The perfect lunch – $4

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Hoang Lan 2, 10 Alfrieda Street, St Albans. Phone: 9366 7098

There are several places that specialise in banh mi on Alfrieda Street, but mostly they’re geared to take-away trade and have only the most rudimentary eat-here-right-now seating arrangements.

Which is why I choose Hoang Lan 2 and its cafe vibe and plush seats.

 

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There’s many kinds of Vietnamese snack things available here, as well as cakes and pastries and coffee.

But it’s banh mi that’s on my mind.

 

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I ask what are the most popular … and am told numbers 7, 8 and 12: BBQ chicken, BBQ pork and roast pork.

So I do the obvious – and choose meatballs instead.

 

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It’s perfect in every way.

The bread is crusty and fresh and my sanger is well stuffed with two halved meatballs, pickled carrot, chilli, mayo, coriander and more.

(This post has been sponsored by the St Albans Business Group. However, Consider The Sauce chose and paid for the food involved and the STBG neither sought nor was granted any access or say in the writing of this post.)

 

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I scream, you scream

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Sourdough Kitchen, 172 Victoria Street, Seddon. Phone: 9687 5662

It would be glib and inaccurate to proclaim, for the purposes of this story, “summer’s here and so is ice-cream season”.

Truth is, we eat the stuff all year round and even when the weather is at its most dismal.

But there’s two new kids on the block in the west and we really feel obliged – haha, our sort of obligation! – to give them a spin.

Gelati and/or ice cream?

See here for a handy explanation of the difference.

If anything, we prefer gelati, if only because it’s more likely in our world to mean in-house production by people we dig at places we love – see here, here and here.

But we never get too technical, snobby or hipster about it …

Sourdough Kitchen – long-running and beloved community fixture, source of regular work commute coffees as well as the occasional sandwich and more – and now doing their very own gelati line-up.

 

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Bennie is well pleased with his single scoop cone of chocolate gelati ($4).

It’s soft in the gelati way, with much of it oozing down the cone – so I have no way of gauging value for money in terms of serving size.

There’s no such problems with my cup scoop of Christmas mince pie (top photograph).

This is sensational – a bit like rum-and-raisin or cassata, with plenty of fruit and texture.

It makes me smile.

Lots.

 

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Stepping it up a tad, Indian style

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Nawab Sahab, 2/102-104 Watton Street, Werribee. Phone: 9749 8852

Luckily for us, the Indian food we most like is frequently produced by eateries at the lower end of the price spectrum.

But for once, we decide to try one of the spiffier places on Watton Street.

Not that Nawab Sahab, once you’re inside, is overwhelmingly grand or anything like that.

And the prices are very reasonable.

Very unusually for a western suburbs Indian eating house these days, there is no inclusion here of South Indian fare such a dosas, idlis, vadas and the like, and only a minimal Indo-Chinese component.

But there are handy points of difference choices under headings such Mumbai Special and Delhi Corner.

 

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Nawab Sahab also has a feature I have never before seen in an Indian restaurant – or a restaurant of any kind: A “selfie station” at which guests are invited to “dress up like a Hyderabdai prince”.

 

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We love it that a serve of papadums – unoily, crisp and with minty and tamarind dipping sauces on the side – is brought to our table without charge, as is a second serve.

For the first of two visits, Bennie and I both enjoy the “gold” thali (top photo) – at $21.50, a little more expensive than most of their kind, but still good.

Nice rice, a tangy chicken curry, a mushy one of the veg kind, rather crunchy chick peas, a way better-than-average raita, onion/pickle and a somewhat doughy gulab jamun – we are happy with what we eat.

 

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One of our thalis is served with a fine naan on the side …

 

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… the other with pooris.

 

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Our second visit, a week later, is uneven.

Bennie’s order of chicken noodles is a mistake.

Much as we like Indo-Chinese food, this dish reinforces for us the folly of ordering noodles in Indian eateries – though we have come across a few exceptions.

