Dandenong road trip




MKS Spices’n Things, 23 Pultney Street, Dandenong. Phone: 9701 3165

Living in the west means, by definition, living away from Melbourne’s centre.

Yet by other measures the west, or the inner west at least, is very much inner city.

The greater western suburbs may be growing at a prodigious rate but they still have some way to go to match the imposing sprawl of of Melbourne’s east and south.

In fact, such a big spread is Melbourne that getting to those far flung-areas for food adventures requires planning and some significant driving.

The Maroondah Highway is our least favourite!




Dandenong, I know, is packed with many sorts of foodie wonders and I wish we could explore there with more ease.

But with nothing pressing in the west, I’m more than happy to indulge in an overdue catch-up with Nat and a quickie lunch trip to Dandy.

It’s a bleak day and we don’t really explore, for instance, the Indian and Afghan precincts but it’s all good fun.




For lunch we hit MKS Spices’n Things.

Says Nat: “It’s got the best ever bain marie!”

He’s not wrong!




The live food aspects is just part of what is a very big supermarket operation but the area around the bain marie displays is crazy busy this Saturday.

We take our numbers and wait to put in our orders.

The range on hand for this first-time visitor is bamboozling and in the end I feel like I could’ve done better.




Two parathas with goat and okra curries plus chutney costs a fine $8.45.

But all is just adequate and some of it is distinctly not hot or even warm.

The vegetable curry also has onion and capsicum but the okra pieces themselves are splendid and the highlight of my lunch.




A fried chicken maryland is sticky, cold but actually quite good.




Nat, for whom this not a first visit, appears to do way better with his plate of biryani, goat curry, greens and a fab-looking dal.

He cleans his plate.

Yes, all the plastic here is a drag.

But observing the place in operation, I’m pretty sure management figures it’s the only viable way for them to go with their current set-up.




On the way home, we stop at the fabulous establishment known as Oasis Bakery in Murrumbeena so I can happily spend almost $100 stocking up on Lebanese pies for the freezer and much more.




As Nat says, it ain’t the cheapest but for me the quality is terrific.

Sadly, it also is nutty busy, preventing us from stopping awhile for coffee and sweets.

But I do like how one of the Oasis folks at the cash register refers to me as “young man”.






Meeting Lorisse

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Dandenong World Fare, Dandenong Market

It’s all a bit confusing.

We’ve been Facebook friends for a while, hooking up there on the basis of our numerous friends and former colleagues.

We’ve had some fun chat and even a few more reflective and personal moments through messages.

I certainly didn’t have Lorisse – or anyone else for that matter – in mind when I posted about not getting stuck in a rut.

But several weeks back, I was gazing rather absentmindedly at my computer screen and Facebook, when I thought: “Now that’s someone I want to meet!”

I mean, what’s not to love – big heart, whacky sense of humor, Stephen King fan, ardent feminist and sports nut without out being humourlessly obsessive about either, fully paid-up member of the sub-editor sub-clan of the journalist fraternity …

Why leave it to chance and some possible future gathering of former staffers of the Sunday Herald Sun, where Lorisse worked for about four years starting – it seems – almost immediately after my own departure?


My inquiry about meeting up for dinner was greeted with an unequivocal “Yes!” … but a nasty virus intervened and some rescheduling was done.

And then came the big announcement – Lorisse is departing in a matter of weeks for a gig in Abu Dhabi.

So … am I meeting a new friend or bidding farewell to an old one?

It feels like something of both, which seems about right.

Picking up my pal at her Frankston pad, we hit the road for the Dandenong World Fare and proceed to have a swell time – alternatively gobbing some pretty good food and yabbering away about our numerous mutual interests, as well as talking rather briefly with fabulous foodie Nat Stockley.

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event is not as big and sprawling as I have been expecting.

But the stalls, numbering about 50 all up I reckon, are well laid out; getting around is easy and the crowd not too overwhelming.

Overall, the food available is quite diverse, seems of uniformly high quality and is all very affordable.


We start with some crunchy bhel puri that could’ve been a bit more tangy.


Then it’s on to some pretty good grilled chicken with salad from the Nepalese stall. The mildish chilli sauce is a winner and we wish there was more of it.

Despite the diversity, the one thing we are having difficulty spying is something spicy, something with a real heat hit.

So after a few more bits and pieces, we finish on a high note with Korean popcorn chicken from the Ghost Kitchen crew.


It’s a true cliche – this is how KFC should be: Tender, slightly peppery, delicious.

The chilli sauce is what we’ve been craving – it’s homemade, hot and divine

We look at the dab they’ve supplied, we look at each other … and then I return to the Ghost Kitchen stall to have ALL our chook bits smothered in the fiery elixir.