Meal of the week No.11: Saudagar

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Saudagar has been a Footscray fixture for years.

I’ve had their cholle bhatura and tried some of their sweets.

But it’s never appealed as an obvious or attractive place in which to obtain a nice, cheap feed of Indian tucker.

 

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So I am delighted – thrilled even! – to discover the place has been spruced up a bit with some new furniture and a much more welcoming look that says, “Come and eat here!”

Aside from the sweets, the prices – AFAIK – are the cheapest in the inner west: Vegetarian main courses all about $8, meat mains about $10, chicken biryanai $9.

 

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I enjoy a vegetarian thali priced at $8.

Unbuttered naan – and that’s fine by me.

Excellent, uncreamy daal that has a nice hit of ginger and appears to be made of aduki beans.

Malai kofta – wonderfully delicate and toothsome potato and cheese balls in a creamy cashew nut sauce.

Fluffy rice, pickles, onion slices.

I love my Saudagar lunch but I’m not about to tell you that it’s exceptional in any way – and that’s a profound testament to just how rich we are in the west of terrific Indian food.

 

Saudagar Sweet Shop & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

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Bug Boxes and Burmese

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Bug Box party, Footscray Makers Lab, West Footscray

Bug Boxes are very clever self-watering, modular raised garden beds that uses wick technology to water plants from the bottom up.

Bug Boxes are built by a team of former refugee and Australian-born carpenters at the Footscray Maker Lab in West Footscray.

They are being created, using 100% recycled materials, under the auspices of BEAUT – Burmese Enterprise Association for Urban Trading.

As it says on the BEAUT website: “When you buy a Bug Box, you give an ex-refugee tradie a job.”

They are priced from $49 to $119, with delivery with seedlings to suburbs in the west costing $10.

To arrange a Bug Box purchase, visit the BEAUT Facebook store – but be warned: the Facebook store doesn’t load on mobile devices so you will need to order from a laptop or desktop. 

Bennie and I felt very honoured indeed to be invited to the Bug Box party at Fooscray Makers Lab – but we did wonder how many, if any, people we would know there.

We need not have worried in that regard.

Among the cheerful throng were …

 

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… Mia from West Welcome Wagon – you can read about the forthcoming WWW/CTS Greek feast fundraiser at Santorini here.

There are still tickets available but they WILL sell out.

Mia is the one with the very surprised look on her face.

On the right is Liana, one of the wonderful brains behind Footscray bar Littlefoot.

Consider The Sauce has taken its time about getting around to visiting Littlefoot but as it happens we had visited for dessert post-Pandu’s just a few nights before.

So I was happy to tell Liana that I consider Littlefoot’s “injera and hazelnut chocolate pinwheels with creamy coconut dipping sauce” a work of intense genius.

Frankly: We can’t wait to return to try out the entire menu.

Stay tuned!

Liana and her family were just some of the friends I’d made during the Dancing Dog building campaign who were in attendance at the Bug Box shindig.

 

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Some of the teenagers attending were only too happy to display their social deftness.

Crowning the happy gathering was a really fine spread of Burmese tucker.

 

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The lighting situation was challenging to say the least – suffice it to say the food was delicious, even if the photographs fail to convey that fact very well!

 

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Cool tandoori in Hoppers

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Kabul Kebab & Curry House, Shop 12A Woodville Park Shopping Centre, 70 Warringa Crescent, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 9749 0944

Between and around the riches of Watton Street in Werribee and Barkly Street in West Footscray, there are lots of Indian or curry restaurants hidden away in all sorts of places.

In the case of this Hoppers Crossing find, it’s a matter – ostensibly – of Afghan food.

On a cold week night, Woodville Park Shopping Centre presents a rather bleak prospect but the glowing lights of this place draw us in.

 

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The series of events – post-school volleyball, guitar lesson, traffic congestion – that have brought us here find us also of robust appetite, so we’re happy to be in a nice, warm, cheap eatery.

Given the location and lack of research, it’s a throw of the dice but we are not disappointed.

The place is done in typical, basic ‘burban ethnic and we’re the only customers – but we are re-assured by the number of locals coming and going for takeaway that there is something worthwhile going on here.

 

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While we await our meal, we are greatly entertained not only by the Bollywood music clips on the telly but even more by the cornball old-school adverts that accompany them.

The pricing is attractive and there’s a range of your usual korma, kofta, vindaloo, masala and other curry dishes.

But we choose breads and the kebab offerings.

 

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First, though, onion pakoras ($6) are a rapidly devoured, well-fried treat.

 

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Potato bolani naan ($5) is fantastic and almost a meal in itself.

 

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Garlic naan ($3) shows scant traces of garlic but is good, too.

 

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Instead of having to select from the kebab/tandoor line-up, we go straight for the “Sizzler Special” ($22).

The menu says it consists of kebab items numbers one through six and comes with salad and dips.

We’re not sure about that – and there are no dips.

But we’re more than happy, anyway.

We’re not about to pretend this is the best or best-cooked meat of this kind we’ve had but it does the job for us.

The minced-lamb sheesh kebabs have a bit of a bitter flavour to them.

The chunks of lamb kebab could be a bit more tender.

But the chicken tikka pieces and two chook parts of tandoori chicken are real good.

We’re happy to have paid only $36 for a satisfying meal.

Do readers have any out-of-the-way faves?

 

Kabul Kebab & Curry House on Urbanspoon

Altona/Willy eats goss

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Dropping into one of our favoured locals haunts – Altona Fresh at 62-76 Second Avenue – seeking coffee, great pork sausages, even greater lemon zest-marinated green olives, I am delighted to find coffee is now on the menu.

How marvellous!

 

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Now shopping for Altona Fresh’s superb goodies can be accompanied by an excellent caffeine chill-out and maybe even a $3.50 canoli fresh from Cavallaro’s in Footscray.

