Superior chicken rice in Niddrie

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Lazat 2, 328 Keilor Road, Niddrie. Phone: 9379 8878

Consider The Sauce tried – with satisfaction – and wrote about Malaysian restaurant Lazat soon after it opened in Sunshine in 2012.

But it has never become a regular stop for us, though I know it is a much-loved favourite of some readers.

The reason, I reckon, for our lack of regular visits comes down to it being located just off Ballarat Road in an area of service industries, with the neverending traffic whizzing by.

When we think of Sunshine, we automatically think of the other end of Hampshire Road and of parking and having a good walk around before deciding what to eat.

Today, though, I’m a long way from Sunshine.

I’m on Keilor Road in Niddrie.

It’s an old-school shopping strip with a wide mix of shops and eateries, one that always looks like it should offer much in the way of food finds.

But every time I’m hereabouts and have a closer look, very little jumps out at me and says: “Drop everything – eat here, right now!”

Though there is a very good-looking Turkish place I’ve been trying for which I’ve been wanting to muster up for some time … it’ll get done some time.

Today I’m here for the opening of Lazat 2.

The new Lazat sibling is located on an intensely foodish strip and and sandwiched between Italian and Japanese joints on one side and a Greek and a Nando’s on the other.

 

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The restaurant is modestly proportioned but is nevertheless a longish and coolly welcoming space.

It may be opening day but I’m far from alone, with a number of locals already seated when I enter, eager to try out this new arrival.

I take a seat one of two long wooden tables and ponder lunch.

For a first-up look at a new Malaysian place, my normal routine – for sure – would be to try the non-seafood laksa.

But today I do not feel like such a weighty lunch.

So I opt, instead, for the Hainanese chicken rice – another pretty handy Malaysian ready-reckoner!

The Lazat 2 menu covers all the bases you’d expect.

Lobak sells for $6.80 and curry puffs for $6.

Full serves of beef rendang or chicken curry clock in at $18.80.

Noodles such as mee goreng fetch $13.80.

My chicken rice is a flat-out doozy – one of the best versions I’ve had for several years.

Step 1 – try the soup: Nice and hot, not too salty, flavour good.

Step 2 – try the rice, unadorned with condiments: Very good with a hint of ginger.

Step 3 – try the chook: Oh boy!

This chicken – and there’s plenty of it – is fabulous.

It’s at room temperature; actually, it’s cold.

But I mind not, thinking of it as a kind of salad.

It’s tender and very flavoursome.

Best of all, it has been impeccably, expertly boned – not a shingle shard or killer fragment of bone passes my lips.

Hurrah!

Step 4 – do the mix-up: Blend chilli and soy sauces, and soup, with rice; eat with chicken and coriander.

Step 5 – sigh with happiness.

Considering the quality of my meal and the asking price for noodle dishes, I consider the $11.80 I have paid a most excellent bargain.

(This story has been sponsored by Moone Valley City Council. But in all other regards it is a regular Consider The Sauce post – we chose the restaurant and when to eat there; we ordered what we wanted and paid for it ourselves; and neither oversight nor an editorial role were sought by the council.)

 

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‘Wow!’ in Tarneit

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Ya Salam Cafe and Restaurant, 20 Lavinia Drive, Tarneit. Phone: 97486 860

The Arabic “ya salam” translates as “that’s fantastic!” or “wow!” – and that’s pretty much how I feel upon visiting and enjoying a brand new African eatery in Tarneit.

Taking the scenic route along from Laverton and along Sayers Road, what awaits me in Tarneit – what kind of operation, what kind of food – has been a mystery.

So I am delighted to discover a new and brightly appointed eatery that has been open just a few days.

It’s located on a small retail strip that looks out to the Wyndham Village shopping centre, home to a newish branch of Dosa Hut.

Ya Salam shares the Lavinia Drive space with an Indian eatery (on one side) and (on the other) what appears to be a charcoal chicken place but is in reality a full-on Lebanese place.

 

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How’s that?

Instant foodie destination!

Ya Salam proprietor Mohammed tells me business, so far generated by little more than word of mouth, has been good.

