Def our fave Japanese joint

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My Little Bento, 12 Margaret Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 8585

There have been changes made at 12 Margaret Street in Moonee Ponds.

What was Kingyo izayaka has become My Little Bento.

This switch appears to be a reaction to covid factors – yet could just as easily be interpreted as a canny business move.

 

 

The menu (see below) has been slimmed down and the prices are extraordinarily low.

Yet I know for sure that food will be every bit as fine as the goodies that served as a basis for our Kingyo izayaka review.

How so?

 

 

It’s all about the pickles – the same crunchy, sour delights that figured in our earlier visits are still in the house.

We order a side serve ($7) of them … just, you know, to make sure.

Yep all good – better than good!

So no worries at all, as two lunch-time visits – one with Nat, another with Bennie – happily attest.

 

 

Miso soup ($4) – regular-style, simple and every bit as good as expected.

Nat’s sashimi bento ($18, top picture) is oh-so-pretty with its array of textures, colours and flavours.

 

 

My “chicken katsu sando” from the specials board ($14) is good, a tangy sauce accompanying the crisp chicken and with more of those pickles joining in the fun. My chips, though, are warm. Just. But still eat good.

 

 

Bennie really digs his chicken bento ($15.50) – and I think we all enjoy the bentos here being arrayed on plate instead of boxes.

So lovely!

The fried chicken is excellent, as are all the other features – including a crumbed, deep-fried croquette. Perhaps, he reckons, filled with red bean paste as found in Chinese buns.

 

 

The chicken is even better – and more flavoursome – in the form of katsu curry don ($15.50), with which comes with a variation on the pickle theme.

The curry gravy is as rich in flavour as its deep brown colour suggests.

It’s tempting to indulge in hyperbole and proclaim that My Little Bento is delivering the best Japanese food in the west.

But as there’s at least one place we haven’t tried, we’ll settle for saying it’s definitely our fave.

 

Wonderfally delicious

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advis_falafels, 16 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9396 1841

How cool is watching our favourite locals and those beyond integrating the virus-inspired pivots and swerves into their ongoing operations?

For instance … what was once Little Advi has become advis_falafels.

 

 

Along the way, the shop has been given a much fresher and brighter look.

It’s more spacious, as opposed to the lovely and much-loved yet cramped previous layout.

The menu, too, has been streamlined.

No meat as far as we can tell.

But the dips and salads remain – hooray!

And instead of what was my habitual order for several years – the falafel wrap – there is now an open falafel pita ($11, see menu below).

At first, Bennie and I are a bit bemused about whether to eat with hands or cutlery.

A bit of both turns out to be the go.

And while the ingredients are familiar from previous visits, somehow the flavours and textures seem to have bloomed and zoomed.

The falafels themselves are superb, while the crunchy slaw and hummous are the perfect foil.

Even the way the juices soak into the flatbread is wonderful!

 

Back on the burger beat

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Beats Burgers, 255 Keilor Road, Essendon. Phone: 7018 3501

Blinking, hesitant, we are back in the world.

But not with any great confidence or elan.

We reckon we’ll be cautious for quite a while, preferring places we can get in and and out with a minimum of fuss and in which the distance thing is a given.

And that’s cool as it’s pretty much our regular routine anyway.

Beats Burgers has been on our radar for a while, but we’ve ended up here today somewhat haphazardly.

Having hit Bennie’s favourite comic shop in Moonee Ponds and picking up some groceries for the week ahead, we just kept on tootling up Mount Alexander Road and turned left.

 

 

Beats Burgers is a spacious place and, happily, there is just one other table occupied.

The walls are festooned with street-style art, with beats on the sound system close enough to the Roy Ayers we’ve been playing in the car to make a nice fit.

We eat good.

 

 

The chips are excellent – hot, crisp, yummy.

But I wish we’d been asked about yay or nay to chicken salt.

 

 

The Beats Deluxe burger is fine – just a good, straighahead beed burger with tomato relish, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles.

 

 

The Chicken Houston is a definite step up in class.

It’s even simpler – just fried chicken, chopotle mayo, coleslaw and pickles.

But the chook chunk is wonderfully crunchy and teams up real well with the slaw.

Value for money?

We’re a bit half full/half empty on that score.

Our lunches have been combo deals – the burgers, chips and cans of soft drink for $20 each.

In some ways that seems a little steep, especially in regards to the beef burger.

But OTOH, it’s generally in the going rate vicinity for such burger meal deals.

We’ll happily step inside Beat Burgers when we’re in this neighbourhood again.

 

Two amazing iso meals

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House of Mandi, 326 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9077 3963
Latin Foods & Wines, 809 Ballarat Road, Deer Park. Phone: 8358 5503

A substantial desire for Somalian food is upon us.

But instead of recourse to an icky app, I’m happy to head out on a Friday night to Flemington.

Discovering as I do so, and as I’m sure many others are, that driving logistics and stress is much lessened in current circumstances.

House of Mandi looks like just about every other eating places these days – the place is in a state of friendly disarray, with tables pushed back to the walls.

But it’s open!

I order, get our food and am back in Yarraville in what seems like no time.

Just what sort of meal we’re getting remains a mystery until we open the polystyrene boxes on the kitchen counter.

 

 

Gosh – it’s all brilliant.

And then some.

There’s no soup involved, which is not unexpected as this takeaway.

The rest is sublime.

