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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CBD Indian is bolly good

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Delhi Streets, 22 Katherine Place, Melbourne. Phone: 9629 2620

What fun!

Another leisurely day-off trip into the CBD to have lunch with the lovely Jacqui, the Urban Ma.

This time we’re checking out Delhi Street, right next door to the cool bagel place we hit a while ago.

Delhi Streets has a most admirable aim – to “do Indian street food most Melburnians have yet to experience”.

However, anyone who has hung out in West Footscray even a little in recent years will be familiar with most that Delhi Streets offer.

 

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The place may be new but it already has a nice lived-in vibe.

It may be geared to quickie lunches and takeaways but it feels more comfortable and intimate than that.

There’s chaat, thalis, dosas, uttapum and biryani (see menu below).

They also do wraps.

Personally, I don’t have use for wraps unless they’re a nice, lusty souvlaki or kebab.

But as Jacqui points out, this is an obvious menu direction for the joint to take on behalf of the take-lunch-back-to-the-office crowd.

 

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We share bhel puri ($6).

It’s fresh and crunchy, with a good dose of roast peanuts.

 

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Jacqui is new to the Wonderful World Of Dosas so I’m happy she gets a good one.

Her masala dosa ($10) is the goods, though the pancake itself is truncated compared to those in our westie faves.

The accompaniments are missing the usual chilli concoction but the sambar and coconut chutney are lovely.

 

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I go for the vegetarian thali ($10) – and it’s a doozy.

Good salad, rice and papadum.

Really good naan and cooked-down vegetable curry.

Outstanding dal that I think is made with aduki beans.

Read Jacqui’s review here.

Check out the Delhi Streets wesbite here.

 

Delhi Streets on Urbanspoon

 

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Meal of the week No.6: Dosa Corner

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Consider The Sauce may end up doing a more substantial write-up on Dosa Corner, the new Indian place opposite long-established Dosa Hut on Barkly Street in West Footscray – when there are a tableful of mouths to feed.

In the meantime, here’s the goss.

Dosa Corner has been open about a week, there’s incense burning, the place is bright and cheerful, and the service good considering this is a snack-type joint.

The menu is quite long and super cheap.

There’s dosas aplenty, of course.

But there’s also chaat, uthappams, quite a few Indo-Chinese dishes, biryanis and a trio of sweets.

Get a load of the above-pictured pooris!

The freshly fried breads are a little smaller than usual but very good.

The gloopy dal/vegetable mix is excellent.

The other accompaniments are those that attend your typical dosas.

The price?

$5.

How’s that for a brilliant light lunch?

 

Dosa Corner on Urbanspoon

 

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Meal of the week No.5: KItchen Samrat

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The perpetual blog-driven need for the new and interesting can mean old reliables are overlooked.

But as it happens, this very mid-week lunchtime I am in the mood for Indian snacky stuff.

And I am in Footscray.

So I step through the doorway of Kitchen Samrat (36 Leeds Street) for the first time in years.

I am surprised and delighted to find the place has gone from shabby to somewhat chic.

 

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It looks like a proper Indian restaurant now.

There’s even real cloth napkins, the classy effect of which are rather diminished by there being some dried food crud on the bench seat I initially choose.

The menu is longer and also more proper, and includes a number of good-looking banquet options.

Perhaps a lingering and wide-ranging CTS meal here is warranted.

But I spy with delight that the quick lunch items such as cholle bhatrua at Amritsari kulcha ($12) are still in the house.

The latter is just lovely – chick peas, butter knobs, pickle, onion and two wonderful breads stuffed with potato, coriander and spices.

Indian blast; not in WeFo!

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D Asian, 68-82 Hopkins Street, Footscray. Phone: 8354 8387

By the time Bennie and I step through the doors of D Asia, it’s been open about six months.

Obviously, we haven’t been paying enough attention.

Though perhaps in this case, that’s something to do with the fact the restaurant isn’t on Hopkins Street proper, but rather looks out on the carpark and towards Franco Cozzo and Centrelink (into which dread office I most assuredly never wish to step foot again!).

