Superb Japanese food

1 Comment

 

Kingyo izakaya, 12 Margaret Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 8585

Some Consider The Sauce stories are succinct and full of brevity.

Others are long-winded, going off tangents to explore side and back stories.

Neither scenario should ever be taken as an indication of quality, enjoyment or passion – or lack thereof.

This Kingyo izayaka review, for instance, will be briefish – yet this is some of the very best Japanese food we’ve had in a long, long while.

It is superb.

It’s all about way more than good cooking – it’s also about quality ingredients and, most of all, extremely beautiful presentation.

This joint, with its simple and elegant dining room, is a sister eatery to I Dream Of Sushi just up the street.

Nat and I choose from the lunch menu. Both lists can be found below.

 

 

My “chotto plate” is a ripping bargain at $24.

How good – and gorgeous – is this?

Lovely housemade pickles – a rarity in any Japanese place.

Sashimi with regular pickled ginger.

Ridiculously luscious stewed eggplant.

A crisp panko-crumbed spud-and-eggplant croquette.

Excellent agedashi tofu and delicious gyoza with stuffing far superior to most.

Rice and top-class miso soup.

Wow.

 

 

Contemplating a hefty evening meal to come, Nat goes with the lighter sashimi set for $20 with equal delight the result.

We’ll be back – Bennie will love this place.

And so will you.

 

Meal of the week No.38: Magic Mint Cafe

1 Comment

 

Magic Mint Cafe is one of those old-timers in the Puckle Street precinct – been around so long, it’s easy to overlook.

I’d have continued to do so – thinking it’s not open for lunch or that the food would be old-school average, and thus not of much interest – had not the ever diligently researching Nat Stockley discovered otherwise.

So on the basis of pikkshas he’d sent of an earlier lunch he’d enjoyed at the place (9 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds, phone 9326 1646), I am very happy to join him for another.

And for our purposes, lunch is the key – the lunch special list includes a nice line-up of curry dishes that are accompanied by dal, rice, naan and a papadum.

The same sort of deal is offered for biryani or chicken sizzler.

All of them cost a few cents under $15, that fee also covering a glass of wine or a soft drink.

Which would count for nothing if the food was average or worse.

But that’s not the case here – the food is significantly better than that found at many places offering similar deals.

The boneless chicken is plentiful in our curry bowls, submerged in a lovely gravy, the appealing tartness of which has me thinking it’s like a vindaloo without the heat factor.

The dal is wonderful, simple and earthy.

If anything, it is our naan that best express the difference between our lunches and your typical curry-and-rice quickie around town.

These naan are fresh, pliable and shimmering with a ghee coating.

$15?

A very swell deal!

That’s not coleslaw!

Leave a comment

hunky1

 

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.

 

hunky2

Westie eats goss 17/4/16

4 Comments

wgoss1704167

 

Moonee Ponds is soon to have a rather spectacular new cafe.

Dear Abbey will be located in the lovely old church at 23A Gladstone Street – across the road from the Coles/Young Street carpark.

It is being brought to us by the crew behind Little Sister in Keilor East and Hey Jude in Essendon North.

 

wgoss1704168

 

One of them, Joe Avery, obligingly walks me through the new place …

Much of the old church is taken up by apartments, with the cafe taking up roughly the front quarter, with much of that space taken up by the kitchen.

There will be a corridor of seating along the front and down one side of the cafe premises.

 

wgoss1704169

 

But what will set Dear Abbey apart is the glassy, classy structure – with much more seating – that will be located on the church’s forecourt.

 

wgoss17041610

 

Taking shape on the V intersection of Ascot Vale and Mount Alexander roads is a wholefoods outfit.

Eat-in food and coffee will be served from the caravan outside.

 

wgoss17041611

 

Coming soon on Puckle Street is a deli that will be in the New York tradition – think reuben sandwiches and the like.

Brought to you by Johnny the Dude Food Man.

 

wgoss1704166

 

Not far from Puckle Street and down the cul de sac/alley named Aspen Street, it appears a South Indian eatery will soon live where the Sri Lankan joint Spicy Hut once did.

 

wgoss1704165

 

In Footscray, and on Barkly Street near Geelong Road, Vanakkam – purveyor of very fine biryanis – has become Spicy Chef.

 

wgoss1704163

 

It’s the baby of Prasad, himself a former employee of Vanakkam.

 

wgoss1704162

 

Prasad also worked in Rajdhani, the Indian joint that was open in (roughly) 2008 and ’09 in the Barkly Street premises that now houses Roti Road.

He even remembers my regular order there of onion bhaji in those pre-CTS days!

