Kites soars

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Kites, 1304 Centre Road, Clayton South. Phone: 9544 0046

In recent years, Consider The Sauce has adopted a more measured pace – and that has meant eating places outside the western suburbs have not been written about with the same frequency.

Though we continue to cross the Maribyrnong – passports in hand! – for dining pleasure.

But Kites in Clayton South cries out to be covered – because this is the second time in as many months I have made the long drive to dine there to sup with famous food devourer Nat Stockley.

So here we go!

 

 

Kites is a bright and white cafe serving top-class Sri Lankan food.

There’s little or nothing here that Nat and I haven’t seen and consumed before – it’s just that everything seems a bit more quality, a bit more beautifully prepared and presented than in many similar joints we have enjoyed.

It is really, really fabulous!

 

 

Choice of protein and vegetables comes from a display of fine-looking pots of goodies.

 

 

Guests then customise and complete their meals by choosing their own additions from a lovely ranges of condiments and sides dishes.

The result in both our cases is a combo of one meat and three vegetables (top photo) that is simply great eating – including beef of much classier quality than we are used to in such environments and even some good okra.

The price?

We are billed $10.90 each – ridiculously cheap!

 

 

Kites is one of a handful of Sri Lankan businesses on this intriguing strip of Centre Road.

Also there is Harry’s Factory Outlet, which turns out to be a very good supermarket of Greek heritage.

 

 

After our Sri Lankan lunch, I end up heading home with some taramasalata, borek and a smoked, orange-scented Greek sausage.

 

So good

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Fusion Ceylon, 27 Watton Street, Werribee. Phone: 0433 696 726

Meet Isuru Madusanka and Chiran Hemadasa – heroes of Melbourne food and restaurants.

Not just the western suburbs.

And not only in the cheap eats field.

Though they are both of those, too.

No – what they are doing at their fine establishment, Fusion Ceylon, warrants acclamation beyond any geographical or price restrictions.

CTS has been a fan of the place since its doors opened a few years back.

But there’s no doubt – based on the visits being used to compile this story – that the Fusion Ceylon crew has lifted its game; a lot.

The food is cooked with flair and imagination, and presented beautifully, all the while fully retaining its funky Sr Lankan/Asian soul.

The place is looking more restaurant-y these days.

And as the as the use of the word “fusion” in its title hints, there’s a lot of wok cooking going on here.

That means wait times will rarely stretch beyond 15 minutes.

Prices are ridiculously low.

Much – but by no means all – of the fun and games is to be found on the regularly changing specials list.

 

 

Item: Singaporean chilli crab devilled with egg fried rice and vegetable chop suey is a dream.

The superb rice is fab, fluffy and freshly prepared.

The simple vegetables on the side are very good.

The shellfish component consists of three blue swimmer crabs.

Even with that number, the amount of your actual crab meat to be had is modest – and getting at it is messy, sticky fun.

But, hey, it IS all about fresh crab, the mess goes with the territory, the mild sauce has good flavour and the price is $16.50.

 

 

Speaking of finger-lickin’ …

Item: Spicy Kentucky-style fried chicken with biryani dazzles.

I’m told my three pieces are coated in a mix that contains cumin, cayenne and cardamom.

The taste, though, is rather muted – if anything I’d like to see this fried chicken really turbocharged with spices.

The chook chunks are still excellent, though – as good as any of your hipster or food truck fried chicken offerings, and a whole lot better than some.

There’s a tangy tamarind-based sauce to go with the poultry.

And another gravy to go with the top-shelfe biryani rice.

Atop that rice – in righteous biryani style – are two halves of hard-boiled egg anointed with a tiny dice of onion and tomato.

On the side is a sticky eggplant pickle.

This dish, too, costs an amazing $16.50.

 

 

Item: Colombo mixed rice ($13.50) comes from the regular menu (see below).

It comes with three meats (pork, chicken, beef), shrimp and a fried egg, with a plump skewer of chicken slathered with house-made tomato sauce on the side.

Any tendency towards fried-rice blandness is fixed up good by yet another tangy sauce and the subtle fragrance of several fresh dill sprigs.

This is A Great Melbourne Restaurant.

See earlier stories here and here.

 

Meal of the week No.39: The White Elephant

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In the couple of months since CTS first visited the White Elephant (561 Barkly Street) in West Footscray, its situation has grown and evolved.

The Sri Lankan place has earned – and is earning – well-deserved plaudits for the quality of its food.

It was not always apparent this would be the case, surrounded as it is by so many Indian eateries.

Different food, different countries, you bet, but I wasn’t sure those differences would be sufficient for White Elephant to establish a foothold in a very competitive area.

As, well – the prices have gone up.

And that’s a good thing.

Really.

On the occasion of our earlier visit, the three members of that night’s Team CTS appreciated the ultra-low prices, but surmised they were simply unsustainable in the longer term.

Rice and three curry bowls (two veg, one meat) for $15?

Bonkers.

My lampraise then cost $17 and now costs $24 – and given the quality of the food, that is STILL affordable, well within cheap eats territory and very fair.

So, yes, we’re happy about the higher prices as hopefully they mean White Elephant will be around for many years to come.

