Good Vietnamese in an arid area

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An Phat Pho Restaurant, 65a Ashley Street, Braybrook. Phone: 9077 7984

Where do all the newly arrived residents of West Footscray’s Bunbury Village do their shopping?

Sims doesn’t seem to be all that much busier – and we visit there often.

Nor do they appear to be hitting Braybrook’s Central West Plaza shopping centre, which appears to have had the same moribund vibe for years.

As well, food-wise Central West has never kicked any goals for us.

So that makes the arrival of An Dat Pho well worth celebrating.

 

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It’s situated on the other side of the car-park from Central West central, sharing a smaller business precinct with a fish and chippery, a charcoal chicken shop, a kebab/pizza place, a noodle shop, a TAB and a Subway.

I’ve tried them all except the latter two – nothing disastrous eventuated but nor did anything that inspired me to post on CTS.

So An Dat Pho is good news for locals – Vietnamese food in an area about midway between the riches of Footscray and Sunshine.

This is especially true as the very good Quan Viet, just up the road a bit on South Road, has closed, seemingly to be replaced in due course by some sort of noodle cafe.

On our visit, Bennie and I enjoy some good, solid if not spectacular Vietnamese food.

 

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Grilled pork skewers (nem nuon, $7) are yummy wrapped in lettuce leaves with herbs and dunked in dipping sauce.

 

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Com ga nuong (grilled chicken with tomato rice, $10) is a hit, with nicely flavoursome chook and fine chicken broth to accompany.

 

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Combination stir-fried thick rice noodles ($12) lets the meal down somewhat.

It’s OK but almost swimmingly wet – in fact, you could just about call it soup!

No problem – we like An Dat Pho and where it’s at, and the service has been grand.

We suspect gravitating towards the vermicelli, pho and rice dishes is the go here.

 

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World Cup: Hope lives

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In the face of all available evidence, I am – like no doubt many thousands of people around the country – falling once again for World Cup optimism.

Here’s how my thinking goes: “Well, let’s see now … if the Socceroos can sneak a win against the Netherlands – another country with a young, inexperienced team … and if, somehow, they can sneak a draw against either Spain or Chile … well, who knows?”

It’s completely ridiculous, of course.

But I can’t help myself.

Actually, considering the utterly odious nature of both FIFA and a lot of what is going on in Brazil, the best result for Australia may well be three straight losses, homeward bound and bring on the Asian Cup.

In the meantime, though, there is much football to be watched.

So far, I have found three different venues offering a more social way than a living room sofa to take enjoy the spectacle.

Anyone know of any others?

 

1. Spot On Kebab Station

Just how the playing times will work with this late-night joint, I do not know.

Food: Yes.

Booze: Nope.

Coffee: Unknown.

Check out their Facebook page for updates.

 

2. Village Cinemas, Sunshine.

As far as I am aware, this is only for the Socceroos’ opening game against Chile on Saturday, June 14.

Doors open 7.15 am, kick-off at 8am. Entry is free

This sounds pretty cool!

More information here.

Food: Unknown.

Booze: Nope.

Coffee: Unknown.

 

3. Mozzarella Bar

Seddon’s new Italian establishment is throwing parties for Australia v Chile and Italy v England on Sunday, June 15.

The cost is $40 a head.

Food: Yes – “Unlimited Pizzas & Drinks”.

Booze: Yes.

Coffee: Yes.

Bookings: 9687 0097

 

4. Hyde Street Hotel

Yarraville’s newest foodie pub is opening it’s doors from 7.30am for the Soccerooes-Chile game for an 8am kick-off. As far as I can tell from their FB page, admission is free though table bookings can be made.

The cost: Free

Food: Yes – “$7.50 Egg & Bacon rolls!

Booze: Yes.

Cofee: Yes

Table bookings: 6892163

Fine dining in Braybrook

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Spot On Kebab Station, 263 Ballarat Road, Braybrook. Phone: 0449 545 786

A blog I have started following recently is called Mon’s Adventures.

I like Monique’s writing style and perspective, and she ventures into the western suburbs occasionally.

And while she covers food and places that are normally outside the scope of Consider The Sauce, she also is happy, as she puts it, to get “down and dirty” – as when she visited a Ballarat Road kebab shack.

