Best schnitzel EVER!

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La Morenita, 67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911

Meeting a fellow blogger and her friends a few weeks back – at La Morenita as it happens – I casually mentioned that I am happy for Consider The Sauce to cover a restaurant or business more than once.

This occasioned surprise on behalf of one of my new friends.

Me, too, I guess!

It has never been planned.

But somewhere along the way this blog has become an ongoing journey so updates and second-looks seem natural as the western subrubs food scene develops and evolves, menus expand or change and people come and go.

After several “reviews” and before-and-after stories on two separate CTS Feasts, La Morenita certainly fits snugly into that continuing scenario!

And for that we make no apologies – this after all, in our opinion, is one of the true gems of the west.

What’s more, exciting things are happening at this fine Berkshire Road emporium, with revamps and extensions planned for both the premises and the menu.

After a “research trip” to Sydney, Marco and Maria will be rolling out for testing a number of new dishes on coming Sundays – they’ll be of a more substantial nature, to match the grouse range of sandwiches/burgers and empanadas already featured.

First up tomorrow (July 20) will be fried fish (barramundi) and beef schnitzel with chips and salad.

I, of course, misread Maria’s Facebook announcements and bowl up on Saturday – but Marco whips me up a schnitzel anyway.

Oh … My … Lord – it’s sensational!

The crumbed coating so crisp and unoily, the meat so thin, tender and tasty.

And what looks at first blush like somewhat ordinary accompaniments turn out to be perfect – the chips and, particularly, a simple salad of tomato and onion.

It’s big, mind you – really really really big. So much so the $20 price tag seems like a bargain.

Half of it went home with me.

Unless you are of pronounced appetite, this’ll do as a light meal for two.

Schnitzel? Latin-American food?

Yup.

Maria tells me schnitzel and chips is an absolute Uruguayan classic.

“This is what I grew up on,” she says.

Best way to keep track of what the weekly dishes will be is to like their Facebook page.

 

 

CTS Feast 7: La Morenita – the wrap

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Consider The Sauce Feast No.6: La Morenita, 67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911. Sunday, June 8

The follow-up La Morenita CTS Feast was absolutely smashing* – just like the previous one.

Different day of the week, different time at night, almost completely different crew aside from Marco, Maria and myself.

Same food, too - cheese, spicy chicken and beef empanadas; choripan (chorizo in a roll); cocktail hallullas (Chilean bread), pebre (spicy chilli sauce); traditional ham and cheese sandwiches de miga; churrasco (burger with beef, tomato, avocado and mayonnaise); custard berlin (doughnut); milhoja (“1000 layers”) cake; and soft drinks including many Jarritos.

And, once again, some special-addition black pudding – still too rich for me, though!

 

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As on the previous occasion, it was sublimely gratifying to see appearances by a number of repeat CTS Feast offenders.

Thanks to them and everyone else who attended and helped us sell-out not one but two fine evenings.

 

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Most especially my heartfelt thanks to Maria and Marco.

They bought into the CTS Feast concept right from the start with gusto, passion and pleasure.

For CTS, their fine establishment is emblematic of what is great about western suburbs food and the people who make it.

There are still places remaining for CTS Feast No.8 at Vicolo – go here for details.

(* Thanks, Christine!)

 

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World Cup: Hope lives

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In the face of all available evidence, I am – like no doubt many thousands of people around the country – falling once again for World Cup optimism.

Here’s how my thinking goes: “Well, let’s see now … if the Socceroos can sneak a win against the Netherlands – another country with a young, inexperienced team … and if, somehow, they can sneak a draw against either Spain or Chile … well, who knows?”

It’s completely ridiculous, of course.

But I can’t help myself.

Actually, considering the utterly odious nature of both FIFA and a lot of what is going on in Brazil, the best result for Australia may well be three straight losses, homeward bound and bring on the Asian Cup.

In the meantime, though, there is much football to be watched.

So far, I have found three different venues offering a more social way than a living room sofa to take enjoy the spectacle.

Anyone know of any others?

 

1. Spot On Kebab Station

Just how the playing times will work with this late-night joint, I do not know.

Food: Yes.

Booze: Nope.

Coffee: Unknown.

Check out their Facebook page for updates.

 

2. Village Cinemas, Sunshine.

As far as I am aware, this is only for the Socceroos’ opening game against Chile on Saturday, June 14.

Doors open 7.15 am, kick-off at 8am. Entry is free

This sounds pretty cool!

More information here.

Food: Unknown.

Booze: Nope.

Coffee: Unknown.

 

3. Mozzarella Bar

Seddon’s new Italian establishment is throwing parties for Australia v Chile and Italy v England on Sunday, June 15.

The cost is $40 a head.

