Westie eats goss




This unremarkable building, on the corner of Whitehall and Hopkins streets, is in the process of becoming something exciting for Footscray and the western suburbs.

Under the auspices of the same crew that brought us 8bit, it is being transformed into an establishment named Up In Smoke 3011.

Honestly, when I was thinking about writing this story, I blithely assumed I’d be going with something along the lines of “Footscray to get barbecue joint”.

But since then, I’ve had a talk with one of the partners, Shayne, so now know that would not be accurate.

Yes, there will be smoking and barbecue techniques … but what’ll be happening here is something different, innovative and sexy.

“We didn’t want to do traditional American barbecue, as we are in Footscray, Melbourne!,” Shayne says. “And we didn’t want to conform to certain ‘rules’.”

More details – and updates – as they come to hand.

But I can tell you that as well as eat-in there will also be some retail and classy booze going on.

Opening some time in November.




Up in Avondale Heights, Impasto Forno Antico is expanding to take over the old takeaway premises next door.

This is great news, as while the products of this Italian bakery are pure class there hasn’t been much room for customers, including those who want to linger over a coffee.

As co-proprietor Alessio tells me: “On Saturdays, we have queues going out on to the street!”

It’s quite a big space they’re moving into and the wall will be coming down.

They’ll be serving panini, soups and salads.

But the main use for the new and expanded space will be for a gelateria!

When I ask Alessio how much the gelati machinery is costing, he answers: “I’d tell you but you’d want to be sitting down …”

Opening in mid to late November.




Sunshine has a Japanese place.

I hesitate to use the word restaurant or even the word eatery, as Soko is a tiny business in what was the equally tiny Dial A Mr Wong on Hampshire Road.

There is no seating and no eating in unless you want to stand at the window bench.

In the meantime at least, there are some rudimentary tables and chairs outside on artificial grass that I suspect are in place as a temporary measure to compensate for the heavy duty road works going.

So Soko’s main game is undoubtedly takeaway or home deliveries.

I have read some good online reviews.

And, intriguingly, friends speak highly of the lobster sliders they had.

But my $15 tonkotsu ramen (which I confuse with the crumbed tonkatsu – see Art’s comment below) was a bit of a dud – because ramen and takeaway containers don’t really work together and because the noodles and broth were dull.

Could be a hot spot for Sunshine and Albion and locals but I’d advise care.

Meal of the week No.20: Rizq

Leave a comment



It’s been a few months since our review visit to Footscray Bangladeshi eatery Rizq.

But in the meantime, I have noticed – courtesy of the joint’s Facebook page – that things there have been growing, evolving and moving along.

And that the menu has been tweaked with the addition of new dishes (see below).

There’s even a crab curry named after St Martin’s Island!

So I’m very happy to revisit.

The place has new furniture and has been given a bright, white paint job/revamp.




I have in my mind for my dinner one particular dish – memshahebi style mutton leg ($16).

I am reassured when I see two earlier customers doing likewise.

Turns out this is a popular dish here!

The meat isn’t nearly as plentiful as the word “leg” denotes.

It’s more like an over-sized shank – and with the same sweet, robust sheepy flavour in abundance.

The gravy is quite oily but lovely, with a mild spice level and studded with green chillies, cardamoms and cloves.

A spice-dusted fine dice of cucumber, tomato and lettuce provides some crunch.

The two rotis that accompany are marvellous – hot, fresh, buttery, flaky and just right with the sheep meat.

Memo to self: Don’t forget about this intriguing option to the Indian restaurants of West Footscray and elsewhere.

So many more dishes to try …




Vietnamese delights

Leave a comment



Saigon Square, Highpoint.

Consider The Sauce has been curious, intrigued and finally delighted by the degree of style and quality of food we’ve found at the new-look food areas at two of the west’s major shopping centres – Highpoint and Pacific Wreribee.

See Highpoint stories here and here and the Pacific Werribee story here.