But as Julian, Nat, Bennie and myself discover when we convene for a Sunday Sri Lankan lunch, it remains possible to eat here for next to nothing, albeit on a restricted menu – with which we have no problem at all.

So our $12.90 lunch deals are identical …

A good on-the-bone lamb curry.

A coconutty dal.

Devilled potato.

A hard-boiled egg.

Rice.

And cabbage curry.

They’re all very good.

Though the strong fishiness of the cabbage curry – derived from dried Maldive fish – is way less agreeable to me than my companions.

Our meal takes an hour to arrive.

Which brings up another point about White Elephant.

Some online sleuthing will quickly turn up comments and reviews in which the serve-time factor here is mentioned – sometimes quite stroppily.

Here’s the thing, though – this leisurely pace is obviously part-and-parcel of the place and its people.

There’s a lot of care going into the food.

If this is an issue for you, or if you’re in anything that even remotely approaches a hurry, then you’re in the wrong place.

Just for the record, I’ll mention the two dishes we have been served on a complementary basis.

 

 

The beef pan rolls are crisp, fresh, spicy, packed with beef ‘n’ spud and as good as any of us have had of this popular SL snack fare.

 

 

As on our previous visit, the dry okra curry is fabulous.

We’re unsure whether or not these dishes have been provided to us because of the wait time (in the first case) or, in the second, because we’d mentioned it when ordering.

Likewise, we know not if this sort of generosity is standard practice or if we’ve received special treatment.

Either way, we are grateful!

 

Sweet Sri Lankan hits WeFo

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The White Elephant On Barkly, 561 Barkly Street, West Foostcray. Phone: 0423 515 728

The White Elephant brings a real point of difference to Indian-dominated West Footscray, and is doing so with style.

Whether its efforts will be sufficient to prosper in what is a fiercely competitive environment, only time will tell.

We certainly hope so after a three-member CTS team enjoys a fine evening meal there.

The former home of the cafe Jellybread has been fitted out in bright and breezy fashion.

We found the service very attentive and the wait times perfectly appropriate for the food at hand.

Our first glances at the menu (see below) are quite bracing, based on our long enjoyment of extremely affordable Sri Lankan food at a variety of places.

At the White Elephant, meat and seafood curries cost either side of $20.

But closer perusal of the food list reveals some outright gems.

Three rotis, one veg curry and one meat curry for $12, for instance.

Or a rice-and-curry combo of two veg curries and one meat curry for $15.

That latter deal will do us – or two of us anyway!

 

 

Justin is extremely happy with his curry combo deal.

Unlike many other Indian and Sri lankan eateries, here the curry deals can be customised according to customer wishes – rather than being a mix of whatever the staff choose back out in the kitchen.

The mild beef curry is some way short of tender, but not tough, either – perfectly normal and acceptable for this kind of food.

The eggplant moju disappears at pace.

But it is the potato curry that is the star – so simple and tasty!

 

 

It is a vegetable selection that shines brightest in Bennie’s line-up, as well.

The okra dish is as good as we’ve enjoyed.

The vegetable holds its vibrant greenness, is not in the least cooked down and shows not the slightest sign of sliminess.

It’s fabulous.

We’re all taken with the cashew curry, which is way more creamy and moist than the above photograph suggests.

It’s nice, with the nuts just on the tender side of al dente.

But, as Bennie later opines, there is a strong element of same-same about it that suggests it would be more enjoyed as a smaller side.

One of the main things Bennie enjoys about Sri Lankan food is the ability to order pork.

His pork curry here is similar to those he’s enjoyed elsewhere – dry, charry, enjoyable.

But beware – this is very, very fatty.

The $15 meal deals my companions enjoy involve excellent food and represent superb value.

 

 

My lampraise ($17) is something entirely different.

I’ve enjoyed other versions of this very traditional Sri Lankan meal – cooked in a banana leaf – but never quite this hearty or rustic.

The cooked-in-stock rice is a fine foundation.

The stars are a couple of fat charred, juicy and supremely delicious prawns.

There’s an orb of tuna cutlet and a heap of chicken and the same pork, very fatty, as in Bennie’s curry.

The chicken is overcooked by Western, charcoal grill standards, but that is – I strongly suspect – entirely normal for this dish.

My meal is so meaty, so macho that the phrase “meat lovers” comes to mind – something more usually associated with dodgy pizzas.

As well, the fried egg – very good – lends the dish something of the aspect of an old-school English fry-up.

So … not everyone’s cup of tea.

But, no doubt, just precisely the ticket for some!

 

 

At the top of the meal, we’d started out with a serve of spicy chicken ribs ($8).

Our handful were fine – not so spicy and quite oily, but lip-smackingly juicy and tender.

The White Elephant is doing breakfasts!

The menu ranges from western-style dishes such as eggs, toast and pancakes through to string hoppers and roti with curry.

Meanwhile, we wish the White Elephant crew well – and, on the basis of those awesome spud and okra dishes, we’ll be back for more veg.

 

 

Ceylon hot

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Fusion Ceylon, 27 Watton Street, Weribee. Phone: 0433 696 726

We feel blessed to have become part of a generation of westies for whom Werribee has no baggage.

For us, the negative stories are nothing more than urban legends.

We love a drive down the highway to get there and we generally have a good time when we do.

And there seems to be more and more food from which to choose.