Food: Yes – “Unlimited Pizzas & Drinks”.

Booze: Yes.

Coffee: Yes.

Bookings: 9687 0097

 

4. Hyde Street Hotel

Yarraville’s newest foodie pub is opening it’s doors from 7.30am for the Soccerooes-Chile game for an 8am kick-off. As far as I can tell from their FB page, admission is free though table bookings can be made.

The cost: Free

Food: Yes – “$7.50 Egg & Bacon rolls!

Booze: Yes.

Cofee: Yes

Table bookings: 6892163

CTS Feast 6: La Morenita – the wrap

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Consider The Sauce Feast No.6: La Morenita, 67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911. Wednesday, May 21.

CTS Feast No.6, the first of two at La Morenita in Sunshine, was a smashing success.

This was largely due to the efforts of Maria and Marco, who kept the goodies coming and sent everyone off with very full tummies.

I hope they got as much pleasure out of it all as we all did.

 

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And the success of the night was also very much due to the 25 CTS friends who fronted up.

I’m thrilled to note that among this number were several repeat Feast offenders, a couple of bloggers and folks from as far away as Heathmont.

Wow!

 

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From the cocktail hallullas (Chilean bread) and pebre (spicy chilli sauce) through to the custard berlins (doughnuts) and milhoja (“1000 layers”) cake, it was all fabulous.

I was especially intrigued to find that the Aregntine-style traditional ham and cheese sandwiches de miga – which look so white-bread dainty and more fitting for a high tea – have so much flavour!

All the flash and new may come and go, but this place continues to be right at the heart of the western suburbs food for CTS!

 

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Gigante – Melbourne’s best hot dog?

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How sweet has our Easter Sunday been?

Long sleep-ins, especially for Bennie.

Healthy breakfast followed by several hours chillaxing – music, reading, games and more.

As we’re topping and tailing on the sofa, my now teenaged son – who is showing signs of the transition from boy to man – reaches out from under the doona we are sharing, places his right hand in my left, then promptly goes back to sleep.

I find it near impossible to believe that this caring, sweet-natured and happy human being is destined – according to widely held legend – to become, at least, some of the time, a surly monster.

Then it’s out and about for some frisbee-tossing before lunch.

We head for one of our fave places – La Morenita in Sunshine – with a view to maybe trying out one of the new menu items.

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I go for one of the long-listed sandwiches.

Bennie goes for the new super hot dog – the gigante ($15) of smoked chorizo, ham, onion, cheese and mayo with chips.

Holy moly – it’s a classic!

And going by my token mouthful, it’s delicious in every way, the goodies all housed in a house-baked long roll.

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So big is it that we request a staff member to cut it half for ease of eating.

Really, it seems to me, this is a two-person meal. Although Bennie eats all but some of the ham and couple of loaf stubs.

Indeed, La Morenita’s Maria tells me that the previous day she sold one to a bloke who got his cut in half before saying: “There – one half for lunch and one half for dinner!”

Talk of the gigante’s portion size occasions the following laughing conversation between Maria and myself:

Maria: “I can eat a whole one!”

Me: “But you’re a pig!”

Maria: “I am!”

La Morenita, is of course, the venue for not just one but two forthcoming CTS Feasts – the gigante isn’t on the menu but plenty of other good stuff is.

The first is sold-out but a handful of tickets remain available for the second.

For information and booking details, go here.

Steppin’ Out In Sunshine

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MaDE in Brimbank is a dance and music bash being held in the car park adjacent to Classic Curry and in which we almost always park when making one of our frequent Sunshine visits.

Now, dance is not really my thing, but I end up being very glad I make the effort.

This is another wonderful westie community event.

I spend quite a few hours enjoying it all – from an hour so after proceedings commence, but departing way before the party winds down.

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While on hand I catch all sorts of dancing and other entertainment, ranging from junior hip-hoppers to traditional styles from Africa and Europe.

And there are food trucks.

Actually, there are a LOT of food trucks – they’re so thick on the ground, I wonder how anyone is going to make a buck. Maybe things pick up after I split.

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Given the plethora of food rucks on hand, it is no surprise I bump into erudite and much-travelled foodie Nat Stockley.

Nor is it any surprise, given her “thing” for dance, food and, more recently, food trucks themselves, that I likewise stumble across the Urban Ma and other members of the wonderful family with which only days earlier I had been utterly privileged to participate in an amazing Pinoy family feast.

Wonderful folks!

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From Amy at Trailer Made Food, I secure a serve of fried potatoes with tomato sauce and Turkish sausage ($10).

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It’s a lovely thing!

The spuds are crisp and salty, the sauce is intense and the sausage just right.

But I’m still hungry.

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So I hit the Souvlaki Cart – and hit souvlaki heaven.