This trend may have been apparent earlier in other parts of the city and country but the very idea that these institutions are worthy of a food journey – and not merely eating in when circumstances dictate – is one we wholeheartedly embrace.




As ever, I posted links to all three stories on my personal and Facebook pages, Twitter and a few other places.

But – always wanting our stories to be seen and hopefully read by as many as people as possible – I tried my luck with Highpoint and Pacific Werribee.

Would they be nice enough to post links on their Facebook pages?

From Highpoint I received cordial replies and a suggestion links would be forthcoming in a few weeks’ time.

It hasn’t happened yet and I’m not holding my breath.

From Pacific Werrribee, I received an equally cordial response but one that nevertheless equated to a blunt “no”.

Oh well …

I can’t say I blame them for keeping tight control of access to the eyeballs of their hard-won Facebook followers – almost 70,000 in the case of Highpoint, almost 14,000 in the case of Pacific Werribee.

If I was them, I’d do precisely the same.

Still, it’s always worth remembering that not all social media is equal.

And that for big and bigger business, we are all customers – or potential customers – no matter what sentiments are expressed on a day to day basis.

In the meantime, CTS will continue to post on our Facebook page links to the work of other bloggers, newspaper stories and whatever else we think our readers may find interesting and/or useful.




In the meantime, too, we are not done with Highpoint yet – we’re happy to bowl up to try the last of the centre’s new food area outlets to open, Saigon Square.

In this case, the assessment criteria are somewhat different.

Because of the quality and quantity of Vietnamese food in nearby Sunshine, Footscray and St Albans.

And because while we tried to look on the bright side of our last tango with Vietnamese at Highpoint, it was in hindsight very average.

As it turns out, there has been no need to keep high hopes in check, as the food we are served at Saigon Square is good (in one case) and brilliant (in another).

The menu (see below) is tightly chosen list of Vietnamese staples including pho, vermicelli, broken rice and banh mi, with prices on a par with what we all pay at the west’s Vietnamese neighbourhoods.




Bennie’s fried pork chop with veggies, fried egg and egg meat loaf ($12) – Vietnamese bacon and eggs is what we call it – is fine but seems to be lacking some of the embellishments we might find elsewhere.

Although a bowl of chicken broth is part of the deal.

I ask him: “So it’s not as good as you’d get in Footscray but better than you’d normally expect in a shopping centre – is that about right?”

His reply: “Yes!”




My bun bo hue (large $13, regular $12) is on a whole ‘nuther level.

This is the best meal it’s ever been my pleasure to enjoy in a shopping centre setting.

It’s only mildly spiced, which is only to be expected.

But the quality of every component is fine and fresh.

The accompanying sprouts and herbs are joined by shredded cabbage.

The sliced beef is very good.

And the brisket is thickly sliced, tender and absolutely marvellous – and a significant cut above what I’m routinely provided elsewhere.


The chop sticks are of the disposable, wooden variety but – as with the other outlets we’ve tried at the new Highpoint food area – all the other cutlery and crockery is the real deal. 



Good Place for Malaysian

Leave a comment



Makan Place, Pacific Werribee, Hoppers Crossing. Phone 8742 2368

Whatever the planned longevity of shopping centres, there’s no doubt that once they’re up we’re stuck with them for several decades.

Stuck, too, with old-school food courts, lousy fast food and a neverending torrent of plastic.

But with the new food area at Highpoint (see stories here and here) and the even newer Urban Diner precinct at the rebranded Pacific Werribee at Hoppers Crossing, it seems that – going forward (ugh!) – developers have finally twigged that their customers want better food in better surroundings.

And that it is a very good idea to provide them.

Nevertheless, I confess to being on the snooty side when I first saw the Pacific Werribee/Urban Diner food line-up.

Sure, there’s outlets – Grill’d and Guzmen y Gomez, in particular – of which we’re fond.

But there appeared to be little of real interest to us.




Somehow, during that process, I missed Makan Place – until a story by the Urban Ma tweaked our interest.

