Hop N Spice, 284 Ballarat Road, Braybrook. Phone: 9310 2000
“Under New Management.”
They’re words that are regularly seen emblazoned on the windows of all sorts of businesses all over, including eating places of the western suburbs.
They represent many stories – new hopes and dreams, as well as shattered dreams and hard luck yarns.
Hop N Spice has new management.
I know this because one of the new bosses contacted me, just before we were all struck by virus/lockdown madness, with a view to enticing me/us to try out their food.
So, as Bennie and I front up for Saturday lunch, it’s taken this long for us to try the new-look Hop N Spice.
We have eaten here – under the previous regime.
At least a couple of times, though I am a little surprised none of those meals was recorded here at Consider The Sauce.
Then, a few years back, I arranged to meet Nat at Hop N Spice for dinner – this was as our mutual love of Sri Lankan food was reaching intense heights, as represented by our meals at the now defunct White Elephant in West Footscray and sadly missed Curry Leaves in Sunshine, as well as the superb Fusion Ceylon in Werribee and Kites in Clayton South.
I was a little early, so while waiting for Nat I entered the restaurant as it was then – and was aghast.
It was dingy and dismal.
Worse, in the hand-wash basin right there in the dining area were the remants of someone’s meal – or food scraps of some kind.
I beat a hasty retreat and we dined elsewhere that evening.
So it is with just a little trepidation that Bennie and I enter today’s Hop N Spice to do the CTS business.
And that trepidation, it very happily turns out, has been illogical and unfair.
Because in this case, “Under New Management” very much means a whole new deal.
The wash basin is still there and clean-as, but all else is changed.
The place looks bright and breezy, it’s spick and span and the food in the bain marie looks ace.
Even better, the super friendly staff are all smiles and welcoming, eager to explain the food to us when it’s needed.
That food is superb – and we are ecstatic to find such fine Sri Lankan tucker so relatively close to home.
Bennie’s meal deal costs $11.
This is absurdly cheap – I mean, really, this is 2021, not 2011 or 2001, you know?
(A slightly more elaborate set-up is available to dinner time for $13.)
His meal includes a great, tangy coconut sambol and jackfruit curry.
His third veg concoction looks like it involves celery.
The stalks are, we’re told, what in the world of Sri Lankan cooking/eating are known as “drum sticks”.
The stringy stalks are inedible.
Instead, you scoop out the tender, internal peas the same way you eat an artichoke.
His meal is capped off by papadum, rice and a very good lamb curry that is all tender meat and no bones, fat or gristle.
Like Bennie’s lunch, my lamprais (top photo, $13) is presented/plated with style and elan we seldom see in eateries of this kind.
It’s all terrific, though a slim band of banana leaf is all that denotes “lamprais”. No matter!
The same lamb curry is matched with the customary HB egg, pickled eggplant moju, fish croquet, sweet onion sambol and top-notch rice.
Hop N Spice?
We’ll be back for sure!