More Wayo wow

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Wayo Japanese Dining, 286 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 5484

Wayo is not one of your more formal Japanese restaurants; nor is it your quickie purveyor of sushi rolls, though there are those available.

So … Wayo IS a rather elegant cafe-style eatery.

And on the basis of a second visit – see a story about the first here – it’s doing truly superb things.

This time around, four dishes are selected from the entree-sharing list.

This simple, affordable Japanese-style tapas spread is truly memorable, each and every dish an outright winner.

 

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“Hearty veggie miso soup” ($4.50) has deep miso flavour.

And there’s a goodly bunch of onion, carrot and potato in there.

“Hearty” is certainly the operative word.

We’re well used to Japanese potato salad being more like mashed spuds in the style also found accompanying BBQ in the US.

Such is the case with this “potato salad with Japanese gravy” ($5.50).

Here, though, the pile of dull-looking warm potato adorned with enoki mushrooms looks distinctly unappetising.

But the flavour is fabulous – surely there is a strong cooked-in-stock thing going on here.

Not sure about the clear “gravy” – is it a glaze or is it merely an oil slick?

No matter – we love this, too.

 

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Nasu dengaku ($8) also defies expectations of the orthodox.

Instead of a halved baby eggplant, this version consists of a thick slice of regular eggplant. The skin has separated from the flesh and gained a brittleness that makes it almost seem like a bottomless bowl.

Is it meant to be eaten? It tastes OK, with smoky flavour, but is a little weird.

But the flesh itself and the gooey miso sauce are sublime – so silky and delicious.

 

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“Tirikara fried chicken” (five pieces for $7.50) is made of ribs or ribettes rather the advertised fully-fldged wings – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In any case, the price is still right for the simple reason they taste sooooo good – dry of batter with, I think, a strong garlic flavour.

Based on this rather randomly selected array of dishes, we’re definitely up for return visits to Wayo.

 

Wayo Japanese Dining on Urbanspoon

 

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A monarch among Melbourne’s laksas

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M Yong Tofu, 314 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 0168

Driving home from a Saturday night function in Flemington, I do a double take as I tool along Racecourse Road.

What the … ?

What was once our cherished Grand Tofu has a new name and the exterior has a new paint job.

So naturally I make it my urgent business the next day to find out what gives.

 

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I am immediately re-assured upon seeing this sign in the window.

Inside, I find that everything is indeed the same – including the welcome from the ever-smiling Suzanne.

 

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Turns out some alterations in the partnership arrangements of the business have occasioned some superficial tweaking.

“Everything the same,” Suzanne tells me. “Laksa still good!”

“You mean the same angry management and crap service?” I ask.

Much laughter ensues as I await my laksa – because, yes, I just have to make sure.

And it is.

Heady broth packed with flavour, fresh mint brightly contrasting with the cooked curry leaves.

Greens beans, broccoli and two pieces of heavenly eggplant.

Supper sodden tofu, fish cake – and, oh yeah, chicken.

Look, I’m not going to proclaim this as the best laksa in the west or Melbourne.

There’s more than enough outfits and websites and blogs doing that sort of thing when it comes to food “lists” – almost always without having done the incredibly hard yards that would give those sort of claims to be definitive any sort of gravitas.

But I sure do love this laksa.

Regardless of the name change …

The crew here have printed up a new menu with lots of pretty pictures, but I am happy note the price rises have been very tiny indeed.

Such is not always the case when such overhauls take place.

M Yong Tofu on Urbanspoon

Cool cafe in a great ‘hood

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Mr Ed, 285 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 6444

Consider The Sauce loves Racecourse Road, but coffee and cafes aren’t what come to mind when we head that way.

There is coffee to be had there, including a couple of longstanding businesses that may get the CTS treatment at some stage.

Mr Ed, though is a new place that inhabits what was formerly the premises of an undertaker.

It’s been open since February, and based on the jam-packed crowd on a recent Sunday when is stuck my nose inside for a look-see, it’s doing quite well, thank you very much.

At first blush, it appears Mr Ed could be yet another westie hipster haven.

Cool black-and-white artwork?

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Tick!

Cutting-edge design stools?

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Tick!

But the proof is in the pudding – or, in this case, the pies.

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Take a look at these beauties, which sell for $9.50. (They’re a lot bigger than they appear in the photograph.)

After my lunch, I take one of the veal, bacon and portolbello mushroom specimens home for dinner.

Like everything else in the place, as far as I can tell, they’re made in-house.

For a week-day lunch, I find the staff friendly and obliging.

In addition to breakfasts, Mr Ed does a nice line in creative sandwiches that all cost around the $10 mark.

There’s blackboard lists of specials such as a risotto, pulled chicken sliders and beer-battered flathead with purple congo wedges.

The adjacent list of “usual suspects” includes a “beef and basil burger”, and beyond that are offered about a handful of salads.

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I choose one of the more expensive dishes – smoked trout and warm egg salad with celeriac remoulade with salmon pearls on rye toast ($16.50).

