Yum Chinese roasts, dumplings

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BBQ Noodle House, Shop 14, 238 Boardwalk Boulevard, Point Cook. Phone: 8375 2356

BBQ Noodle House shares a food-providing strip adjacent Featherstone shopping centre with an F&C place, a charcoal chicken place and a pizza joint.

It looks like a typical suburban noodle shop – the kind where you’ll get very average noodles and dodgy take-away.

But there’s more of interest here …

Chinese roast meats can be bought in Sunshine but only, so far as I’m aware, at a Hampshire Road supermarket – not in a house-roasted sit-down restaurant setting.

There are several such places in Footscray and at least one good one in St Albans.

But on the bay side of the Westgate Freeway/Princes Highway?

Nope.

None at all.

The first thing we note about BBQ Noodle House is the line-up of typical roast beasties – and bits of beasties – hanging up in typical fashion in the window.

The second thing we note, equally approvingly, is the big, tubby roasting oven in the kitchen.

Yes!

 

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Our mixed roast platter ($12) is just fine, with meat juices sluicing up the rice and overcooked but lovely bok choy on the side.

The barbecue pork and roast duck are tender, juicy and tasty – though, predictably, the duck meat near the bone is something of a challenge.

 

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A bowl of chicken broth is brought to us upon request and without extra charge.

It is hot and delicious.

 

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Pork and Chinese cabbage dumplings ($11.50) are winners, too.

Whatever the cabbage component, it has been subsumed into the pork mixture but no matter.

The dumplings are quite heavy, and even a bit stodgy – in a good way.

But they taste fabulous.

And we dig the strands of pickled vegetables that are on hand.

 

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Even the vegetable spring rolls ($4) come up trumps.

They’re well fried and the innards are dark with chopped fungi.

 

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Old-school Chinese winner

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Jade Stream Chinese Restaurant, 62 Old Geelong Road, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 9748 9666

The, ahem, neighbourhood surrounding Hoopers Crossing station is surely one of most unlovely in the western suburbs.

But there is food.

On the retail strip across the road from the station, this being more of an old-style suburban shopping area, there is a hip cafe and a very nice Indian joint.

Moving towards the city and along Old Geelong Road, one is confronted by a nightmare of roundabouts, asphalt, concrete and warehouse retail as the laughably titled Golden Mile unfolds.

Down the Golden Mile there is food, too – including a cavernous Indian place we have yet to fully explore and a trucked-away outpost of Italian coffee and biscotti.

Back in the area between the station and the Golden Mile proper, the grimness is being enhanced by urban upheaval as Pacific Werribee, up the road, sucks away the customers.

Some businesses are hanging on despite the changes the area is undergoing and the problems of access – the whirling traffic hereabouts is intense.

They include the entertainment/licensed/pokies venue of the Werribee Tigers and a Woolworths.

Also here is a motel that for years has had signs advertising its buffet.

This has long intrigued us – we may not think the area very attractive but it is part of our routine.

So one night, having time to kill before picking Bennie up from his guitar lesson, I step into the motel to find the buffet is very much a sometime thing despite the signage and that only a small menu is available.

The whole vibe is so desultory that I skedaddle up the road apiece to Jade Stream, another business clinging on here.

 

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Ah, this is more like it – that’s what I think as I peruse the menu.

So that’s where we head for dinner.

What are we expecting, hoping for?

Just some smart, tasty Cantonese food – nothing innovative or challenging but something satisfying and of good quality.

And that’s pretty much exactly what we receive.

I’m guessing Jade Stream has been in place for a couple of decades – inside has an air of timelessness and a vibe speaks of a business that knows what it’s about and has a good handle on its customers.

While we’re enjoying our dinner, a handful of tables of various numbers come and go – and all of them appear to be of regulars on friendly terms with the staff.

We like that.

We find the service to be very good.

Jade Stream lays some claim to being a Chinese-Malaysian but mostly this is a straight-up Chinese joint.

 

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Curry puffs ($5.50) are chubby cylinders and seem rather small.

But the fillings are very good – mostly a rich mix of minced meat with some crunch ‘n’ pop from peas.

 

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Short soup ($6) has a very good and flavoursome broth with a bit of a peppery kick.

There are five slithery, delicious wontons – Bennie’s glinty-eyed enthusiasm wins him three, his dad gets two.