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My $10 souvlaki is wrapped in everyone’s fave Greek-style pita bread.

Internally, the lambs cubes are really, really top class and a cut way above the meat found your average takeaway souvlaki.

The only quibble I would have is that the yogurt/cucumber combo could’ve benefited from quite a bit more garlic.

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CTS Feast No.6: La Morenita

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Consider The Sauce Feast No.6: La Morenita

67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911

From 7pm on Wednesday, May 21.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS SOLD OUT. CTS AND LA MORENITA ARE IN DISCUSSIONS ABOUT A REPEAT!

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Who doesn’t like hands-on food?

Not we here at CTS HQ, that’s for sure!

Whether it be an injera-based spread or a fabulous Pinoy family feast, we just love getting our hands on the stuff.

And that’s just what we’ll all be doing at CTS Feast No.6.

We know this because La Morenita’s Maria has assured us there’s simply no cutlery to be found in the place.

Maria and her hubby, Marco, are old friends of CTS.

We use their empanadas for out-of-the-freezer light meals and snacks.

We love dropping in for coffee and cake.

We love that this friendly Latin American cafe is right there on Berkshire Road as a warm, tasty contrast to the wall-to-wall panelbeaters and the like.

Most of all, we love their amazing range of sooper-dooper, genuine Latin American sandwiches/burgers, one of which – the fabled churrasco – will be the centrepiece of CTS Feast No.6.

As with the previous Feast, a charge of $20 will apply, with the proceeds being split between CTS and La Morenita.

In this case, though, because of space restrictions, there are only 25 tickets available.

After a feast history that has so far embraced three Indian eateries as well as one each of Vietnamese and Chinese, it’s really cool to be offering CTS readers something different.

Let’s let Maria have the last word: “My aim with this night is to make sure everyone goes home full!”

MENU

Cheese, spicy chicken and beef empanadas

Choripan (chorizo in a roll)

Cocktail hallullas (Chilean bread), pebre (spicy chilli sauce)

Traditional ham and cheese sandwiches de miga

Churrasco (burger with beef, tomato, avocado and mayonnaise)

Custard berlin (doughnut)

Milhoja (“1000 layers”) cake (which Marco will slice on the night)

A Jarrito (Mexican soft drink)

Pho Fever in Sunshine

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Like the wonderful and somewhat similar Rickshaw Run in Footscray, Pho Fever is a great enterprise – in this case, throwing a tasty spotlight on the Vietnamese food of Sunshine.

I didn’t make the previous year’s event, so am delighted to accept a complementary invitation from the Sunshine Business Association to attend in 2014.

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After being welcomed by Simon and Phong, it’s up the red carpet for tonight’s punters.

Oooh, funky glamour in Sunshine!

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As we enjoy a drink of iced coffee, I love chatting to CTS reader Loren (on the right) and her sister, Kate.

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And chatting, too, to my good pal Jacqui of Urban Ma and her hubby, Wes.

It’s been far too long between drinks, so to speak, for Jacqui and I … so a good thing it is that later on in the night, and from our respective homes, we tee up not just a lunch but a dinner, too!

After introductory words, the punters split into two groups to visit three different restaurants each.

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Our first stop in a CTS favourite – Pho Hien Saigon. (See most recent story here).

Cung explains how his restaurant’s pho is the result of experimenting with his father’s “too strong” recipe.

He talks, too, of the various condiments and how they are used.

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I have a simple pho of sliced chicken. It is superb, with the broth having that coveted “crisp and clean” thing going on.

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Then it’s across the road to Thuan An, where Julie and her team have set out a beautiful table featuring candles and pho spices and condiments.

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Here I switch to equally simply sliced beef – and it, too, is very good, the broth having a robust but not overpowering flavour.

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I really enjoy meeting and talking to fellow westies Le Yen, Peter, Tracey and Malcolm. That latter pair are actually from Woodend, but as always I am keen to cast the westies boundaries net wide!

Besides, Tracey is the brand new marquee manager for the Sunshine Business Association.

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Before departing, we are invited into the kitchen to gaze admiringly at the stockpots already hard at work for the next’s day’s brew.

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Then we’re off for a minute stroll to right next door and Nhi Nuong 2 Sister Restaurant, where we are greeted – and entertained – by the sisters, Yen and Elizabeth, themselves.

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Here the food and drink goes in another tack in the form of wonderfully chewy and delicious bo la lot (beef in vine leaves), spring rolls, freshly-squeezed sugarcane juice and Nhi Nuong’s signature tra moc tien tea with its subtle flavour of pandan.

Thanks for having me!

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Spring rolls for which to die

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Xuan Banh Cuon, 232 Hampshire Road, Sunshine. Phone: 0422 810 075

Regular Consider The Sauce readers may be familiar already with Xuan Banh Cuon.

