Peko Peko, 190 Wells St, South Melbourne. Phone: 9686 1109
Peko Peko is tucked away in a back street near the junction of Domain and St Kilda roads.
This is a surprisingly large part of South Melbourne that seems to go largely unnoticed by the rest of Melbourne – unless we’re whizzing along Kingsway or headed for the South Melbourne Market or the gardens.
But, of course, it’s teeming with life and people.
Yes, a stack of office workers of various kinds, but there’s also a lot of apartment blocks hereabouts.
For those reasons, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by the presence of lovely Asian joint like Peko Peko here.
But I am.
Perhaps that can be put down to lingering memories of a previous life spent working amid the eating blandness of the Southbank neighbourhood just up the road.
Peko Peko is done out in nice Asian cafe style.
It’s comprehensively packed for this week-day lunchtime, and I suspect it’s the same at night.
It’s menu is long and varied, though it concentrates on dishes of Taiwanese and Japanese derivation and has items that broaden their base quite a bit.
The prices surprise, too. The average price of the many main meals seems to be about $10-12 – no more than you’d pay for similar food in the CBD or the west.
The serves are big and generous.
The entrees include more than a handful of spring roll variations, as well as Peko Sausage (“unique house-made Taiwanese sausage”).
Curries all seem to be of the Japanese persuasion, while main meals can be had as either in bowls or in Peko Boxes, which turn out to be the familiar bento boxes of laminated legend.
My lunch companion chooses one of the left-field dishes – Singapore noodles ($10).
She’s had it before so knows well what she’s getting into, and enjoys it accordingly. It seems more stuffed with goodies than most of its kind.
Yours truly goes for menu item No.1 – Pork Chop Addiction ($12.50), described as “traditional Taiwanese deep-fried pork cutlet, served w. pickled cabbage”.
The spring roll – hard to tell if it’s filled with pumpkin or carrot or both – is just OK.
The salady, cold beans are wonderful, tossed in – I’m guessing – some sort of sesame dressing.
The cabbage pickles lack any sort of pickle punch.
The deep-fried pork cutlet is heart attack material – and there’s a huge amount of it.
It’s crispy and nice, with a flavour that comes down to – I later discover – salt, pepper, garlic and five-spice. It’s also on the fatty side.
Still … a fruit salad dinner for me beckons tonight!
Peko Peko is a bit out of the way for us, but I have an inkling we may return – Bennie will love the pop culture shrine at the pay point and I’m learning he’ll eat just about anything, no questions asked, if it’s in one of those bento boxes.