 

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Garlic pepper steak ($25.90) also appears modest of proportion but in this case appearances are deceiving.

There’s nothing particularly garlicky about the sauce but it is nonetheless rich and wonderful.

The beef cubes are big, of high quality and superbly cooked – and we appreciate the many chunks of broccoli.

 

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Szechuan eggplant hot pot is a big hit with us and an outright bargain, with the smaller dice of eggplant, peas, pork mince and chilli interspersed with silky, larger eggplant chunks of beaut flavour.

At $18.90, and with rice, it could easily serve as a light meal for two.

So big is the serve that we eat a little more than half, with the rest and the leftover rice going to be Bennie’s school lunch for the next day.

With two serves of rice but no soft drinks, our dinner has cost us a fair $61.30.

Westie eats goss 13/3/16

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Down on sleepy Woods Street, Laverton, Seven Star Chinese Restaurant has been open a few months, inhabiting a property formerly occupied by an Indian grocery.

 

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Strolling inside, I am delighted to find a rather lovely and swish dining room.

At Seven Star, dishes such as beef with black bean sauce and satay beef with vegetables are relegated to the “Oz style Chinese dish” section of the menu.

Under the “Authentic Chinese dish” section are to be found such overtly interesting fare as garlic pig tripe, fish flavour eggplant with pork mince, crispy pig trotters and boiled fish with pickled cabbage and chilli.

There’s also a cold list that includes fried peanut salad, oily chicken, wined chicken, pig ear in chilli oil and braised chicken giblets.

CTS will be checking this place out for sure, so stay tuned for a review!

 

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Taste Of The Middle East is on Synnot Street in Werribee, right next to Coles.

Following up on a reader tip – thanks, Clint! – I am surprised to find that it’s no longer in the “coming soon” category but is up and running for Sunday lunch.

However, I soon discover a menu that’s dedicated to eggs, steak sangers, parmas and the like.

Turns out the regular cafe menu will continue to run in the mornings and I’m a day early for the Middle Eastern goodies, which will kick in later in the day – beginning the day after my brief visit.

We’ll be checking this one out, too.

 

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Coming soon is Dosa Palace in Altona.

Brought to us by Nagesh of Hyderabad Inn fame, it’s located on Millers Road, Brooklyn, between the West Gate Freeway and Geelong Road.

This is undoubtedly a novel place to open a restaurant, with solid commercial/industrial on one side of Millers Road and a rather lovely residential neighbourhood tucked away on the other.

Will be interesting to see how it goes.

Despite the name, expect pretty much a full-service Indian line-up of food.

Mr, where are our dumplings?

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Mr Pan Fry, 268 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 0455 452 119

Consider The Sauce and pals – quite a number of them – have gathered for a sort-of informal Chinese New Year celebration.

The venue for our eating is a brand new Chinese place called Mr Pan Fry.

As previously noted, we love the intense diversity of Racecourse Road.

But we rarely venture down this end, so I have no recall of what sort of business was formerly in these premises.

Mr Pan Fry is done out crisp but basic furnishings and colours.

The front window space is dedicated to on-view dumpling production, though by the time I think to photograph some of that action, the work has ceased for the night.

There’s a heaping variety of those dumplings listed on the menu, which also extends to a variety of meat and vegetable main dishes and some rudimentary rice and noodle offerings.

We order with abandon, doubling up on some dishes to make sure there’s enough to keep all nine of our mouths happy.

 

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Shanghai fried noodles ($10.80) are a good, basic dish.

 

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The broth-laden “baowie steamed juicy pork buns” ($10.80) are very excellent.

 

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Pot stickers (pan-fried chicken and prawn dumplings, $12.80) are served like a crispy upside-down pie.

They, too, are very good.

 

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Stir-fried tofu with vegetables ($13.80) and …

 

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… fried tofu with pork mince and Sichaun sauce ($13.80) steer us away from dumplings with some aplomb.

The latter’s tofu is a silky smooth treat in a dish that is our most spicy of the night by quite a distance.

 

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Stir-fried salted pepper ribs ($18) are nice but not quite what we – well, what I – have been expecting.

The tangy batter is rather like that most of tonight’s group had across the road at Pacific Seafood BBQ House on a night of rampant crabiness. In that case, the batter coated chicken ribs.