He’s finding his new project is appealing to not just the local east African community of about 300 families but also the Muslim folks and the community generally.

The heart of what he and his team are doing at Ya Salam is Somalian food but the menu (see below) also features a hefty Middle Eastern component along with dishes that display Mediterranean and even European influences – breakfast, too!

Readers can rest assured, though, that this sensible, broad-sweep approach in no way diminishes the quality of what’s being served.

 

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I am served a complementary bowl of soup to go with my main dish – it’s listed on the menu as “Yasalam soup” on the menu, so I am not sure if this is going to be part of the regular routine.

Does it look familiar?

It is!

It’s basically the same lamb broth-based concoction that is served at our beloved Safari in Ascot Vale.

This version may not be quite as tangy but it is equally rich in flavour.

 

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“Slow-cooked lamb shoulder” ($16.95) is also familiar, with its trademark and super cooked-in-stock rice.

Perhaps it may have been more visually appealing had the meat been browned off a bit.

But as with all places who cook these kinds of lamb cuts this way, I love the undeniable depth of meaty flavour.

And there’s lots of it.

 

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Moving on over to the more Middle Eastern aspects of the menu, mixed grill is a bargain at $12.90.

It comes with the same rice and salad, a “chapati” and a tub of exuberantly garlicky dip.

There’s a skewer apiece of lamb, chicken and …

 

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… lamb kofta, which is served separately as it takes a little while longer to cook.

They’re all terrific.

 

Click to add a blog post for Ya Salam Cafe & Restaurant on Zomato

 

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Westie eats goss

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Kiosk by d’Asporto!

That name heralds exciting news for western suburbs, and particularly those who live in the Williamstown area or love spending some beach time.

The kiosk adjacent the Williamstown Swimming & Life Saving Club is undergoing a fit-out that will see it up and running in time for the full blooming of spring.

 

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Best of all, the joint will be run – as the name suggests – by Caludio and Antnoinetta, the team behind the wonderful pizza/pasta place just up the road apiece on Kororoit Creek Road.

Claude tells me Kiosk by d’Asporto wil not be a seasonal business looking merely to cash in on the summer-time beach hordes.

They’ll dedicated to seeking the loyalty of locals first and foremost.

To that end, they’ll be opening at 7am on a year-round basis.

But there’ll be none of that “big breakfast” stuff going on here, with the accent very much on Italian street food.

Morning fare will be along authentic Italian lines of pastries or panini stuffed with porchetta or cotoleti.

 

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The plans don’t end there!

Claude also enthuses to me about the eventual installation of a gelati machine, more tables and a hire service for beach towels and umbrellas.

 

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Also in Williamstown, a cafe named Platform 177 is up and running at 177 Ferguson Street, inhabiting the premises formerly occupied by Cake Love and right across from North Williamstown station.

 

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It’s a lovely, bright place with a dedicated kids corner.

 

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There’s a tangible Greek influence on the menu, with a house-made moussaka and pastitisio looking particularly worthy of future exploration.

 

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There’s a major transition underway in Yarraville with the news that Keith Prentice is handing over the reins at venerable Anderson Street bakery Heather Dell.

Brother-and-sister team Antonio and Andrea, who come from both Salvadorean and hospitality backgrounds, will be in charge from this coming Monday onwards with a pledge of keeping things pretty much as is.

Thank heavens for that – we’d hate to do without our coconut tarts or jam slices!

Enjoy the journey, Keith!

 

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Newly opened in Ballarat Street is Vault Cafe Bar Restaurant, housed in the old bank building that was home – rather briefly – to Tong.

According to the front-door signage, opening hours are 5.30am through to 4.30pm – pretty exciting news for early risers and/or night birds!

 

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The fit-out, including booths, looks gorgeous.

 

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The menu ranges through breakfast and salads to pasta/risotto and a rib eye.

We note with interest the What’s Chef Burger – for $15 including chips, that sounds like a tasty bargain.

 

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Opening soon at Williams Landing shopping centre will be Dosa Palace, to be run by the lovely Nagesh from one of our fave places, Hyderabad Inn in West Footscray.