The restaurant’s signature dish, pork and prawn banh cuon, was chosen as one of the inaugural winners of the Westies: Dishes Of Distinction, the exciting western suburbs food awards initiated by Consider The Sauce and Lauren Wambach of Footscray Food Blog.

See Westies stories here, here and here, and Lauren’s review here.

Since then, we’ve become regulars.

It’s fair to say Xuan Banh Cuon is our go-to Vietnamese joint in Sunshine and perhaps the entire west.

We love the points of difference, the friendly welcome, the freshness and diversity of the food – and its healthiness.

I’ve eaten a good deal of banh cuon there by now, and really enjoyed some of the other dishes, too.

I’ve loved the red specialty noodles with prawn, pork and homemade fishcake.

And the bun thit nuong (vermicelli with chargrilled pork) is a sinful delight.

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There’s still plenty of scope for CTS to explore here, but on the occasion of our first actual review of this splendid establishment, I’d like to rave about the spring rolls.

More specifically, the northern-style spring rolls with vermicelli (top photo).

These rolls are quite different from the familiar spring rolls served in Vietnamese places all over the West.

We’ve all had plenty of them – and enjoyed them.

But the contrast with these beauties is stark indeed, so great are they in terms of textural and flavour delight.

In order to nail the details, Carson, Nathan and other members of the Xuan Banh Cuon extended family who happen to be present gather around me for a round-table discussion.

The casings are made of rice and called banh trang. We settle on “rice glass” as an acceptable English variation.

They’re delicate and slightly crunchy.

Inside the rolls are bean shoots, mushroom, glass noodle, carrot, pork and prawn.

Sounds so simple, nothing too flash, eh?

The eating tells a very different story.

Especially when the rolls are mixed in with the chilli dressing/sauce and the gathered herbage.

If you order pho at Xuan Banh Cuon – and you can – you will get the usual and familiar accessories.

Order spring rolls, banh cuon or thit nuong, though, and you’ll get a much more lively and diverse mix – including lots of mint and coriander.

Delicious!

Xuan Banh Cuon on Urbanspoon

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Sudanese in Sunshine

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Home Town Sudanese And African Cuisine, 231 Hampshire Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9364 8154

Sunshine has long been a favoured hunting ground with us.

The arrival Home Town hot on the heels of Afghan Master Kebab and Westie winner Xuan Banh Cuon just enhances our appreciation of the neighbourhood.

Home Town is, as far as we are aware, only Sunshine’s second African restaurant and is of Sudanese nature, as opposed to the more familiar Ethiopian of Footscray town.

Based on enjoyable experiences at Ascot Vale’s Safari, another Westie winner, that’s right fine by us!

Bennie and I arrive in a good mood for a rendezvous with our good pal Nat Stockley, enjoy our meals and also talking with the Home Town crew about their food and eatery afterwards.

The team includes Shafie, his wife Nora, mum Maryam and Juma.

We find their welcome and service also very enjoyable.

All three of us order meals that are of the stew or braise variety, which means we miss out on major aspects of Home Town thing – ranging from foul presented in different ways to pasta and meats grilled and served with rice and salad.

Most meals cost in the $10 to $12 range, with spiced prawns and the Khartoum mixed grill topping $20.

Our bain marie meals are barely warm, but we don’t let that get in the way of our eating pleasure.

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Nat enjoys his meaty, handsome lamb shank, while the serve of okra stew he gets on the side taste real good to me.

The rice that accompanies all three of our selections is quite different from that served at Safari – it’s turmeric-tinged but still studded with cardamoms.

The salady aspects are pretty good, too, fresh and crunchy.

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Bennie orders malokhia, named after the vegetable of same name.

He loves the lamb chunks, rice and salad, but is rather less enamoured of the gravy’s viscous, okra-like consistency.

One man’s delight is another boy’s slime, I guess!

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I order chicken curry fully expecting it will no more be like an Indian curry than the lamb “curry” recently enjoyed at a Footscray eatery with similar food – Khartoum Centre.

In truth, it IS somewhat like an Indian chicken curry but still boasts a distinctive African flavour.

This is achieved, Juma tells me, by combining a commercial butter chicken sauce with dill, peanut butter, onion and capsicum, salt and pepper.

I like it, and like my two companions I pretty much clean my plate of the sticky gravy.

The use of a commercial, pre-made sauce sparked an interesting conversation when Nat posted a pic of our meal on Facebook.

One of his friends opined that such a move was somewhat “iffy”.

I understand where she is coming from, but OTOH I’m not going to get hung up on notions of authenticity.