With the pork ribs? Hmmm, interesting … chewy but not quite a bullseye.

In addition to all of the above, at Mr Pan Fry we also enjoy spring onion pancake and another variety of dumpling, the precise nature of which now escapes me as a result of re-ordering due to unavailability of one species in our initial choices.

And we had a delicious, unctuous dish labelled stewed pork belly with chef special sauce ($20.80), which for some reason escapes scrutiny by my camera but which is, perhaps, the hit of the night.

We find the food at Mr Pan Fry to be mostly very good, with the dumplings rating a notch higher.

The menu isn’t as long but the approach is somewhat similar to the adjacent I Love Dumplings.

I suspect, somehow, that Mr Pan Fry has a good chance of becoming a regular haunt as it’s a lovely, cosy place and the service we are provided is warm, smiling and obliging.

We’ve eaten well and having such a big group seems to have helped keep the price per head at most admirable $22.

 

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Bao boogie @ Littlefoot

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The Bao Bros Pop-up @ Littlefoot, 223 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9396 1282

The Bao Bros are coming to Footscray.

They’ve secured a very interesting location.

But its unveiling is several months away.

In the meantime, they’ll be testing their recipes, processes and skills at that sublime monument to good times known as Littlefoot.

For details of how that pop-up-style project will unfold in terms of how and when, check the Facebook pages of either the Bao Bros or Littlefoot.

 

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Littlefoot’s Liana and Stu with the Bao Bros crew – Mickey, Kiet and Long.

 

If you look up “bao” at, say, Wikipedia, you’ll find the main reference is to the likes of pork buns familiar from yum cha.

The Bao Bros offerings, though, are by way of a Taiwanese variation in which the buns are turned into fat sandwich casings.

The idea, I’m told, is that the buns be so ethereal and lightweight that they virtually disappear and let superior ingredients shine.

On that account, Bennie and I reckon the Bao Bros score really well.

We loved their handiwork and were grinning right from the first mouthful when he and I joined a group of folks acting as guinea pigs for the Bao Bros bun line-up.

We reckon these make for a delicious fast-food experience.

The pricing will be in a very good $5 to $8 range, and maybe two for $10.

We tried all five.

Or, in my case, almost all five.

I didn’t make it as far as the tofu number (top photograph) but Bennie actually liked it the best, digging its crisp tofu, crunchy veg and dollops of pesto.

As for the rest …

 

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Pulled pork was, for me, top dog (or top pig) – salty, wet and with a bit of a spice kick.

 

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The beef was almost as good.

 

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The fish items were, too, very good, with crisp-battered fish, tartare sauce and dill.

 

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The fried chicken bao looked a treat but were the only ones that fell down on the job a little for us. The chook was beautifully cooked but rather flavourless, while the slaw could’ve been more finely chopped and had more dressing.

Those minor quibbles aside, we loved our bao!

See earlier Littlefoot story here.

 

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CTS reader Zelda (on the right) and her pals were on bao test duty, too, and were as impressed as we were.

Yum cha by Kenny – no relation

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Kenny’s Yum Cha House, 34 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8688

The premises recently occupied by Kenny’s Yum Cha House was previously, and for many years, a rather nondescript noodle shop we never tried.

A new family has taken over, headed by dumpling-making dad Kenny, and they’re doing very nice things.

I confess to having tried “hokkien noodles” a few weeks before Christmas and being unimpressed.

But then a home delivery of some of yum cha items – and very good they were – re-sparked my interest.

 

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So heading to Ferguson Street with two regular CTS companions, I am filled with hope.

But there is cause to be cautious in terms of optimism.

After all, normal expectations for yum cha goodies served in such a humble, corner store setting would normally fall into the realms of cheap, enjoyable but surely frozen and mass-produced dumplings and the like.

 

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What we enjoy at Kenny’s Yum Cha House is way, way better than that – top-notch yum cha that pretty much matches what you’ll find at any of the storied yum cha places around town.

In fact, this place sort of redefines yum cha and how it can work.

Yum cha doesn’t have to be Sunday brunch; it can also easily be dinner.

Great yum cha doesn’t have to involve trollies; it can just as easily be a la carte.

In truth, it can even be argued that ordering as you go is preferable.

