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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Back at Pandu’s

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Pandu’s, 351 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 8307 0789

We haven’t eaten at Pandu’s for a good long while and we’re excited to be back.

Even more so because among our group of six are two people who have pretty much eaten the inner west dry but have yet to dine at this Footscray Indo-Chinese institution.

And there’s two others have never tried Indo-Chinese at all!

After we enter and a get a table, I realise there have been changes at Pandu’s.

There’s more people in the kitchen.

The prices have crept up – but not too much.

And there’s a new menu that considerably broadens Pandu’s previously hardcore Indo-Chinese line-up.

There’s biryanis, dosas and – oh yes! – cholle bhatrua and pooris with potato maslala.

Most of those will have to wait for another day, however, as we stick – with one exception – to Indo-Chinese.

 

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One member of our group is quite taken with idea of nachos salad as spied on the online menu – as am I.

So we order two.

What we get is, well, weird.

Doritos drizzled with some yogurt and sprinkled with not a lot of cheese, onion and greenery.

It’s OK to nibble on before our more fully cooked goodies arrive.

But Doritos?

Ugh!

In quick time, arriving at our table are …

 

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… vegetable manchurian …

 

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… cauliflower 65 and …

 

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… pepper fish.

By unanimous acclaim, the fish is our meal’s big winner.

Encased in a delicious but not particularly peppery coating are gorgeously tender and tasty chunks of white fish.

As Josh says: “I could eat these all night!”

The gobi and vegetable ball dishes – standard orders for Bennie and I at Pandu’s – are good, too, though a little wetter than we’ve had on previous occasions.

We bulk up our meal by ordering another standard for us …

 

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… veggie hakka noodles as well as …

 

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… veggie Singapore fried rice.

Both are simple but very good in that trans-national way that we usually expect more of the food from Malaysia or Singapore but which is right at home with Indo-Chinese.

Finally, we also enjoy a fine chicken biryani – which I forget to photograph!

 

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Bennie and I reckon the portion sizes of non-carb Indo-Chinese selections may have been a bit smaller than on previous visits – but that could be because there’s so many pals with us tonight and the food disappears quickly.

As well, we note that the shredded cabbage is of a rougher cut that makes it less appealing to incorporate into our meal, and that the gobi, fish and vegetable balls are not adorned with the usual jumble of chillis, curry leaves, onion and capsicum.

But still, these are minor quibbles – Pandu’s remains our go-to place for Indo-Chinese.

I have not kept track of prices as I expect to just call up the Pandu’s website when I get home.

But now I discover the prices there are not up to date!

But here’s the biz – for all of the above food, and a fine meal, the six of us pay a few bucks over $90.

That is, about $15 each!

Fantastic!

 

Pandu's on Urbanspoon

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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