As I pointed out, without condensed milk there would be little by way of Indian sweets, the Vietnamese have long made French baguettes part of their cooking traditions, and the Thais – so I’m told – make frequent use of pre-made curry sauces.

I get two dips with my meal – a rather stodgy and bland hummous and lemony, tangy mix of grated vegetables and yogurt that is wonderful.

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Somewhere along the way, Bennie has requested injera.

No injera here, he’s told, but they do have kissra – the Sudanese equivalent.

It’s very similar but thinner than injera, house-made and really fine.

As already stated, it could be that in ordering the dishes we have, we may have missed a big part of what Home Town is all about.

Its arrival is of sufficient import for us, that we’ll happily do follow-up story on their BBQ goodies and the likes of foul or pasta.

Home Town Sudanese & African Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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Kebab nirvana in Sunshine

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Afghan Master Kebab, 3/20 Devonshire Road, Sunshine. Phone:  9311 9277

OK, forget your local old-school charcoal chicken, definitely your Nando’s and maybe even your favourite local tandoori chook.

Here’s what you need …

Half a gloriously chargrilled chicken, mouthwateringly juicy and tangily seasoned.

Served with generous portions of freshly baked flatbread that’s nice and chewy and something like a cross between pita and Turkish bread, along with some salty yogurt sauce and a beaut chilli-infused one of sublime mintiness, and some OK salad bits.

It’s a superb meal and at $8 is an instant westie cheap eats classic.

This plate is just one of the highlights of our Cup Day lunch at Afghan Master Kebab, which has recently taken over the Devonshire Road premises from Eat And Love, an Indian joint we never made it to.

The new Afghani crew has bedecked the place out in wonderful, almost psychedelic finery and the prices on the tightly-structured menu are all under $15.

Lauren from Footscray Food Blog has already posted a story about the new enterprise and in the days following I frankly became quite droolingly besotted with the evocative kebab photo she posted.

But she, knowing well my fondness for rice dishes from this broader part of the world, tells me I’m likely to be drawn towards that segment of the menu.

And that is indeed where I head on a first visit, sans son.

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“Zerishk palaw” ($14) comes with the same accessories as the kebab dishes.

Fluffy white rice topped with tangy berberries goes swell with the a side serve of “lamb qorma” of mildly spicy, good tomato-and-onion gravy with two largish chunks of tender but stupendously meaty lamb.

It’s all fine and homely fare, but it does leave me a little like, um, “Is that all?”

So when I return with Bennie we head straight to the kebab action, snagging the aforementioned half-chicken meal and also the mix kebab ($13.99).

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Lamb skewers of the cubed and minced variety are real nice.

But once again it’s the plentiful chicken that really knocks us out.

These cubes are big, succulent and tremendously well seasoned with, we’re pretty sure, cumin and other goodies.

This is breast meat that comprehensively defies the stereotype of this part of the bird being dry and tasteless.

There’s so much of the fantastic bread on our table that we are able to take half of it home to have that evening with spicy chick peas.

Afghan Master Kebab is surely destined to become a magnet for chargrilled meat fans from all over …

Afghan Master Kebab on Urbanspoon

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Sri Lankan for Sunshine

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Jaffna Chef, 21 Sun Crescent, Sunshine. Phone: 9311 3131

We’d spied Jaffna Chef in the process of being fitted out while walking to our rendezvous at Dragon Express for CTS Feast No.3 and took note.

Returning just a few weeks later, I’m surprised to find it up and running.

Though it appears that is a case of only just.

A modestly-sized grocery is still in the process of being stocked and the eat-in fare is so far restricted to a mostly regulation line-up of bain marie goodies, but I am nevertheless made to feel welcome.

I’m told that a more formal menu and longer list of dishes will be unrolled in coming weeks.

I look forward to that, and am happy to make do with what’s available in the meantime.

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My $8.50 plate is fine – and very familiar on account of the now regular work Friday lunchtime curry runs to Spicy Corner in Tullamarine.

The dal is coconutty, creamy and studded with still-crunchy green chilli.

The lamb curry is on the bone and bit fiddly. Still, it’s nothing unexpected – but take care of your teeth!

Like all else, the spud curry is at the higher end of spiciness.

Jaffna Chef on Urbanspoon

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CTS Feast No.3: Dragon Express – so fine!

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Dragon Express, 28 City Place, Sunshine. Phone: 9312 6968

Wow, this really was a feast – course after course of splendidness issuing forth from the kitchen and a swell table of friends and followers with whom to share them.

So thanks very muchly to (from left to right) Cath, Daniel, Sian, Michael, some young whippersnapper, Klaire, Lucas, Danielle, Keri, Johnno and Sue.

Westies, each and every one of ‘em.

And thanks to our charming host, Lim, and his brother Chay, who was taking care of business in the kitchen.