Rice – studded with cardamom and cloves.

But this has depth of smoky flavour that we have never before encountered in countless Somalian meals.

Bennie has no qualms about calling it: “This is the best rice I’ve ever had!”

Spiced yogurt and green chilli sauce – plenty of both.

Our lamb shanks are tender, tasty and perfect in every way.

We’ve paid $15 for this amazing meal.

 

 

The next day is as bleak a Saturday as can be imagined.

Because of the rain and chill, I have something of a plan that involves grabbing empanadas and other supplies at Latin Foods & Wines and then whizzing home on the ring road to enjoy our lunch in warmth and comfort.

But Bennie has other ideas – he definitely wants to wrap his choppers around our fave Latin Foods & Wines sandwich, the chacarero.

So far as I can recall, we’ve never eaten a meal while sitting in our car; the idea has no appeal.

But I reluctantly let him have his way – and it turns out to be a most excellent call.

We get what I strongly suspect is an iso deal – so my advice would be get it while you can.

Chacarero, top-notch chips that are hot and crisp and a can of soft drink – all for $10.

Our sandwiches?

Wonderful, with their squeaky green beans and sliced beef that is of such high quality that it defies the gnawing aspect that usually leads to regular steak sandwiches disintegrating.

We enjoy our lunches yet never spill a drop of food juice on ourselves or the car.

Maybe I should re-adjust my attitudes to this kind of eat-in meal?

Rib and curry sensations

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Santorini, 1 Parker Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9399 8520
podatpid, 638 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0404 904 900

Never order ribs from a non-specialist barbecue joint.

This is the emphatic lesson rammed home to Consider The Sauce through tedious confrontations with mediocrity.

Or worse.

But in the case of Santorini, we figure this is a rule worth ignoring.

Observing on FB the ingenuity and passion with which the whole Santorini crew is confronting the virus brouhaha is truly heartening.

That includes free delivery – yes, even as far as Yarraville – and specials events such as “souvlaki night”, free donut nights and more.

So order ribs, we do.

What we get is simply sensational.

Great lemon potatoes and heaps of them.

Greek coleslaw, and heaps of that, too, with just enough onion to add a little bite and quite a lot of feta, which crumbles into the dressing.

What a magic mix!

Given the superb accompaniments, and the fair asking price of $25 per person, we’d be quite unfazed to get a single big beef rib each.

Unfazed, but disappointed.

But no!

We get two of the beefy blighters each.

And – you guessed it!  – they, too, are very, very excellent.

And tender.

And delicious.

To order from Santorini online, go here.

 

 

Another of our faves, podatpid on Barkly Street in West Footscray, is also having lots of fun and satisfaction in keeping on trucking.

The cafe is selling a select range of top-notch grocery items, including bread.

And pick-up/take-home meals.

After having two encounters with it, we’ve become particularly fond of their pork-and-pineappple curry.

A really big serve for two cost us a fine $22.

It’s not so hefty in the pineapple department – it being outweighed by sweet potato.

Now that’s something that normally have both of us wrinkling up our noses in disgust because of its similarity to pumpkin.

But here, mixed in with the rich brown (and mild) curry gravy, it’s fab.

And our curry boasts a really good amount of tender pork chunks.

 

 

This particular meals ends with a sweet treat from yet another of faves – Olive Oil & Butter on Somerville Road.

Baklava for two – with yogurt. Greek, of course.

Hunkering down at home like everyone else, we’ve actually been cooking/eating healthily and affordably to a quite amazing extent.

So it’s been good to enjoy such great food from outside.

Even if we’ve not been sitting inside.

 

Naked and hungry

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Naked Egg, 32A Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9396 0309
Panjali Banana Leaf Malaysian Restaurant, 3/10 Sun Crescent, Sunshine. Phone: 9193 1740

We’ve been hearing the talk – that Yarraville cafe Naked Egg has been doing fab takeaway meals.

So we check them out.

And the outcome is outstanding.

Some takeaway meals don’t suit us as we don’t have a microwave oven.

So I get two serves of chicken cacciatore at $18 each.

Actually, with its sausage and beans involvement, it’s more a cassoulet.

But let’s not split hairs, eh?

 

 

Bennie has somehow become the tightwad of the family, so gets a bit sniffy about the asking price of $18 a serve.

I beg to differ.

Adamantly.

Our “stew” is gloriously rich and delicious, with seeming multitudes of chicken bits, sausage and vegetables, all in a rich, thick sauce of profound delectableness.

Expert cooking going on here, methinks.

In a restaurant setting – oh, those were the days and hopefully will be again – I’d expect to pay in the mid-$20s or even more.

So this strikes me as very good pricing. I expect any decrease in price would inevitably mean a drop in quality.

The side serve of spuds and sauerkraurt is OK, but no match for the main event stew.

In a word: Fabulous!

 

 

For another take-home meal, we venture a bit up the road – to Panjali in Sunshine.

This time, I’ve phoned in our order beforehand and the whole procedure is sweet and swish, our food (mostly) awaiting when I turn up.

We get two murtabaks – one lamb ($12.90) and one chicken ($11.90).

It may be thought in some quarters that anything involving flatbreads purchased for later heating up is a recipe for ugh.

But we know from previous experience that is not the case with murtabaks.

Panjali murtabaks, anyway.

 

 

Our Saturday night meal is, well, orgasmic.

Perhaps we’ve been missing a certain level of spice and oil and funkiness?