At $17.50, this over-priced for a very average noodle outing – though the serve is bigger, and deeper, that it first appears.

Really, either of the cheapie noodle houses a block away would do better for a quick, wok noodle fry-up.

Unfortunately, Bennie completes his dinner before mine arrives – and by now I’m wishing we’d gone elsewhere.

 

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My Amritsari kulcha ($16.50) does, however, redeem our night handily – especially when the second, advertised naan arrives.

The naan have only the very faintest paneer quotient, but are hot, lovely and slathered with ghee.

The chick peas are the same dark and overtly al dente specimens served with our earlier thalis and the raita is, again superb.

Check out the Nawab Sahab website – including menu – here.

 

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Westie eats goss 9/11/16

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Soon after the CTS-hosted benefit for West Welcome Wagon at Curry Leaves, earlier this year, Bec and Dillon closed up shop.

You see, they had some family business to attend to.

Welcome, Thiyasha Rose!

But now they’re back at 463 Ballarat Road, Sunshine, once more doing their Sri Lankan tucker in fine style.

 

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Back, too, is Curry Leaves’ original chef, Amitha.

The menu is new-look but, as we have found, the quality is the same.

 

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This rice combo – with superior beef curry, dal, beans and potato – costs a ridiculous $12.50.

 

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Sweeties?

This watalappan ($4.50), made from jaggery and more and scented with cardamom and nutmeg, is a bit like sticky date pudding.

It’s wonderful.

 

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Meanwhile, in Yarraville, it appears the soon-come Greek establishment in Anderson Street is likely to turn out to be more than a mere kebab shop.

Yay, we say!

 

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Across the road, it appears an upstairs, outdoor beer garden of some sort is taking shape at the Railway Hotel.

 

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We were going to use the closure of Chawla’s on Barkly Street to opine that West Footscray seemed to have reached maximum viable saturation of Indian restaurants.

But …

 

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… a few days after that pic was taken, a new outfit was already preparing to open up.

 

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A few doors along, though, the premises that was for a very brief time a Gujuarti vegetarian place remains resolutely unopen.

 

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Also on Barkly Street, Lot 10 Eatery didn’t last long at all.

New arrangements are being made, with one observant local apparently spying a member of nearby West 48’s crew doing tape-measure duty there.

Home-style in Newport

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Page of Cups, 336 Melbourne Road, Newport. Phone: 0421 940 141

Normally I’d flee a cafe that has crystals on display like a vampire does garlic.

But I have it on the good authority of an astute local judge that Page of Cups is the biz and puts an emphasis on in-house, simple quality, even to the extent of baking its own croissants.

So Marnes, Bennie and I give it a go.

Page of Cups is a comfy place, with those crystals joined by various bits and pieces (including lovely hand-made boots) and recycled furniture, teaspoons and crockery that all contribute to the vibe.

The breakfast menu is longish, and Marnes heads in that direction.

The lunch offerings, less formally organised, are outlined for us via the obliging staff, the display cabinet and the sandwich board outside.

That’s where Bennie and I head.

 

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Marnes is happy with her Turkish bread stuffed with bacon, pesto, spinach, parmesan and a poached egg ($15), noting with approval wonderfully present pesto flavours.

 

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This isn’t really a burger kind of place, so we’re unsurprised Bennie’s brioche burger ($13) arrives without chips.

No matter – a handful of glossy, juicy mushies are every bit as enjoyable.

The burger looks pretty darn ugly on the plate, but Bennie enjoys it nonetheless.

The beef patty has all the hallmarks of in-house preparation, along with fine, beefy flavour and a pleasantly chewy texture.

 

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My chicken and leek pie looks on the modest side in terms of size for $16.50, but eats well – and bigger – than it looks, the finely diced innards being good and tasty.

The accompanying salad bits are fresh while the spicy and fruity (peach? apricot?) chutney is a knock-out.

