Philippines food in West Footscray? Let’s eat!

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Chibog West Footscray, 553 Barkly Street, West Footscray.

After a pretty typical birth involving maddening red tape and other delays, Chibog has arrived in West Footscray.

From the crowds we’ve observed when driving by, it’s a hit – one that adds even more diversity to an already colourful strip.

The bosses – chef Alex Yin, Janine Barican and Thuan Le – tells us that punters have been rolling up from local neighbourhoods, but also from such popular Filipino locales as Cairnlea and even from right across town.

 

 

The long dining room is an attractive space in which to relax and we find the service superb and the staff engagingly friendly.

Nat and I hit ’em on a Tuesday, have our way with the menu in quite an extensive fashion and enjoy a wonderful meal.

This is among the very best Filipino food I have tried – and clearly the best presented.

And about as far from bain marie slop as it is possible to get.

Price-wise, don’t be expecting the ultra low prices and huge serves you may get from other Asian food genres.

At Chibog, things work more along the lines of a classy Thai restaurant in terms of pricing.

But even then, we have no problem with our final bill – pretty good value, actually.

Chibog, BTW, means “let’s eat”!

 

 

Kinilaw ($14) is tuna ceviche with coconut, cucumber, caviar and red onion.

It’s as silky smooth and sexy as you’d expect.

And gone, sadly, in a flash.

 

 

Ukoy ($9) are wonderful!

They’re deep-fried fritters involving mainly sweet potato, but also onion and prawns.

Just like onion bhaji – and just as delicious, especially dipped in the vinegary sauce that accompanies.

(There’s a lot of vinegar going around at Chibog!)

 

 

Rellenong squid ($10) finds a tubular cephalopod piece stuffed with mince pork and (fewer) vegetables.

It, too, is very enjoyable – though very mild of flavour.

It is served with very nice pickled vegetables (atchara).

 

 

That mildness aspect could be said to apply to much of our meal.

While the flavours are lovely, there is little in the curry or spice-style heat and impact we expect of food from enighbouring countries.

Our kansi ($19), for instance, looks like it may come with a laksa wallop.

Instead, the broth/stew is much more delicate and made with a tamarind base.

It’s an osso buco dish – and the meat is really tasty and fall-apart tender.

Like the Vietnamese stew bo kho, our kansi comes with quite a significant level of non-meat animal content.

I suspect individual punters’ approach to that will depend on cultural baggage.

We mostly put the fat aside, while mentally acknowledging that it IS an integral part of a dish we enjoy very much.

The chunky bits of jackfruit fit in right fine.

 

 

Finally, and sticking with meaty fare, we go for the Chibog dish that celebrates the Filipino fixation with roast pork – the crispy pata ($27).

Our pork knuckle is big, meaty and marvellous, the flesh a mixture of tender and still yummy not-so-much. There’s also a stack of crackling.

I make a fair fist of carving it myself, before handing over to the way more adept Janine!

It’s served with more atchara, chilli soy (our preference) and a Filipino staple of rich gravy served cold and made (partly) with liver.

And that would’ve been that for us very full lads.

Except, on account I’m guessing of our animated interest in the food and the fact the staff have no doubt twigged that a story/review is in the offing, we are offered and indulge in a complementary dessert.

Crispy leche flan ($9, top photo) is a custardy treat served in the formed of spring rolls.

Even better, IMO, is the brought-in but nevertheless excellent ube ice-cream. Ube is a yam that gives this ice-cream a flavour and texture that presents as a mix of coconut and pandan.

Yummo!

 

Happy Greek arrival

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Skewered Taverna, Shop 13, 71-79 Kororoit Creek Road, Williamstown.

For a while there, a few years back, Rifle Range shopping centre in Williamstown was the site of frequent visits by Team CTS.

Those visits were all about dropping in to partake of the fine food – pizzas, pastas and more – as proffered by Pizza d’Asporto.

Once a new Pizza d’Asporto shop opened right around the corner from us in Yarraville, Rifle Range was no longer a target for us.

But maybe a return visit to the Willy Pizza d’Asporto is in order – there’s been a reconfiguration there that makes the place more like a restaurant proper than a mere takeaway place with some seating.

Plus, you know – pizza, pasta, any excuse.

But today we’re back on Kororoit Road to check out the centre’s newest arrival – Skewered Taverna, which has slotted into the premises once housing the local charcoal chicken shop.

 

 

The place is set up – and feels – like a cross between a quickie souvlaki joint and a more formal Greek restaurant, something that is also reflected in the menu (see below).

When quizzed about what elements of the food line-up are made from scratch in house and those brought in, we appreciate the honesty shown us – tzatziki yes, taramasalata no; dolmades no, but moussaka and gemistes (stuffed capsicum) yes.

That knowledge guides us, to some extent, in our ordering.

 

 

OK, OK, I confess –  I am photographically challenged when it comes to capturing the simple magic of a souvlaki wrap.

This is an unlovely depiction of Bennie’s lunch.

It’s called “The Village” ($13.50) – and it’s everything he wants in a souvlaki.

Well-cooked and seasoned lamb off the spit, tomato, onion lettuce, tzatziki and chips wrapped in thick, Greek-style pita bread.

We reckon the Skewered souvlaki list is going to be a VERY hot ticket in this neighbourhood.

 

 

My meal is something very different.

I go for the made-in-house moussaka ($23) and am delighted in every way – especially after my most recent moussaka try had been disappointing.

I get the same chips, pita bread (grilled and oh-so-moreish!) and tzatziki as Bennie, along with some good Greek salad.

The moussaka itself is home-style Greek cooking marvellous – a big serve, rich, creamy, meaty, comforting and delicious.

For many more stories, go to considethesauce.net.

 

 

Double banger

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Angie’s Kitchen, Shop 75, 21-31 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9939 5821
Macelleria, Shop 74 Moonee Ponds Central, 21-31 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 8441

Periodically, we find ourselves in Moonee Ponds and, more specifically, on Puckle Street.

