That’s not coleslaw!

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Hunky Dory, 28 Pratt Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9326 0350

CTS had been wanting to try the new Moonee Valley branch of the Hunky Dory chain right from day one, but has been thwarted by its popularity and a lack of communal seating.

The latter, in particular, seems foolish in a high-turnover swish fast-food place.

But, finally and during a very busy Friday lunch hour, I grab one of the small for-two tables and settle in.

The plates – platters is more accurate – I see whizzing about me are massive and laden with way more than simple fish and chips.

Indeed, F&C seems a minority – mostly it appears to be all about salads, grilled seafood and heaps of molluscs.

So how do I go with my CTS benchmark order of F&C, chips, coleslaw?

Not so good …

Chips – excellent; I eat each and every one.

Fish of the day (blue grenadier) – the batter is not crisp, it is leathery. The fish itself, however, is beautiful, moist yet firm, delicious.

Coleslaw – oh dear.

I ordered this with profound misgivings as all I saw in the display cabinet was a pile of chopped cabbage. Assured that what would be on my plate would be dressed, I took the plunge – so to speak.

And, yes, it is dressed – with quite a tasty mayo concoction.

But it’s a dribble that in no way dresses or is adequate for the masses of veg on my plate.

Often F&C places, and chicken shops, serve coleslaw that has so much mayo that it’s more like a broth with some cabbage in it.

This one goes in precisely the other direction.

Chopped cabbage and coleslaw are not interchangeable terms or concepts.

Mind you, the price for my lunch – $13.50 under the guise of the Hunky Dory “grilled fish pack” – is ace and significantly below what would be the combined prices of the three components.

It’s just one meal and I’m happy to believe/hope that I simply had a bad day.

Meanwhile, this Fairfax story has what seems to be the latest update on Hunky Dory, its fish-labelling practices and state of fish imports in general.

 

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Fishy delights

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Serenity Blu, Shop 4/29-35 Lake St, Caroline Springs. Phone: 8390 1700

A few days after eating at Serenity Blu, a friend asked what there was to write about a fish and chip shop.

Turns out she was not familiar with the new-school F&C joints that have come on the scene in the past decade or so – somewhat in tandem with the similar burger places.

For her, fish and chips meant wrapped in paper and always takeaway.

The places we like, by contrast and featured many times here on Consider The Sauce, are quite different.

So what do we seek or want from flash F&C places?

We want a nice, bright, clean setting.

We expect to eat in-house.

We want cooks/chefs who look like they know what they are about – if they’re dressed smartly, so much the better.

 

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We like seeing a nice line-up of at least a couple of good salads.

We most definitely expect to use real cutlery to eat food that is on real plates (or, in the case of Serenity Blu, boards).

We want to see a good range of seafood available, both grilled and fried.

Most of all, we’ve come to expect to be able to get fish, chips and salad, well presented, for under $20 – that is, at least $10 less than the same meal would cost in a restaurant proper or pub.

Serenity Blu, a new operation in Caroline Springs housed in what was formerly Ocean’s D’Lish, scores well on all those counts.

 

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Though we’re equally happy to see they are enough grounded in F&C tradition to offer potato cakes and chips with gravy!

My mid-week lunch companion is Conan of the Yo India Food Truck, a Caroline Springs local.

As we talk shop and other matters of mutual interest, we enjoy a very nice lunch.

 

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Conan chooses the grilled salmon with chips and salad ($17.50).

The fish is well cooked through but still very good.

 

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My flathead fillet with chips and salad ($16.50) is every bit as fine.

The fish is well battered and cooked, and of a good size.

In both our cases, the chips are good but fall short of great.

My coleslaw – the serve is smaller, by my choice, than would’ve normally been provided – is fresh and lovely.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is Conan’s quinoa/melon/grape salad.

Normally, I’d be suspicious of anything so redolent of hipster wellness, but this really does taste wonderful.

 

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Serenity Blu is the baby of Aydin.

That’s her in the middle, with nephew Tarkan on the left and son Yakup on the right.

Tarkan has previously worked at Nobu and that sort of breeding shows in the food preparation and presentation at Serenity Blu.

****

Perhaps I should keep a closer eye on Caroline Springs.

In some spare time I had before meeting Conan, I spied restaurants of the Japanese and Malaysian varieties that I did not know were there.

Then, in the shopping centre proper, I ran into Jacqui The Urban Ma and her kids.

Finally, as I entered Serenity Blu itself, I met Natalie Galea Ahmet.

Natalie runs Garden of Eden Photography, and through that has somewhat accidentally fallen into doing social media work for eatries she has shot – including this one!

It was through contact she made with a Star Weekly colleague that I learned about this new F&C place.

I love how connections work.

 

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Photo: Garden of Eden Photography

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App zap brings fish and chips

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Consider The Sauce is skeptical about apps.