Since our earlier story, Fusion Ceylon has become a favourite.

We like it a lot.

Even better, as an impromptu Sunday night dinner for three of us illustrated, the lads there have worked wonders with the look and feel of the place.

 

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Look hard and the remnants of the former fish and chip remain discernible.

But mostly this has become a very nice place to spend some time, this achieved by the simple agency of little more than rustic wood furnishings and fittings.

And 40-gallon drums.

Even better, we discover we’ve got lucky – Sunday night is hopper night.

And they’re being prepared with great aplomb right beside our table.

Free entertainment!

 

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The hopper meal costs $15 and consists of four plain hoppers, two egg hoppers, one of a choice of three curries and “Sri Lankan-style caramelised onions”.

It’s all grand and we eat like kings.

Well, two kings and one queen.

Our curry – pork – is mild but very rich.

There’s a stack of fat in there but it’s easily extracted if that’s not your thing.

 

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Based on our previous visits, we know our fave from the regular menu is the Fusion Ceylon biryani – we’ve come to love its combo of biryani heat/spice and wok hei.

The latter is not so evident tonight but it’s still a fantastic dish.

The chook drumstick is so super dooper tasty, it has all of us ooh-ing ahh-ing, while I get golden fried hard-boiled egg all to myself.

Off to the right is a dollop of fabulous pineapple pickle.

As there’s three of us, we do order an extra egg hopper and an extra serve of pork curry.

But even then the damage for Trio CTS is a paltry $36.

 

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West Welcome Wagon benefit – the wrap

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West Welcome Wagon Fundraiser,
Curry Leaves, 463 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 8528 3876.
Hosted by Consider The Sauce, 15/3/16

Yes, a fine time was had by all at the latest West Welcome fundraiser – held at that fine purveyor of Sri Lankan tucker, Curry Leaves in Sunshine.

 

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The final accounting is yet to be done but WWW will in a day or so be about $1400 better off in terms of much-needed cash to continue its amazing work.

 

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That’s thanks to many people …

The many attendees – some familiar faces, many new ones – who bowled up for the biggest event CTS has ever organised.

 

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Thanks most of all to chef Duminda, Bec and Dillon and the rest of the Curry Leaves crew.

 

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The food was wonderful and there was plenty of it!

 

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Thanks, too, to famed Footscray drinking/eating emporium Littlefoot for donating a lovely meal for the auction and for long-time CTS reader and pal Juz for putting up his hand to take it away.

 

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And equal thanks go to another CTS pal Christine, master baker, for creating and donating a superb “black velvet cake” of “red velvet with a black cocoa syrup, frosted in good old cream cheese frosting”.

 

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That classy item was won at auction by Elizabeth – who immediately declared her prize was meant nothing less than immediate consumption.

So the knife was wielded and just everyone in the house had a very tasty slice.

Thanks everyone!

 

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Sri Lankan fusion in Werribee

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Fusion Ceylon, 27 Watton Street, Werribee. Phone: 9741 9656

Sri Lankan tiramisu?

What might that look and taste like?

Like this: Basically a regular tiramisu configuration but one made with sweet Sri Lankan coffee; spiced with cumin and cardamom; the usual sponge fingers joined by gingernut biscuits; and topped with cashews and chewy praline.

The textures are, well, pretty much pure tiamisu but the flavours are musty, mysterious and magical.

And happily, for my tastes, this SL tiramisu is far from overly sweet and actually nicely on the bitter side.

 

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It’s the creation of co-proprietors and co-cooks Isuru Madusanka and Chiran Hemadas at their new baby, Fusion Ceylon.

CTS has been to 27 Watton Street before, when it was being run as a game try at combining SL food with burgers, fish & chips and the like.

Since then, and before Isuru and Chiran arrived, it reverted to strictly fast-food under different management.

The place still bears hallmarks of its fast-food heritage but the lads have brought in some nice wooden furniture that gives the place a sweet cafe vibe.

Fusion is, of course, in food terms a much over-used and abused word, frequently denoting not much good at all.

These two blokes, though, have the background – many years between them working in top-shelf hotels – to cleverly, and deliciously, match the cooking of their SL culture with approaches a little more edgy.

Their menu (see below) is short but full of intrigue and of low prices.

Item: Chickpeas and sprats ($10) – stir-fried chickpeas with onion rings, chilli flakes, mustard seeds and sprats. The sprats, I’m told, a similar to the dried anchovies used elsewhere in Asia.

Item: Another dessert – this time it’s banana fritters … wok-fried bananas with treacle, macerated strawberries and vanilla ice-cream.

We stick with more humble dishes for our first visit yet are very satisfied.

 

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Nasi goreng a la Ceylon ($13) appears to be not much different from the regular versions, though Chiran tells me the spicing is different and they use basmati rice instead of jasmine.

But it’s all good – the rice is packed with a finely diced vegetables and chicken chunks and the gooey fried egg sitting atop is just right, as is the nicely charred chicken drumstick.

The prawn crackers are, as they always are, unnecessary.

 

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The same vegie mix is found on the noodles kothu ($10), which come from the specials list.

As with the more traditional roti kothu, in which roti is finely chopped with the other ingredients, here the noodles get the chop treatment.

And instead of chicken or pork, mine is served with lingu – house-made SL sausages that draw on a Dutch heritage.