This is way more “plated” and pretty than is normal for CTS, but it’s truly a lovely thing.

It’s mildly flavoured and falls into the light lunch category.

But all the components work together beautifully, celeriac strands almost like noodles and the trout given some added richness thanks to the egg and some just-right poppy texture thanks to the pearls.

Mr. Ed on Urbanspoon

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CTS Feast No.4: Slurp!

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Pho House, 318 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9372 1426

It’s a thrill to contemplate that with the successful completion of the fourth Consider The Sauce Feast, a tradition has been established.

Long may it continue!

The fourth gathering took place at what has already become a favourite of ours.

Pho House adds just the right Vietnamese touch to Racecourse Road in Flemington, rounding out one of Melbourne’s best foodie strips.

So much quality and fun is such a small package!

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CTS Feat No.4 had some familiar faces from earlier escapades – namely Alistair and Michelle and their gorgeous daughter; and Charles, who brought along his daughter, Celina.

I was very excited to meet Pauline, a regular commenter on CTS with whom I enjoyed discussing Yarraville shopping and how to get kids to eat interesting, Pauline was accompanied by her pal, Sarah.

Also seated at our bubbly table was Jill from Spice Bazaar and her friend Angela.

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We were joined by a former colleague of mine, Corrina, and her partner Dave. So cool to have such a good mate from my previous life make an appearance!

Last but not least, we also enjoyed the company of my favourite food blogger in the whole world (other than myself) and Westies co-conspirator, Lauren of Footscray Food Blog.

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We started with samples of real nice and freshly made spring rolls and rice paper rolls before moving on to the soup dishes.

For the mains, everyone went the bowl route, with no one choosing the rice plate options.

Save for two customers, we all went for pho of various kinds involving a wide variety of beef.

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My own plain rare beef small was just fine.

There was much happy slurping done.

Pauline and Sarah went for the seafood curry laksa, which has a rather lovely story behind it.

When I had earlier asked Talina why she had laksa on the menu, she told me it was actually a carry-over from the previous inhabitants of the premises, the much-loved Vy Vy.

So another tradition continues!

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The girls enjoyed their laksa very much, and having dug it myself several times in recent weeks I can vouch for its excellence.

It’s mildly spiced and very creamy, but it’s the seafood that is the biz.

Apart from a plethora of surimi such as fish balls and fish cake, Talina’s laksa has fresh fish, a not very common laksa occurrence, and fat, bursty prawns that are very high on prawn flavour – also not a very common laksa occurrence.

Thanks to our Consider The Sauce friends for the company and thanks to Talina and her staff for taking care of us on what was an already busy night, even without us taking up so much space!

PS: Alistair, I can insert a close-up photo of the top of your noggin if you so desire.

See previous review here; the Pho House Facebook page is here.

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Consider The Sauce Feast No.4: Pho House,

318 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9372 1426

Wednesday, Janurary 29, from 7pm.

Menu:

Assorted Pho House entrees and snacks.

Choice of pho, laksa or rice dish.

Soft drinks.

Pho House on Urbanspoon

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CTS Feast No.4: Pho House

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NOTE: THIS FEAST IS NOW FULLY SUBSCRIBED! NO MORE APPLICATIONS, THANKS!

Meet Talina!

She’s the boss lady at Pho House, the lovely joint that is adding even more diversity to Racecourse Road in Flemington.

You’ll be unsurprised to learn, given the name of her restuarant, that she is proud of her pho.

Very proud.

And she wants CTS readers to try it!

So in conjunction with Consider The Sauce, Talina and her Pho House crew will host the fourth Consider The Sauce Feast.

Talina really, really does want you to try her pho.

But, OK, if you insist, the lucky punters who gain feast seats can opt for a laksa or rice dish.

As well, there will assorted Pho House entrees and soft drinks.

If you fancy a beer or wine, you will be expected to pay for them yourself.

Pretty much the same ground rules as applied for previous CTS Feasts …

  • No restrictions this time around on those who have attended previous CTS dinners.  
  • First in, first served.
  • There are 10 places only available.
  • Fellow food bloggers welcome to apply but they will not be given preference.
  • No more than two places to be claimed by any applicant, though “singles” will also be accepted.
  • There will be no charge for food or soft drinks, but guests will be expected to pay for their own alcohol.
  • Applications only to the email address posted elsewhere on this site. Attempts to gain a seat by commenting on this post will be ignored.

Consider The Sauce Feast No.4: Pho House,

318 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9372 1426

Wednesday, Janurary 29, from 7pm.

Menu:

Assorted Pho House entrees and snacks.

Choice of pho, laksa or rice dish.

Soft drinks.

****

See earlier story here and the Pho House Facebook page here.

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Wayo wow in Flemo

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Wayo Japanese Dining, 286 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 5484

Ahh, 286 Racecourse Road …

For many years it was the site of this site’s preferred charcoal chicken shop.

Its products were not in any way different or better than those of most similar places.

But when the mood for such trashy food was upon us, we always received a warm welcome there.

And they served their in-house food on real plates with real cutlery.