And it’s then that we wonder: “What the hell are we doing here?”

It’s all a perfectly OK retail/eating precinct – and we love scoping out some of the gorgeous real estate between Puckle Street and, say, Highpoint on our way home.

But by and large, when it comes to the kinds of food that sets our pulses racing, the neighbourhood is, well, just average.

But there are hot spots.

We continue to love shopping, when we’re in the area, at Fresh On Young – the subject of the second ever CTS story.

More recently, on Hall Street – on the other side of Puckle Street from Young – there is a food flourishing going on, one we make the most of with twin winning lunches at adjoining newcomers.

Both Angie’s Kitchen and Macelleria front Hall Street, but are part of the wider Moonee Ponds Central retail/food/services set-up.

 

 

The colour scheme, fittings and all-round general vibe in Angie’s Kitchen make it feel like the kind of place you’d be very comfortable taking your gran.

But there is some real serious, delicious and keenly priced Chinese food going on here – and it’s all produced and created in house from the ground up.

As we takes our seats, we are entertaining thoughts of trying up to a handful of the many dumplings featured on the menu (see below) – and chicken feet.

We lose out on the chicken feet.

“They wouldn’t work in Moonee Ponds,” we’re later told.

Meanwhile, we mention to the staff member serving us that we’re used to ordering (and eating) Chinese roasts in combos of two or three meats, accompanied by rice and bok choy – as we’d enjoyed the previous week.

Yet this option is not open to us at Angie’s Kitchen.

No problem, we’re helpfully informed – just order the mixed roast platter ($30), a small serve of greens with oyster sauce and a bowl of rice.

So – big change of plans – that’s what we do.

The photo of the mixed roast platter at the top of this story does not adequately convey the generous size of the portions – nor their outright deliciousness.

Oh boy, oh boy – this is fabulous stuff!

And this is quite a different setting from that in which we more normally enjoy this kind of food, but we revel in it.

The portions of duck and barbecued pork are chunkier than the norm, but nevertheless excellent – and, for the most, juicy and tender.

The roast pork pieces, including their crackling, are quite delicate.

 

 

Our small serve of mixed greens ($9.80) is purpose made for accompanying the roast meats and does the job admirably.

 

 

The roast/greens mix makes for quite a substantial lunch, but we cannot resist the temptation of trying the steamed BBQ pork buns ($6.20).

 

 

These, too, are superb, with wonderfully sticky and sweet fillings.

We’ve eaten like royalty so have no qualms whatsoever about the $49 price tag – it seems like a bargain.

 

 

When I first heard about Macelleria and its slogan – “The Butcher That Cooks For You” – I was skeptical.

It sounded a bit gimmicky to me.

We discover that, to some extent at least, that feeling is warranted.

 

 

Customers can and do buy meat from Macelleria to take home – but mostly this a steak/grill joint (one of four in Melbourne) with a display cabinet.

But what arouses our curiosity, impels us through the door and – eventually – finds us taking a lunch-time table is the menu item that is the half rack of beef ribs (menu below).

Based on our previous experiences with the bigness of beef ribs, a half rack with a side salad and mash for $24.90 sounds like a fine deal.

 

 

The dining room is a lovely, airy place in which to lunch and watch the passing parade on Hall Street.

 

 

Bennie is the lucky punter who gets to order and enjoy the beef ribs.

It proves to be excellent.

The ribs aren’t as big as many we’ve enjoyed, but plenty big enough for lunch.

The meat and its rosemary and garlic marinade are terrific.

The side salad is beaut and the creamy mash also fine – though so voluminous is the latter that Bennie falls quite a way short of finishing it.

 

 

My own bangers and mash is a much more modest outing, both in ambition and price ($17.90).

The finely ground beef snags are very flavoursome and the mash the same as that which adorned Bennie’s ribs.

But the high point of my meal is the rich, perfect onion gravy.

 

 

I bolster my meal with a serve of coleslaw ($7.90).

This proves to be a mistake.

For starters, Bennie’s side salad would’ve sufficed for both of us.

And this slaw is just OK – in fact, it’s a bit drab.

 

Chinese, fabulous

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Sun Wong Ky, 51 Byron Street, Footscray.

Footscray’s Little Saigon Market will never be replaced – figuritively and, it often seems, quite literally.

But we mostly have an ability to live in the present and appreciate what we have, rather than what once was.

So we enjoy the sparkling neighbourhood that has grown up around the burnt-out shell of the old market.

Centred on Byron Street, the neighbourhood has numerous businesses and a chilled-out vibe that is a nice retreat from the traffic and bustle of Barkly, Leeds, Hopkins and Nicholson streets.

 

 

Sun Wong Ky is fully symbolic of an area in transition – its new shop sits right opposite the premises it once occupied in the old market.

When the new place opened, the offerings and set-up seemed to us rather basic and aimed more at take-home customers.

Now, though, there is a much more eatery thing going on (see menu below), so we are right up for taking their Chinese roast meats for a whirl.

There are a few tables and chairs inside, but we take one of several outside tables and enjoy watching the world go by as we wait.

Bennie and I both choose the two-meat roast combo, priced at an excellent $12.80.

 

 

Soya chicken and barbecued pork for him and …

 

 

… soya chicken and roast pork for me.

Oh my!

This is great stuff – as good as any Chinese roast meats we’ve enjoyed in the west.

And that’s saying a lot.

The chicken – even the bigger, denser pieces – is very tender and juicy.

Likewise with Bennie’s barbecued pork.

The roast pork has superb crackling – not too gnarly, yet with plenty of crackle.

Cooking juices have been poured on the rice and under each pile of meat is good bok choy.

 

 

By contrast, our serve of chicken feet ($6) is dull, with none of the zingy saltiness from blackbean sauce or chilli kick we expect.