 

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Chiran and Isuru make them with chicken or pork, vinegar, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, pandan leaf and curry leaf.

There’s one snag on top of my kothu and pieces mingled in.

The sausage is distinctive and quite tangy – but not in the least confronting.

 

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The kothu noodles are served with what I’m told is a “mixed meat gravy” for adding as I eat.

It’s very nice and tasty lubricant.

Meanwhile, it seems you can take the chefs out of five-star hotels but taking the five-star hotels out of the chefs can take some adjustment.

As we have been talking , I’ve had to rather sternly – but amid all-round laughter – request of Chiran that he please, please cease referring to me as “Sir”!

 

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Hoppers in Werribee

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Fab Delight, Shop 4, 167-179 Shaws Road, Werribee. Phone: 9749 7777

There’s a stack of Indian restaurants in and around Werribee.

There’s now a Dosa Hut branch in Tarneit, we know an Indian place will be opening at Williams landing in coming weeks and there’s a couple of places in Laverton.

But these scarcely seem sufficient to service the rapid upsurge in Indian-based residential living in Wyndham and adjacent suburbs.

And Sri Lankan?

As far as we know, until now the nearest bona fide Sri Lankan eateries have been in Sunshine and, further afield, in Tullamarine, Glenroy and the city.

All of which makes, we reckon, the opening of Fab Delight something of real significance.

Even better, based on our first visit we reckon it’s a gem – a lovely, cheap, family business that serves authentic Sri Lankan food that is very good.

 

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Fab Delight is located in Werribee Village, a smallish shopping centre that continues to serve local needs even as behemoths such as the newly branded Pacific Werribee proliferate in the area.

Werribee Village has a Sim’s, a couple of Chinese places, a butcher, a baker and a pizza maker.

It also has the recently reviewed Carv’n It Up.

We love our mid-week dinner at Fab Delight.

We bypass the snacky stuff, the modest dosa line-up, the hoppers and the koththu and the devilled dishes.

 

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Instead, we get two plain rotis ($1.80 each) and an egg roti ($3).

They’re fine – fresh, hot, flaky, chewy.

 

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We get a single serve of string hoppers (20 pieces for $7.50), served with a chilli sambol.

 

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And, in the curry department, we get a serve of the yellow potato curry ($7.50), which is helpfully provided to us in two serving bowls.

The gravy is more of a soup but still good and the potato chunks are a marvel, with wonderful flavour and texture.

 

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The pork curry ($13) is Bennie’s choice – so adamant is he that my caution about anything to do with pork and curries, especially at these sorts of cheap-eats prices, is swept aside.

His determination is vindicated as this curry is something of stunner.

It’s a dry curry that is largely built around black pepper.

It’s different, it’s yummy!

The pork pieces are as tender as can be expected and very tasty.

Bennie gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up with one hand as he stuff his gob with his other.

Between our curries, and the rotis and string hoppers with which to mop them up, we enjoy a splendid, delicious and very affordable meal.

 

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CTS Feast No.12: The Wrap

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CTS Feast No.12: Curry Leaves, 463 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 8528 3876. Tuesday, August 11.

Many, many thanks to Upeksha, Dillon and the rest of Curry Leaves crew for working so hard to make the latest Consider The Sauce Feast enjoyable!

As always, it was a delight to see so many familiar faces.

And just as enjoyable to meet so many CTS readers for the first time – and swap war stories and tips and faves about the Fabulous Foodie West.

 

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The food ranged from this unannounced yet wonderfully delicious simple chicken and vegetable soup through to …

 

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… biryanis …

 

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… superb string hoppers and …

 

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… equally great rotis and on to …

 

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… hoppers and …

 

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… lampraris before ending up with …

 

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… a range of rather succulent desserts.

 

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Thanks to everyone for supporting this CTS event!

The next one has yet to be devised or locked in any way at all, but wherever and whenever it is, we’d love to see you again.

 

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CTS Feast No.12: Curry Leaves

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To book for this event, click here.

Right from our first meal at Curry Leaves in Sunshine – there have been several since – I knew this was the sort of place and the sort of people I would love to feature in a Consider The Sauce Feast.

And so CTS Feast No.12 is up and running!

Here are the details:

CTS Feast No.12: Curry Leaves,
463 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 8528 3876.
Date: Tuesday, August 11.Time: 7pm.

Cost: $20.

Menu

Entree platter
Pan roll
Stuffed roti
Fish cutlet
Fish pattie
(The above can be made vegetarian but I will need to give the restaurant 24 hours notice.)

Gotu kola (herbal soup of greens coconut milk).

Mains – choice of one.
Biriyani
Lampraris
Roti meal
String hoppers meal
Hoppers meal
String hoppers pilau
Kottu
(All the above can be prepared as vegetarian.)

Dessert platter
Curd and honey
Wattalappam (steamed coconut custard)
Caramel pudding
Choc biscuit pudding

Bennie and I are looking forward to seeing you there!

To book for this event, click here.

(Ticket income from this event is being split 50/50 between CTS and Curry Leaves.)

Meal of the week No.14: Curry Leaves

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Headed for St Albans with no particular joint or genre in mind for Sunday lunch, I pass a Curry Leaves (463 Ballarat Road, Sunshine) that is full of happy activity so I double back, park and proceed.