 

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If our lunches/brunches have been solidly enjoyable, it’s our sweeties that seem better to illustrate the Path of Cups hand-on, home-made ethos.

Marnes and I both enjoy slices of toasted banana bread ($5.50) slathered with butter.

The loaf is both kinda plain and many kinds of wonderful, with hefty quotients of coconut and dried fruit.

 

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Bennie digs his chocolate mud cake ($6.50) – no explanation needed.

Our drinks – soy latte ($4.50), cafe latte ($4) and large iced chocolate ($5) – are all fine.

I like it that Page of Cups has such a different feel from the west’s many hipster cafes, as enjoyable as they can often be.

 

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Malaysian gem

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Sambal Kampung, 38-46 Edgewater Boulevard, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 7171

Words and photographs: ERIKA JONSSON

I fell in love with Malaysia during my first trip to Kuala Lumpur in 2009.

Being able to choose between great Indian, Chinese or Nyonya cuisine meant loads of variety – classic dishes tasted different but awesome no matter where we went.

Three years later we returned with our first son (then aged two) and found even more to love in Penang, where the laksa was fishy and bitter and the spices were fresh and local.

Since then we’ve struggled to find Malaysian food in the west that lives up to those glorious memories of eating chicken skewers by the side of a road drinking a cold teh tarik.

When we find ourselves in Maribyrnong around lunchtime on a rare lovely day, I remember a tip from a friend to try Sambal Kampung, her preferred Malay restaurant. The other half doesn’t take much convincing.

We are warmly welcomed and grab a high chair for our little guy.

Our waitress brings him over a plastic bowl, cup, fork and spoon – a welcome surprise that no doubt benefits all parties concerned.

The little guy tucks in quickly to some roti canai. The rich, delicious curry sauce is just a bit spicy for him, but we are happy to ensure it isn’t wasted.

 

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The other half orders the chicken laksa with hokkien and vermicelli noodles ($11).

Laksa often takes a little while to fully appreciate – the first mouthful of broth doesn’t always reveal the full richness of flavour that builds as you get further in.

This is certainly the case here. There is a stronger fishiness than most places dare to serve, and the other half is thrilled.

 

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I go for the kung pao chicken with rice from the list of specials ($9).

The sauce is slightly sweeter than I’m used to – it’s a winner in my book.

Roasted cashews add crunch and the dish isn’t overly spicy (until I eat up the whole chillies for some welcome heat).

The other half has to fight with our offspring for the cold teh tarik, which is strong and nicely sweet, while I just grab a soft drink. All up our bill comes to $32 and we can barely finish the roti.

Sambal Kampung is a family gem – like so many Asian restaurants it welcomes kids without needing to cater specifically for them.

The food arrives quickly and the prices are terrific.

We will be back with our older son very soon.

Westie barbers No.5: Coffee with your cut?

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AXE Barbers and Baristas, Shop 1/1 Foundry Road, Sunshine: Phone: 0414 427 769

Being a cheapskate, I normally avoid hairdressers or barbershops with a chic look – polished cement floors, like that – as they’re usually ridiculously over-priced for my minimal, buzz-cut needs.

But at new Sunshine outfit AXE Barbers and Baristas I do good.

And I get a fine cafe latte, to boot!

Mind you, “Axe” seems like a rather threatening name for a barbershop …

 

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… but that changes when I meet barista Engin (left) and barber Xavia, and learn that the name is made up of their initials and that of a third partner, Allan, who I don’t meet.

Xavia provides me with an expert buzz-cut for a price not far removed from those charged by the St Albans and Footscray Vietnamese hairdressers I usually use.

 

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These blokes will do well, I reckon.

There’s not a lot by way of service businesses at the Gold Leaf end of Hampshire Road, but there is new apartment activity representing potential customers.

There’s parking close by at both Hampshire Crescent and Sunshine Plaza.

Check out the AXE website here for hours and prices.

 

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