Despite the name, Nagesh’s new venture will effectively be a full-on Indian eatery covering dosas and snacks through to Indo-Chinese and barbecue items from the tandoor.

You can check out the menu at the Dosa Palace website here.

Vintage cool and a cool burger

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marsh7

 

Vintage Loft, 99A Main Street, Bacchus Marsh
Little Lucky Cafe, 3 Grant Street, Bacchus Marsh. Phone: 0400 695 787

A road trip to the Ballan area has been enjoyable but ends in disappointment in terms of getting a story up for Consider The Sauce.

So now I’m stuck.

Do I race for home and hit, for lunch, any one of several places on the CTS wishlist?

Or do I cast around where I’m at and see what can I find – or perhaps even stumble upon?

Then I remember … there is something of much interest to check out in nearby Bacchus Marsh.

 

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Not exactly food, perhaps, but what the hey …

The woman I am seeking is named Daisy.

I have met Daisy before – maybe even a couple of times.

But it was a bloody long time ago and the memory is little more than a tantalising blur. It was, I’m guessing, about 25 years ago.

Certainly, I cannot recall the precise circumstances.

But I DO know it involved Daisy’s dad, Keith.

Keith Glass was and is a lovely man, one with a long and colourful history in the Australian music scene – and, these days, very much beyond Australia. No need to go into the details here.*

Keith and I have never been close mates but we have been something more than mere acquaintances over the years.

A few years after the encounter(s) at which I met his daughter, Keith started reviewing country and related music for the Sunday Herald Sun when – quite preposterously – I was the entertainment boss there and in a position to arrange such things.

Keith did a great job during what was something of a purple patch for both of us – but, yep, all that was a bloody long time ago now.

And it seems like it.

Both our lives have changed – a lot.

For myself … well, regular readers know what that’s all about.

Keith?

Well he now lives in Mobile, Alabama, where his zest and passion for music remain undiminished – so much so that he’s running a gung-ho operation called … yup, Mobile Records.

 

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So – sorry about the longwindedness! – that’s how I find myself climbing steep metal stairs to the floor above a chicken shop and a pizza joint in downtown Bacchus Marsh and entering Vintage Loft.

Keith and I stay in touch – if that’s the right term – through the magic of the internet, and Facebook in particular … so that’s how I came to know about Daisy’s new enterprise.

 

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Daisy, naturally, doesn’t recall me – nor I her, really.

But it doesn’t matter.

I like checking out the pop culture riches of the business she has started with two other locals.

 

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I like getting the back story of her journey from Windsor to Bacchus Marsh and family life.

And, of course, we discuss her father – perhaps his ears were burning?

Whatever … if you’re in the area, and especially if you’re retro-minded, CTS very much recommends a visit to Vintage Loft.

 

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But what of lunch, what of food?

To be honest, the options in Bacchus Marsh look mighty threadbare.

 

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But after we’ve taken the obligatory selfie to dispatch to Alabama, Daisy and her local knowledge come to the rescue.

She sends me just a few metres and just around the corner to a lovely place called Little Lucky Cafe, which is housed in an old cottage.

Thanks, Daisy – no way I would’ve found this place without you!

 

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Of course, I warm immediately to an establishment that has such great floorboards …

The menu (see below) covers a range of breakfast and lunch options – and according to in-house signage, they do dinner on Fridays, too.

 

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I go the cheese burger ($16) served with “rustic fries” and feel like a winner.

It’s a no-fuss straightahead cheese burger that is very fine.

The fries are superb.

*Hair (cast member), Boys Next Door/Birthday Party (manager), Missing Link Records (proprietor), Deep South Records (proprietor), Onie J Holy (alter ego), High In The Saddle (RRR), recording artiste.

 

Click to add a blog post for Little Lucky Cafe on Zomato

 

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Footscray eats goss

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Wow – replacing Vietnamese eatery Pho Ta on Nicholson Street will be Afghan Master Kebab.

And, yes, it will run by the same people who operate the restaurant of the same name in Sunshine.

 

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Expect an opening in about two weeks.