Moreover, it’s a kebab joint that has hitherto escaped our notice.

Initially, and prompted slightly by Mon’s photos, I presumed this was because the establishment concerned is set back from the busy thoroughfare and next to La Porchetta.

And I found it of great interest that in Mon’s opinion, she would choose the Spot On “Bomba Burger” above “the overrated Huxtaburger any day”!

So it is that Team CTS – comprising, for this outing, yours truly, Bennie and by-now regular CTS helper Rob – heads for Braybrook in high spirits and replete with robust burger appetites.

 

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Turns out Spot On Kebab Station has escaped notice by us until now not because it’s set back from the road – quite the opposite.

It’s sits right beside the road, with cars and trucks whizzing by just a few metres away.

It’s set up pretty much like your typical kebab shack.

But there’s a covered, turfed dining area with a wide-screen TV and heating facilities, should they be necessary.

There’s plenty of cheerful, obliging staff on hand, and even early in the evening there’s a steady flow of customers coming and going.

 

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In some ways, we know that by being here so early in the night and early in the week, we are missing the point of this place.

Going by upbeat postings on its Facebook page, the Spot On team has already established its venture as something of a westie social hub.

Later at night, perhaps even on this night when game 1 of State of Origin kicks off, or in a few weeks time when the World Cup starts – this may be a very cool place to hang.

There’s certainly something that delights we three about chowing down right here.

 

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Bennie and Rob both go with the chips-in Bomba Burger ($8.50), upgrading for an extra $2 each for more chips on the side and a can of soft drink.

According to the sign menus, the Bomba includes a 140-gram beef patty. As well, this being a solid halal joint, instead of bacon there’s a “rasher” of lamb doner kebab.

Chips, salad and dressing complete the picture.

Both my companions are very impressed with their meals, Bennie nodding enthusiastically after just a few mouthfuls and eventually giving it a 8/10 thumbs up.

 

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I go the cevapi route, my large sandwich ($11) generously stuffed with swell-cooked sausage cubes and simply dressed with sour cream and onion slivers.

It tastes great and goes down a treat – or most of it, so hefty is my meal.

As with my mates’ burgers, the bread is fresh and lighter than might be expected from an eatery of Turkish derivation – and this no doubt helps elevate our combined experience.

Quite apart from our food – which we have really enjoyed – we simply like the very fact of Spot On’s existence.

Just one suggestion …

Come on, guys, make the switch – ditch the polystyrene for cardboard!

 

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Collectors Aircraft Models

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WARNING: Explicit non-food content!

We firstly stepped into this shop with a view to grabbing a quick, quirky photo for our new play thing, Snap West. But what we found was so cool we figured it was worthy of its own more detailed post.

For those from the broader community who come here for the eats, we apologise.

For fellow westies, we hope you are tickled at least a little bit as much as we were …

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Collectors Aircraft Models Australia, 40 Cranwell St, Braybrook. Phone: 9318 1276

It was only a few weeks into the new routine of school in Sunshine that Bennie and I altered our route.

Instead of heading up Ballarat Rd and confronting the sometimes white-knuckle stress of turning right against the incoming rush hour, we started going straight ahead at the Ashley St lights and on to Cranwell St, past car yards and factories and beyond to school.

This may not be faster, but it’s more fun and far more relaxing.

We pass parks, a huge Buddhist temple complex and even a couple of junkyard dogs for whom we feel sorry.

And it has brought riches – most notably some classic graffiti that cracks us up still on an almost daily basis and the tasty South American delights of La Morenita.

But it’s very unusual for us to be cruising this neighbourhood later than about 8.15am or on a Saturday.

But that’s certainly the case today as we’re on our way to pick up our mate Daniel.

Thus it is we pass a sandwich-board sign outside an older style industrial property that immediately has us parking and going or a look-see.

Given the premises, I envisage some sort of makeshift operation – maybe something like Dirt Cheap Books with wings.

Instead, what we discover is a well-established shop that has been in place for about 13 years.

The lovely room is crammed with aircraft models of many different sizes, shapes and configurations.

There’s even a couple of airports!

I figure this is some sort of blokey refuge along the lines of anoraks and train spotters, and that the average age of the customers is somewhere between 45 and beyond.

But proprietor Terry Mahoney tells me his customer base is a lot broader than that, and that business is pretty good.

