Phat & phunky

Leave a comment

 

Phat Chicks, 549A Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9689 3030

Consider The Sauce loves the Indian vibe of Barkly Street in West Footscray.

We remember, profoundly, the pre-Dosa Hut, pre-Aangan days on the street when there wasn’t much at all.

It always seems surprising to us that there are those who complain about “too many Indian restaurants”.

And, shoot, it’s not like the Barkly Street precinct, or the neighbourhood in general, is ALL Indian.

However, the diversity factor is about to get a grand boost with the arrival Phat Chicks Fried Chicken, which is taking over the “right-hand side” of Thai Angels and should be open in a couple weeks.

And who better to be leading this charge than Jenny Nguyen?

She’s of Vietnamese family background, born in Hong Kong and raised in our western suburbs – how’s that for westie lineage?

Even better, Jenny is full of high-spirited charm and fun.

 

 

Bennie and I have dropped in for mid-week chat about this exciting new operation, to have a taste of Jenny’s wares and find out about the thinking behind WeFo project.

This is going to be some serious, but fun, fried chicken place – no hamburgers or sandwiches or “other” here.

And there’s no set meals, either.

Punters will customise their meals from the wonderfully simple menu (sadly not quite locked in in time to be published with this story).

The chicken will come in breast, “thunder” thighs, wings, drumsticks and “pimped up” ribs.

The overlapping range of coatings will include original, sweet chilli garlic, sesame soy, cheese, spicy, mi goreng noodles, salt n vinegar chips and chilli chips.

And, yep, those last three are created from instant noodles and crisps being given a good old pounding!

There’s a couple of salads on the list, and sides such as fries (cajun and sweet potato), onion strings and corn cheese.

 

 

We both dug these mi goreng ribs – very nice, very crunchy.

 

 

If anything, though, I loved these “original recipe” drumsticks even more – simple and delicious.

 

 

With the new wave of barbecue places and the like, we’ve tried quite a few variations of mac ‘n’ cheese in the past few years.

And, blimey, many of them have ranged from average through to horrid.

So it was a pleasure to chow down on Jenny’s rendition.

Again, there’s nothing flash or sophisticated here – just simple ingredients beautifully cooked.

Best of all, it’s plenty moist and gooey.

Jenny tells us that while she eats at Vietnamese eateries virtually every week, she wanted to do something different in the western suburbs and has always had a thing for fried chicken.

She wants her new baby to succeed but happily confesses that success, to a significant extent, will be adjudged on whether Phat Chicks becomes a place where folks look forward to going to hang out with her!

To that end, she’s also taking care of business away from the deep-frier.

There’s a couple of old-school video games in the house.

Away from the seated/eating area, is a comfy lounge set-up.

And Phat Chicks will be fully licensed.

Goodies on tap will include Hop Nation pilsner and West City Footscray Ale.

 

 

Other phun facts about Phat Chicks:

  • The bear in the restaurant logo is because Jenny’s nickname is “Bear”.
  • One English definition of the Vietnamese word “phat” is luck.

 

Highpoint fried chook

5 Comments
nene5

 

Nene Chicken, Highpoint. Phone: 9318 2843

It’s clear that western suburbs have bought massively into Melbourne’s mania for burgers.

The fried chicken thing isn’t quite as manic and our western neighbourhoods have mostly not risen to it charms.

There’s invariably fried chook on hand at charcoal chicken shops, such as the newish Manok, but it often seems like an after-thought. We are never tempted.

There’s fried poultry at westside Korean places such as Frying Colours and Snow Tree.

But as for any joints specialising in fried chicken of the American, or southern American, tradition … well, nope.

Not so far as we know.

 

nene1

 

Nene is Korean, too, but we wonder on the drive to it if maybe it’ll constitute a western suburbs fried chicken hot-spot.

The utter folly of going to Highpoint on a 40-degree weekend day less than a week before Christmas proves to be of pleasingly little consequence.

The parking situation is intense.

But once we’re inside, things in general and all the people are surprisingly cool and civilised.

The Nene menu comes with so many variables, it takes us a while to work out what we think will work for us.

Here’s how, in the end, we order:

Kimchi chicken burger (9.95 – on a milk bun with salad, onion, dressing and kimchi with bulgogi sauce.

Regular original fried chicken ($10.94) – four pieces with coleslaw and pickled radish; upsized ($4.95) with chips and a drink.

Extra drink ($3.70).

This all pans out to $29.95 for a satisfactorily sized meal for Bennie and I.

 

nene2

 

Bennie’s kimchi burger is probably our repast’s highlight – it’s a refreshing change from the many kinds of beef and chook burgers we’ve had this year.

He gives it seven out of 10.

 

nene3

 

The chicken turns out to be five pieces rather than four – though it must be stated these are very small pieces.

It’s good and non-greasy without being in any way notable.

Despite the small sizes, I am happy for Bennie to have a couple.

His burger was good but it lasted all of a minute.

The cubed and sweetly pickled radish is nice; the coleslaw is rubbish – dry and tasteless.

 

nene4

 

The chips are fine and there’s plenty for both of us.

Nene Chicken strikes us as being just OK – and a long way short of fried chicken nirvana.

And there are several better options close by in the new Highpoint food precinct.

But it’s still better than the usual Kind of fried chicken grease-fests Found at such shopping Centres.

The chook rules

Leave a comment

katie1

 

Miss Katie’s at Rochester Hotel, 202 Johnston Street, Fitzroy. Phone: 9419 0166

Approaching the Rochester Hotel, my mind is full of dark thoughts.

When Consider The Sauce hit Miss Katie’s Crab Shack in its previous carnation in North Melbourne, the pervasive gloom wasn’t just a hindrance to photography – it also lessened the enjoyment of our food.

