New Afghani in Sunshine

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Afghan Shaheen, 231 Hampshire Road, Sunshine. Phone: 0449 988 753

The success of Afghan Master Kebab in Sunshine has seemingly inspired others to try their luck with likeminded eateries.

Further afield, in Fooscray, Kebab Surra has made its mark.

In Sunshine, it appears there will be three new kids on the block.

One, already open, is situated in the food court at Sunshine Plaza and yet to be investigated.

Another, on the wider bit of Hampshire Road, still has newspapered windows.

Afghan Shaheen is up and running on the narrower part of Hampshire, heading towards the station.

 

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It’s done out in cheerful cafe style with ornate and shiny furniture.

It’s an Afghani eatery with a few twists thrown in.

You’ll find the chargrilled meats that are the principal reason of the much-love for the already established places.

As well, though, the menu (see below) features a longish list of straight-up Indian dishes and even an Indo-Chinese section.

Additionally, Afghan Shaheen is big on baking.

 

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One display contains a glistening range of Indian-style sweet treats that go for $18 a kilogram.

 

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Another cabinet displays many biscuits that look just like Italian-style biscotti.

I’m told, however, that they really are Afghani!

Rest assured, though, they contain heaps of butter.

They sell for a terrific $16 a kilogram – I’m surprised how many I get for $7.

A bowl namakpura (top photograph) – cumin-seasoned strips of deep-fried pastry – are brought without being ordered.

Playing the same sort of teasing role as papadums, they’re yummy.

 

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Lamb kebab ($13.99) has superb chargrilled meat of high quality – the de-skewered chunks shown here are only half of what is served.

The bread is good but unlike either regular naan or the more chewy, crusty bread delivered at Afghan Master Kebab or Kebab Surra.

 

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What I first mistakenly take to be some kind of soup turns out to be an excellent mint dipping sauce – a vinegary version of the pale green version often served.

It’s piquant and delicious.

 

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Curry and rice for $13.99 doesn’t sound like such a crash-hot deal but qabuli palaw is excellent.

The same, good bread.

The same salad bits

Fluffy white rice studded with moist currants and festooned with cooked, tender and sweet carrot strands.

The lamb “qorma” itself is mildly spiced but as deep in flavour as it is deep in brown.

The lamb is of the same high quality and tenderness as found in the kebab serving.

With its many bits and pieces, this $15 dish could easily suffice as a meal for two.

 

Afghan Shaheen on Urbanspoon

 

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Kiwi connection in Sunshine

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Bro’s Choice Cafe, 250 Hampshire Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9939 7512

You can buy Kiwi-style Ka Pies all over.

But where they are made is at 250 Hampshire Road.

But 250 Hampshire Road is also home to Bro’s Choice, a humble cafe that – naturally – sells Ka Pies!

It’s a straightforward place and about far from hispsterdom and smashed avo as it’s possible to get and still be a cafe.

I’m happy to call it home for half an hour as I sample my choice of pies.

Yes, I have two – at $4.50 a pop each.

Smoked fish pie is delicate, subtle and very nice.

Lamb roast pie is some kind of magic.

Yes, it tastes of lamb.

But more than, it tastes like ROAST lamb!

How cool is that?

With it sheep meat, bits of spud, carrot and corn, and gravy, it’s very, very good.

I take home four cold pies for further exploration with Bennie – two apiece of hangi pie (with smoked pork, kumara and potato) and pork and watercress.

I’m knocked out to find the price of the cold ones is a real fine $3.50.

Bargain!

And significantly less than the prices listed on the Ka Pie website, never mind delivery costs.

So Bro’s Choice would seem to be logical destination to stock up on these goodies.

We’ll be doing so.

Ka Pies may not have the same heft or all-out richness as Pure Pies but they taste just as good and are a whole cheaper.

 

Bro's Choice Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

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Meal of the week No.4: Xuan Banh Cuon

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Xuan Banh Cuon in Sunshine is a firm favourite of CTS, one we wish were able to visit more often.

So it’s nice to be greeted with smiles all round when we do.

Today – and while Bennie is making happy with his usual chargrilled pork with vermicelli – I get to play with two new additions to the menu.

