inhaling BBQ

2 Comments
meat6
Meatmaiden, Basement, 195 Little Collins Street, Melbourne. Phone: 9078 77

This all seems a little odd – lunching in the CBD on a Saturday.

I’ve taken the car on account of having a handful of funky new CDs to listen to, and as I leave the parking building and hit Flinders Lane I realise – with a momentary sense of panic – that I’ve left my phone at home.

No problem, surely?

Surely I can survive without it, and be out of the loop, for a few hours?

Sure I can!

But Nat has told me Meatmaiden is one of those typically Melbourne joints that doesn’t make itself obvious from the street.

If I can’t locate it, I’ll be unable to contact him.

As it turns out, the street frontage of Meatmaiden is out there in plain sight – but it still takes me a while to nail it.

What IS very Melbourne is the twisty metal-staircase meander from the street through to the restaurant itself.

 

meat9

 

Cool!

 

meat8

 

And the scene of the Meatmaiden action is also very Melbourne – underground, dark, cosy in a clubbish sort of way.

We’re meating here for lunch on account of a visit a few weeks before – impromptu because the place Nat, Bennie and I initially pencilled in for a midweek dinner had turned out to be unsuitable – to Fancy Hank’s.

Bennie and I love that place and actually find it hard to credit that there may be other places in Melbourne that do BBQ just as well, let along with the sort of funky rustic vibe so perfect for a such food.

Nat insisted then that there other good places and it’s high time I tried some of them.

So here we are.

At Meatmaiden, the sibling of Richmond’s Meatmother.

 

meat7

 

Nat is right – the lunch we have is very, very fabulous, even if the sophisticated surrounds are a long, long way removed from the likes of Fancy Hank’s or the equally downhome charms of its nearby Americanophile neighbour.

We pass by the lunch menu and head straight to the main list – the meat of the matter, so to speak.

Given our mutual love for this food genre, Nat and I order with unusual – for us – restraint.

I’d love to hit here with Bennie and go the whole hog, for instance, by going the $49 per person Maiden’s Mood spread of two small/share dishes, three from the smoker/grill and two sides.

But, no, not this time – we get one from the smoker, one from the grill and two sides.

They’re all fabulous and priced right – not cheap eats exactly, but about where it’s at for similar fare around town.

 

meat3

 

O’Connor pasture-fed flat iron 2220-gram steak ($24).

 

meat2

 

And … 200 grams of 20-hour Rangers Valley wagyu brisket with native Tassie pepper berry rub ($22).

We consume with both our meat choices in quick time without even pausing to contemplate the use of the various condiments at our table.

 

meat4

 

Spring onion mash ($8) is great though the spring onion tastes to me as being restricted to the garnish.

 

meat5

 

Red slaw ($8) is rather blandly dressed but otherwise just right – I like it that the vegetables are chopped finely enough to make fork-loading easy. Such is not always the case.

The service has been spot on.

And given this place is no doubt mad busy at other times of the week, we’ve done real good by dropping in for Saturday lunch – there’s only four other tables occupied.

Saturday lunch – definitely the best bet at Meatmaiden.

Check out the Meatmaiden website here.

 

Meatmaiden on Urbanspoon

 

meat1

meat10

Nuevo flavours hit spot

9 Comments
nuevo13
Nuevo Latino, 553 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0419 589 739

The aroma of new paint tells us Nuevo Latino – in the premises that previously housed the West Footscray video shop – is a fresh enterprise.

But what we see about us conveys a different impression – it’s a fit-out full of bits and pieces, and great vintage furniture, that gives off a happy, relaxed lived-in vibe.

We enjoy our dinner very much.

But the real stars of the night are the staff.

 

nuevo5

 

Salvador and Yoko, out front, and Juan and Clarita in the kitchen take care of us in a way that is warm and caring yet never overbearing.

They’re very good and we eventually leave very happy.

And as we walk away, all four of tonight’s Team CTS of four express the hope their new eatery succeeds and prospers.

We try a handful of the tapas and “rations”, and have one each of four of the five mains.

It’s pretty much all good or much better.

 

nuevo1

 

Croquettes of bacalao ($3) with what I think is a creamy dill sauce are light, delicate  and tasty.

 

nuevo3

 

Yuka chips ($7) with “piquant dipping salsa” are wonderful and unlike anything any of us have eaten previously.

They’re crisp/crunchy on the outer; almost powdery and/or molten on the inner.

 

nuevo4

 

Grilled corn kernels ($6) have the “wow” factor, too.

According to the menu (see below), they’re dressed in a chilli lime aioli – but the dish tastes to me like there’s more than that going on.

 

nuevo2

 

The papa rellena ($4) – “rock salt baked au gratin potato skins, filled with cheese” – are the single dish we order I find less than memorable.

Nothing bad about them; they simply come and go without leaving an impression.

And now the mains …

 

nuevo9

 

The most impressive looking of our mains is carne asada ($21).

The beef strip, threaded on to a wicked-looking dagger/sword, is nice and salty, chewy in a good way and all sorts of wonderful.

It’s not my main so I’m grateful the companion whose it is spares me some nice chunks.

That’s for me next time!

As with all our mains, the accessories – in this case corn tortillas, pico d’gallo and salad – are fine.

 

nuevo8

 

“Pupusaw” $16 have that required full-on corn flavour and are gooey with cheese.

They’re served with pickled vegetables and refried beans.

 

nuevo6

 

Tamales ($18) are plain but satisfying, also having that corn thing going on.