Sure, since belatedly joining the smart-phone world, I make daily use of a variety – gmail, wordpress, ColorNote, the ABC, my credit union.

But when it comes to our zeal for exploring the world and new things in it, apps – it mostly seems – are all about limiting choices and discoveries.

After all, apps are a closed world – you are limited to what the app creators/owners have included.

And then, of course, there’s the familiar joke – an app is someone wanting to sell you something.

However, we have been won over by Menulog.

Really, this app and the attendant service are beaut.

And we offer that endorsement freely and with no support or inducements from the company.

(A few years back, Menulog did try repeatedly to get me involved in doing promo work for them. The approaches were painfully inept:

“I am a major fan of your writing and thought you would appreciate if I send you a few ideas that might help you grow your audience:

1. Partner with other bloggers (I can give you some contacts if you want).

  1. Run a competition (do you need free prizes? Just let me know).
  1. Use infographics in your posts …
  1. Give back to the community: review your local restaurant and help them to promote their name (I can organize a free meal from them for you).
  1. Have you thought about having a guest post on your blog? Menulog can send some really fun editorial content and stats e.g. Top 5 takeaway meals in your city or even Top takeaway orders to cure a hangover.”)

So we have come to appreciate Menulog all on our own.

We’ve found the service and its cost and processes pretty much faultless.

OK, once – a few weeks ago – the delivery guy failed to include a can of soft drink.

But that’s it.

Getting food delivered is not something of which we’re REALLY big fans of – we much prefer getting out and about; meeting the people who make the food we love makes it taste so much better.

But sometimes it is just the ticket.

Inner-west favourites we’ve used Menulog on so far are Kitchen Samrat, Mishra’s Kitchen, Kenny’s Yum Cha House, Rizq Bangladeshi Cuisine, Motorino and Krishna Pait Pooja.

For this lazy Friday night, we’re taking a Menulog punt with one of our favourite westie fish and chip places – Dough! in Newport.

We’re usually rather fastidious about always wanting to eat F&C we’re they’re made – so we’re a little nervy about what sort of nick our meal will be in by the time it arrives.

 

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Our fears turn out to be completely unfounded – our food has, it appears, gone straight from the deep-fyers into a car and thence driven straight from Newport to Yarraville.

Everything is hot and fresh.

Two two big, handsome slabs of battered fish are wonderful.

Two serves of BBQ corn at $1.20 each turns our to be three slivers – they’re fine and juicy but it’s not clear how BBQ-ing has been going on with them.

The chips?

Those legendary rough-cut, warts-and-all chips?

“Wow – these chips are so great!” quips Bennie.

These are terrific fish and chips – and our meal has turned out to be much the same price (and better) as if we’d walked around the corner to Anderson Street.

With a $5 delivery fee and a 10 per cent discount for a first-time order, the total is $25.61.

Forgetting about the corn and getting a small serve of chips (which would’ve been ample) would get that price down to a very splendid $21.15.

Ordering a home-delivered meal from Dough! has also seen us not left to deal with the plastic containers that go with all other delivered food, save for pizza.

Another potential downfall?

I wonder if the delivery drivers, in general, are caught up in the same onerous work/pay/conditions situation as convenience store workers and Myer cleaners.

I’m very interested in some reader feedback on this.

Do you use Menulog?

Or another service?

If so, what have been your westside winners?

What – if any – have been the disasters?

Meal of the week No.6: Ebi

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f&c

 

The dinner hour for CTS and, we suspect, many other bloggers and foodies is somewhere between 6pm and 7pm.

For some, this is the legacy of having – or having had – very young children.

Perhaps “available light” has something to do with it.

I’ve even heard of bloggers who only do lunch for that very reason!

But a big part of it for us is … we’re hungry for food, hungry for adventure.

So 8pm seems way too late, especially on a work/school night.

The Mediterranean post-sietsa 9pm or later?

Unimaginable!

Early evening dining also means missing rush hour and always getting a seat.

In the case of tiny Ebi in West Footcray, that latter point is no small thing.

Entering by myself and taking a seat at the bar, I go through the usual routine … look at the display cabinet, consult the blackboard menu, peruse the regular menu, before saying …

“I’ll have fish and chips thanks, John – large!”

John: “How did I know you were going to say that?!”

Me: “Hmmpf! You must have other regulars who always order the same thing?”

The genial, chrome-domed Ebi host the proceeds to count off a long list of regulars with whom he is on first-name terms and their invariable choices – “fish three ways”, vegetable balls, udon, bento and so it goes.

Everyone gets their own groove on at Ebi …

Old-school WeFo

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cons4

 

Con’s Fish And Chips, 577 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9689 280

Bennie and I had good fish and chips from Con’s many moons ago but haven’t explored the place further since then.