D Asia is a typically warped idiosyncratic CTS experience.

The place is cavernous, complete with dance floor, bandstand and disco ball.

We are the only customers.

The menu is by a long way the longest I’ve ever seen – far too voluminous to photograph and publish here.

No customers, stupendously long menu?

Those are the sorts of things that normally see red flags hoisted.

But after visiting as a pair and then solo, and eating mostly well, I have to confess my curiosity about this abidingly strange and unlikely Indian restaurant remains high.

I will return to check out the many dishes of which I’ve never before heard.

With no pre-planned gameplan, Bennie and I find ourselves going happily all Indo-Chinese and all vegetarian.

 

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The staff do the right thing by us by splitting our single serve of coriander lemon soup ($7.95) into two bowls.

It’s, um, super.

Mildly viscous in the familiar Chinese style, it’s refreshing and tangy, with tiny dice of vegetables providing crunch.

 

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Golden fried potato ($12.95) is OK but is nothing more than battered potato stalks.

There is little or none of the advertised “marinated” factor.

This dish is, in our opinion, way over-priced.

 

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Chilli baby corn is a much better deal at $11.95 – and a much better tasting one as well.

These are terrific flavour bombs, deep-fried and unoily.

There’s more than corn going on here, but it’s those kernals that provide the delightful “pop”.

Very, very yummy, they are.

 

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Gobi manchurian ($10.95) is a good deal wetter than the rendition we’re familiar with from our favourite Indo-Chinese haunt.

It’s pleasant enough but no earth-shaker and is very oily.

 

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As are our vegetable hakka noodles ($11.95), but we’d expect nothing different in a wok-tossed Indian dish.

They are fine, though, with plenty of diced and well-cooked vegetables.

 

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On my follow-up visit, I try another Indo-Chinese dish – cutmet aloo ($4.95), which is described as “boiled potato dressed with Indian spices and served with tamarind chutney”.

Again, this is nice enough but no great shakes.

 

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Then, just for to see what D Asia does with plain, workaday Indian food, I get a serve of mutton curry with roti ($10.95).

The fresh-cooked roti is fine.

The mutton is on the bone, and seems even more fiddly than is usually the case.

This is one of the most oily curries I’ve ever experienced.

And it’s the saltiest curry I can recall eating.

I like it a lot, though, although others’ mileage may vary!

D Asia?

What an enigma!

And I don’t think it’s really possible to be uncharmed by an eatery that has seven kinds of dal.

Or one that serves goat fried rice.

Or one that has 12 different soups on offer, including chicken or mutton suraba.

Or one that has a deep-fried Indo-Chinese dish call botanic vegetable.

Or one that seasons its gongura mutton with rosella leaves.

Or … well, you get the picture!

 

D Asian on Urbanspoon

 

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New Indian joint in WeFo

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Amrutha Authentic Indian Cuisine, 552 Barkly Street,West Footscray. Phone: 9913 3794

Team Consider The Sauce tonight numbers four for the purposes of checking out the newest addition to West Footscray’s line-up of Indian restaurants.

As the restaurant was being put together behind papered windows, two of us had wondered if the new place would specialise in some way to provide it a point of difference from its many competitors.

The answer is – no.

Amrutha’s menu is long a covers all the expected bases.

Go to the joint’s website here for a looking at the full list, including prices.

 

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The place has scrubbed up a treat – quite a lot of money has been spent.

And the main room is a good deal larger than we were expecting to be the case given the hair salon it replaces.

The furniture and fittings are pure Franco Cozzo.

We admire with interest the breakfast list, which includes all your dosas and a lot more.

But we go a la carte from the body of the menu.

Among our choices are a couple of Indo-Chinese selections …

 

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Gobi manchurian ($7.99) and …

 

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… chicken 65 ($8.99) are enjoyable but wet where we have been expecting dry.