Anyone else in that bag?

In any case, our Panjali meal of murtabak has us both ooh-ing and ahh-ing an sporting happy grins.

Not only do the murtabaks re-heat very well, but the accompanying gravies – one beef curry and one dal and vegetables – are wonderful.

 

Happiness delivered

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Eleni’s Kitchen + Bar, 28 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9943 4233
Safari Restaurant, 159 Union Road, Ascot Vale. Phone: 9372 7175

Once these crazy times have abated, perhaps one of the lasting legacies will be a determination by many restaurants to continue taking care of their own home deliveries, leaving the icky apps out in the cold.

Wouldn’t that be great?

We have watched online as small businesses across the west have re-imagined their operations with passion and ingenuity – it’s been awesome to observe!

We are adhering pretty much to the “stay in your village” ethos, but even in and around Yarraville there is plenty from which to choose – and we plan on doing so about once a week in the coming months.

First up, a special Saturday night treat, is Eleni’s!

And because it’s a treat on the heels of a week of excellent home-cooking, we go all in and order the $63 meat deal for two. The toasted pita bread costs us an extra $2.

It’s all terrific, superb – and much more voluminous than the above photo indicates.

What we get: Lamb and chicken gyros, loukanika (sausage), lamb cutlets, Greek rissoles, pork kalamakia (skewer), tzatziki and salad.

The meat is cooked dead right and we love the different flavours and seasonings.

Hot? No. It’s warm – and that’s fine by us.

If we get around to Eleni’s again in the coming months, we’ll likely opt for one or more of the home-style dishes such as gemista, moussaka or pastitso.

Check out Eleni’s takeaway/delivery menu here.

 

 

When it comes to our meal from Safari, we do succumb to the use of a delivery app.

Safari was our Somalian hot spot several years before we became fully entranced with the Somalian eateries of Flemington.

Because of “stay in your village”, we have no idea how most of the Racecourse Road places are faring – or even if they’re open.

Though we note with happiness that #SomaliEats IS now up and running, offering pick-up and delivery – though I doubt that delivery option would stretch as far as Yarraville!

But such is our desire for a taste of Somalia, that we do the Door Dash thing with Safari – and it is absolutely outstanding!

We both opt for the lamb federation meal – fragrant, cardamom-studded rice AND pasta, heaps of tender lamb on the bone, some salad and veg.

No soup, but that’s no biggie; one banana between the two of us and tubs of chilli sauce and “Safarinaise”.

Really, this was just as good as having a Somalian feed in a restaurant, though without the vibe and colour!

The cost?

A mere $18 each.

A simple pleasure

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Two 500-gram bags of rolled oats, one of crushed oats, roasted almonds (chopped) and sultanas.

That’s been my muesli recipe for more than a decade.

Sometimes, I’ll add some other fruit such as dried apricots.

And sometimes I’ll go without when it becomes too much of a chore, veering towards toast for breakfast.

Just lately, though, my muesli has made a resurgence – and has even become my lunch now that Bennie’s out in the workforce.

And now that I’m home.

Alone.

And pretty much retired.

Or should that read, unemployed?

Or unemployable?

In any case, I am going through a period of loving ma muesli.

Truly, when soaked for a while (or overnight), and with some fresh fruit and a Big Dollop of Greek yoghurt, it seems like a luscious, decadent desert.

 

 

Especially when the fresh fruit is fresh feijoas.

Wow.

I’m tellin’ ya, it’s as good as tiramisu!

CTS Readers & Friends Eats Digest 13/4/20

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Lisa writes from Airport West: “Hi Kenny, Happy Easter long weekend. I’m a long-time reader of your blog that lives and works in the west, so have thoroughly enjoyed your posts and recommendations.

“Thought I’d send through a pic of home-made pumpkin and olive bread (c/- Dan Lepard) and spicy cauliflower soup. Have been dabbling in no-knead bread and easy bread recipes, since my previous disasters in breadmaking (bagels and the like).

“I live in Airport West (more north-west, but consider it west) and work in Braybrook, so have tried pretty much every restaurant along Barkly Street, West Footscray! Always look forward to your updates and goss to try somewhere new with friends.

“I always seem to be returning to Latin Foods & Wines, various Afghan restaurants in Sunshine, Brother Nancy and Smokehouse 101. Have yet to try Theos in Keilor Park – have been wanting to try their spanakopita, but have sold out a couple of times by the time I get there late afternoon.”

 

Sylvia writes from Caroline Springs: “Some photos of my home made hot cross buns. As an enthusiastic home baker, it was really stressful seeing supermarket shelves devoid of flour. I found some at a convenience store and decided to start some festive Easter baking. One batch is chocolate and orange, second batch traditional fruit buns. I soaked the fruit (which was a little old and dry) in earl grey tea to revive it which worked a treat!”

 

 

In West Footscray, Justin and family are cooking up a storm – including this pumpkin, chick pea and harissa soup.

He says: “Truth be told … the sort of recipe I would never have considered in normal times. Too many steps. But not when you’ve got all the time in the world on your hands!”

 

Also emanating from the Justin kitchen – lasagne and …

 

… “pork meatballs in sugo that I made and froze a couple of weeks ago. And using up the fag ends of three pasta packs. So easy. Classic meatball mix of mince, breadcrumbs, onions, herbs … fried and simmered. So good.”