They’re big, though, and even surprisingly meaty – more like eating wings than feets!

 

Burger defies expectations

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YOMG, 17-19 Pratt Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 8548 9577

Burger places – or, rather, burger franchises and chains – seem to be sprouting up like weeds.

Perhaps a move to a semi-official CTS non-coverage of them is due.

And the non-eating of their food, too.

 

 

YOMG in Moonee Ponds – the chain’s sixth store in Melbourne – seems at first blush less likely than most to arouse our curiosity and burger lust, with its cutsie slogan in pink neon, blandola fast-food look and a name that is more about yoghurt than meaty fare.

Certainly, Bennie was very sniffy when we ambled past a few weeks back.

“I don’t think so, dad,” he snorted.

But an experienced burger hand of our acquaintance has suggested that, in this case at least, appearances and all-round vibe are no indication of burger merit and that YOMG is well worth a try.

So, flying solo, I give it a whirl.

 

 

Nat Stockley is correct – this is some pretty good stuff.

From the menu (see below) I choose the Howler ($12.50) with its excellent beef patty, cheese, lettuce, onion, pickles, jalapenos and habanero mayo.

The added bacon is also excellent, but costs $2.50.

Some of the protruding lettuce leaves are a bit bruised, giving them a dirty look, but overall this is a good, two-handed burger – nothing world-beating, but solidly enjoyable.

The chips ($4.50) are hot and fine – but they’re been profusely sprinkled with chicken salt or one of its kin.

Not my go.

Combining burger, bacon, chips and a can of soft drink nudges my lunch cost above the $20 mark – but I guess that’s the going rate these days.

Don’t be tempted to pay even more by going with one of the pay-for sauces, as there’s a good supply of chilli sauces away from the serving counter to be had without payment.

 

Westie eats goss 06/02/20

 

Located below Chinese eatery Palace Royal and in the premises of a former clothes shop, Footscray will soon have a swish new Japanese-style barbecue restaurant.

 

 

The 45 Leeds Street food emporium looks like it will be quite something, will feature at-table cooking and is expected to open in a couple of months.

 

 

Staying in Footscray, the shopfront location on Barkly Street, right next door to Anh Tuk and just around the corner from the mall, is being fitted out.

 

 

The presence of many stools suggests something of an eat/drink nature is on the way here – but I have yet to see anyone in the place to find out more.

Goss about this most welcomely received!

 

 

We’re a bit sad to see that Ammas Pantry has closed – we really enjoyed the meals we had there.

The corner shop at 33 Parker Street, Footscray, right opposite Footscray City Primary School, will soon be up and running as Baby Elephant.

 

 

Work continues (slowly) on Filipino joint Chibog at 553 Barkley Street in West Footscray.

 

 

Management has been seeking staff on Facebook.

 

 

At Rifle Range shopping centre in Williamstown, the chicken shop is being transformed into a Greek taverna.

 

 

On Anderson Street in Yarraville, what was until very recently the Village Store has been well and truly gutted as the property is prepared for a forthcoming Woolies Metro outlet.

Once it’s open, CTS will walk the aisles to gauge how it goes in serving the local community.

 

 

Across the road, the former Bakers Delight shop is being prepared for a new venture under the auspices of Anna Quayle.

To be known as Romanee, its Facebook page is here if you’re interested in monitoring progress.

 

 

Around the corner on Ballarat Street, one of our fave village places, Little Advi, is now doing dinners.

 

 

We have yet to avail ourselves of this service, but the menu looks like it’ll be just the ticket for us!

 

 

The latest whisper I have heard regarding the ComBank building on Anderson Street runs along the lines of brewery downstairs and botox upstairs.

 

 

Sunshine’s Afghan Bread bakery, at 250 Hampshire Road, sells its wonderful flatbread for $2 for a bag of four.

 

 

And it’s also serving eat-in Afghan/Persian food.

When I tried the lamb qorma, the salad bits were just OK, the bread was typically the size of a front door mat and the dish itself looked ugly.

But it was of prime deliciousness – and cost a mere $12.

 

Prime pizza & more

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Charles & Gamon, 2 Gamon St, Seddon. Phone: 9995 8868

The box-shaped building on the corner of Gamon and Charles has a colourful history – one that has been discussed on various comment threads here at Consider The Sauce.

It goes something like this: Servo, Balkan restaurant, cafe (The Bowser?), Sobraso, Charles & Gamon and – bringing us right up to date – Charles & Gamon once more. There may be missing stages in that list!

 

 

Visiting to check out the newest iteration, I am thrilled to bits to have it pointed out to me that evidence of the Balkan grill part of the building’s history remains on the brickwork in the form of “Bery’s charcoal grill” signage.

How cool is that?

We’ve driven/walked past a gazillion times in the past couple of decades and never noticed!

Anyone who has passed in the couple of months will likely have noticed that the outdoor garden area remains VERY popular.

Inside, new management has wrought many changes.

While retaining the C&G name, the new look is much brighter and lighter.

We like the way the seating arrangements are so diverse – a big communal tables, several smaller, some armchairs, a few tall tables with stalls.

They say: “Step in and linger a while.”

Disclosure: One partner of the new team running C&G is my accountant – and a top bloke he is, too.

But he knows me quite well  enough to know that I will cut him no slack when trying out the food – even if we aren’t paying.

We are expecting glorified bar food and a pizza list.

What we get is better than that – and sometimes wonderfully so (see menu below).

 

 

We never boil/steam asparagus at home – it always gets the high-heat, flash-fry treatment; and we love it that way.

So we have no hesitation in ordering the charred seasonal greens of asparagus and broccolini with pecorino and lemon zest ($11).

It’s excellent, though I’m told asparagus prices will dictate a replacement ingredient very soon.