Actually, we have tried the green papaya salad with beef jerky before – in a picnic setting.

Here, in the restaurant itself, it’s every bit as good – crunchy AND chewy, tangy and completely awesome.

It’s a lot wetter (i.e. more profoundly dressed) than the above photograph indicates.

Even better, this small serve ($6) is ample enough for Bennie to get a good taste as well.

Remarkable bargain!

And who doesn’t love it when roasted peanuts crown such a dish?

(The large size costs $10.)

 

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And how about this – banh goi or Vietnamese puff ($2)?

I could describe this as a Vietnamese version of your regular curry puff – but that would be doing it an injustice and would not be particularly truthful, either.

The deep-fried outer is crisped to a tee and delicate.

The loosely-packed innards consist of prawn, pork, vermicelli, mushroom, carrot and daikon.

And a lot of amazing.

See earlier story here.

Sunshine eats goss

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Joining Afghan Master Kebab in offering Afghani food in Sunshine will soon be two new enterprises.

Shaheen will be situated in the 231 Hampshire Road, location of the relatively short-lived Home Town Sudanese restaurant.

Afghan Star will be up the road apiece, sandwiched between Cash Stop and Thuan An.

At the time of CTS visiting, both place were in the process of major renovations, though as there was no one around to quiz we’ll just have to wait to see what these businesses will offer.

CTS will, of course, monitor and – in due course – eat.

 

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Around the corner on Station Place … CTS was saddened to see the perfectly lovely Indian eatery Maurya close down quite some time ago.

Its homespun, simple and affordable food was a contrast to the Indian eateries in West Footscray and we loved it for that very reason.

But it turns out my conclusion – that the place had gone under – was wrong.

Instead, it was a kitchen fire that forced the (temporary) closure.

So, yes, Maurya is back – “same food, same people”.

Yay!

I’m excited about getting back there with the extended Team CTS in tow …

 

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Meanwhile, back on Hampshire Road – number 197 to be precise – a second restaurant has opened bearing the same name, and being run by the same folks, as the that of the first African eatery in Sunshine, Walia Ibex in Clarke Street.

CTS was in post-breakfast mode when I dropped in but the room looks inviting – but no more so than the enticing perfumes of Ethiopian cooking emanating from the kitchen!

Sunshine Mosque – a personal touch

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Open day at Sunshine Mosque, 618 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9363 8245

Consider The Sauce would like to believe our dismay and disgust at the recent weeks’ deliberately inflamed anti-Muslim hysteria is universal across the land.

Sadly, though, having read much in the press of all kinds, on social media and various websites – luckily I am pretty much completely out of the loop when it comes to talkback radio – I know that is simply not the case.

But while these events have been unfolding, a thought bubbled up: “Why have I never been to a mosque?”

At very much the same time, the Cyprus Turkish Community of Victoria started publicising its “everyone welcome” open day – and we are only too happy to accept the invitation.

Predictably and joyfully, our visit is a whole lot of fun, full of friendly people with big smiles.

And, of course, we have our fill of the food on hand.

 

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The cheese-and-spinach gozleme I enjoy is as good as it gets – hot of the hot plate, fresh and wonderful.

But the coolest event of the day has an unexpectedly personal note …

 

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We have been on the mosque grounds just a matter of minutes when I run into my Star Weekly colleague Yasemin.

I’m surprised to see her, and she I.

But we shouldn’t be … after all, I did know she’s a local; and she, in turn, knows of my foodie/multicultural adventurer persona.

Yasemin is very busy selling tickets for the kebab operation but we nevertheless squeeze in some conversation.

For me, this is the western suburbs one-degree of separation at splendid work and a valued opportunity to see a colleague with whom I have in the past year finessed numerous stories as something other than a reporter to my sub-editor.

And for Yasemin, I hope (!), it’s a chance to see me as something other than a cranky, demanding, nitpicking pedant – perhaps as an openminded foodie blogger with untold curiosity and as a father.

That latter description being, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, very much how I see and define myself these days.

This is Yasemin’s mosque.

I ask her if she pretty much grew up here.