 

In Carnegie, the Nat family enjoyed this “excellent tripe with the spicy Thai dipping sauce”.

He tells me the meal also included larb with chicken mince, a kilo of boiled prawns and a Chiang Mai herbal chicken soup and steamed rice.

 

Our lovely neighbour Vanessa, whose garden we raid regularly for herbs, enjoyed these fish tacos.

 

Up on the Gold Coast, Judith Weir and partner Tim enjoyed this classic steak and salad combo.

 

My own nourishment, during two weeks of solo living, has included this yummo coconut, spud and chick pea curry sourced from Woven in Stpehen Street, Yarraville and …

 

 

… classic basic sausages from Andrew’s Of Yarraville with rough-mashed potatoes and tomato and …

 

… your standard chicken biryani ordered in from Dosa Corner in West Footscray.

Asked for “mild”, got blazing over-hot heat!

 

I also enjoyed this rustic pasta dish, yiouvetsi, from Olive Oil & Butter on Somerville Road.

Their menu describes it as: “Slow-cooked lamb and orzo pasta baked in stew pot in a rich tomato base, finished with grilled kefalograviera and feta.”

Despite its humble appearance, it was fabulously delicious!

CTS Readers’ Eats Digest 31/3/20

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From Sharnae in Werribee: “My almost five-year-old learning the joys and deliciousness of homemade pasta. It’s a simple carbonara with bacon, garlic, eggs, and parmesan and parsley.”

 

From Greg in Flemington: “Grass-fed rib eye for two, done sous vide, parsley and roquette salad, parmesan dutch creams, fresh horseradish. Please forgive the opened boxes of vinyl gloves … a sign of our current time.

“The wine was exceptional – Hickinbotham Trueman vineyard cabernet Sauvignon 2012. Have cellared since 2014. Sadly, no change from $75, but we wanted to say to ourslelves, ‘great produce deserves great wine’.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long-time Consider The Sauce readers and supporters Sian and Michael are eating well in West Footscray.

Sian: “We’ve had a couple of takeaway meals from Bruger and West 48, but probably the favourite thing I’ve eaten so far has been Eat Me Soulfood’s lasagna. But I didn’t take a photo of that. They’ve upped their range from single-serve meals (which we typically get two serves out of anyway) to include some ‘family size’ dishes since all this started, which has been great.

“So while we haven’t been shopping ourselves, we’ve had some fresh food to eat anyway!  I did make my own bread the other weekend – AND mozzarella from scratch!

“This Saturday past I ventured out to see what Restaurant Navi were doing with their new bakery option. Turned up five minutes before opening and stood in a carefully distancing queue for an hour, ordered at the door and brought home my sourdough and treats eventually. Turned some of the sourdough into epic three-cheese toasted bread.

“I also made my own pickles for the first time, pictured with a lunch frittata (we’re working from home now, a cooked lunch is viable).

“Next weekend I’m thinking of giving Cobb Lane a go _ they’re offering delivery for orders over $20 in the inner west and I’ve missed them a lot since they went wholesale only.”

 

From the Nat Stockley family in Carnegie: “Chiang Mai-style dishes – pounded jackfruit herbal and herbal chicken soup with mushrooms,”

(Editor’s note: I’m pretty sure Nat took the photos and Kanchana Auttama did the cooking!)

 

Some of what we’ve been eating

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Here’s some of the fare we’ve been enjoying while being sociable distancers …

 

Our own Yarraville tomato sauce with smashed pork sausages from A&L Gugliotta & Sons and spaghettini.

 

Stewed quinces with flourless choc brownie from Second Ave Grocer and Greek yoghurt.

 

A great delivered deal from Cheezy Pizza on Gamon Street – one large Australian, one large American, garlic bread, bottle of soft drink for $30!

 

Lamb koftas (hamburger style) from Andrew’s Of Yarraville, tzatziki, fennel and tomato salads, grilled ciabatta.

 

Fabulous Chilton’s Moroccan lamb pie from Second Ave Grocer with green beans in olive oil, salt, pepper.

 

More of our tomato sauce – this time with ricotta and parsley, basil and marjoram from Vanessa’s garden. And rigatoni.

Show us what you’ve got!

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Hello Readers!

Well now, what use a food blog these days, eh?

Particularly one primarily based around eating out and about at eateries all over the western suburb and then going home and writing about them.

Not much use.

Not much use at all.

Truth is, we’ve been eating extremely well and (mostly) healthily – and I suspect we’re far from alone in that.

So here it is – Consider The Sauce is throwing open its doors to community contributors.

We’d love you out there to send us photos of your socially distanced meals.

Anything goes – burnt toast, a cup of instant noodles, a lavish five-course feast, a backyard barbecue.

Words?

Not if you don’t want to or can’t be bothered.

But OTOH feel free to send reviews, recipes, poetry or even reflections on our current situation and how it’s affecting your world – and what you are eating.

We are in utter awe at the passionate, ingenious and brilliant efforts being put in by so many restaurants, cafes and shops all over the west – many of them run by people we know personally – in turbocharged adventures aimed at keeping their businesses going, their staff employed and the rest of us well fed.

I want to order deliveries and/or takeaways from each and every one of them.

But, of course, I can’t do that!

And while my journalistic instincts are to go zipping all over the place gathering snapshots of them in smiling action, even that is not advisable.

So feel free to sing the praises of your favourites by sending pics and words conveying your pleasure on how your fave eateries are rising to the occasion!