 

wgoss1704164

 

As an opening special, Prasad is offering an enticing meal deal …

Any starter, any biryani, salad and any drink – including beer! – for $11.95.

Blimey!

 

wgoss17041614

 

The frontage at 34-36 Irving Street, which has sported at least a couple of Indian carnations in recent years, will soon be open as Station Restaurant.

I’m told the “East African” food advertised in the exterior signage will basically mean Ethiopian fare, though there are photos of rice dishes in there, too.

 

wgoss17041615

 

Also on Irving, Saudagar is up and running again after a fire-enforced closure.

 

wgoss17041617

 

The Station Hotel, meanwhile, will be closed for a month or so as it recovers from its kitchen fire mishap.

 

wgoss17041616

 

Footscray has a new Japanese eatery – at 84 Hopkins Street, where 1+1 Dumpling Noodles lived until very recently.

Okami is a sister restaurant to establishments in Hampton, Caulfield and Wantirna.

Review forthcoming on CTS.

I would’ve hit it last night solo but every seat was taken!

Judging by the takeaway menu, the food is likely regulation Japanese.

Oakmi Footscray offers an “all you can eat” buffet for just under $30.

 

wgoss17041612

 

Speaking of Japanese food, Edgewater Boulevard has two new eats places soon to open, one being Shinmai Tasty …

 

wgoss17041613

 

… the other being a bricks-and-mortar version of Gorilla Grill, known until now for its food truck offerings.

A deth in the park

Leave a comment
cur5

 

Curators Collective, 778 Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9042 4560

Consider The Sauce visited the cafe in Queens Park several years ago – it was known then as Olivers Garden.

Had an OK meal.

Then promptly thought no more of the place.

Lately, though, we’ve got a hot tip that things have changed – management, name, food.

So we’re here on a lovely late spring day to check it out.

 

cur3

 

In truth, and in terms of the building, furniture and all-round vibe, not much at all seems to have changed.

We take a nicely shaded table outside.

This is not our normal practice but there’s no wind and thankfully the pigeons at ground outnumber the flies in air.

The menu (see below) comprises a fairly typical cafe line-up.

We avoid the beef and chook burgers, and I prevail upon my son to choose something other than the Pork Bennie of eggs with pulled pork on a muffin.

 

cur1

 

So he goes the reuben sandwich ($15), with chips extra ($3).

It’s a good sandwich, with lusty tang from the sauerkraut, good corned beef, cheese, mustard and pickles.

The chips are hot and fine.

 

cur2

 

I scarf a good handful of the chips to compensate for the fact my farro & beets salad ($15.50) is undoubtedly the most insidiously healthy thing I’ve eaten all year.

Happily, it’s also extremely tasty.

The “beetroot three ways” seems more like three kinds of beetroot but they’re all delicious, mixing it in lightly dressed and grand style with spinach, blood orange, goat’s cheese and heaps of chewy grains.

After that, it seems only right to let Bennie off the leash to enjoy one of Curators Collective “Deth Shakes” ($12).

Ours (top photograph) is a grinningly evil and delicious mix of dark chocolate Oreo milkshake, chocolate, chocolate brownie, coconut, cream and Persian fairy floss.

It tastes real good.

I know … because Bennie told me so.

I didn’t try any of it.

Really.

Curators Collective is a very nice spot!

(This story has been sponsored by Moonee Valley City Council. But in all other regards it is a regular Consider The Sauce post – we chose the restaurant and when to eat there; we ordered what we wanted and paid for it ourselves; and neither oversight nor an editorial role were sought by the council.)

 

cur4

Moonee Ponds eats goss

Leave a comment

moon22

 

More changes are afoot in Moonee Ponds and in and around Puckle Street.

At 19 Pratt, formerly the home of Italian establisment L’Angolo Italiano, a barbecue place called  BBQ Land is being prepared for opening.

 

moon28

 

Going by the photos and dish titles already adorning the exterior, this seems unlikely to be serving American-style barbecue and will be doing more Aussie-style things over charcoal.

 

moon24

 

Around the corner in Puckle Street, Greek joint Hellenic Flavours has folded.

 

moon23

 

Across the street, Just Burgers has also closed – we didn’t get around to trying it!

I’m told the people – or person – behind a well-known and fondly regarded burger operation have/has taken over the premises with a view to opening a deli-style sandwich shop.

Think: Pastrami.

Think: Dill pickles on the side.

 

moon25

 

In the old-school arcade off Puckle Street that leads through to Young Street, the equally old-school Bruno’s Coffee Lounge has closed down.

