Photograph: MIKE REED
Through stories on two blogs, several newspaper articles, much social media action and speechifying at The Westies reveal, one important aspect of our inaugural award winners escaped mention.
Namely, that all our three chosen dishes clocked in at under $15.
One costs $13, another $10 and another $5.
How good is that?
Such may not be the case in future years … but still, it’s rather remarkable and worthy of celebratory comment.
Chicken and rice “Regular” from Safari, 159 Union Rd, Ascot Vale. Phone: 9372 7175
This is a dream of a meal at a wonderful Somalian joint in Ascot Vale.
A long, cool drink – sometimes cordial, sometimes freshly squeezed orange juice.
A bowl of fabulous lamb broth – tangy and with a spicy kick, with some onion or carrot pieces hiding in its depths and maybe even some lamb.
Heaps of the most perfect rice – cooked in stock, with some onion making an appearance and, on our most recent visit, also cardamoms.
Some real nice salad.
Beautifully pan-fried onion, carrot and capsicum.
And, finally, delightful marinated chicken with strong lemon and garlic flavours.
(You can have an equally wonderful Regular with lamb or fish, and there are myriad other ways to enjoy the Safari experience in larger groups.)
As Lauren and I were locking in our final list of Westies winners, we ventured to Safari for lunch … just to make sure.
She asked me: “Is it always like this – always the same, always this good?”
The answer on all counts is: “Yes!”
Pork and prawn banh cuon from Xuan Banh Cuon, 232 Hampshire Road, Sunshine (near the buses). Phone: 9364 8992
In terms of longevity and consistency, our other two winners have heaps of runs on board.
Xuan Banh Cuon, by contrast, is a newish restaurant.
So what gives?
Well, while this may be a the first restaurant venture for Xuan (mum), Yung (dad) and their family, for that very reason everything they are serving up is from the family’s superb stock of tried and tested home recipes.
Again while locking in our winners, Lauren gleefully took me to Xuan Banh Cuon and sat back as she watched me get to grips with her latest love interest.
It was perfect!
What’s more, every time I have been in the place, almost every customer has been eating this same dish.
The welcome and warmth offered by this new Sunshine hot spot makes it very special indeed.
See the Footscray Food Blog story here.
Macedonian cheese burek from Nada’s Take Away in the food court of Footscray Market
Lauren has been inhaling this treat for her whole life as she’s been living it in the west, so I confess to being a bit late on the scene.
As I have discovered, it’s unreal – home-style nirvana made with love.
And as I’m sure almost all readers of both our blogs will appreciate, it gives us a real zing to award a Westie to such a wonderful treat to be had only from the food court of Footscray Market.
Nada and her hubby, Cane, have been making and selling their bureks for almost 30 years.
Nada makes the pastry at their home while the bureks are finished in the over at their market stall.
They make spinach-and-cheese and meat versions, but we love the simple joy of the buttery pastry and ricotta mix.
Whole bureks can be purchased, already frozen if you so desire, for $20.
The Westies: Dishes of Distinction are a combined initiative of Consider The Sauce and Footscray Food Blog.
We’ve had a fine time bringing them into the world for the first time and are already working on a bigger and better 2014 version – so stay tuned!
Thanks once again to Footscray Life for their generous financial support towards the design and production of our trophies.
Thanks to Lauren’s dad, Mike Reed, who took fantastic photos, and her sister, Liz Reed, who designed the plates.