Unfortunately, I cannot pay for reader contributions.

And, sure, you can post your pics on your favourite social media platform – but that means they will be seen friends and family and then rapidly buried underneath the daily post flow.

Send them to us and they may be enshrined in perpetuity on the western suburbs’ longest-standing and most widely read food blog.

Depending on response, I will turn contributions into individual stories – or perhaps a weekly or daily digest.

Digest?

Hah!

C’mon – show us what you’ve got!

Send your efforts to Consider The Sauce by either of the following methods:

email: kennyctsblog@gmail.com

Or by Messenger through the CTS Facebook page.

Nutty stuff

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Clockwise from top left: Peanut butter Nutella, salted caramel, choc orange, cinnamon, cookies ‘n’ cream, lamington jam cream.

 

Daniel’s Donuteria Hoppers Crossing, 4/150 Hogans Road, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 8742 4997

Despite having – until now – never visited Daniel’s Donuteria, I am so used to thinking of it as a Hoppers Crossing fixture, that it comes as something of a shock to discover it is but one.

There are others – thanks Bennie, Nat for wising me up – in Springvale, Carnegie, the CBD and even (blow me down) at Highpoint.

But here we are at Hogan’s Corner in Hoppers.

How to describe Hogan’s Corner?

It’s a weird collection of shops and and caparking seemingly distributed at random.

When it comes to shopping centre/precincts, Hogan’s Corner is definitely at the unlovely end of the spectrum.

 

 

But it serves the local community pretty well, I suspect, and we enjoy the unfamiliar setting as we get familiar with Dan’s “donuts”.

They are very, very good, though it may be some time (maybe never) before we partake of a post-midnight deep-fried batter run to Hopper’s Crossing for the place’s popular 24-hour opening hours on Friday and Saturday.

 

 

We have been envisaging sharing three donuts between us for lunch.

But we succumb to the attractions of a great offer – six of the joint’s top-line specimens for $14.

That’s about $2.30 an item – and that makes for a ripper deal when compared with the prices I see Krusty Kreme products going for closer to home.

 

 

We do indeed account for three of our six – peanut butter Nutella, salted caramel and choc orange.

And I, for one, am very full at that point in what is an usual non-savoury, non-spicy lunch for us.

I had half expected the Daniel’s range would involve plain donuts with different frostings/icings.

But, no, all our donuts not only have their own individual toppings, but also fillings to match!

How splendid!

But better was to come.

The next day, for a mid-morning snack-with-coffee, I gobble our lamington, jam and cream donut.

Now, I’m not going to claim that donuts are anything but at the top of their game when fresh as.

But in this case, a certain amount of day-after staleness lends my snack pronounced extra yumminess.

The chocolate/coconut frosting, in particular, has a crustiness that works in explosively fine tandem with the great gobs of real cream and jam that constitute the filling.

Divine and decedent!

 

Philippines food in West Footscray? Let’s eat!

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Chibog West Footscray, 553 Barkly Street, West Footscray.

After a pretty typical birth involving maddening red tape and other delays, Chibog has arrived in West Footscray.

From the crowds we’ve observed when driving by, it’s a hit – one that adds even more diversity to an already colourful strip.

The bosses – chef Alex Yin, Janine Barican and Thuan Le – tells us that punters have been rolling up from local neighbourhoods, but also from such popular Filipino locales as Cairnlea and even from right across town.

 

 

The long dining room is an attractive space in which to relax and we find the service superb and the staff engagingly friendly.

Nat and I hit ’em on a Tuesday, have our way with the menu in quite an extensive fashion and enjoy a wonderful meal.

This is among the very best Filipino food I have tried – and clearly the best presented.

And about as far from bain marie slop as it is possible to get.

Price-wise, don’t be expecting the ultra low prices and huge serves you may get from other Asian food genres.

At Chibog, things work more along the lines of a classy Thai restaurant in terms of pricing.

But even then, we have no problem with our final bill – pretty good value, actually.

Chibog, BTW, means “let’s eat”!

 

 

Kinilaw ($14) is tuna ceviche with coconut, cucumber, caviar and red onion.

It’s as silky smooth and sexy as you’d expect.

And gone, sadly, in a flash.

 

 

Ukoy ($9) are wonderful!

They’re deep-fried fritters involving mainly sweet potato, but also onion and prawns.

Just like onion bhaji – and just as delicious, especially dipped in the vinegary sauce that accompanies.

(There’s a lot of vinegar going around at Chibog!)

 

 

Rellenong squid ($10) finds a tubular cephalopod piece stuffed with mince pork and (fewer) vegetables.

It, too, is very enjoyable – though very mild of flavour.

It is served with very nice pickled vegetables (atchara).

 

 

That mildness aspect could be said to apply to much of our meal.

While the flavours are lovely, there is little in the curry or spice-style heat and impact we expect of food from enighbouring countries.

Our kansi ($19), for instance, looks like it may come with a laksa wallop.

Instead, the broth/stew is much more delicate and made with a tamarind base.

It’s an osso buco dish – and the meat is really tasty and fall-apart tender.

Like the Vietnamese stew bo kho, our kansi comes with quite a significant level of non-meat animal content.

I suspect individual punters’ approach to that will depend on cultural baggage.

We mostly put the fat aside, while mentally acknowledging that it IS an integral part of a dish we enjoy very much.

