Please note: These premises now house a restaurant called Phi Phi.
28 Alfrieda St, St Albans. Phone: 9310 9881
St Albans is such an unknown quantity that picking a place to eat is a bit of a lottery, but we resolve to not stress at all about where we’re going to eat or what we’re going to eat there.
As it is, a few seconds after ambling on to Alfrieda St, our choice is more or less made for us as we spy an emporium whose splendid name we had noted with approval on a previous visit.
Just Good Food?
Sounds good to us!
In we go to a bright and cheerful room, to be greeted by efficient but friendly staff – table, menu, order are all organised with cheerful briskness.
For this Saturday lunch shift, a couple of tables of folk are already chowing down.
Just Good Food is a hardcore Chinese place on a street dominated by a Viet vibe.
I reckon they probably turn on some splash-up and pricey seafood for dinners, and the few steamers we see about the place suggest there is yum cha to be had, too.
But for lunch, the usual range of rice and noodles seems to be the go, so we go with that flow by both ordering two-roast combos at $9.
“I want to try duck,” says Bennie – so duck he gets, accompanied by barbecued roast pork on rice.
Of the many unexpected joys that doing Consider The Sauce has conferred upon us, that it has become such a delicious father-and-son project is paramount.
Moreover, Bennie insists on reading each story just after it is posted, playing a vital proof reader and sub-editor role by pointing out mistakes, keeping his eyes peeled for likely looking fang venues and – in this case – taking some of the photos.
I order the barbecued roast pork, too, with soya sauce chicken in egg noodle soup.
As more food exotica enters our neighbourhood, Chinese roast meats can almost be seen as old-school in the same vein as steak and black bean sauce, but sometimes they simply hit the spot perfectly.
This is one of those times.
Our meats are very good indeed.
The pork is a deep pink and as lean as any I’ve seen. The soya sauce chicken is moist and juicy, even the meatier segments which can sometime be on the dry side, although as ever care is vital for any one of a certain age with a multi-thousand dollar dental investment to protect. Beware of them bones, folks!
Bennie likes his duck, especially once he works his way past the more bony bits – mind you, for a lad who digs chicken feet, a bit of skin and gristle is hardly hard labour either.
He makes appreciative noises about how the meat juices have soaked into his rice, while my soup is hot, a little peppery and light on the grease. Along with the meat, we both gobble up our bok choy pieces, making us feel all virtuous.
And then we’re done. What a beaut lunch – and just what we were looking for.
Just Good Food is one of those places that has multilingual signs festooned around the wall. From them we learn that they have live barramundi for $23.80 and oysters for $1.50 a pop. As well, there is a list of about 20 basic yum cha items costing between $4 and $5, though whether they are housemade or not we know not.
So it seems that Just Good Food may be quite a find.
While our meats were very good indeed, I’m not about to confer on them “best ever” status or anything like that.
But the service and warmth of welcome does put Just Good Food a cut above, especially from a certain Footscray place that boasts a similar lineup but from where he have long since stopped supping due to a frequently belligerent attitude.
As we approach the front counter to pay, we are spared the common routine of explaining where we had sat and what we had eaten, a cheerful “$20.50 please!” greeting us instead.
In such places and at such times, it is a mistake to confuse a welcome briskness with a rude brusqueness.
The staff are completely at ease with our photographic efforts and even allow us a peek of the giant ovens out back from whence the meats emanate.
As we stroll back to the car, we are blessed and awed by witnessing what we subsequently discover is an amazing sun dog (photo below).
Yummy – some kind of Saturday lunch, eh?