 

moon26

 

Over in Hall Street, Nature’s One is offering what looks like a lovely range of breads and baguettes, along with things such as simple toasties and dips.

 

moon27

 

And even though it happened a while ago, it would remiss of us not to mention that what was once a branch of Yim Yam in Margaret Street is now a Korean eatery called Hanspoon.

 

moon21

 

Finally, and even though it has absolutely nothing to do with food, let me record the surprise and utter delight felt when, upon walking through the front area of a Puckle Street homewares/furniture store, I find at the back … the still-recognisable shell of a lovely old-school cinema/theatre.

How cool is that?

Fabulous Greek

3 Comments

phil7

 

Philhellene, 551-553 Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9370 3303

Uh-oh – there’s a hair in our dolmades!

Not to worry, though … the follicle is entirely imaginary but is still being plucked from our food by our Philhellene host as a comic reaction to my taking of photographs.

We’re happy to say it’s that kind of place.

It’s our first visit to Philhellene – one that has been long anticipated and we’re happy to do it in our series putting the spotlight on Moonee Ponds (see full disclosure below).

But because of its renown, I’d expected something a little more formal and starchy.

What we get, instead, is pretty much your typical Greek setting and wonderful welcome.

 

phil3

 

The service is very fine and our food arrives exceedingly promptly.

That food is very, very good – this is Greek food definitely at the upper end of what is available in Melbourne.

It costs, of course, but not as much as we had feared – indeed, the Philhellene pricing is on par with all the other famed Melbourne Greek eateries.

But where it stands out is its lovingly long offering of provincial specials.

It’s for that reason we steer away from the basic $35 per person banquet for a minimum of two – you can check it out with the rest of the Philhellene menu here.

Frankly, it sounds like an outrageous bargain – but we’re familiar with almost everything it has.

Instead, we go a la carte and have a fine old time.

I am drawn to the long specials list with a sense of wonder mixed with frustration that we will be able to try so little of what’s offered.

I mean, how insanely good do fried sardine fillets with pickled fennel sound?

Or lamb and artichoke fricassee?

Sigh … but onwards.

 

phil9

 

Our admirably unhairy silverbeet dolmades are sensational, though quite pricey at $12.50 the pair.

When we have the traditional, vegetarian stuffed vine leaves – be they Turkish, Greek, Lebanese, Whatever – we prefer them unheated.

By contrast, these are served hot and they suit it – the innards are delicious, tender mix of rice, seasonings and beef.

 

phil8

 

For our other starters, we do stick to familiar Greek staples – one of them is this terrific tarama.

It’s a generous serve for $8.50, especially as it’s as fresh and tangy as we could wish and is served with beaut house-made bread.

 

phil10

 

Our calamari ($14.50) is well fried and tender but does tend to lose out in the flavour stakes when compared with the other dishes we enjoy.

 

phil6

 

For me, one of the main reasons to visit Philhellene is to enjoy lamb – not shaved from a spit nor cubed and put on skewers, but instead roasted.

We take a slightly different tack on that Greek philosophy by getting the roast kid goat ($29.95).

It has wow factor in abundance.

The meat is perhaps a tad too salty but is oh-so-wonderful and really does fall from the bones.

The roast spuds and well-cooked mix of peas ‘n’ broad beans come to the dance, too.

Together with our other selections, this single goat serve does us well – though Bennie is so impressed, he later reckons he could easily scoff a whole serve by his own self.

 

phil5

 

For a final splash of colour, we love our beetroot salad ($16.50, in which baby beetroots – and their tops – have been boiled and then simply dressed with dukkah and yogurt.

It, too, is wonderful.

We’ve ordered well and eaten superbly – but it is with some regret that we head into the night without giving into the temptation of trying something from the desserts list (see below).

When explaining to our host our hesitation about ordering an overly familiar banquet line-up, he told us such could be varied and that a list of staples is simply what some customers seek and require.

That makes us reckon the way to go at Philhellene is to nominate to the staff a price per person you want to pay and then simply announce: “Bring us food!”

Or, if you’re up for it, go for the horiatiko banquet, which costs $60 per punter and is described as “the ultimate of tasting our favourite dishes”.

As it says on the Philhellene website: “Trust us in providing you with a memorable food experience …. this is the only way we would eat with our family and friends.”

(This story has been sponsored by Moonee Valley City Council. But in all other regards it is a regular Consider The Sauce post – we chose the restaurant and when to eat there; we ordered what we wanted and paid for it ourselves; and neither oversight nor an editorial role were sought by the council.)

 

phil2

phil4

phil1