 

nuevo7

 

“Quinoa envoltini” ($28) is a treat of chicken stuffed with spinach, pepitas and quinoa.

It’s mild of flavour but well done and enjoyable.

We have been kind of hoping for desserts along the lines of a flan or creme caramel.

We’re told such is on the way, but we’re happy with our meal and choose to pass on the churros that are available.

After all, the place has been open only a week.

 

nuevo12

 

But then Juan presents us with a couple of  complementary cups of blood orange gelati (sorbet?).

They’re terrific – sweet, rich and sourish – and a perfect way to end our dinner.

See another Melbourne blogger’s take on Nuevo Latino here.

 

Nuevo Latino on Urbanspoon

 

nuevo15nuevo14

 

Random thoughts

22 Comments

random1

 

The post about my prostate cancer diagnosis was written and saved for several weeks before it was eventually published.

No harm done – but it was a mistake.

Whatever the reasons for my prevarication, when I eventually clicked on the “publish” button, the relief was immediate and substantial.

The responses from friends and readers – often they’re both! – was truly moving.

But beyond that, the act of writing and blogging and telling my story through Consider The Sauce has long been a big part of what makes this blog tick.

And – duh! – doing all of those thing should and will be important in helping me deal with the challenges of the now and the challenges ahead.

Of course, starting and then persevering with a blog or website is an act of outing, of making oneself a public figure.

But there are countless degrees of how much and how far individual bloggers are prepared or comfortable to go.

I hope we haven’t overdone the “selfie” aspect of blogging.

Nevertheless, I am entirely comfortable with how CTS has become – on top of everything else – a sort-of family album for Bennie and myself.

Earlier this year, while attending a media event involving other bloggers and journalists of various kinds, I was rather brusquely instructed by another Melbourne food blogger: “No photos!”

Fair enough; it was a request with which I was happy to comply.

Once a blogger steps out beyond strictly online realms, the ability to retain such control and oversight lessens.

In the early days of the CTS Feasts – when the food was free, numbers were restricted and applications were by email – I could have vetted the applicants and discarded anyone with whom I was uncomfortable.

No that I ever did!

These days, the Feasts are commercial enterprises or – in the case of fund-raisers – effectively so.

There may be some way of vetoing applicants through the trybooking website.

But again, I’ve never felt the need to discover if that is the case.

I count myself lucky that I’ve had only a couple of readers who have wished to leave comments I was not prepared to have published.

In those cases, a bit of email argy bargy ensued but that was as far as it went.

Long may such a profound absence of ill-will and trolling continue!

Since its earliest days, CTS has patiently, slowly built up a significant base of email subscribers and Facebook “likes”.

I don’t take such commitments by readers lightly – in fact, I treasure them immensely!

So when, as inevitably happens, people choose to pull the plug – so to speak – on CTS, it hurts.

No that there’s ever massed unsubscribings or anything like that.

It’s more a matter of four or five steps forward then one step backwards.

And I understand.

Like everyone else, I regularly find myself “unsubscribing” or “unliking” blogs or pages that no longer serve my purposes.

But one thing I have noticed is this:

The number of email subscribers or Facebook “likes” regularly takes a small dip when I post about something like a community festival.

Or post a think piece or rumination about – oh, I don’t know – paid parking in Yarraville or mobile phone hassles.

So I understand why people expecting a Melbourne food blog to concern itself only with reviews of restaurants and cafes do, sometimes, eventually say “seeya later, CTS!”

I hope the many for whom CTS is a “keeper” come what may will be happy to know those departures will never, ever alter the CTS approach.

It’s taken me a long time to learn that the raw numbers data provided by WordPress – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly tallies of page views and visitors – tells only part of the story.

Likewise with the comments that I love so much and to which I so avidly reply.

For starters, no doubt many of my email subscribers choose to read new posts as emails without clicking through to CTS itself, thus not showing up on the WordPress stats.

And just because readers choose not to comment doesn’t mean they are not engaging with – and moved by – CTS in their own way.

I love them anyway!

Can anyone guess the famed late-night Melbourne diner at which the photo at top was taken? Hint: It’s not in the west!

Racecourse Road eats goss

Leave a comment

race4

 

Chinese Spicy And Barbie Kitchen – far, far better known these days as I Love Dumplings – is one of the most popular eateries in the Racecourse Road neighbourhood.

It’s also one of the few that has a reputation and some cachet outside the west.

So it makes sense that the whole operation is on the move.

 

race2

 

The business will be moving into the refurbished former bank building a few doors along.

I’m pretty sure it was an ANZ, but there’s a NAB badge right there.

The fit-out looks to be well advanced and I’m told moving day will be in a couple of weeks.

The new venue will have a seating capacity of 120.

The existing ILD place will be stay “in the family”, to become in due course another eatery.

 

race1

 

Sitting adjacent to the bank building, the premises that once housed Chilli Padi Mamak Kopittam is now vacant.

But works are underway inside.

In due course, expect a branch of the popular Pacific Seafood BBQ House chain that is a star of Lonsdale Street, South Yarra and Richmond to be opening up.

 

race3

 

Meanwhile, Veggie Villa – which took over a shopfront what for many years housed a pretty decent Indian restaurant – seems to have found a handy niche on Racecourse Road, judging by the number of customers I see in there.

They’re not huge, numbers mind you, but seem enough to be going on with.

I’m prepared to give the joint another go.

But my sole visit came about because I really liked the sound of their smoked eggplant curry, which had no smoky flavour at all and in which the eggplant was cooked down to such an extent that it was basically just … gravy!

Reports, anyone?