It’s busy – a heap of people in the kitchen and even more in the dining room, including one big party of about 30.

I’m told that, among other things, they’ll all be getting lamprais.

I’ve aborted my further west travel plans with just one plan in mind – to have the same kind of biryani I spied another customer having when I dropped in for a mid-week dinner earlier in the week.

This is the first Sri Lankan biryani I’ve had – and I simply love the fact that it’s recognisably the same dish I’ve had countless times at Indian restaurants in the west yet also one that displays marked differences.

The rice is a deeper yellow-going-brown that is studded with onion slices and curry leaves.

The lamb – unlike the on-the-bone version I’ve had almost without exception in Indian eateries – is boneless and cubed.

It is, however, very, very well done – though not to such an extent it affects my enjoyment.

The raita is much creamier than I am used to and packed with finely diced vege (I’m guessing – capsicum, onion, cucumber and, maybe, tomato).

The eggplant moju is a sweet alternative to the usual tart pickle.

The whole boiled egg has been given a grizzled exterior.

This a ripper dish for $12.95.

See earlier story here.

Super Sri Lankan in Sunshine

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Curry Leaves, 463 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 8528 3876

Given the number of budget-priced eateries Consider The Sauce tries, it’s hardly surprising that when it comes to rotis we sometimes get less than what we hope for.

Specifically, it’s sometimes plain that the rotis we get are store-bought.

When they’re otherwise – when they’re made fresh and in-house – our delight is all the more.

That’s what we get at Curry Leaves, a newish Sri Lankan restaurant in Sunshine.

The outstanding rotis are just one of several high points of a tremendous meal.

 

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Curry Leaves is a nicely appointed eatery right on Ballarat Road and right next door to a discount grocery outfit.

It’s a pleasant space to be in on a cold night, waiting as the traffic whizzes by.

It’s not often we eat in an establishment that uses real linen serviettes – especially not at the prices we’re about to pay.

We’re told that later in the week and at the weekend, when there is a buffet available, the place is “packed”.

Early in the week, we’re the only eat-in customers but there’s steady takeaway business coming and going.

There’s much to ponder in the longish menu – what we share between Bennie and I is just a beginning, we reckon, of our relationship with Curry Leaves.

 

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Our fabulous rotis come as part of the special roti meal ($11.90) that includes two “godamba roti”, one “egg godamba roti”, dal and beef curry.

The rotis really are fabulous – big, not too oily, fluffy and chewy, and the perfect foil for the wet dishes.

The dal is simple and delicious – mildly spiced, sweetish.

The curry is spicier by quite a bit but the meat itself is very good and tender.

 

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Our other board serving is the string hopper meal deal ($12.90) of string hoppers, beef curry, the same dal and pol (coconut sambol).

The string hoppers are super fresh and dainty, and splendid for soaking up the gravy juices.

As instructed, we use our right hands to mix and mop the curry and dal and coconut sambol, doing the best we can based on our greater experience with injera.

We get messy but have an all-round, lip-smacking good time.

As we’d ordered chicken but got beef by mistake, a serve of chicken curry is also brought.

The string hopper meal deal, BTW, is topped price-wise on the menu only by the banana leaf-wrapped lamprais ($14.90), which we only bypass on account of the listed 30-minute wait.

Next time!

We’ve had string hoppers before but not often – all the rest is familiar from hundreds of meals.

It’s simply that these – the string hoppers, the rotis, the curries and dal – are way better than most similar food we eat.

The meats and other ingredients are better quality, the dishes fresher and the simple seasoning more vibrant.

Ripper Sri Lankan buffet: $15

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Chef Lanka, 50/B 217 Mickleham Road, Tullamarine. Phone: 9338 3839

This Chef Lanka is the youngest of three siblings – the others are in nearby Glenroy and the Melbourne CBD.

It’s a big, ritzy room with a raised area lined with many serving “chafing dishes”, the premises being sandwiched – so to speak – between a Subway outlet and a restaurant of the pizza-pasta-seafood-steaks variety.

Just up the road is fine Lebanese place done out in fast-food livery.

Only a few of those heated serving contraptions are in use for the Saturday lunch buffet – makes sense, as we are the only customers.

But there’s more than enough range for a grand lunch and the quality is high.

This is, in our estimation, very good Sri Lanka tucker.

(I’m a bit disappointed in the pics – they make the food look less good than is the case!)

 

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Two kinds of rice …

Fried rice that recognisably of Chinese derivation but somehow different – it’s plain wonderful.

Chicken biryani quite different from those we get from our fave West Footscray haunts – milder, sweeter thanks to the currants, but still real nice.

 

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Lamb curry with meat quite well done but of deep flavour that’s somewhat like the vinegary tang of a vindaloo. I’m told, however, that it’s nothing of the sort …

Devil Chicken – another dish of seemingly Chinese heritage. The battered meat is nicely chewy and the dish as a whole is very mild – this surprises us as it appear as though it may quite spicy-evil.

 

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Jackfruit curry that looks so unappetising that I give it a miss. At first glance, I take it to be made of overcooked fish cutlets!

A highlight – cashew curry, the nuts with just enough gravy and just enough softish crunch left in them.