As with a lot of niche operations these days, Terry finds a lot of his business comes from the online direction.

Consequently, he finds the lack of passing trade a small price to pay for the comfort and minimal overheads his unusual Braybrook location provides.

He tells me that the old-school factory set-up of which he is a tenant also houses an operation that produces gut tennis strings and surgical sutures.

Check out Terry’s website here.

We may never step foot into Terry’s shop again … but we dig the hell out of the fact it’s there!

Gerry’s Pittes

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133 South Rd, Braybrook. Phone: 9311 9383

Exchanging dough for baked dough at Gerry’s Pittes – “First & best in Australia since 1969” – is an odd experience even by the sometimes quirky standards of the western suburbs.

I’ve been alerted to Gerry’s and the wisdom of investing in some of his bread, by Consider The Sauce friend Rich, who wrote:

Ever done fresh Gerry’s Pittas from the factory/shop front in South Road, Braybrook? Just down from that Viet place (Quan Viet) you covered a little while back. $7ish for a fresh bag of 20! Awesome for pizzas and brilliant with a lil’ butter and pan fried for a minute, a tiny squeeze of lemon goes well too. They’re open early till about 3 or so during the week … I know its a lot but thing is you can freeze ’em and they still come up well after 20 secs in the micro. They freeze well for me … but @ $7 for a bag of 20 … and the fact they have made me salivate in a ridiculous manner for many years – it’s worth the gamble.

Suzy, another Consider The Sauce buddy, chimed in, too:

You should check out Gerry’s Pitas in the same strip. Ring the bell to buy direct best Greek pitas going.

So here I am, standing in front of a plain, unwindowed shopfront in Braybrook.

I do as the signage instructs me and depress the busted-up bell.

A minute or so later the door is opened by a flour-dusted bloke who utters a few words in Greek to me then inquires in English what it is I want.

“I want some pita bread.”

“How many?”

“How do you do them?”

“Bag of 20 for $7.”

“OK.”

The doors closes, preventing me from inhaling any more the of delicious baking aroma coming from inside or trying to get peek of the operation, leaving me somewhat bemused.

Have I ever gazed upon a flour-stained footpath before?

I don’t think so.

A few minutes later, the bloke is back.

He takes my money, gives me my bread and makes change.

Surely, since this operation has been in operation since 1969, this guy is too young to be Gerry?

I ask him.

“No – I’m the supervisor,” he says before briskly consenting to having his photo taken and closing the door once more.

This transaction has been singularly lacking the sort of warmth I value so much, but that’s kind of neat in its own way.

If or when you ever have a late-night kebab from one of the kebab shacks/caravans, I reckon there’s a pretty good chance this is where its wrapping will have come from.

But saying that seems like doing these breads something of a disservice.

The freshness is the thing.

My breads are still warm when I get them home a few hours later, and when opened the bag emits a tantalising reminder of the previously enjoyed bakery aroma.

It’s a lot heavier than Lebanese-style pita. Eating one straight out of the bag is quite a lot like eating ordinary bread.

This is certainly value for money, with half of them going straight into the freezer.

I like Rich’s idea of giving them the frypan treatment. That’ll go sensationally well with the Greek salads that are among our favourite meals.

And with quite a hefty density, I can see them standing in for the supermarket rotis, parathas and naans we’ve been seriously unimpressed by whenever we’ve tried them.

One’ll get a test run with tonight’s dal.

And I know Bennie will love them a whole lot more for school lunches than the breads and rolls that have been our routine to this point in time.

The Pie & Pastry House

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166 Churchill Ave, Braybrook. Phone: 9311 3388

Gotta love an old-school pie shop – and it’s a delight that there’s so many in the western suburbs, happily holding their own amid the multicultural swirl.

The Pie & Pastry House, operating since 1952 according the its business card, certainly fits the bill right from the decor and screen door to the milkshake machine and technicolour display of doughnuts.

It lives in a Braybrook shopping strip that features a couple of Filipino places awaiting our further exploration and opposite a park and adventure playground at which we’ve attended many a birthday party.

I order my standard lunch in such places – a plain beef pie and a sausage roll.

The plastic cutlery is a bit of a downer, offset by the tomato sauce coming in squeeze bottle form rather than the a horrid sachet.