 

 

We are a little wary of ordering hummus is such an establishment on account of the fact we eat so much Lebanese and related food elsewhere.

But the C&G version is recommended to us by our server so we take the plunge – and end up delighted.

The C&G hummus ($15) has a seasoning tang that is utterly alluring.

Cumin?

Nope, it’s all about dukkah we are informed.

Topped with walnut crumbs and half a dozen roasted tomatoes, this is a winner.

 

 

From a list of seven pizzas, the margherita ($22) is also recommended to us.

It’s beautiful in its simplicity – fior di latte, basil, cherry tomatoes, love.

We reckon this as good a pizza as you’ll find in the inner west.

 

 

Bennie is more enamoured of the buttermilk chicken sandwich ($20) than I.

And he is, after all, the CTS expert.

He digs the crunchy and juicy chicken, the mustardy dressing and even the iceberg lettuce.

The chips are good enough, though could be bit hotter.

We like that they are festooned with rock salt and chopped parsley.

We’ll be back at the new C&G – particularly to explore in more dept the pizza list.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Charles & Gamon as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meals. We were free to order whatever we wished. Charles & Gamon management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to his story.)

 

 

Filipino surprise

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Enelssie Cafe & Grill, 102 Tenterfield Drive, Burnside Heights. Phone: 0449 775 107

On a heatwave mid-week day, we’ve enjoyed the drive.

But despite having a firm destination in mind, it seems somehow surprising to apparently stumble across Enelssie.

This is most definitely the first CTS review harking from Burnside Heights.

It’s quiet, but we know from numerous Facebook posts that this a popular spot, particularly with the cycling fraternity.

Enelssie?

According to Anthony, the owner: “It came from the root words New Life Cycles NLC – New Life in Aussie = Enelssie. Also As my personal belief that It’s originally New Life In Christ!”

 

 

It’s ostensibly a Filipino restaurant, without being too ardent about it.

There’s no bain marie for starters – everything is cooked fresh.

We enjoy two good meals.

Bennie goes the more orthodox Filipino route with his tapa ($15.50, top photo).

It’s beaut and he loves the plentiful supply of marinated beef cubes.

Alongside are good garlic rice, tomato salad and a small bowl of broth.

And a fried egg – giving further impetus (maybe) to us one day doing a story about all the various dishes we enjoy across the west that involved fried or hardboilded eggs.

 

 

My own fried chicken ($16) is less Filipino in substance – but it has the spirit.

And it’s very, very fine.

The price may seem a little out of whack for (just) two pieces – but these are large. No problem from us about the cost.

Even better, we agree this is the best fried chicken we’ve enjoyed for a long while.

The coating sticks to the meat, which is wonderfully juicy and flavoursome.

There’s something sort-of wonderfully tangy and almost piquant about the coating.

We’re told it includes a proverbial mix of “herbs and spices”.

Maybe it’s the onion powder?

No matter – this is prime fried chook.

Plain rice accompanies the chicken, as does a simple leaf salad and some really fine chicken gravy.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available at Enselssie – check out its FB page for further enlightenment.

 

Episodic poultry

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Chicken Episode, 522 Macaulay Road, Kensington. Phone: 9593 9929

Chicken Episode lives in premises that previously housed a long-standing Indian eatery in Kensington, right next door to Kensington Food Hall.

A younger sibling for an identically named restaurant in St Kilda, Chicken Episode is a tributary temple to pop culture, Korean style.

There’s what seems like thousands of rubber chicken in here.

 

 

And meme-like humour abounds.

I’m tempted to suggest this would be a cool place to bring bored or easily entertained teens – but some of humour on the table place mats is a little on the raunchy side.

Along with fried chicken and myriad burgers, the menu (see below) features some Korean comfort food such as bibimbap.

We can live with the kooky surroundings, but it’s the food that interests us.

We are a little wary.

That’s because we’re dropping in early in the week, early at lunch hour – not, in our experience, the best of times to interact with deep-fried food.

So how do we go?

Well, part truly excellent and part just so-so.

 

 

Bennie’s supreme chicken burger ($14.87) looks a little on the sad sack side.

He likes it well enough and tells me most of the ingredients – including sweet chilli sauce, melted cheese, tomato, ham, caramelised onions – are of a perfectly acceptable standard.

But he finds the chicken coating to be more of the soft kind found on battered fish, his final verdict being that his burger the kind of thing he’d expect to get at his now former high school.

The chips are excellent.

 

 

Unsurprisingly, he is frankly envious of my lunch.

And so he should be – it’s very, very good.

The solo deal, costing an amazing $14.50, consists of the same excellent chips, four pieces of fried chicken, a side serve of coleslaw AND a can of soft drink.

The chicken pieces are ungreasy and wonderful, the coating crisp and powdered with white pepper.

The coleslaw is fine and just the right size for such a meal deal.

 

 

Unfortunately, the coleslaw includes a tine from a plastic fork.

After this too-crunchy ingredient is pointed out to the staff, we receive an apology.

And that’s good enough for us – we never make too much of an issue out of such things or make a play for having the bill waived and/or a freebie future meal.

It will be interesting to watch how Chicken Episode goes on Macaulay Road.

We’ll happily return for more of that fried chicken.

 

Meal of the week No.51: Cornershop

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The long-time Yarraville fixture that is Cornershop (9/11 Ballarat Street) is one of our locals – but not really one of our regulars.

Yet here we are on a lovely Saturday, dining on the footpath with our pal, Al Fresco.

We’re not close friends with Al, as eating outside while eating out is a rarity for us.

But today it feels just right.

I’m eager for Bennie to try a Cornershop dish I tried a few weeks back.

For some reason he has been showing an increased interest in – and liking for – dal after years of it being a fixture for us both home and out and about.

Maybe it’s been just background noise for him all that time.

But he heartily agrees with me – the Cornershop’s coconut dahl with idlis, poached eggs, lime and curry leaves ($16.50) is extraordinarily good.