 

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The sorts of older shopping strips of the kind on which Altona Fresh is situated are our favourite foodie destinations – all this one needs is a bit of street life and it could be really lovely.

Even on a mid-week afternoon, with not many people around, it’s already apparent this coffee breakthrough could play a role in doing just that.

 

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Also talking Italian, but moving over a suburb, Pizza d’Asporto – which has rapidly become one of our very favourite regulars – has extended its trading hours.

It’s now open for lunches on both Thursdays and Sundays, as well as Fridays and Saturdays and seven nights a week.

Yum!

 

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Staying in Williamstown … fine Greek restaurant Santorini is hosting, with Consider The Sauce, a fundraiser to benefit West Welcome Wagon and its work with hundreds of asylum-seeker homes in the west.

It’s going to be a wonderful night!

See story here.

 

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Live in or near Altona North?

Love pho?

Give Window Cafe a try.

See story here.

Indian street food in Laverton

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A-One Sweets, 52 Bladin Street, Laverton. Phone: 8360 7989

Consider The Sauce enjoyed its visit with the Urban Ma to new CBD joint Delhi Streets – the food we had was good.

But I have been bemused, but not surprised, by some subsequent reviews of the place.

More precisely, I’m bemused that the place’s publicity is being bought into to such an extent that it is being put about that Delhi Streets is doing something edgy and adventurous in “bringing Indian street food to Melbourne”.

I feel this is misleading as just about everything Delhi Streets serves has long been available across Melbourne, including West Footscray, Werribee and elsewhere.

The places that do Indian street food can sometimes be businesses of the more regulation Indian variety that have dosas, chaat and the like on their menus – but they’re also often humble shops that do little more than serve snacky Indian treats and have overwhelmingly Indian customers.

A-One Sweets is one such place.

 

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Like so many of its kind, it’s a bare-bones Indian cafe – with lots of sweets of course!

But they do a nice, simple and very cheap line of snacks such as aloo tikki and pani puri.

There’s also a vegetarian thali and paranthas stuffed with gobi, aloo or paneer and served with butter, yogurt and pickle.

I’m actually in Laverton to do some volunteer duty on the West Welcome Wagon sausage sizzle at the market at the Woods Street Arts Space.

But I know that if I turn up for tong duty on an empty stomach, I’ll end up eating about a dozen of those $2.50 suckers.

And while I’m partial to a sausage sizzle snag in white bread, I most certainly do not want to make a meal of them, so to speak.

So I venture to the Bladin Street shops a few blocks away and into A-One Sweets, which has been on my to-do list for a while.

I tell the nice man behind the counter, as I peruse the menu, that I feel like something other than chole bhature – that, indeed, I’ve had that fabulous Indian dish at many places festooned across the west.

“Ah,” he says with a big smile. “But have you had our chole bhature?”

He’s persuasive, I say “Yes!” and I’m ever so glad I do.

 

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My $9 meal is a doozy.

The breads are puffed up like footballs and ungreasy.

There’s plenty of yogurt to join the regulation raw onion slices and commercial, tangy pickle.

Best of all, the chick pea curry is very nice indeed.

I love it and pretty much leave my thali tray clean.

 

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From there it’s back to Woods Street to join my fellow WWW sausage sizzle volunteers.

It’s great to meet and swap notes with some fellow westies.

We sell a heap of snags and make some good cash money for West Welcome Wagon.

Everything I am wearing, though, will be going straight into the laundry basket!

A-One Sweets is one of those gems of places away from the main drags and shopping centres that are an outright pleasure and thrill to stumble upon.

 

A-One Sweets on Urbanspoon

 

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Westie barbers No.3: Mai Hair Salon

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Mai Hair Salon, 3/119 Hopkins St, Footscray

Barbers of European or Mediterranean extraction are not the only places to obtain a cheap, great and enjoyable haircut in the west.

Far from it.

In the Vietnamese precincts of Footscray and further west, the options are many.

When I enter one of these emporiums in, say, Sunshine or St Albans, my arrival is often greeted with an effusive bubbling of Vietnamese chatter.

This usually translates, I have learnt, as something along the lines of, “OMG check out this dude with the crazy moustache”.

This doesn’t happen at Mai in Footscray, however, on account of me going there so often for so long.

Mai is not a barbershop, of course.

They do all sorts of do’s here, male and female.

But for my purposes, it’s perfect.

A smile, a welcome, “how you want your hair?” is the usual routine.

“Zero, all gone, very shiny.”

No problem – $8 including eyebrows!

Brilliant.

 

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Meal of the week No.6: Ebi

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The dinner hour for CTS and, we suspect, many other bloggers and foodies is somewhere between 6pm and 7pm.

For some, this is the legacy of having – or having had – very young children.

Perhaps “available light” has something to do with it.

I’ve even heard of bloggers who only do lunch for that very reason!

But a big part of it for us is … we’re hungry for food, hungry for adventure.

So 8pm seems way too late, especially on a work/school night.

The Mediterranean post-sietsa 9pm or later?

Unimaginable!

Early evening dining also means missing rush hour and always getting a seat.

In the case of tiny Ebi in West Footcray, that latter point is no small thing.

Entering by myself and taking a seat at the bar, I go through the usual routine … look at the display cabinet, consult the blackboard menu, peruse the regular menu, before saying …

“I’ll have fish and chips thanks, John – large!”

John: “How did I know you were going to say that?!”

Me: “Hmmpf! You must have other regulars who always order the same thing?”

The genial, chrome-domed Ebi host the proceeds to count off a long list of regulars with whom he is on first-name terms and their invariable choices – “fish three ways”, vegetable balls, udon, bento and so it goes.

Everyone gets their own groove on at Ebi …