We had the stir-fried green vegetables and spicy chicken ribs of our previous visits – and they were terrific.

But I liked everything, some of it a lot.

Even the sesame prawn toast – something I don’t usually enjoy overly much – tasted delicious.

Menu: Chicken sweet corn soup, mixed entree, seafood combination bird’s nest, sizzling steak, stirfried green vegetables with garlic, salt and pepper squid, spicy chicken ribs, pork ribs with Peking sauce, special fried rice.

The venue and date of CTS Feast No.4 have yet to be ascertained – stay tuned!

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Consider The Sauce Feast No.3: Dragon Express

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PLEASE NOT: THIS DINNER IS NOW FULLY SUBSCRIBED!

It may seem that having a mid-week lunch at Dragon Express in Sunshine that exactly duplicates our first meal there – stir-fried green vegetables and spicy chicken ribs – is a bit on the predictable side.

It’s all Bennie’s idea, but it’s one I’m happy to go along with for the simple, perfect reason they’re very good.

It’s also Bennie’s idea that Dragon Express be approached to co-host the third Consider The Sauce Feast – and that’s another one to which I’m happy to assent.

We like the joint’s food a bunch and I’m confident a smart operator like proprietor Lim will see the PR and goodwill advantages in having a big tableful of western suburbs food hounds chowing down at a blog-hosted dinner, even if it does cost him in the form of providing food at no cost to the guests.

And so he does – and so the third Consider The Sauce Feast will be at Dragon Express on Tuesday, October 15, from 7.30pm.

There’s no surprise, either, in the fact the two aforementioned dishes will be on the menu, along with several more.

And I’m happy the focus will be on Cantonese food, rather than the restaurant’s offerings derived from other parts of Asia.

Sometimes Cantonese cooking isn’t all you need – it’s exactly what you need.

In this regard, Dragon Express strikes what seems to us a fine balance … Cantonese food every bit as good as or even better than more high-falutin’ places at prices similar to those of the most humble Chinese takeaway joints.

There are some guidelines I choose to lay down, but even on this Lim and I understand each other well – so much so that he finishes my sentence for me …

Says I: “Now look here, Lim, we don’t want to be having none of your sweet and sour pork or lemon chicken …”

Lim continues: ” … or black bean sauce!”

Here are the rules:

  • 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 our food but guests will be expected to pay for their own drinks.

To grab your place, send me an email telling me whether you want one or to places. The address is elsewhere on this site. Applying by commenting on this post will not work.

Consider The Sauce Feast No.3:

Dragon Express, 28 City Place, Sunshine. Phone: 9312 6968

Tuesday, October 15, from 7.30pm.

Chicken sweet corn soup

Mixed entree

Seafood combination bird’s nest

Sizzling steak

Stirfried green vegetables with garlic

Salt and pepper squid

Spicy chicken ribs

Pork ribs with Peking sauce

Special fried rice

More room, pho sure

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Pho Hien Saigon, 3/284 Hampshire Rd, Sunshine. Phone: 9311 9532

Pho Hien Saigon has long been a great place.

A great place that delivers great food with service that is efficient and consistently prompt yet always friendly.

Unfortunately it’s because of the above factors that getting a seat or table here has often been tricky, especially during any of the joint’s many peak hours.

So it’s really neat to discover that these days there’s a whole lot more room – double, in fact, with the restaurant expanding to take in the adjoining property.

So now it’s double-fronted instead of single-fronted.

And all of it worthy of a quickie write-up.

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As previously noted, I usually visit this fine eatery to eat just a single dish.

For today’s impromptu, early, post-footy lunch, I mix it up by ordering a medium $9 bowl of pho.

It’s excellent in every way.

The broth is strong and flavoursome.

The sliced beef is far from raw and already pretty much cooked by the time my bowl is placed upon my table, yet it retains an overall pinkness I’ve never before seen in pho.

The  equal measure of brisket is fat-free – something also unusual in pho.

The herbiage, sprouts and fresh red chillis are all just right, too.

Pho Hien Saigon on Urbanspoon

A thorough ribbing in Sunshine

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Queen’s Rose The Sun, 229 Hampshire Rd, Sunshine. Phone: 9310 2887

In our pursuit of lunch in Sunshine, we’ve run into dead ends as a couple of likely prospects failed to eventuate.

We’re loitering on Hamsphire Rd in a “what to do, what to do …” mood when Bennie says: “What I really feel like is fried chicken!”

What he specifically means, I know, are those chicken rib thingies, and – more specifically yet – those to be had from a nearby Chinese eating establishment of which we are fond.

But as we are standing right outside Queen’s Rose The Sun, I say to my offsider: “I know a place that does terrific fried chicken ribs!”

So in we go …

It’s been at least a year since I have visited this lovely Vietnamese joint.

