UPDATE (July 29, 2012): Review of new Pandu’s is HERE.
172 Buckley St, Footscray. Phone: 8307 0789
Having driven to and from Geelong during the day, and knowing I will be doing so many times in the coming week, I know I should be hunkering down on the sofa with books and music.
But a wanderlust is upon me, so a cruising I go.
It’s a bleak Wednesday night and I know not where I am headed.
As Ann Peebles sings like a viperish angel about tearing some unlucky soul’s playhouse down, I throw a left from Victoria St on to Buckley.
This is a dreary stretch of road that for anyone except those who live there means “the bit that heads to either Williamstown Rd or Sunshine Rd”.
For as long as I’ve lived in the west, situated halfway along has been a former neighbourhood shop that has never been anything but unused or moribund.
Or so I presume – wrongly.
As I pass I see lights, an old-style neon “Open” sign and people – well, two of them anyway.
Joy bubbles up at the realisation that where there was once a vacuum there is now life.
In I go.
I am gobsmacked to discover that Pandu’s has been open for a year and a half. Pay attention, Kenny!
The decor and ambiance are straight-up inner-city low-rent ethnic tucker, which fact makes me feel right at home right away.
This is a place purveying Indo-Chinese food, about which I am a rank beginner. I wish I had Ms Baklover of Footscray Food Blog with me, as she’s a fan of this food genre and doubtless much more hip than me on how and what to order.
I suspect my meal is far from the heart of Indo-Chinese food. What can I say? I adore soups and noodles.
I quiz the staff whether their hot and sour soup resembles either Thai or Chinese concoctions, and receive little clarification, order it anyway.
My soup ($4.95) certainly looks like the Chinese dish of the same, but slurping it reveals profound differences. This is much less viscous than most Sino versions I have tried. It’s laden in a swell way with ginger. There’s also egg, carrot, peas and other stuff I am unable to identify. It’s delicious and of what I would describe as mild-to-hot spiciness.
My hakka noodles ($7.95) resemble the Nepalese chow min served by Fusion Cafe & Mo:Mo Bar, only this is less seasoned and drier. You can order these with egg or chicken. I go for the egg, which rubs shoulders with fine slices of onion, green chilli, carrot, capsicum.
Extra seasoning is done at table thanks to three little bowls – one apiece of chilli-infused vinegar, soy sauce and tomato sauce. It’s bags of fun mixing varying amounts of each for different flavours.
It’s a big serve, but I scarf the lot.
By the time I am done, there are four other tables taken by what seem to be regulars and a nice vibe has evolved into being
I am excited about returning with Bennie and exploring the menu (see below), which even has a section of haloumi cheese. There’s also sections on salads, spring rolls, rice, noodles, cauilflower and mushrooms (which seem to be staples of Indo-Chinese food), chicken, fish, prawns. I am already hankering to try the American chopsey and a rice dish called 7 jewels of Pandu’s.
Even better, Pandu’s is open seven days a week.