Vanakkam, 359 Barkly St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7224
Ordering a feed for two at an Indian restaurant is a breeze, right?
Couple of snacks – samosas, pakoras, whatever – couple of curries, rice, some naan?
It isn’t that straightforward at all these days – especially not at a place like the relocated Vanakkam in Barkly St, with curries AND dosas AND a goodly line-up of Indo-Chinese dishes.
We muddle along and have a great time even if our choices are a little on the stodge side.
But they’re all good or better – and two are very excellent indeed.
And, naturally, we order WAY too much food – but happily, the final dish that arrives is the one most suitable for doggy-bagging and making do for Bennie’s school lunch the next day.
We’ve taken our time getting to the new Vanakkam – seems like there’s been a lot of Indian action to keep up to date with lately.
But we leave as extremely happy – and bulging full – chappies.
The service is fine and our food arrives far more quickly than such freshly made dishes might suggest.
We are not really thinking about our visits to the old Vanakkam as we nut out our order, but we sigh with memory-fuelled pleasure as our plate of onion baji ($7) arrives.
Of course we remember them – they’re so very good!
In this case, the serve is even bigger, but the onion rings are just as delicious.
The batter is not crispy, but is admirably unoily and scrumptious.
Our lamb dosa (&10) is good, too.
Crispy pancake and the usual slurp-worthy sambar, chutneys and potato filling, the latter a little more gooey than is usually the case.
The lamb is quite plentiful and seems to be mostly in the form of smallish, unspicy chunks that could’ve been carved straight from a roast leg.
Maybe they are.
It’s all well and good, but it makes us – OK, me – wonder why we ever variate from the tried-and-true spud-filled masala dosa.
Kaju uthappam ($12) is our standout dish.
The base of this “Indian pizza”, which comes with the same side dishes as our dosa, is made from rice and black lentil flours, and is a little crunchy, very delicate and utterly moreish.
The topping is of cashews nuts that have become soft in the cooking, coriander and what are described to us as “poori” spices.
So simple and so magnificent.
Our dinner adventure had been embarked upon with Bennie expressing a wish for noodles.
There are none to be had on the Vanakkam menu – the closest we can get is their take on nasi goreng ($13), which unsurprisingly has little or nothing to do with the south-east Asian dish of the same name.
Being more of a glorified fried rice, it’s still mighty fine, with a fried egg atop, and plenty of cubed, crunchy vegetables and battered chicken bits.
It has the same sort of peppery spiciness that comes with the fabulous schezwan chicken fried rice to be had at Dosa Hut up the road.
We’re stonkered before we get even close to halfway through this large serve, so the rest goes home with us.
Vanakkam is a very welcome addition to the intense and oh-so-welcome Indian activity in West Footscray, and we’ve only scratched the menu’s surface.
And BTW, the biryanis other customers have been eating look really great.