The dahl itself – made with yellow split peas, I think – is lusciously creamy thanks to the coconut content.

The fried curry leaves, coriander and red chilli bits add colour and excitement.

We’re not eggy people by any means, so we’re both bemused that the perfect poached eggs are such a winning and – to us – unlikely addition.

The idlis?

We’re used to the near-mushy consistency of steamed idlis.

The Cornershop versions are magnificent – fried, crisp, a tad salty, amazing.

Solid Vietnamese

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Pho Ngon, Shop 11/330 Ballarat Road, Braybrook. Phone: 0426 210 714

Our abode closeness to Yarraville village dictates, to quite a large degree, where and how we do our household shopping.

But we are not loyal in that regard – so are quite happy to shop around, depending on where we’re at or, more frequently, where we’re coming from.

So with some life bureaucracy chores dispensed with in Sunshine, we are curious enough to step inside the Ballarat shopping centre that replaced an unsuccessful hardware/homeware establishment quite a while ago.

A search for “Braybrook shopping centre” turns up the long-time retail/service hub on the corner of Ballarat Road and Ashley Street – so I’m not sure if this new  one further up Ballarat has a name.

But nope, nothing there’s for us in terms of grocery shopping.

Or any other kind of shopping.

Food?

Some fast-food options that don’t exactly leap out at us in terms of enticement.

But wait – there is right here a good Vietnamese restaurant, one with a far more comprehensive menu (see below) than most people may expect.

So we settle in for lunch.

 

 

Bennie enjoys his “bun thit nuong + cha gio” (rice vermicelli with grilled pork and spring rolls, $13)  – it’s a good, solid rendition.

 

 

But my com ga Nha Trang (Nha Trang farm chicken rice, $16) is significantly better – and it’s a surprise to find such a dish at a rather generic suburban shopping centre.

The soup is just warm, quite sweet and flavoursome; the rice is nice.

The chicken is, as I’d hoped for given the “farm” part of the menu listing, more chewy and higher in flavour than typical Vietnamese restaurant chook.

The salady jumble in which my chicken is entwined and the similar salad alongside have plenty crunch and sweet ‘n’ sour flavour contrasts.

There’s places in Footscray and Sunshine I’d expect a zingier version of this rice dish, but this is fine.

If this centre was our local shop stop, we’d be eating at this joint at least once a week.

 

That’s my gel

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Gelati by d’Asporto, 3/11d Murray Street, Yarraville.

As if we aren’t spoiled enough in the inner west for ice-cream and gelati … along comes Gelati by d’Asporto.

Under the auspices, of course, of the namesake pizza/pasta/Italian joy restaurant just around the corner and – also very much part of the same family business – another eatery at Rifle Range shopping centre and the fabulous kiosk at Williamstown Beach.

The new gelati shop is all smiling business and no fuss – just ice delights and a couple of standing/leaning tables to enjoy them.

Given the plethora of eating – and coffee – options in Yarraville village, this streamlined approach makes all sorts of sense.

I make my first visit, as a guest (see full disclosure below), with high expectations that are easily met and even surpassed.

Prices range from $4.80 for a single scoop and upwards – pretty much regulation gelati prices, in other words, but on the excellently cheap side given the quality at hand.

My twin scoop deal for $6.80 strikes me as a fine deal.

The flavour line-up (see below) is agreeably concise.

My first-up selections …
Mascarpone and fig – creamy, heavenly.

And mildly flavoured, as is usual with this ingredient combo.

Bacio – really, really superb.

Largely thanks to the inclusion of wonderfully crunchy hazelnuts.

I pay another visit the next day and go for the choc mint – and it, too, is lovely.

Will we be back?

Yes.

Over and over and over …

Opening times are 2-10pm Mondays-Thursdays and 11am-10pm Fridays-Sundays.

(Consider The Sauce enjoyed Gelati by d’Asporto as a guest of the management and we did not pay for our sweet treat.)

Wass up?

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Wasshoi Sunshine West, 1-9 The Avenue, Sunshine West. Phone: 7020 7966

If driving into these parts of Sunshine West is an unusual occurrence for Team CTS, then …

… heading this way for Japanese food at a restaurant that is open for lunch on a Wednesday is positively surreal.

Wasshoi Sunshine West is tucked into a rather unlovely conglomeration of businesses at the corner of The Avenue and Fitzgerald Road, within earshot of the Ring Road.

Before its arrival, we had been unaware of the sibling business in Prahran and the fame of its founder, Ikuei Arakane, and his role in Iron Chef.

Japanese food?

Well, yes – of a kind.

There’s no sushi, sashimi or chawanmushi here.

There’s not even chopsticks – we are provided wood sporks with which to navigate our lunches.

And the basic menu (see below) features what look like banh mi.

Wendy, the sparkly and very welcoming boss lady, suggests the fare is “Japanese street food”.

Hey, that’ll do us!

Eat-in facilities are of a basic fast-food variety, but perfectly fine.

 

 

Miso soup is advertised in a sign on the counter as costing $3.

But we suspect that just about everyone who comes in during these early times – our lunch takes place on the shop’s fourth day – is getting a complementary cup by doing the social media “like” routine.

In any case, it’s perfect and delicious.

 

 

There’s three don/rice dishes available – beef, chicken and pork.

I go with the pork belly ($15.90).

 

 

Bennie chooses the beef brisket ($15.90).

We enjoy our lunches.

The meat is very good – definitely a step up from what usual expectations may be for this kind of fare in this kind of fast-food setting and location.

Though I reckon the pork has the upper hand in terms of tender and tasty.

The kimchi is OK, but rather bland.

There is one simple change that could lift these meals from merely to good to verging-on-great – ditch the iceberg lettuce and replace it with shredded cabbage!