A full-on, new Malaysian restaurant at a Hoppers Crossing shopping centre?

Oh yes, we’ll be in that!

So it is that we front up after Bennie’s guitar lesson, also (very handily) just up the road.

Makan Place is a lovely eatery in which to spend some time, with several different seating configurations on hand.




We find the ordering system – mark dish numbers on a slip, push a buzzer on the condiment tray, have order whisked away by a staff member – works really well.

The service is fine and our food arrives very quickly.

The menu is pretty much as expected, long and packed with photographs, and starts with “toast” and snack items.

At first, I fear we may have over-ordered – but we down the lot.

Hungry lads are we!




French toast with Kaya and peanut butter ($5.90) we order based on the Urban Ma’s enthusiastic recommendation.

I figure that if I don’t like it, Bennie sure as hell will.

It strikes me as more of a breakfast dish – very rich, almost cloying.

Bennie loves it!




I recall a time when most Malaysian eateries in Melbourne served acar as a side dish.

The Makan Place version ($5.90) makes wish that was still the case.

This generous serve of (very) lightly pickled vegetables is superb, crunchy and packed with sesame flavour.

It would’ve been nice if some cauliflower had joined the carrot, cucumber and cabbage.




Bennie’s nasi lemak with beef rendang is another winner – and another good-sized meal for the price ($12.90).

All the usual components are in place, including some of that acar.

The curry serve is also generous but – as is often the case – the big chunks of beef are dry.

Smaller and more tender pieces are needed – or at least quite a lot more gravy to make up for the dryness.




Just for comparison purposes, I order the regular chicken laksa ($11.90).

It’s a good, solid if unspectacular laksa but not quite not in the same class as that to be had at M Yong Tofu in Flemington.

Still, our quibbles are very minor – Makan Place is a fine addition to the Malaysian options available in the west.

Our total bill, having eaten very well, is a most excellent $36.60.



Tropical garden in Braybrook

Leave a comment



Blue Bamboo, 156 Churchill Avenue, Braybrook. Phone: 8394 2617

The Churchill Avenue shopping strip opposite Braybrook Community Centre has a perpetual rundown look.

We’ve noticed a few shops come and go over the years at a strip we presume caters to a strictly local clientele in a low-key way.

As for eats, Consider The Sauce has had little reason to stop as we cruise to or from Sunshine or beyond.

Until now …

Blue Bamboo is a three-week-old Vietnamese restaurant that’s set out in orthodox Viet style up front, with a lovely outdoor “tropical garden” area out back with gold fish.

It’s still too cold for that but it’ll be a sweet spot once spring kicks in.




The staff tell me business has been slowly growing.

It’s the sort of place where, until now, paleskin customers have been rare so chop sticks are not routinely provided.

When I ask for a pair, a minor language contretemps sees me almost handed the tooth pick dispenser.

Much laughter ensues!

Bennie and I pass by the further reaches of the menu (see below) – the hot pots, clay pots and sizzling plates – and go strictly for the familiar.




Chicken spring rolls ($8) are regulation and fine – hot, ungreasy and a little bit peppery.




Bennie’s had a thing lately for “shaking beef” ($10.50), so I’m happy for him to have it here – with the requested tomato rice.

All is good, though the serve seems not overly generous to me.

He prefers a drier interpretation of this dish but is only a little bit disappointed.




No such problems with my pho of sliced beef and brisket ($9.50).

I had endeavoured to keep expectations in check, as I generally adhere to the notion that pho ordered away from Vietnamese centres such Footscray, Sunshine or St Albans can often be mediocre or worse.

But this is a winner – as attests the first slurp of broth, high in flavour and not too sweet.

The sliced beef is of excellent quality and the brisket, only a little bit fatty, provides a fine contrast.





Superior chicken rice in Niddrie

1 Comment



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.




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.


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 Moonee 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.)



‘Wow!’ in Tarneit

Leave a comment



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.




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.




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.




“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.




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 …




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

They’re all terrific.