 

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Spicy potatoes so very, very familiar from my workplace’s weekly, Friday curry runs to another fine Sri Lankan place just up the road apiece.

Another highlight – a super mix of carrot, broccoli and cauliflower done in coconut milk and crushed mustard seeds.

It’s very yummy!

 

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As well, on hand is an endless supply of pappadums and maldive fish, if you like ’em!

Chef Lanka has a mixed bag of buffet offers, depending on the days of the week and times of the day.

The lunch buffet we have dug costs $15 on Saturdays and Sundays.

The same deal costs $12 for lunch from Mondays through to Fridays.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, a $25 buffet is on offer – and we imagine this will be fabulous when we get around to trying it.

On those nights, all the many serving contraptions come into play – that’s a lot! – and so the food will be even more colourful and diverse, and perhaps even include a goodly dash of seafood.

There’s an extensive a la carte menu as well – including hoppers.

At dinner time Mondays through Thursdays there’s a superb thali-style deal I checked out on an earlier, solo reconnaissance visit.

 

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How’s this for $10.90?

The same lamb curry as in our lunch buffet, coconutty chick peas, coconutty and scrumptious okra, an oily but delicious mix of eggplant and potato, rice and pappadum.

Superb value!

The achaar I ordered separately out of curiosity. It was fresh and crunchy but I found the mustard oil flavour somewhat overpowering.

Check out the Chef Lanka website here.

 

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Sri Lankan for Sunshine

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Jaffna Chef, 21 Sun Crescent, Sunshine. Phone: 9311 3131

We’d spied Jaffna Chef in the process of being fitted out while walking to our rendezvous at Dragon Express for CTS Feast No.3 and took note.

Returning just a few weeks later, I’m surprised to find it up and running.

Though it appears that is a case of only just.

A modestly-sized grocery is still in the process of being stocked and the eat-in fare is so far restricted to a mostly regulation line-up of bain marie goodies, but I am nevertheless made to feel welcome.

I’m told that a more formal menu and longer list of dishes will be unrolled in coming weeks.

I look forward to that, and am happy to make do with what’s available in the meantime.

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My $8.50 plate is fine – and very familiar on account of the now regular work Friday lunchtime curry runs to Spicy Corner in Tullamarine.

The dal is coconutty, creamy and studded with still-crunchy green chilli.

The lamb curry is on the bone and bit fiddly. Still, it’s nothing unexpected – but take care of your teeth!

Like all else, the spud curry is at the higher end of spiciness.

 

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Couldn’t live without it

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Bennie and I are yet to return to Spicy Corner in Tullamarine, and are unlikely to do so any time soonish.

But I am delighted to be able to report that this cool, old-school Sri Lankan joint in Tullamarine has become a regular, lovely part of my life.

The food situation at my current place of employment in Airport West remains as dreary as ever.

So I’ve been really happy to play a part in organising Friday “curry runs” to Tullamarine that are proving to be well worth the 20-minute round trip.

Today there were about half a dozen eager and hungry colleagues making inquiries and drawing up a list as early as about 10am.

It’s true that this cheap and simple Sri Lankan foods looks even less stylish and appetising than usual when crammed into plastic takeaway containers.

But it tastes mighty when being wolfed down at our desks.

Even better, the accompaniments to our choices of lamb or chicken curry seem to be changing as the weeks roll by.

Today, for instance, we were blessed with a swell dry green bean dish and a more creamy spud and cauliflower outing.

It’s not super-spicy food, but it does have a kick, thanks mostly to the added dry chilli mix, relishes and chutneys.

And certainly I’m no macho fool when it comes to spice/heat levels.

I have no truck at all, for instance, with the ugly chilliness perpetrated by Crazy Wings.

But today I noticed how profoundly better I felt after lunch when compared with how I felt before lunch.

I’d put it at about 20 per cent better.

I’ve read that there is actually a very real aspect to chilli addiction – if addiction is the right word.

But I reckon a lot of it is also due to very subjective and emotional factors.

Nevertheless, after today’s meal break I felt fully refreshed, of exceedingly good humour, full of goodwill and ready for many more hours of work.

Spicy food?

Hell, yes!

Energy drinks?

Meh …

The heat treatment – couldn’t live without it.

Spicy Corner is at 49 Dawson Street, Tullamarine.

A Jolly good time

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Jolly J’s, Port Phillip Arcade/232 Flinders St, Melbourne. Phone: 9650 9989

Jolly J’s is situated in Port Phillip Arcade, which is a lunchtime magnet.

It has a cheap and perennially busy multi-Asian joint, and Thai and Japanese places.

Further on – in Scott Alley, Bennie’s address for the first six weeks of his life – there’s a creperie.

At Jolly J’s, customer can order fish and chips, a steak sanger or even raisin toast.

But in all the years I’ve been eating here, I’ve never seen anyone eating any of those things – or anything like them.

Nope, just about everyone goes for a curry plate of one sort or another.

And everyone always includes a reassuringly high number of fellows of Sri Lanakan persuasion, usually a mixture of suited business types and younger, hipper students. Or folks who look like they could be students.

On this particular visit, though, I see several customers getting stuck into what looks like a pretty groovy Sri Lankan version of nasi goreng – bowl-mounded pile of rice, the same condiments that accompany the curry plates, hardboiled egg, papadam on the side.