 

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Finally, Kenny’s Yum Cha House proves beaut yum cha doesn’t have to be served in a vast barn; a smallish neighbourhood enterprise can do it, too.

Everything we have is good or better:

  • Pan-fried dumplings ($8 for five).
  • Pork dumplings ($5.50 for three).
  • Chive prawn dumplings ($6 for three).
  • Pork ribs in black bean sauce ($5.50).
  • Chicken feet in black bean sauce ($5).

Only the last mentioned are in any way less than excellent; they lack a certain spicy zing.

 

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As well, as we find that assessing a yum cha joint can at least partially be done on the basis of greenery, we order Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce ($12) – and that, too, is lovely.

 

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It’s been a rather smashing meal – cheap, easy, impromptu (we pay $16 per person).

And on a Monday night in Williamstown!

 

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Kenny meets Kenny.

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Wonderfully silky eggplant & more

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Dumplings & More, 96 Hopkins St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 2165

After five years and more than 1000 posts, it might be presumed that Consider The Sauce has explored every noodle nook and curry cranny in Footscray Central.

And maybe even Sunshine, St Albans and various other foodie hot-spots, as well.

Nope.

Hasn’t happened.

Not even close.

Nor will it ever.

How fabulous is that?

For example: Dumplings & More is by now a Hopkins Street veteran yet it is only very recently that we have ventured through its doorway to eat and enjoy.

And enjoy we did.

Woks are used here but this is food – from the north-eastern province of Liaoning – that is quite a long way removed from your regular Cantonese tucker.

There is ample scope in the menu (see below) to accept all sort of challenges, although quite a few of the dishes involve Chinese pickles of the sort I already know through experience are not really my “thing”.

 

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This place is about hardcore Asian dining – the service is fine and smiling but there is not much English spoken here, so pointing at the required dishes is the go.

Ambiance is bare-bones cheap eats cafe style.

There are even a handful dishes on the menu that have no English translations. Yes, I asked as to their nature – I didn’t take precise notes on the answers, but the gist of it seemed to be that they aren’t any more weird and wonderful than the rest of the menu!

And the prices at Dumplings & More are very low.

Cucumber salad ($7, top photograph) is a beaut and refreshing starter.

It’s a little sweet, vinegary, a little spicy, garlicky and delicious.

 

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Bennie and I are of split minds about the exceptionally cheap seaweed salad ($2).

After a couple of mouthfuls, I call it quits.

Maybe I’m too familiar with the slippery, vividly green Japanese equivalent …  but this strikes me as dull and unappetising.

Bennie ploughs on, telling me the more heavily dressed (more garlic, more chilli) stuff is to be found further at the heart of the dish.

Each to his own!

 

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The lamb skewers cost $2 each (minimum order of four) – and they are dynamite!

The meat is not tender cubes as you might get in a Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Afghan eatery.

But it matters not, as eating these chewy morsels daubed in heaps cumin and quite a lot of chilli is a blast.

 

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Spicy chicken with peanuts ($13.80) is another winner, though I am keener about it than my offsider.

It’s not as spicy as we expect from such a dish ordered in such an establishment.

But I really love the way all the ingredients are chopped to uniform size and that those ingredients include celery and cucumber.

 

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An order of the pan-fried lamb dumplings ($9.80 for 15 pieces) is automatic on account of them being very intensely firm favourites of CTS pal Bazoo.

Very good they are, too, with the casings being alternatively crisp and a little doughy and the innards juicy and well seasoned.

 

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Finally, here is the crowning glory of our visits – the potato, eggplant and chilli ($13.80).

Simply put: Wow!!!

Seriously, Bennie has been talking about this dish regularly since we devoured it.

It is very, very oily – but such goes with such a dish and its method of preparation.

The green peppers strips are of only minor interest.

But …

The potato segments are browned yet still quite firm.

They’re just like roast spuds – and unlike anything potato we’ve ever before had in any kind of Asian restaurant.

Brilliants!

The eggplant is wonderously silky and luscious, and packed with aubergine flavour.

This is all the more impressive as all of it is skin-free – yet it is the skin with which we normally high degrees of flavour in eggplant cooking.

So much do we love this dish that we’ve even started talking about devising and publishing a western suburbs restaurant eggplant shoot-out!

 

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