The pastry outer of my sausage roll is incredibly flaky, and soon the whole table is flecked with it. It’s just OK, tending towards blandness – as sausage rolls tend to do.

The pie, pastry not so flaky, is better, though in need of a seasoning boost by my way of thinking.

I like my lunch items, and I sense that they and the other lines the shop sells are perfectly suited for its loyal and long-term customers, quite a few of whom come and go as I am going about my lunch business.

The vanilla slices look scrumptious.

The ginormous family-size pasties, at $9.50, look like an outright bargain and destined soon for a test run on our dinner table. Visual appraisal suggests that with a bit of help from salad on the side, they’d feed two adults and two kids no problem

All I take away with me though are a single lemon tart ($1.25) and a single cream shortbread ($1).

The former is, fittingly, old-school, with a slightly chewy filling.

The latter is a sensational taste grenade – two pieces of light, fresh shortbread, joined by a smooth vanilla cream and dusted in icing sugar.

It’s not just the highlight of the day – it’s the best of the week.

Such a simple, affordable pleasure!

Quan Viet

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103 South Rd, Braybrook. Phone: 9312 1009

For many years, every time we drove past the slightly ramshackle yet high-potential shopping strip on South Rd, Braybrook, we would scan the shopfronts eagerly.

Why not? After all, it’s just the sort of precinct that regularly delivers us food gratification.

We have always been disappointed, though.

A locked-up premises going by the splendid name of Extreme Pizza & Kebab, a couple of beauty salons and groceries but little more to inspire us to explore further.

Until a few weeks’ back, when there it was – bingo! – right on the corner: A brand new Vietnamese eatery.

Our mid-week visit is our first, the place is companionably busy but the service is great.

The vibe is nice – about midway between your standard, tiled, formica-laden pho joint and some of the swisher joints in Footscray central.

We are first seated at a tiny table for two, but then invited to move a bigger option near the front window that affords us more room for all the bits and pieces, including Bennie’s lurid drink.

The menu seems to throw up few real surprises or points of difference.

There is pho, the usual rice dishes, spring and paper rolls, although there is also beef stew on rice or egg noodle (hu tieu/mi bo kho, $9) and crab meat fried rice (com chien cua, $11).

Despite that, we manage a combined order that is unusually innovative for us.

On the illustrated menu Bennie stabs a digit at the Quang style rice noodles (mi Quang, $9) and says: “I want that!”

This is very, very fine, though Bennie is put off slightly by the presence of two hard-boiled egg halves.

A popular dish from the provinces of Quang Nam and Da Nang in the south central coast of Vietnam, this is built on a hearty handful of very wide, slippery and delicious rice noodles coloured/flavoured with turmeric. The effect is just like the kind of sexy artisan pasta you might get in a posh Italian joint like Grossi Florentino – and pay about $30 or so for the privilege!

Also on board are a fish-based stock, chicken that seems to be stewed rather than steamed or fried, two fat prawns still in their crunchy shells, peanuts and strips of juicy, fatty pork, the lot topped by a couple of commercial prawn crackers and some mint.

It’s all good and I covet it. It’s a refreshing option to the many other soup/noodle options – a bit like Assam laksa is to its Malaysian soup/noodles colleagues.

Bennie likewise covets my order – Vietnamese pan-fried crepe (banh xeo, $11).

This has less stuffing than I’ve had at the likes of Pho Hien Saigon in Sunshine or Wild Rice in Williamstown. In some ways, this is no bad things as it allows the flavour of turmeric-tinged rice flour pancake to come through.

As Bennie memorably opines: “It’s fried and floppy at the same time!”

The filling of the same pork strips as in Bennie’s soup, fine small/medium shell-on prawn tails and bean sprouts is fine with the pancake, fish sauce/chilli dipping concoction and voluminous plate of leafy wonders and mint.

Halfway through our dinner, Bennie and I do swappsies, though I then discover the lad has slurped all the fangtastic noodles. No fair!

Quan Viet seems likely to prosper and thrive not only based on its fine food, which we’re keen to try again soonish.

Like Minh Hy, just up the road apiece in Sunshine, Quan Viet stands out for being the only outlet of its kind in the surrounding neighbourhood.

Check out a much more in-depth review at Footscray Food Blog here.

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