 

Aussie burgers supreme

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Not Just A Burger Cafe, 30 First Avenue, Sunshine. Phone: 9310 1568

Over the years, Consider The Sauce has fallen into the habit of comparing and contrasting burger styles.

Between the new wave – for want of a better term – and old-school Aussie burgers.

We’ve done this without ever detailing just what the differences are.

So how does this work?

New wave – American style, hipster, trendy?

A thicker patty; flasher dressings; perhaps barbecue sauce of some sort.

And sometimes a whole dill pickle – perhaps even skewered to the top of the bun.

Aussie style?

A thinner, wider patty, sometimes involving meat of a questionable quality, sometimes frozen – or so we reckon.

Dressings: Chopped iceberg lettuce; perhaps beetroot.

Even an egg or – God help us – pineapple.

 

 

Always in this imperfect delineation effort is the feeling that we have also been talking about quality – meaning less of it in the Aussie renditions.

Well, at Not Just A Burger we find we can happily dispense with such dull figuring.

The burgers are just plain great.

Improbably, Not Just A Burger Cafe is located in a neighbourhood  in which we would never have reason to look – a back water of light industrial action off Sunshine Road, about right opposite J.R. Parsons Reserve and the silos.

We heard about this place and its work via Sunshine Locals.

Paul and Maria (pictured above in pre-lunch repose) are on to a good thing here – they service the many local workers, but are also a building a reputation for night-time fare and deliveries.

This a bare-bones tradies place that offers many of the usual food choices (see below).

But the burgers are where the action is at.

And Bennie and I could not be happier with our lunches.

 

 

We both go for the N.J.A.B. Inferno ($12) with bacon added.

It’s all terrific – lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion, with jalapeno slices, N.J.A.B hot sauce and some Sriracha deftly combined for the just-right degree of heat.

Yes, the meat is thinner and wider in the Aussie fashion, but it tastes of real-deal beef.

My choice is regular bun.

 

 

Bennie opts for brioche.

Ha!

I can imagine various smarty pants quipping that the presence of brioche here marks this place as not a true Aussie-style burger joint.

Who cares, though, when the burgers are this good?

 

 

The crinkle-cut chips ($4) are fine and hot. We are provided a serve of Sriracha for dipping.

 

How we ate great in 2019

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August of 2020 will mark the 10th anniversary of Consider The Sauce.

There will be a party.

The outlines of what I have planned are, at this stage, very hazy.

I am open to suggestions about a venue or any other ideas.

Likewise, I remain open to suggestions for employment – paid or not.

For the time being, Consider The Sauce IS my job – and that’s a pretty cool place to be.

As for 2019, for the Consider The Sauce family it has been a momentous year, one filled with loss and several varieties of pain, but also one full of wonderful life, love and surprises.

Thanks as always to our readers, the many friends who lent us their eating and the small business people of the western suburbs, without whom etc etc!

The following wrap-up by no means covers all the fine food we enjoyed this year – if I were to bash this out tomorrow, the outcome would quite likely be different!

 

 

Cannoli Bar

This Avondale Heights treasure has become a firm favourite – not just for sweets, but also for pasta and other lunchy delights.

 

 

On The Bone

Nat and I finally made it to One The Bone in Maidstone and had an incredibly super time of it.

We lucked into the very first of their Sunday lunch deals.

The advice is simple and adamant – once the Sunday lunches resume in the new year, just go.

 

 

Kites

Away from the western suburbs, we loved our visits to Kites in Clayton South for top-notch Sri Lankan tucker.

 

 

Fusion Ceylon

Just before Christmas, Bennie and I struck out in search of Lebanese food in Hopper Crossing.

The place, our destination, was boarded up.

And definitely not serving lunch.

So we headed for an old fave – Fusion Ceylon in Werribee.

He had one of their fabulous fried rice dishes.

I opted for the $9 “curry in a hurry” bain marie deal – and it was a lot more glamourous and sexy than that sounds.

“I’d forgotten how good this place is,” Bennie enthused.

Yes indeed – absolutely a star of the west.

 

 

Chi Bao

We welcomed Chi Bao to Yarraville – and loved its dumplings and more.

 

 

Balkan Grill

We first made the acquaintance of Danilo Majmunovic at Balkan Grill when it was set up in an Ardeer soccer club.

After he moved to a more orthodox eatery premises in St Albans, we adored his brilliant take on burgers.

 

 

Biryani King/Barwachi

Welcome, too, to two new additions to the West Footscray Indian scene.

We had happy times at both Biryani King and Bawarchi.

 

 

Panjali/Annapoorna

For a different take on curry, we very much enjoy having the banana leaf meals and more from Panjali in Sunshine and Shri Annapoorna in Braybrook as part of our regular fare.

 

Doug The Barber

In the course of food-related research, I discovered Doug, formerly of Williamstown Road and Francis Street, had set up shop in Brooklyn.

Getting a haircut from Doug is always a pleasure.

 

 

Tanoor

No story about Tanoor this year, yet this Hopper Crossing purveyor of Lebanese tucker remains one of our leading regulars – both for eat-in dips and accessories AND for takeaway pies and pizzas.

 

 

Mama Lor

Our troubled relationship with Filipino food was given an affirming filip thanks to the arrival of Mama Lor in Werribee.

Love that crackling and roast pork!

 

 

Kingyo Izayaka

The best Japanese food we had this year was provided by Kingyo Izayaka in Moonee Ponds.

And it was very, very good.

 

 

Mun Kitchen/Mumchan

Korean food?

Oh, yes, we were right amongst that, too.

Mun Kitchen at Williams Landing and Mumchan in Laverton both served us great fried chicken and more.

 

 

Cafe d’Afrique

We were excited and delighted to welcome Faisel Pkesy and his Cafe a’Afrique back – here be the heart of Footscray.

And excellent food, too.

 

 

Cheezy Pizza

“Making Aussie pizzas better” is the motto of Cheezy Pizza in Yarraville.