I wish the rest of this report’s items could be as cheery …

 

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Around the corner on Irving Street, I was saddened to see that Saudagar appears to have closed – or, at the least, is not presently operating.

 

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Over on Hopkins Street – on the last retail strip before a parking lot, Centrelink and Franco Cozzo – the long-established Indian grocery has also closed.

 

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Right next door, the restaurant known as HM Quan has a real estate agent’s sign in the window that reads “Available Now” and “Fully furnished restaurant”.

Though, peering through the window, it didn’t seem the interior had started accumulating the litter and disarray that usually attends a business closing down.

 

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Heading in the other direction and up Barkly Street, it’s with much sadness that I discover that it appears that Kebab Surra has also called it a day.

CTS pal and contributor Erika tells me there has been a sign since mid-July saying there is an illness involved but I saw no sign when I was there this afternoon and the furniture has been stacked.

Darn!

Cool cafe for Braybrook

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mist1

 

The Mist Factory, corner South Road/Duke Street, Braybrook.

There was a quite a buzz going on when Quan Viet opened in 2011 on the South Road shopping strip in Braybrook.

Quite rightly, too, as their Vietnamese tucker was very good.

Sadly, it closed quite some time ago now, replaced in the first instance by a generic-style noodle shop (I had a single, very mediocre meal there) and in the second instance by a new Vietnamese place, the quality of which we have yet to ascertain.

Happily, still on the strip – though currently undergoing renovations – is the home of Gerry’s Pittes.

Our 2012 story on Gerry’s continues to be read regularly, confirming these flatbreads’ cult status!

Now, in good news all-round but especially for Braybrook locals, the South Road shopping strip boasts its very own cool cafe.

 

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I love the fit-out of The Mist Factory – there’s wood and enamelled chairs and stools; the vibe is elegant and simple.

(The name, BTW, comes from the “vape” business run by the same folks, with some of the products available down the back of the cafe.)

Having a hunch The Mist Factory would not be a serious lunch place, I did not soak muesli the previous night so am happy to step out for a rare breakfast engagement.

 

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My breakfast ($12.50, from the handwritten list presented with printed menu – see below) is very nice.

The eggs are expertly scrambled and sprinkled with just right amount of dukkah.

There’s a bunch – so to speak – of lovely spinach under those eggs, while the sourdough toast is fine and the bacon of high quality.

 

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For lunch or other non-breakfast times, there’s a range of filled Turkish rolls, panini, slices and cookies.

My two cafe lattes are good.

One of The Mist Factory crew, Peter, tells me it’s very early days for their cafe and that they consider the present situation pretty much “a soft opening”.

He hopes the place will become something of a late-night hang.

 

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Moonee Ponds eats goss

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moon22

 

More changes are afoot in Moonee Ponds and in and around Puckle Street.

At 19 Pratt, formerly the home of Italian establisment L’Angolo Italiano, a barbecue place called  BBQ Land is being prepared for opening.

 

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Going by the photos and dish titles already adorning the exterior, this seems unlikely to be serving American-style barbecue and will be doing more Aussie-style things over charcoal.

 

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Around the corner in Puckle Street, Greek joint Hellenic Flavours has folded.

 

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Across the street, Just Burgers has also closed – we didn’t get around to trying it!

I’m told the people – or person – behind a well-known and fondly regarded burger operation have/has taken over the premises with a view to opening a deli-style sandwich shop.

Think: Pastrami.

Think: Dill pickles on the side.

 

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In the old-school arcade off Puckle Street that leads through to Young Street, the equally old-school Bruno’s Coffee Lounge has closed down.

 

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Over in Hall Street, Nature’s One is offering what looks like a lovely range of breads and baguettes, along with things such as simple toasties and dips.

 

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And even though it happened a while ago, it would remiss of us not to mention that what was once a branch of Yim Yam in Margaret Street is now a Korean eatery called Hanspoon.

 

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Finally, and even though it has absolutely nothing to do with food, let me record the surprise and utter delight felt when, upon walking through the front area of a Puckle Street homewares/furniture store, I find at the back … the still-recognisable shell of a lovely old-school cinema/theatre.

How cool is that?