It was bit a like a food version of Dating In The Dark.

My heart sinks when I enter the bar area of the Rochester – it, too, is gloomy.

Exploring a bit further, my mood lightens when I discover the dining room “out the back” is considerably brighter.

 

katie10

 

My spirits veritably soar when I receive my bloody mary ($18) as I await my friends.

It’s sensational, delicious and worth every cent of the admission price.

 

katie3

 

Off we happily troop to the dining room to sort out or collective order.

We go two starters, two star-attraction mains and one light, vegetarian option.

 

katie9

 

Deep-dried pickles are, initially, a surprise as I have been expecting the heavily battered discs I’ve had in New Orleans.

But these lightly-battered spears are very good.

It seems as if the cooking process has lessened the vinegar factor, as they’re mild of sourness.

 

katie8

 

Crab dip is, well, very crabby.

And also very rich and yummy.

The accompanying bits and pieces -including biscuits that are more like cookies – fall a little short, however, of being substantial enough to handle all the pot of dip.

 

katie7

 

I go the seafood boil.

The basic price of $25 includes a blue swimmer crab, kransky pieces, chat spuds and corn.

From there, more crab – or oysters, clams, mussels or prawns – can be added for extra $.

I go with oysters for $10.

I get only three, bathing in seasoned butter, but they’re fabulous.

The hot-dog-style kransky pieces are a highlight.

I have a splendid time extracting sweet, delicate crab meat.

But here’s the rub – despite the high quality of its individual components, my dish is lacking a knockout punch.

I suspect that could only be had, under current arrangements, by adding a lot of extra seafood that would make it prohibitively pricey.

Which means …

 

katie5

 

 

… we reckon Miss Katie’s fried chicken ($24), which comes with either mash or waffles, is this establishment’s outstanding dish – and excellent value.

Yes, in a crab shack.

It’s a good thing, then, that one of my companions orders it.

It’s an even better thing that it is so very, very good and such a substantial portion that we all have a good taste.

The coating is light but wonderfully seasoned and the meat itself is perfect.

Could this be Melbourne’s fried chook champ? Or, more accurately, Melbourne’s non-Korean chook champ?

 

katie6

 

My other pal’s hasselback potatoes with jack cheese and slaw ($15) do the trick for him, though I suspect he’s very appreciative of the couple of chicken pieces that come his way.

 

katie4

 

Our finale – banana split ($12) – is enjoyable though a bit rich price-wise for an American-style fantasia that is little more than fluff.

Good stuff in a gloomy shack

3 Comments
katy6

 

Miss Katie’s Crab Shack, Public Bar, 238 Victoria Street, North Melbourne. Phone: 9329 9888

On our way to Fancy Hank’s BBQ the previous week, Bennie and I had stepped in to Miss Katie’s Crab Shack just for a look-see.

It was  a toss-up in terms of our desire for American-style tucker that night, so we kept on walking to the other.

As we did so, I remarked that the Shack’s aroma reminded me of nothing so much as a typical funky local joint in New Orleans – just that magic blend of frying food and seasonings.

So I am very happy to return with pals Nat and Rob to check the place out in more depth.

As we settle in, place our orders and relax into good company, it occurs to me that also in terms of decor, general all-round vibe and attentive, unfussy service, the Shack is like a Crescent City joint in more ways than just the smell.

It’s a cool place!

 

katy8

 

Unfortunately, it’s also utterly gloomy in a cheerful way – and a nightmare for “available light” photography. So take these CTS pics as an indication of only the very vaguest kind!

(An adjoining and more brightly-lit room is rapidly filling with a gang of retro-hipsters busily sharpening their minds up for Tuesday night trivia … Rob and I note that the questions are to be of topics on the “fun stuff” such as music, movies and TV, and ponder entering ourselves in the comp at some future date.)

 

katy4

 

Rob likes his Chesapeake Crab Burger with blue swimmer crab cake, slaw, herb mayo and dill pickle ($15) . I don’t have a taste, but merely note that he says it reminds him of a similar set-up his mum used to produce.

 

katy3

 

Nat’s jambalaya ($22) is a bit of a puzzle – for it is neither the rice dish of that name nor a gumbo, but something like a mixture of the two, soupy and with lots of rice and a couple of fat prawns among other bits and pieces.

He likes it. And based on the sample taste I grab, it certainly has the right, smoky and deep flavour.

 

katy5

 

My fried chicken is definitely the big winner.

For $17, I get seven pieces, including a couple of drumsticks, meaning there is more than enough to share some with my friends.

The coating is dark and full of curiously musty, lusty flavour – I endeavour to discover the nature of the seasonings, but quickly give it up when I realise the menu describes them as a “secret blend of herbs and spices”.

I reckon I’ve heard that phrase before … but the chook meat is all good, especially lightly dabbed with the piquant house-made sauce (only one of several sitting on each table).

It’s a fine thing to order and eat beaut fried chicken that is not Korean, Japanese or franchise.

The fries ($5 with the chicken) are merely good. The menu lists them as coming with “Old Bay seasoning” but we find there’s no discernible such flavour. Still, I’m once again happy there’s more than enough for all three of us.

 

katy7

 

We enjoy a couple of serves of house-baked corn bread ($3), but find its presence and sweetness mostly excess to our requirements.

Like Fancy Hank’s BBQ just up the road, Miss Katie’s Crab Shack does a fine job of providing hands-on southern-style-food. If you’re particularly hongry, it’ll cost ya – but the satisfaction factor is there.

Check out the Miss Katy’s Crab Shack website here.

 

katy10