Cheeky Chewies Cafe, 18 Aviation Road, Laverton. Phone: 9369 9913
We’ve been won over by this concept, particularly by West of Kin in Braybrook.
But there, the food is ambitious and the prices tend to reflect that.
At Cheeky Chewies, a bright new arrival in Laverton, the vibe is more everyday cafe, with asking prices to match – there’s nothing above $20 and most of the more hefty dishes clock in at about $16.
Actually, while Cheeky Chewies is self-described as offering “Asian fusion”, truth is this place is more about mixing, on the one hand, Western-style fare (a parma, fish and chips) with, on the other, pretty much straight-up Asian offerings.
Over two lunches on successive days, Bennie and I eat very well indeed, with only a couple of minor flat spots.
The service is top-notch and we like this place a lot.
On our first visit, we tackle a bunch of the “small dish” offerings listed on the menu (see below).
Chilli wontons (top photo, five for $10) are dynamite, the delicate casings housing a lovely pork mince filling, with both doing a lovely tango with the zingy vinegar chilli sauce.
“Super Crispy Chicken Wings” (four for $8.90) could more accurately be described as wingettes, but are excellent.
Nothing flash is served up here – simply superbly cooked, unoily chook.
My heart sank a little when I saw a bottle sweet chilli sauce being wielded in the kitchen, but thankfully that jam-like concoction is served on the side and is ignored.
“Cheezy Pumpkin Bags” (three for $8) display the same expert frying skills, but we detect none of the advertised cheesiness – just pumpkin.
And the dipping sauce tastes like plain old mayo to us, though we are assured it really is “homemade honey mustard sauce”.
The lesson here for Bennie and me is, I suspect, never order anything involving pumpkin.
The “What-A-Burger” ($16.90) is OK, the nice slab of pork having a good lemongrass kick.
But for the price, this offering seems a little on the austere side when there are so many high-powered burger options across the west at similar prices.
The Cheeky Chewies nasi lemak ($14.90) is listed in the breakfast section of the menu, but can also, of course, do lunch duty.
It’s wonderful – better, fresher and more interesting than most equivalents you’ll find in regulation Malaysian eateries.
If there’s one thing that prevents nasi lemak being as popular with us as, say, pho or Hainan chicken rice, it is the inclusion of anchovies.
Invariably, they seem to us stale, nasty blemishes.
Here at Cheeky Chewies they are prepared in-house and the result is winning.
Blonde and crisp, they enhance the dish.
The sticky chunk of chook rendang is fine.
But the real triumph is provided by the house-made sambal.
It’s of only mild spiciness, but has a rich, deep flavour with a touch of smoky about it – wonderful!
Our Thai-style pork/noodle salad ($14.90) is a quality assemblage of excellently fresh ingredients with the just the right, spirited mix of chilli and lemon.
The cafe lattes ($3.90) that complete our second meal here are superb.