The chunky bits of jackfruit fit in right fine.

 

 

Finally, and sticking with meaty fare, we go for the Chibog dish that celebrates the Filipino fixation with roast pork – the crispy pata ($27).

Our pork knuckle is big, meaty and marvellous, the flesh a mixture of tender and still yummy not-so-much. There’s also a stack of crackling.

I make a fair fist of carving it myself, before handing over to the way more adept Janine!

It’s served with more atchara, chilli soy (our preference) and a Filipino staple of rich gravy served cold and made (partly) with liver.

And that would’ve been that for us very full lads.

Except, on account I’m guessing of our animated interest in the food and the fact the staff have no doubt twigged that a story/review is in the offing, we are offered and indulge in a complementary dessert.

Crispy leche flan ($9, top photo) is a custardy treat served in the formed of spring rolls.

Even better, IMO, is the brought-in but nevertheless excellent ube ice-cream. Ube is a yam that gives this ice-cream a flavour and texture that presents as a mix of coconut and pandan.

Yummo!

 

Happy Greek arrival

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Skewered Taverna, Shop 13, 71-79 Kororoit Creek Road, Williamstown.

For a while there, a few years back, Rifle Range shopping centre in Williamstown was the site of frequent visits by Team CTS.

Those visits were all about dropping in to partake of the fine food – pizzas, pastas and more – as proffered by Pizza d’Asporto.

Once a new Pizza d’Asporto shop opened right around the corner from us in Yarraville, Rifle Range was no longer a target for us.

But maybe a return visit to the Willy Pizza d’Asporto is in order – there’s been a reconfiguration there that makes the place more like a restaurant proper than a mere takeaway place with some seating.

Plus, you know – pizza, pasta, any excuse.

But today we’re back on Kororoit Road to check out the centre’s newest arrival – Skewered Taverna, which has slotted into the premises once housing the local charcoal chicken shop.

 

 

The place is set up – and feels – like a cross between a quickie souvlaki joint and a more formal Greek restaurant, something that is also reflected in the menu (see below).

When quizzed about what elements of the food line-up are made from scratch in house and those brought in, we appreciate the honesty shown us – tzatziki yes, taramasalata no; dolmades no, but moussaka and gemistes (stuffed capsicum) yes.

That knowledge guides us, to some extent, in our ordering.

 

 

OK, OK, I confess –  I am photographically challenged when it comes to capturing the simple magic of a souvlaki wrap.

This is an unlovely depiction of Bennie’s lunch.

It’s called “The Village” ($13.50) – and it’s everything he wants in a souvlaki.

Well-cooked and seasoned lamb off the spit, tomato, onion lettuce, tzatziki and chips wrapped in thick, Greek-style pita bread.

We reckon the Skewered souvlaki list is going to be a VERY hot ticket in this neighbourhood.

 

 

My meal is something very different.

I go for the made-in-house moussaka ($23) and am delighted in every way – especially after my most recent moussaka try had been disappointing.

I get the same chips, pita bread (grilled and oh-so-moreish!) and tzatziki as Bennie, along with some good Greek salad.

The moussaka itself is home-style Greek cooking marvellous – a big serve, rich, creamy, meaty, comforting and delicious.

For many more stories, go to considethesauce.net.

 

 

Double banger

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Angie’s Kitchen, Shop 75, 21-31 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9939 5821
Macelleria, Shop 74 Moonee Ponds Central, 21-31 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 8441

Periodically, we find ourselves in Moonee Ponds and, more specifically, on Puckle Street.

And it’s then that we wonder: “What the hell are we doing here?”

It’s all a perfectly OK retail/eating precinct – and we love scoping out some of the gorgeous real estate between Puckle Street and, say, Highpoint on our way home.

But by and large, when it comes to the kinds of food that sets our pulses racing, the neighbourhood is, well, just average.

But there are hot spots.

We continue to love shopping, when we’re in the area, at Fresh On Young – the subject of the second ever CTS story.

More recently, on Hall Street – on the other side of Puckle Street from Young – there is a food flourishing going on, one we make the most of with twin winning lunches at adjoining newcomers.

Both Angie’s Kitchen and Macelleria front Hall Street, but are part of the wider Moonee Ponds Central retail/food/services set-up.

 

 

The colour scheme, fittings and all-round general vibe in Angie’s Kitchen make it feel like the kind of place you’d be very comfortable taking your gran.

But there is some real serious, delicious and keenly priced Chinese food going on here – and it’s all produced and created in house from the ground up.

As we takes our seats, we are entertaining thoughts of trying up to a handful of the many dumplings featured on the menu (see below) – and chicken feet.

We lose out on the chicken feet.

“They wouldn’t work in Moonee Ponds,” we’re later told.

Meanwhile, we mention to the staff member serving us that we’re used to ordering (and eating) Chinese roasts in combos of two or three meats, accompanied by rice and bok choy – as we’d enjoyed the previous week.

Yet this option is not open to us at Angie’s Kitchen.

No problem, we’re helpfully informed – just order the mixed roast platter ($30), a small serve of greens with oyster sauce and a bowl of rice.

So – big change of plans – that’s what we do.

The photo of the mixed roast platter at the top of this story does not adequately convey the generous size of the portions – nor their outright deliciousness.

Oh boy, oh boy – this is fabulous stuff!

And this is quite a different setting from that in which we more normally enjoy this kind of food, but we revel in it.