And it’s only as I’m leaving that I realise after all this time that the restaurant actually has a menu, which features among many Sri Lankan and Western dishes kothu roti.

But that’s a maybe for next time.

Today, as it almost always is, it’s a wonderful plate of “rice with 3 veges & 2 meats” for $11.50.

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Once I’ve inhaled my papdam, I’m right into it …

Good lamb and chicken curries.

A nice dal studded with silverbeet and curry leaves.

A smooth, delicate mix of cashews and peas.

A rather fiery spud-and-onion concoction.

A tangy “coconut sambol” and raita much more substantial with cucumber and tomato than is normally the case in the sort of Sub-Continental places Consider The Sauce habitually haunts.

The heat level seems to rise as my meal proceeds, so in the end my brow is beaded.

But it’s all good. Really good, actually.

Though there is one puzzling aspect to my lunch – this is the first time I can recall eating here and not being served at least one dish that includes eggplant.

 

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Thali, burger and chips

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Sri Murugan, 27 Watton St, Werribee. Phone: 9741 9656

Sri Murugan is a first restaurant adventure for Rathi and Vellayan.

They’ve been up and running for about five weeks, bringing their native Sri Lankan food to the party and combining it with your regular fish and chips and burgers, the ins and outs of which the previous, Greek management imparted to them before splitting and leaving the lovely, friendly couple to their own devices.

Based on our swell Sunday lunch, we reckon they’re doing a pretty good job of handling both aspects.

The place unmistakably bears all the hallmarks of its origins as a genuine, old-school Aussie chippery and burger bar, yet the menu is also festooned with Sri Lankan dishes.

We have a four-way bash at quite a wide bunch of it.

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I’m happy to let Bennie have his way and the lad does real good with his burger pack of one with the lot, chips and a can of drink for $8.

Unlike our previous outing with this style of burger, this one is a glorious hands-on delight, with real beefy meat patty, gooey egg and all the bits and pieces you’d rightfully expect.

The chips are hot and OK in an average sort of way, but the burger is an outright winner.

As Courtney opines: “Sometimes it’s just got to be a fish and chip shop burger!”

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Two vadai (90 cents each) served with coconut chutney are a delight – softer and more moist than is often the case, they’re liberally studded with green chilli. The masala vadai ($1) doesn’t impress quite as much.

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Likewise, a three-piece serve of idli ($6) goes down well with the same chutney and a portion of thickish sambar/dal.

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Rice and curry turns out to be a lovely looking thali.

The star without doubt is the lamb curry, which is coconutty, rich and delicious.

The chick peas are good, too, and have a similarly hefty chilli whack.

The vegetable serves – one of cabbage, the other a mixed concoction of zucchini, beans and carrot – are way overcooked but suffice.

Still, at $8 – and especially if the vegetables were replaced with a dal of some sort – this is a bargain.

In admirably curious spirit, Courtney and James get busy thumbing their mobiles to find out about kothu rotti, and order a couple based on this Wikipedia entry.

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The first, lamb kothu rotti, is the darker and heavier of the pair.

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The second, egg kothu rotti, is both kinds of lighter.

But both are damn tasty, stuffed with all sorts of vegetables and chopped rotti, and with a whiff of wok hei about them.

They are a very satisfying feed, coming across as something like a superior Sri Lankan version of fried rice.

We’re all impressed with the food, service, our ability to enjoy such a wide-ranging meal and the sublime hipness of finding such a cool mixture in the west.

We’d actually started the day meeting up at a foodie pub up the road apiece, but have no regrets about adjourning – based on a CTS reader tip (thanks, Martin!) and mutual gut instinct – to this multi-approach joint.

We wish them well.

Werribee, we’re happy to reflect, is becoming a happy hunting ground for us.

 

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Sri Lankan happiness

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Spicy Corner, 49 Dawson Street, Tullamarine. Phone: 9335 5650

One thing leads to another …

A nonchalant post about the challenges faced in securing a cool lunch at Airport West spurs a reader comment about some good stuff nearby …

Which inspires a visit to Tullamarine for much good cheer of the pizza variety, the story of which draws forth another reader hot tip …

So it is we find ourselves wending our way along a twisty residential street in Tullamarine, eventually finding the modest shopping strip – pizza shop, hairdresser, F&C, video shop, milkbar – that houses Spicy Corner.

What a surprise and a delight it is to find such an eatery in such a setting.

With its checkerboard flooring, plastic-covered tables and white, old-school decor, we surmise that the premises’ previous incarnation was most likely as a Chinese restaurant.

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Not so, we’re told – Spicy Corner has been in residence for a fabulous 15 years, and before that the property hosted and fruit and veg establishment.

Unfortunately, the $12 hopper meals we have been recommended are not available for lunching.

No matter – we’re more than happy to settle for the get-what-you’re-given mixed plates that come mostly from the bain marie.

Oddly, the large plates cost $8 and the small cost $7.50 – and a far we can see, there is little difference in the respective sizes as there is in the prices.

Our plates are the same, ‘cept Bennie opts for the lamb curry and I the chicken.