So I’m a little disappointed to see the wonderful old-fashioned decor has given way to a more contemporary version of old-school – standard Viet eatery, including a garish neon sign above the entrance to the kitchen that seems to have about a 1000 different way of unveiling the restaurant’s name.

Bennie and I try counting them, but fail …

The walls are wonderfully festooned with food photos that seem to include quite a few that do not feature on the longish menu and some that also seem quite exotic.

But we’re not in an adventurous mood today – comfort food is the go.

So I choose – by pointing at one of the be-walled photos – “chicken free range noodle soup” ($9.50).

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I am expecting a hu tieu dish.

So I am bemused to find that what I am provided is pure-bred pho – pungent broth, rice noodles, coriander and green onion garnish, chilli ‘n’ lemon and sprouts and basil on the side.

Not that I’m complaining – it’s all good.

As for the free range chook, well … the chicken meat really does seem to be more flavoursome and meaty than might ordinarily be the case with such a dish in such a restaurant.

But – purely by happenstance, I’m sure – my chicken pieces have all come from the most boney part of a bird, and eating them is a fiddly business.

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For the second time in a week, Bennie has aced his dad in the ordering stakes.

His “tomato rice with spare rib chicken five spice sauce” ($9.50) is wonderful, and the handful of crispy fried ribs among the biggest I have ever seen.

He happily makes use of the seasoned salt, although I step in before he gets too carried away and spoils his lunch.

He hoovers it all up – rice, soup he describes as good and unsweet, and the spicy, tangy jumble of onion and capsicum that accompanies the ribs.

It’s easy to overlook Queen’s Rose The Sun, situated as it is in the narrow end of Hampshire Rd and thus away from the wider part of the thoroughfare and its congregation of Vietnamese eateries.

But if we lived in the immediate neighbourhood, it’d be our go-to place for sure.

See Ms Baklover’s story at Footscray Food Blog here.

Queen's Rose The Sun on Urbanspoon

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A West African adventure in Sunshine

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Foodafric, 24 City Place, Sunshine. Phone: 0413 168 759

Foodafric is situated on City Place, just few doors from Dragon Express.

Like all the other African businesses hereabouts, it’s nature is West African.

The signage outside is subtitled “Flavours of African & South American Cuisine”, the latter part of that phrase referring to some former South American employees of the place – and thus those words are scheduled for removal to avoid confusion.

The West African aspect refers mostly to Nigeria but also to countries such as Liberia.

Today I am mostly restricted to the half-dozen or so stews arrayed in the bain marie at the front, but I am told a much more comprehensive menu is on the way.

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Jollof rice is wonderful – of medium-high spiciness, semi-moist and laced with peas and onion.

The tomato-based stew that comes with it is sticky, good and has two biggish pieces of goat meat embedded in it.

They’re bone-free and quite tough – though nothing to phase me at all.

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When Bennie and I had dropped by a few days previously to scope the place out, it was the sight of a customer’s serve of okra stew that had me vowing to return at the earliest possible opportunity.

After all, I’m ostensibly an okra fan and what I had seen looked just like a very good variation of gumbo.

However, the side serve of stew I am served with my meal doesn’t work for me at all.

Look, I know there’s a slime factor with okra – but this is SLIMEY! And fishy, too …

The staff member who has been serving me, Bukka, laughs when I tell her this, saying: “We like it that way … and the okra is fried so it becomes even more like that.”

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She’s been patient and good-humoured in answering my questions, but is no doubt happy to hand that particular baton over to her boss, Nda, who also happens to be her brother.

He tells me his idea with the restaurant is to offer home-style Nigerian and West African cooking with a certain amount of tweaking, including with presentation, to make it more acceptable to Western palates.

He tells me that, yes, there is a certain kind of smoked fish, chopped finely, used in the okra stew and some of the place’s other dishes.

And he confirms the full menu should be up and running in a month or so.

Among the dishes and food on offer will be (links are to Wikipedia entries):

I’ve had a nice lunch, with one mis-step, but am happy to consider it research and a foretaste of more interesting things to come from this welcome and welcoming addition to the African options available in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

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Sudanese for Sunshine, French bakery for Footscray

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We’ve been a little puzzled in the past year or so that Footscray should be so richly endowed with African eateries yet Sunshine and st Albans with so few.

Well happily that situation will improve, in Sunshine at least, when Home Town at 231 Hampshire Road opens.

Even better, from a diversity point of view, the food will be Sudanese rather than Ethiopian.

Well, nominally Sudanese that is.

As proprietor Shafie tells me as we examine the walled menu, there is food from “all over” in a typically North African smorgasbord.