And that’s precisely what they do.

Make ours a large American plus whatever.

 

 

Laksa King Kitchen

For several reasons, we do not favour the main Laksa King on Pin Oak Crescent in Flemington.

Yet we are returning regularly to the new branch office on Racecourse Road – particularly for the various chicken rice options.

 

 

Olive Oil & Butter

We are looking forward to the forthcoming provision of evening meals at Olive Oil & Butter in Yarraville.

In the meantime, it has become another much-loved CTS regular.

 

 

Karlaylisi

Hand-made noodles, cumin lamb and many other spicy delights – there is nothing not to love about Karlaylisi on Gordon Street in Footscray.

 

 

 

Second Ave Grocer

It’s gone from Altona Fresh to Second Ave Grocer – but we continue to love this place, which has become a big part of our weekly routines.

 

 

Ragusa

We enjoyed a number of swish meals this year – none better than that served to us at Ragusa in Williamstown.

Croatian joy on many plates!

 

Sunday roast feast – magical

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On The Bone, 128 Mitchell Street, Maidstone.

On The Bone has been going for just on a year.

In that time, every social media comment, all utterances and several reviews I have seen have been, without exception, very glowing in their assessments.

That’s one of the reasons Consider The Sauce has taken so long in checking the place out, we being naturally inclined to seek out those places unfairly standing in the shadows.

Another reason is On The Bone’s general vibe and pricing has suggested to us special occasion rather than a mere meal.

But now the CTS stars have aligned.

They’re throwing a lamb lunch.

Nat Stockley and I are up for another catch-up – and it’s a Sunday roast.

And we both love Sunday roasts.

 

 

The former home of Los Latinos has been done out in simple, elegant style.

We subsequently learn the restaurant’s endeavours to introduce its Sunday lunches have been delayed a couple of weeks because of private function bookings – so we are partaking of the very first.

There’ll be one more this year – on Sunday, December 22 – with the concept to be carried on into the new year.

The going rate is $35.

Amazing.

We enjoy (understatement) a superb lunch in which the surprises and delights keep on coming.

They start with the menu (see below).

What I had expected to be a three-course list offering a choice of entree or dessert turns out to be a locked-in, straightahead menu – what you read is what you get.

(BTW, On The Bone is a very meaty establishment, but the service is so obliging and cheerful and the talents of the multicultural kitchen so rareified, I suspect those of non-carnivore inclinations could easily be embraced and welcomed through a quick conversation upon booking.)

 

 

We start with a simple appetiser of two chunks of crusty bread with beef bone marrow butter.

It’s very good and very flavoursome.

This reminds of the Kiwi habit of my childhood of pouring bacon fat into an egg cup for use later on as a butter substitute, spread sparingly on toast with a very little salt.

Did or does anyone else ever do this?

Next up are chicken herbed croquettes with onion soubise, aioli and herb salad (to photo).

The dainty orbs are crunchy, with mildly tasting innards that look like the sort of thing offered at Sri Lankan eateries, utilising canned tuna. Or East African sambusas of the same ilk.

 

 

Next up – a righteous antipasto spread.

Chargrilled zucchini is a lacking in char character, but still good – as is the similarly prepared eggplant.

Two kinds of mushroom are nicely vinegary.

Romesco sauce is mirrored on the other side by a chunky raita that is more like coleslaw.

Neat trick that, one I may try at home.

But a little oddly, it is the chargrilled bread that most takes my fancy – a great ingredient done just right.

 

 

All of the above is mere undercard limbering-up, however, for the main event.

How majestically awesome does this spread look?

It eats and tastes every bit as good as it looks.

And then some.

I am on a giddy food high.

 

 

Shoestring fries …

 

 

… jewel-like honeyed carrots residing in a minty sauce and …

 

 

… and a flawless green salad are all wonderful, especially the latter two.

We enjoy them, though fail to consume all of each.

 

 

The final piece of this perfect feed is the lamb leg.

That such a big hunk of meat is beautifully tasty and so tender reeks to me kitchen perfection.

Or maybe some kind of voodoo alchemy.

But most likely just plain hard work and talent.

It falls from the bone with the merest prod of cutlery.

And there is plenty of it.

The various bits and pieces take the lamb into gloryland.

Hommus, pinenuts, fatoush, jus, mint herb salad – all just so right and delicious.

This has been a sensational lunch; it’s one that will feature for sure in the CTS wrap-up of our 2019 highlights that will be published some time between Christmas and New Year.

 

Much more than cannoli

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Cannoli Bar, 23 Riviera Road, Avondale Heights. Phone: 93377049

In the months since CTS first wrote about Cannoli Bar, the place has become wildly famous.

A great big bunch of media coverage has ensued, but I’d like to think it’s the sheer outstanding quality of what is on offer that is the main driver of all this feverish fandom.

Since then, too, Cannoli Bar has expanded its fare.

There’s a much longer range of cannoli available, many of them of a colourful and creative bent.

And that expansion means lunch.

 

 

Lunch options include really good-looking pizza slices.

And a couple of daily pasta selections.

I decide against the cannelloni with beef, opting instead for the eggplant parmigiana ($18, top photo).

Oh my, my, my – this is heaven.

It arrives in a very hot bowl, its contents still bubbling.

It’s a glorious mix of eggplant, the top bits nicely crunchy, tomato and cheese.

Perfect.

My lunch is wonderfully enhanced by a parade of hardcore blues classics – Albert King’s Born Under A Bad Sign, Bobby Bland’s Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City, Sonny Boy William’s Help Me and more.

Thank you very, very much.

 

 

My wonderful lunch is completed by biscotto cherry ($2) and cafe latte – both equally fine.

I had originally intended this outing to be the basis of a story about panettone – more precisely the merits of the cheap, mass-produced ones we get from the supermarket compared to more rustic renditions.