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Sitting atop a mound of fluffy turmeric-coloured rice are:

  • An excellent dal.
  • A beetroot dish I am excited to try – actually, really excited to try – but which I am a little disappointed to discover has none of that earthy beetroot taste.
  • A jumble of onions and green beans.
  • A small portion of a yummy eggplant number that seem to arrive halfway between vegetable dish and pickle.
  • A single, meaty drumstick of high flavour.
  • And a smear of sweetish chutney and a teaspoon of dried chilli.

The chilli aside, across all the elements on our plates the combined spice levels are high – almost too high for Bennie.

But that’s a small quibble – if it’s a quibble at all.

We’ve loved our lunches of simple, tasty and supremely cheap Sri Lankan food.

And we’re very eager to return for hopper meals all ’round.

Tullamarine may seem a bit of journey from our regular westie haunts, but on occasion the ring road really does serve sublime purposes.

 

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Unwrapping parcels, so exciting!

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Spicy Hut, Shop 6/35 Aspen Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9375 2191

Many times on our various visits to Puckle St, we’ve wandered down the cul de sac that is Aspen St, adjacent a huge, unsealed parking lot, to scope out Spicy Hut only to walk away unfed and disappointed.

Each time there seemed little by way of any activity, so we didn’t even venture inside.

This obviously speaks to a lack of boldness on our part, because Consider The Sauce pal Nat continued to maintain he had been enjoying swell, cheap and delicious Sri Lankan food there quite a while.

So I am delighted to join him there for lunch, knowing for certainty his assertions will be well founded and we will eat very well.

They are and we do.

The tiny cafe space is rather spartan but offset by the charming welcome of the couple who run the joint.

The menu includes various options of the snack/street food variety such as rotis, samosas, hoppers and dosas.

As well, on three days of the week there are specials, with today’s being lamprais – so that’s what we have.

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According to the Wikipedia entry on Sri Lankan food, this dish is of Dutch derivation.

In Spicy Hut’s case, they are described as: “Rice cooked in chicken stock & served with eggplant, pickle, fish cutlet, boiled egg, choice of chicken or beef curry (all wrapped in banana leaf).”

With Nat going for the beef and me the chicken, our meals ($11) are delivered wrapped in foil and with papadams sitting atop.

Unwrapping the foil reveals mounds of steaming rice cocooned by banana leaves. The rice is moist but fluffy and quite nicely spicy.

My single chicken drumstick is tender and tasty, but really it’s the combination of all the bits and pieces that make this a splendidly enjoyable meal.

The fish cutlets (balls), made with mackerel, onion, potato, ginger and garlic, are delicate yet robustly fishy.

I enjoy my hard-boiled egg just as much as I do when they are served with biryani.

The “seeni sambal” sitting on top of my chicken adds a bitter element through the use of curry and pandan leaves, lemongrass and garlic.

And the dry jumble of eggplant, capsicum and onion on the other side of the rice has brilliant eggplant flavour.

Thanks, Nat, for revealing this lovely place to Consider The Sauce – I’m keen to return.

Spicy Hut is closed on Tuesdays.

 

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Curry and chips?

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Sri Sri, 151 Bay Street, Port Melbourne. Phone: 9646 2025

Like its genial owner, Keith, the heart and soul of Sri Sri is, well, Sri Lankan.

But his new joint also incorporates elements of quality fast food and fusion/hybrid outlooks.

So while we can and do enjoy some really fine Sri Lankan tucker, at Sri Sri you can also have breakfast or fish and chips.

Actually, Keith’s only been up and running for a few weeks so is still finessing his offerings.

The fish and chips are likely to go and greater emphasis will be put on … curry and chips.

That dish is real big with the English and Irish backpackers, Keith tells us.

But we’re here for more traditional Sri Lankan fare – and we really dig what is put in front of us at Sri Sri.

The term “slider” seems to be a bit like “focaccia” – it can be whatever anyone wants it to be.

So we’re not quite sure what Bennie will get when he orders the eggplant slider ($6) from the specials list.

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What he gets is a sandwich made from two flatbreads that appear to be close relatives of the spring onion pancakes found in many Chinese eateries.

Between them is an oily (aren’t all eggplant curries oily?) delight of thin aubergine strips. The curry has a strong, smoky and bitter flavour from fried mustard seeds.

But Bennie loves it – a lot.

“This is very, very good,” he enthuses.

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Keith explains to us that creating, and eventually crumbing, the pancakes that go into the crispy beef panrolls is quite an involved process.

He concedes, too, that the end result looks remarkably like a Chiko Roll.

In any case, as far as Bennie is concerned his roll ($3.50) – with its filling of beef, potato, onion, coconut and spices – is another outright winner.

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From the Curry Choices list, my Hot Chick bowl is funky and fun.

Four small pieces of chicken are less cooked-to-falling-apart than I am used to with Sri Lankan curries, but the meat comes beautifully and easily from the bones.

The bright yellow dal is decadently rich and creamy with coconut.

There’s two chutneys – one the familiar bright orange and coconut number; the other a crunchy, somewhat bitter jumble of parsley, onion, green chillies and coconut that looks like tabouli. It isn’t.

And the rice is fine and light, too!

It’s a beaut lunch for $10.

Sri Sri has limited internal seating, but outside there’s five good-sized tables with comfortable bright red chairs.

Check out the Sri Sri website here.

 

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