This time, I’ve been nudged through the door by Col and the very excellent Barkly Village Facebook page he runs – he’s raved about the Con’s burgers several times, arousing my interest.

Truth is, we’d looked elsewhere largely based on our preference to eat in and sit down whenever possible, no matter what kind of food is at hand.

So I’m delighted to find, in what is a basic take-away operation, a small table and chairs for my comfort and enjoyment.

Long tells me she and Hung have run the joint for about 11 years but that they still see the eponymous Con from time to time.

 

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Did I say old-school?

How can you tell?

 

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I’m super impressed that Long provides me a half serve of the minimum serve of chips for $2.

They, too, look old-school but are fine, hot and enjoyable.

Predictably, even a half serve is way too big.

 

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My “one with the lot minus egg” ($7) is a two-hands job that is demolished quickly – it’s a typically enjoyable, um, old-school burger.

In the way of such places, the patty has been smashed flat.

I don’t have any problem with that – tradition is tradition, after all.

But next time, I’ll request an extra patty.

These folks are so friendly and obliging, I’m sure that will not present any problem!

 

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Meal of the week No.1

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dough21

 

CTS has become quite besotted with the fish and chips served up by Dough! in Blackshaws Road, Newport.

They’re quite different in vibe and personality from those created by our other fave F&C joint – but no less excellent.

The chips are tumbler-peeled, hand-cut and all-terrific.

The fish, in this case a nice piece of blue grenadier, is always beautifully cooked although it does usually fall apart in my hands.

I don’t care, so good is it!

The calamari, too, is always tender and tasty – and it’s the real thing.

See earlier story here.

The BeeeasT of Tarneit

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beeeast2

 

BeeeasT Burgers, 1 Alexandra Avenue, Tarneit. Phone: 9974 6971

It’s difficult to imagine a more whitebread upbringing than school life in particular and life in general than that experienced by CTS in the ’60s and ’70s.

There were occasional exotic influences and people – though not much in the way of exotic food – but by and large Maori people and culture in particular were something that happened in textbooks, the North Island or the All Blacks.

A later career move that found me living, and surfing, in Gisborne and, before and after, in Wellington brought a more homogenous New Zealand to my life.

Still, the Melbourne move when it came was made at least in part because of the desire not to simply slip into a Kiwi sub-culture in, say, Sydney or Brisbane.

I love my Kiwi brothers and sisters, whatever their genre, but I have no desire to be surrounded by them at the expense of all else.

But after almost 15 years in the west, there has been a change.

It started – or, rather, I started to notice it – at Bennie’s primary school, where one of his best pals was a young Maori lad.

It continued with the thoroughly Kiwi-infused vibe of the Footscray Bulldogs Rugby Union Club, for which Bennie played for a couple of seasons.

In more recent times, I have enjoyed monitoring the ups and downs of the Altona Roosters Rugby League Club, though I have yet to make it to a game.

As well, I am enjoying observing through Facebook the beaut work of Victoria Maori Wardens and their efforts to keep Maori and Islander youngsters from getting into big trouble. I will make it a point to meet them one day.

I even diary-marked a couple of Waitangi Day functions this year – one in Elsternwick, one in Altona – but sadly missed both.

Maori may not flow in my blood but it resides in my soul, and is capable of surprising me with the force and profundity with which it sometimes surfaces.

 

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All these things are but a reflection of the fact the Maori and Islander population of Melbourne’s west has increased dramatically in the past decade or so, drawn like so many of us from around the world by housing prices but also, these days, no doubt by a sense of community as well.

Honey knows all about it.

She and her family live in Point Cook, but Honey travels to Manor Lakes p-12 College for her regular gig as assistant principal.

Assistant principal of a western suburbs school of 1800 or so kids?

Oh yes, she knows very well the changing face of the west in general and its Maori/Islander face in particular.

Incredibly, Honey has another job – she is a co-owner and co-proprietor of BeeeasT Burgers in Tarneit.

And the BeeasT itself, which shares a small business precinct with the likes of branches of Briyani House and International Foods, is testament to the growing Maori/Islander community in the west.

The business has been up and running since November yet in that time it has amassed a staggering 9000-plus Facebook likes.

 

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So it is with an easy smile that I front up for a chat and a feed.

In truth, aside from sweet potato chips on the menu (see below) and L&P in the fridge, there’s nowt that is particularly Kiwi about the fare here.

But there is no mistaking the nature of the management or the joint’s customers.

Many of the burgers listed are more complex and grandiose than fit my immediate needs, so I go for the Fair Dinkum ($10) – minus the pineapple.

All Beeeast burgers come with chips.

Those chips appear a tad nondescript but are really excellent and hot.

Similarly, my burger looks modest but goes down a treat.

It’s like a cross between an Aussie-style corner store burger and Grill’d, mostly because the very good patty has a real beefiness about it.

 

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