But now it’s the home of a chic new Japanese eatery.

It looks good, and we enjoy the service and the promptness with which our food is delivered to us.

And on the basis of our first lunch there, we reckon that if Wayo was situated in, say, the CBD, Fitzroy or Prahran, the queues would already be forming.

There’s a few sushi rolls in the display cabinet, but mostly the menu sticks to some basic yet enticing bowls and grills.

The entree list numbers 12 – order all or most of them and you’d have a mighty spread of Japanese-style tapas for a table of four or so punters.

From that list we choose charcoal grilled vegetables (large serve, $13.50) as a shared starter.

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The vegetables – wonderfully including fennel – are beautifully cooked, taste as good and go great with the dark, lusty sesame sauce.

The only quibble we have is with what seems to be a rather steep price.

Bennie chooses a simple bowl of curry with rice ($10; the same meal is available with chicken cutlet for $14).

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The lad is a little underwhlemed.

He reckons the beef quotient is neither here nor there.

But it tastes good to me, the gravy being a rich brown, deep of flavour and – of course – of only mild spiciness.

Maybe he’s outright envious of his dad’s meal.

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Charcoal grilled chicken ($13) with yakiniku BBQ sauce is a delight.

The miso soup appears as if it may be quite a class above that served in most cheap Japanese places, stuffed as it is with onion chunks and more.

But we both find it a tad flavourless.

I suspect this style of miso soup is supposed to look and taste just as we have been provided, but we miss that miso tang nevertheless.

The thigh pieces are much better – only lightly grilled, they boast splendid chook flavour.

That flavour is quite subtle, though, so I may have been better off choosing one of the other, less robust sauces available.

Quite apart from our meals and experience in general, it’s the attention to detail at Wayo that really impresses.

It would be easy to bluntly dismiss, for instance, my serve of potato salad as just a pile cold mashed spud.

But that would be to ignore the skill with which the potato has been cooked and dressed to be fully tender yet maintain such a wonderful, grainy texture.

Likewise with the green salad provided with both our meals – the ingredients are super fresh, well-balanced and dressed with a delicacy seldom seen in such contexts.

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We like, too, the rustic wooden tables.

Blogger note of appreciation: They are non-reflective!

Even the handsome wooden chop sticks and soup spoons add their own touch of joy and class to the Wayo experience.

We suggest the Wayo crew might want to place a sign somewhere that says something along the lines of:

“1. Please order at counter.

 2. Please pay when ordering.

 3. Cash only.

 4. Thank you!”

That way any potential confusion, embarrassment or disappointment may be avoided!

Even with the minor caveats expressed above, we are very eager to return.

Wayo Japanese Dining on Urbanspoon

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Bits and pieces

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So how’s this for an eye-grabbing sign in Racecourse Road, Flemington?

Nope, can’t say I have … tried camel meat, that is.

Right next door, in the Grand Tofu, I ask Suzanne if she has.

Nope.

In fact, she seems surprised there is even such a sign gracing the halal butcher shop right next door.

What the Grand Tofu, Suzanne, Stephen and their crew do do is serve up a sperb chicken laksa.

Look, I’m quite fond of the two more famous Malaysian eateries just around the corner.

But I don’t like queues and they’re always so busy.

The Grand Tofu is frequently busy, too – but the staff always find time for a bit of a chat or at the very least a warm welcome.

Which can’t always be said of the competition.

And then there’s that chicken laksa (oh my!) – and much more besides.

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Providorable is lovely foodie haven in Williamstown – you can read about it here.

Providorable proprietor Kelly recently posted the following on her business’s Fcebook page:

“Good morning everyone, I’m feeling this morning I need to write this post. I think a lot of the local shop keepers this week would say that things are looking brighter for Xmas sales after a very quiet winter. I urge everyone to support local business. Supermarkets are trying to shut down small business, this is where you get the personal service with product knowledge, not in a supermarket. Also, WHY have the council allowed two farmers markets per month in Willy? Do you realise that now there are two it takes business away from your local shops that are the ones that pay the rates & rents to make strip shopping be still available? Have you questioned any of the stall holders at farmers markets about where some of their products come from? There are genuine items being sold but some are not from their own farms being sold direct to public. Yeah, have one a month but why 2 every two weeks … you go and buy fruit and veg, it affects your local fruit shop, same as butcher, dog treats, coffee shop, jams and relishes etc etc. PLEASE SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS. By this market being there every two weeks, you are supporting outsiders who don’t pay the huge rents and rates we pay. OK rant over lol and enjoy your day. Williamstown has wonderful shops and fantastic shopkeepers. Keep us all in willy for years to come please.”

What do you think?

We’re quite fond of visiting farmers markets.

But in truth we rarely buy more than a coffee and maybe a snag or other eat-on-the-spot treat.

Fruit, vegetables and other produce?

Hardly ever.

But we do enthusiastically support and enjoy the hell out of our local shops and delis, be they in Williamstown, Altona, Seddon, Footscray, Sunshine or beyond.