The portions of duck and barbecued pork are chunkier than the norm, but nevertheless excellent – and, for the most, juicy and tender.

The roast pork pieces, including their crackling, are quite delicate.

 

 

Our small serve of mixed greens ($9.80) is purpose made for accompanying the roast meats and does the job admirably.

 

 

The roast/greens mix makes for quite a substantial lunch, but we cannot resist the temptation of trying the steamed BBQ pork buns ($6.20).

 

 

These, too, are superb, with wonderfully sticky and sweet fillings.

We’ve eaten like royalty so have no qualms whatsoever about the $49 price tag – it seems like a bargain.

 

 

When I first heard about Macelleria and its slogan – “The Butcher That Cooks For You” – I was skeptical.

It sounded a bit gimmicky to me.

We discover that, to some extent at least, that feeling is warranted.

 

 

Customers can and do buy meat from Macelleria to take home – but mostly this a steak/grill joint (one of four in Melbourne) with a display cabinet.

But what arouses our curiosity, impels us through the door and – eventually – finds us taking a lunch-time table is the menu item that is the half rack of beef ribs (menu below).

Based on our previous experiences with the bigness of beef ribs, a half rack with a side salad and mash for $24.90 sounds like a fine deal.

 

 

The dining room is a lovely, airy place in which to lunch and watch the passing parade on Hall Street.

 

 

Bennie is the lucky punter who gets to order and enjoy the beef ribs.

It proves to be excellent.

The ribs aren’t as big as many we’ve enjoyed, but plenty big enough for lunch.

The meat and its rosemary and garlic marinade are terrific.

The side salad is beaut and the creamy mash also fine – though so voluminous is the latter that Bennie falls quite a way short of finishing it.

 

 

My own bangers and mash is a much more modest outing, both in ambition and price ($17.90).

The finely ground beef snags are very flavoursome and the mash the same as that which adorned Bennie’s ribs.

But the high point of my meal is the rich, perfect onion gravy.

 

 

I bolster my meal with a serve of coleslaw ($7.90).

This proves to be a mistake.

For starters, Bennie’s side salad would’ve sufficed for both of us.

And this slaw is just OK – in fact, it’s a bit drab.

 

Chinese, fabulous

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Sun Wong Ky, 51 Byron Street, Footscray.

Footscray’s Little Saigon Market will never be replaced – figuritively and, it often seems, quite literally.

But we mostly have an ability to live in the present and appreciate what we have, rather than what once was.

So we enjoy the sparkling neighbourhood that has grown up around the burnt-out shell of the old market.

Centred on Byron Street, the neighbourhood has numerous businesses and a chilled-out vibe that is a nice retreat from the traffic and bustle of Barkly, Leeds, Hopkins and Nicholson streets.

 

 

Sun Wong Ky is fully symbolic of an area in transition – its new shop sits right opposite the premises it once occupied in the old market.

When the new place opened, the offerings and set-up seemed to us rather basic and aimed more at take-home customers.

Now, though, there is a much more eatery thing going on (see menu below), so we are right up for taking their Chinese roast meats for a whirl.

There are a few tables and chairs inside, but we take one of several outside tables and enjoy watching the world go by as we wait.

Bennie and I both choose the two-meat roast combo, priced at an excellent $12.80.

 

 

Soya chicken and barbecued pork for him and …

 

 

… soya chicken and roast pork for me.

Oh my!

This is great stuff – as good as any Chinese roast meats we’ve enjoyed in the west.

And that’s saying a lot.

The chicken – even the bigger, denser pieces – is very tender and juicy.

Likewise with Bennie’s barbecued pork.

The roast pork has superb crackling – not too gnarly, yet with plenty of crackle.

Cooking juices have been poured on the rice and under each pile of meat is good bok choy.

 

 

By contrast, our serve of chicken feet ($6) is dull, with none of the zingy saltiness from blackbean sauce or chilli kick we expect.

They’re big, though, and even surprisingly meaty – more like eating wings than feets!

 

Burger defies expectations

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YOMG, 17-19 Pratt Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 8548 9577

Burger places – or, rather, burger franchises and chains – seem to be sprouting up like weeds.

Perhaps a move to a semi-official CTS non-coverage of them is due.

And the non-eating of their food, too.

 

 

YOMG in Moonee Ponds – the chain’s sixth store in Melbourne – seems at first blush less likely than most to arouse our curiosity and burger lust, with its cutsie slogan in pink neon, blandola fast-food look and a name that is more about yoghurt than meaty fare.

Certainly, Bennie was very sniffy when we ambled past a few weeks back.

“I don’t think so, dad,” he snorted.

But an experienced burger hand of our acquaintance has suggested that, in this case at least, appearances and all-round vibe are no indication of burger merit and that YOMG is well worth a try.

So, flying solo, I give it a whirl.

 

 

Nat Stockley is correct – this is some pretty good stuff.

From the menu (see below) I choose the Howler ($12.50) with its excellent beef patty, cheese, lettuce, onion, pickles, jalapenos and habanero mayo.

The added bacon is also excellent, but costs $2.50.

Some of the protruding lettuce leaves are a bit bruised, giving them a dirty look, but overall this is a good, two-handed burger – nothing world-beating, but solidly enjoyable.

The chips ($4.50) are hot and fine – but they’re been profusely sprinkled with chicken salt or one of its kin.

Not my go.