 

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My eyes invariably light up whenever I see a menu that features eggplant, so eggplant curry ($10.99) has been ordered at my instigation.

Again, our expectations come into play – maybe unfairly.

The menu does mention a “rich cashew nut and special sauce”, but this seems to me more of an unbearably creamy spread with eggplant flavour.

It’s something I’d be happy spreading on toast.

But otherwise?

Nah.

 

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Moving right along, we start to get into things more hearty and flavoursome of the kind we have been seeking.

Lamb Madras ($11.99) is very nice, its rich gravy hiding lots of fine meat chunks.

 

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Chicken chettinad ($12.99) is likewise very good, with its gravy of “yogurt sauce with crushed black peppercorn, herbs and spices”.

 

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Palak paneer ($9.99) is a doozy, its silky cheese pieces swimming in a wonderfully almost-smoky gravy.

Another high point for us are the $1.99 naan that avoid photographic scrutiny – sorry!

These are super, and appear to have been made – as one of my tablemates points out –  using “wholemeal flour with all the bran removed”.

The result is like a cross between a regular naan and a roti.

We’ve enjoyed our meal but are left wondering about the wisdom of our choosing, what sort of wonders Amrutha has hiding in its menu – and whether the more snacky or one-person dishes may be the go here.

So I sneak back a few nights later for an early dinner by myself – biryani.

 

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My default choice of chicken is unavailable, so I’m happy to go with the lamb ($11.99).

Even though the lamb almost always used in biryanis – you’ll see it in the markets labelled as “lamb curry” – is often more bone than meat.

No such problem here – the plentiful meat comes easily from the bones and is flavoursome and surprisingly tender.

The rice is somewhat darker than usual, and the fried onions are more than a garnish here – there’s lots of them and they’re fully integrated into the rice.

The biryani picture is completed by a fine gravy that is salty and peanutty and a raita chunky with cubed carrot.

My biryani is very good and fully up there with those available elsewhere in Footscray.

Maybe for me next time the chole bhature ($11.99).

Or perhaps the puri ($8.99), which – according to the in-house printed menu – are served thali-style with a handful of small accompanying bowls of goodness.

 

Amrutha on Urbanspoon

 

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High-Quality thali

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Quality Cafe, 1116-1118 Glenhuntly Road, Glen Huntly. Phone: 9571 5544

Just for a change for Saturday lunch, Bennie and I are really happy to be heading over to Nat’s side of town instead of trolling around the inner west.

As we had discussed where to meet, I’d pointed out to Nat that he’d long been posting on Facebook great-looking photographs of funky ethnic food from funky ethnic eateries in his own extended neighbourhood … so how ’bout we try one of them.

The joint selected, Quality Cafe, is just the sort of place I had in mind.

 

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It’s a newish. bare-bones Indian cafe with an adjoining grocery.

It’s also, as the signage points out, “100% vegetarian”.

That’s fine by us!

The menu (see below) boasts quite a nifty list of snack and chaat items, as well as dosas, bahji and chole bhatura.

We collectively sidestep all that with little mucking around and go the thali route.

 

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My “Quality Thali” ($12.50) is a winner in almost every way.

I love the sambar, dal and cracking, creamy pea-and-cheese curry.

The vegetable biryani, not so much.

Plain rice, raita, tangy pickle and roti complete the picture.

 

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As neither of them have eaten breakfast, Nat and Bennie both go for the bigger “Weekend Thali” ($15), which is the same deal plus a potato-based vegetable curry and a cauliflower curry.

I reckon I could live on this kind of food.

It’s humble, delicious and inexpensive.

But what knocks me out about the Quality Cafe thalis is the presentation.

Each dish is presented in its own bowl, with all placed upon a steel platter.

How lovely they all look, bequeathing on a quick Saturday lunch a heightened sense of occasion way beyond the modesty and affordability of the food at hand.

How I wish more Melbourne’s Indian restaurants – including those of the west – took such care in finessing their thalis.

Thanks, Nat!

 

Quality Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

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