There’s African staples galore, such as foul and malokhai, but there’s also an Italian vibe through pasta such as lasagna, along with falafel, mixed grill, kofta and spiced prawns.

Going by the posted pricing and the warmth and friendliness with which Shafie greets my inquiries, I’m eagerly awaiting the opening.

And who does the cooking – Shafie or his missus?

“My wife – she’s very good!” Shafie tells me with a smile.

Opening day is a few weeks away.

(See menu pics below …)

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Meanwhile, a reader tip on the Facebook page of Footscray Food Blog has me scoping out the corner property opposite Footscray post office.

Wow – how about that?

I have a strong hunch the French part of this equation will be of the “France via Vietnam” variety.

I wonder what they’ll be doing – banh mi on steroids, coffee, bubble tea and other Asian drinks?

Peering through one of the papered-over windows, what I see of the fit-out looks big and classy.

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Is this Melbourne’s best thali?

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Maurya Indian Restaurant & Cafe, 58 Station Place, Sunshine. Phone: 9364 9001

It’s been almost two years since we wrote with pleasure about Maurya, a cosy little Indian cafe tucked away and easy to miss opposite the Sunshine bus and rail aggregation.

Truth be told, I would not even be heading here today were not for the fact Bennie is attending and birthday party-and-movie shindig a little way’s away.

We’ve enjoyed an intense week that has included a quickie trip to New Zealand and the season’s first rugby game for Bennie, so I figure a little space is warranted – although I do subsequently join the party party for the movie.

Maurya is very much as I remember it – a small restaurant with a lived-in feel, menus stuck to the wall near the serving counter (albeit with more hand-written additions and substractions) and a vibe that evokes memories of eating in India more than any other I know of in Melbourne.

I wave aside my usual objections to paying for pulses in Indian joints by ordering a simple vegetarian thali ($10).

It’s ace – and different.

For starters, instead of rice there’s four wholemeal chapatis – warm, freshly made, pliant, superb.

The raita is minus vegetable matter and only slightly seasoned. It’s runny and quite sour, so I figure that it may be house-produced like my breads. I’m told such is not the case – though it sometimes can be here.

The dal is as I recall from my previous visits, if less spicy – a smooth blend of aduki and read beans, onion, ginger and … ?

My efforts to ascertain the remaining seasoning fail as the staff plead business.

Oh well – it’s all part of a delightful, homespun and healthy Indian lunch.

And proof positive that the best food can often be the most humble.

See earlier review here.

Maurya Indian Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Lazat Malaysian Restaurant

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Lazat Malaysian Restaurant, 495 Ballarat Rd, Sunshine. Phone: 9312 7880

Lazat is a new Malaysian eatery in Sunshine, and a very welcome in that it is the suburb’s first of that denomination – AFAIK.

It’s accessed from an always busy and unlovely stretch of Ballarat Rd – miss the turn-off an you’ll be going around the block. Although we’re pleased to learn there is also access from Hampshire Rd – turn off at Chinese restaurant Golf Leaf.

Lazat occupies a building formerly home to a short-lived place called Grills Plus and, before that, a Souvlaki Hut (I think …)

Some of that fast-food vibe lives on in the set-up and decor, but we enjoy a lovely and late (for us) lunch.

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Moreover, the service is spot on, our food arrives with admirable speed and there is a welcoming presence in the form of manager Francis, who has landed here after helping launch Chef Lagenda in Deer Park.

Perhaps best of all, in an area where late-opening joints are difficult to find, Lazat is open until 10pm every night of the week except Saturdays and Sundays – on which it is open until 11pm!

There’s outdoor seating and a function room available.

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We enjoy having our pal Carl, a former Geelong Advertiser colleague of mine, along for the ride so can go a bit further than just a bowl of noodles or rice each.

On the other hand, us hungry boys plump for regular Malaysian eatery mainstays that mostly satisfy without really setting our worlds on fire. With one fine exception …

Curry puffs ($5.80), prawn dumplings ($6) and lobak $5.50) – all are average in the good sense of the word and are gobbled up with glee.

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The star of our show is beef rendang ($16.80).

The is very mildly spiced but the gravy is deep, dark and rich and the meat is fall-apart tender.

Better yet, it’s of a far better quality than we’re mostly familiar with when ordering this dish – there’s no gristle or fat here. At all.

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Our gado gado is a cause for puzzlement.

The mix of tofu, hard-boiled egg, snow peas, bok choy and broccoli is good mixed with a nice peanutty sauce.

But $14.80 seems a really steep price for such a dish.

No matter – we’ve enjoyed our feed, and Bennie and I suspect we’ll be back soonish to try such Malaysian benchmarks as Hainan chicken rice and/or mee goreng.

We take Carl to La Morenita for coffee before calling it a day.

 Lazat Malaysian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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