Her answer is: “Yes!”

 

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After my savory appetite has been satisfied, I enjoy a super strong and sweet Turkish coffee with a deep-fried dessert called sam isi.

It’s filo pastry encasing semolina, and like so many treasured desserts from that part of the world, is sweet without being overly so.

 

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I stop and have a yarn with Tammy of Stylish Sisters.

Tammy refers to herself as a “convert”, her husband being Somalian.

And, yes, she knows all about our favourite Union Road destination.

I love the name of her business – in my opinion, which in this context is worth no doubt very, very little – many of the “sisters” do indeed have style to burn.

 

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Eventually, the presence at the event of a flagrantly mustachioed dude with a busy camera having been noted, Ekrem Fuldagli introduces himself to us.

Ekrem is the chairman of the Cyprus Turkish Islamic Community of Victoria.

It’s a busy day for a busy man, but he makes time to escort us into the mosque proper and patiently answer my questions.

Ekrem has been in the chairman role for about a year.

He tells me it’s a challenging but rewarding role, involving as it does issues and projects both within the mosque community and its interactions with the wider world.

He describes the mosque community as very mainstream and relationships with the neighbours as just fine

The domed mosque interior itself is truly beautiful and, yes, it has what I would call a “spiritual” vibe.

Ekrem tells me the dome itself has no religious significance.

Rather it is all about acoustics and the oration requirements of the pre-electricity and pre-amplification times.

Sadly, other commitments mean we are unable to linger for the scheduled Q&A session to which I have been eagerly looking.

Maybe next time!

 

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Footy food as it should be

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Melbourne Croatia Clubrooms, Somers St, Sunshine North. Phone: 9310 1842

The St Albans Saints aren’t exactly the smallest of minnows in the Australian soccer world – they play in the Victorian National Premier League, after all.

But that they have made it to the last 16 of the inaugural FFA Cup knockout competition is pretty cool.

Mind you, they have done so so far without having to come against the professional might of any of the A-League clubs.

Tonight they do.

And for almost all the first half it looks like a miracle – and a quarter-final berth – are on the cards.

Eventually, they succumb 4-1 to Perth Glory – but Bennie and I love a taste of grassroots football.

For lighting and other reasons, the game is held at Knights Stadium in Sunshine, the powerhouse Melbourne Knights being another club – like the Saints – with a Croatian heritage.

So, of course, food is on the agenda.

We’ve been this way before – forĀ CROktoberfest – but this is our first time checking out what the regular Melbourne Croatian Clubrooms fare is all about on a regular game day/night.

 

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There are a number of platters available ranging in price from $20 for cevapi and raznjici (cubed pork pieces) up to the upper $20s for steaks, seafood, parmas and the like.

That all seems fair enough – and the meals being consumed around us look the goods – but we opt instead for more footy-minded tucker.

So shared rolls of cevapi and raznjici ($7) plus chips ($4) it is.

We’re very happy with what we get.

The chips are only so-so, but there’s plenty of them, we’re hungry and they taste pretty good.

The rolls, with their contrasting meaty fillings, are fine.

The meats are juicy and cabbage salad – something of a leading theme at CTS in recent weeks – are fab.

Wow, what a character-filled contrast – so simple, so obvious, so good – to the over-priced crap available at Melbourne’s major sports venues.

 

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Upon entering Knights Stadium itself, we’re impressed to discover the same cevapi and raznjici rolls are available at the grandstand “food court” kiosk!

 

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And how about this?

The open-air bar right out in front of the grandstand is serving scotch and bourbon – without resorting to the tacky by selling pre-mixed cans.

Classy!

Bennie is in digital game mode as I wander around taking in the sights and sounds. Everyone is friendly and happy, and I love the vibe.

 

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The folks from The Stray Cafe whip us up a fine cafe latte and hot chocolate.

The St Albans Saints are out of the FFA Cup.

But personally, I have really enjoyed being out and about for some grassroots community sport.

My interest has been tweaked by editing so many stories – covering all sorts of sports – for the Star Weekly newspapers, and I’m glad we’ve made the effort.

 

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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.