 

 

But all that seems a bit redundant in light of the fact that I grab the very last of Cannoili Bar’s pistachio amaretto panettone ($25) and that the eight remaining choc chip versions will likely be gone by the time you read this.

 

 

Back home, Bennie and I soon discover that all panettones are most definitely not the same.

Yes, the pistachio crust is super.

But it’s the “cake” itself that truly wows us.

It’s chewy, much more fibrous than the cheapo versions we’re familiar with, delicious.

We won’t be casual about this one.

No hacking off a slice at a mere whim.

This is something to be savoured.

Cannoli Bar is open Wednesdays through Saturdays.

If you can make it, I suggest week-day visits, as I suspect this place gets crazy busy at the weekends.

There is something ridiculously fine about tootling down a rather ordinary suburban street, headed for this very cool Italian establishment.

 

Regal on the rice front

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Biryani King, 552 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 7013 9347

There have been several Indian eatery tenants at 552 Barkly in the past half dozen years.

So the arrival of a new player here in the very keen Indian eats scene in West Footscray could quite easily pass with little notice by us.

Even one with the word “biryani” in its name.

Except we DO notice the prices.

Here, bone-in chicken curries cost $10, a masala dosa $8 and a basic chicken biryani $10 (menu below).

These fees are significantly below those of most other places hereabouts and further afield.

But they count for nowt if the quality isn’t there.

And the quality, it appears, IS very much present.

CTS pal Nat Stockly has become something of semi-regular since his first visit a few months back – and that’s big thumbs up from a staunch biryani fan boy.

So up Bennie and I rock.

Nat’s endorsement is given extra credence by the number of customers – and delivery drivers – coming and going so early in a Saturday lunch hour.

We both have simple, basic meals – and they are very good.

 

 

Bennie’s masala dosa is nearing on perfection, though the dosa itself is a little thicker than is customary.

The accessories are fresh and pretty.

And the spud filling is a glorious, turmeric-yellow jumble of near mush.

So good is his dosa that he returns the next day with his mother, with both ordering the same dish!

 

 

Upon arrival at our table, my chicken dum biryani is sans gravy – a situation rectified a few minutes later.

But I confess to Bennie my lunch looks, at first blush, like a bowl of plain rice into which a few pieces of chook from a curry have been buried.

But the spilling of biryani to plate reveals a most excellent restaurant-style biryani, all the usual seasoning and two notably flavoursome and tender pieces of chicken.

It’s a winner, winner, chicken … lunch.

We’re likely, like Nat, to become regulars here for good – and seriously affordable – Indian goodies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fine fit for Footscray

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Roman’s Original, 50 Leeds Street, Footscray.

We’re quite the salt fiends here at Consider The Sauce HQ.

This is not a boast – it’s a simply statement of fact.

Something a bit “meh” about one of our many home-made soups or stews?

Not enough salt!

And, hardly a surprise, we eat out quite a lot so are well used to salty restaurant food.

So it IS a surprise to have too much salt be a problem for us at Roman’s Original – and not just concerning one dish, but both we order.

 

 

Bennie’s first comment, upon trying his fried chicken sandwich ($15) is: “Wow – this is like really flash KFC!”

That’s a compliment!

But then: “It’s way too salty, though!”

Yeah right, I figure, suspecting he’s playing a bit too much the food critic.

But then he proceeds to pick the flour-based coating from his chook and enjoy the rest of his meal.

I try a couple of bits of the discarded coating.

He’s right.

It IS too salty. By a lot.

 

 

I hope there’ll be no such problems with my fish sandwich ($16), featuring a good-size piece of ling.

My sandwich is dressed and prepared the same way, so far as I can tell, as Bennie’s chicken effort – some herby mayo, lettuce, an ineffectual cheese slice, pickles.

It’s a terrific meal, a real nice handful with the crispy fish a treat.

But hold on …

Yes, my fish coating – panko crumbs this time – is ALSO way too salty.

And, as above, for us that’s saying quite a lot.

What is going on here?

I’m told, when we’re finished our meal and paying up, that today there have been some new arrangements in the kitchen.

We feel assured this is a one-off happening.

And that makes us happy.

Because we like Roman’s Original.

A lot.

We love the whole vibe, from the way bits, pieces and walls from the old deli have been retained in this place’s minimal-yet-elegant fit-out right through to the funky music.

And we love that this bar/eatery fits right into Leeds Street in particular and Footscray central in general.

Just like that – sound of fingers snapping – it looks a part of the furniture.

 

 

And, naturally enough, we also dig the equally minimalist menu – there’s no printed versions; just this simple list parked on the wall behind the order/pay counter.

 

 

We get two servings from the dishes listed under “sides”.

The pickles consist mostly of al dente carrots rounds with a mildly sour yet very intriguing flavour. They’re a bargain at $2.

The potato salad is even more of a steal – the $7 serve is pretty damn big, so much so we don’t finish it.

Our salad is divine – a mayo-rich extravaganza that is perfect in every way.

Despite the salty hiccups, we are eager to return to Roman’s Original.

 

Goodness gracious!

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Karomi, 15/1 Duncans Road, Werribee.

Karomi is a cute cafe just of Watton Street in Werribee’s CBD.

Here you can get a range of sandwiches, toasties and sweet treats (see menu below).

 

 

But there is no doubt that the main action at Karomi – and the desire of 99 per cent of the place’s patrons – concerns the wonderful Greek doughnuts mostly known as loukoumades.

Here they’re called lokma – and you can have them, if that is your thing, with a variety of toppings such as M&Ms, Oreo and Kit Kat.

Nah.

Bennie and I go for the classic ($10 for 10).

We love them – golden orbs with crisp exteriors and hot, airy interiors.

They are swimming is syrup imbued with crushed/chopped pistachios.

Our cafe latte and iced coffee are just right, too.