Combining burger, bacon, chips and a can of soft drink nudges my lunch cost above the $20 mark – but I guess that’s the going rate these days.

Don’t be tempted to pay even more by going with one of the pay-for sauces, as there’s a good supply of chilli sauces away from the serving counter to be had without payment.

 

Westie eats goss 06/02/20

 

Located below Chinese eatery Palace Royal and in the premises of a former clothes shop, Footscray will soon have a swish new Japanese-style barbecue restaurant.

 

 

The 45 Leeds Street food emporium looks like it will be quite something, will feature at-table cooking and is expected to open in a couple of months.

 

 

Staying in Footscray, the shopfront location on Barkly Street, right next door to Anh Tuk and just around the corner from the mall, is being fitted out.

 

 

The presence of many stools suggests something of an eat/drink nature is on the way here – but I have yet to see anyone in the place to find out more.

Goss about this most welcomely received!

 

 

We’re a bit sad to see that Ammas Pantry has closed – we really enjoyed the meals we had there.

The corner shop at 33 Parker Street, Footscray, right opposite Footscray City Primary School, will soon be up and running as Baby Elephant.

 

 

Work continues (slowly) on Filipino joint Chibog at 553 Barkley Street in West Footscray.

 

 

Management has been seeking staff on Facebook.

 

 

At Rifle Range shopping centre in Williamstown, the chicken shop is being transformed into a Greek taverna.

 

 

On Anderson Street in Yarraville, what was until very recently the Village Store has been well and truly gutted as the property is prepared for a forthcoming Woolies Metro outlet.

Once it’s open, CTS will walk the aisles to gauge how it goes in serving the local community.

 

 

Across the road, the former Bakers Delight shop is being prepared for a new venture under the auspices of Anna Quayle.

To be known as Romanee, its Facebook page is here if you’re interested in monitoring progress.

 

 

Around the corner on Ballarat Street, one of our fave village places, Little Advi, is now doing dinners.

 

 

We have yet to avail ourselves of this service, but the menu looks like it’ll be just the ticket for us!

 

 

The latest whisper I have heard regarding the ComBank building on Anderson Street runs along the lines of brewery downstairs and botox upstairs.

 

 

Sunshine’s Afghan Bread bakery, at 250 Hampshire Road, sells its wonderful flatbread for $2 for a bag of four.

 

 

And it’s also serving eat-in Afghan/Persian food.

When I tried the lamb qorma, the salad bits were just OK, the bread was typically the size of a front door mat and the dish itself looked ugly.

But it was of prime deliciousness – and cost a mere $12.

 

Prime pizza & more

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Charles & Gamon, 2 Gamon St, Seddon. Phone: 9995 8868

The box-shaped building on the corner of Gamon and Charles has a colourful history – one that has been discussed on various comment threads here at Consider The Sauce.

It goes something like this: Servo, Balkan restaurant, cafe (The Bowser?), Sobraso, Charles & Gamon and – bringing us right up to date – Charles & Gamon once more. There may be missing stages in that list!

 

 

Visiting to check out the newest iteration, I am thrilled to bits to have it pointed out to me that evidence of the Balkan grill part of the building’s history remains on the brickwork in the form of “Bery’s charcoal grill” signage.

How cool is that?

We’ve driven/walked past a gazillion times in the past couple of decades and never noticed!

Anyone who has passed in the couple of months will likely have noticed that the outdoor garden area remains VERY popular.

Inside, new management has wrought many changes.

While retaining the C&G name, the new look is much brighter and lighter.

We like the way the seating arrangements are so diverse – a big communal tables, several smaller, some armchairs, a few tall tables with stalls.

They say: “Step in and linger a while.”

Disclosure: One partner of the new team running C&G is my accountant – and a top bloke he is, too.

But he knows me quite well  enough to know that I will cut him no slack when trying out the food – even if we aren’t paying.

We are expecting glorified bar food and a pizza list.

What we get is better than that – and sometimes wonderfully so (see menu below).

 

 

We never boil/steam asparagus at home – it always gets the high-heat, flash-fry treatment; and we love it that way.

So we have no hesitation in ordering the charred seasonal greens of asparagus and broccolini with pecorino and lemon zest ($11).

It’s excellent, though I’m told asparagus prices will dictate a replacement ingredient very soon.

 

 

We are a little wary of ordering hummus is such an establishment on account of the fact we eat so much Lebanese and related food elsewhere.

But the C&G version is recommended to us by our server so we take the plunge – and end up delighted.

The C&G hummus ($15) has a seasoning tang that is utterly alluring.

Cumin?

Nope, it’s all about dukkah we are informed.

Topped with walnut crumbs and half a dozen roasted tomatoes, this is a winner.

 

 

From a list of seven pizzas, the margherita ($22) is also recommended to us.

It’s beautiful in its simplicity – fior di latte, basil, cherry tomatoes, love.

We reckon this as good a pizza as you’ll find in the inner west.

 

 

Bennie is more enamoured of the buttermilk chicken sandwich ($20) than I.

And he is, after all, the CTS expert.

He digs the crunchy and juicy chicken, the mustardy dressing and even the iceberg lettuce.

The chips are good enough, though could be bit hotter.

We like that they are festooned with rock salt and chopped parsley.

We’ll be back at the new C&G – particularly to explore in more dept the pizza list.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Charles & Gamon as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meals. We were free to order whatever we wished. Charles & Gamon management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to his story.)