Naked and hungry

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Naked Egg, 32A Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9396 0309
Panjali Banana Leaf Malaysian Restaurant, 3/10 Sun Crescent, Sunshine. Phone: 9193 1740

We’ve been hearing the talk – that Yarraville cafe Naked Egg has been doing fab takeaway meals.

So we check them out.

And the outcome is outstanding.

Some takeaway meals don’t suit us as we don’t have a microwave oven.

So I get two serves of chicken cacciatore at $18 each.

Actually, with its sausage and beans involvement, it’s more a cassoulet.

But let’s not split hairs, eh?

 

 

Bennie has somehow become the tightwad of the family, so gets a bit sniffy about the asking price of $18 a serve.

I beg to differ.

Adamantly.

Our “stew” is gloriously rich and delicious, with seeming multitudes of chicken bits, sausage and vegetables, all in a rich, thick sauce of profound delectableness.

Expert cooking going on here, methinks.

In a restaurant setting – oh, those were the days and hopefully will be again – I’d expect to pay in the mid-$20s or even more.

So this strikes me as very good pricing. I expect any decrease in price would inevitably mean a drop in quality.

The side serve of spuds and sauerkraurt is OK, but no match for the main event stew.

In a word: Fabulous!

 

 

For another take-home meal, we venture a bit up the road – to Panjali in Sunshine.

This time, I’ve phoned in our order beforehand and the whole procedure is sweet and swish, our food (mostly) awaiting when I turn up.

We get two murtabaks – one lamb ($12.90) and one chicken ($11.90).

It may be thought in some quarters that anything involving flatbreads purchased for later heating up is a recipe for ugh.

But we know from previous experience that is not the case with murtabaks.

Panjali murtabaks, anyway.

 

 

Our Saturday night meal is, well, orgasmic.

Perhaps we’ve been missing a certain level of spice and oil and funkiness?

Anyone else in that bag?

In any case, our Panjali meal of murtabak has us both ooh-ing and ahh-ing an sporting happy grins.

Not only do the murtabaks re-heat very well, but the accompanying gravies – one beef curry and one dal and vegetables – are wonderful.

 

Wass up?

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Wasshoi Sunshine West, 1-9 The Avenue, Sunshine West. Phone: 7020 7966

If driving into these parts of Sunshine West is an unusual occurrence for Team CTS, then …

… heading this way for Japanese food at a restaurant that is open for lunch on a Wednesday is positively surreal.

Wasshoi Sunshine West is tucked into a rather unlovely conglomeration of businesses at the corner of The Avenue and Fitzgerald Road, within earshot of the Ring Road.

Before its arrival, we had been unaware of the sibling business in Prahran and the fame of its founder, Ikuei Arakane, and his role in Iron Chef.

Japanese food?

Well, yes – of a kind.

There’s no sushi, sashimi or chawanmushi here.

There’s not even chopsticks – we are provided wood sporks with which to navigate our lunches.

And the basic menu (see below) features what look like banh mi.

Wendy, the sparkly and very welcoming boss lady, suggests the fare is “Japanese street food”.

Hey, that’ll do us!

Eat-in facilities are of a basic fast-food variety, but perfectly fine.

 

 

Miso soup is advertised in a sign on the counter as costing $3.

But we suspect that just about everyone who comes in during these early times – our lunch takes place on the shop’s fourth day – is getting a complementary cup by doing the social media “like” routine.

In any case, it’s perfect and delicious.

 

 

There’s three don/rice dishes available – beef, chicken and pork.

I go with the pork belly ($15.90).

 

 

Bennie chooses the beef brisket ($15.90).

We enjoy our lunches.

The meat is very good – definitely a step up from what usual expectations may be for this kind of fare in this kind of fast-food setting and location.

Though I reckon the pork has the upper hand in terms of tender and tasty.

The kimchi is OK, but rather bland.

There is one simple change that could lift these meals from merely to good to verging-on-great – ditch the iceberg lettuce and replace it with shredded cabbage!

 

Aussie burgers supreme

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Not Just A Burger Cafe, 30 First Avenue, Sunshine. Phone: 9310 1568

Over the years, Consider The Sauce has fallen into the habit of comparing and contrasting burger styles.

Between the new wave – for want of a better term – and old-school Aussie burgers.

We’ve done this without ever detailing just what the differences are.

So how does this work?

New wave – American style, hipster, trendy?

A thicker patty; flasher dressings; perhaps barbecue sauce of some sort.

And sometimes a whole dill pickle – perhaps even skewered to the top of the bun.

Aussie style?

A thinner, wider patty, sometimes involving meat of a questionable quality, sometimes frozen – or so we reckon.

Dressings: Chopped iceberg lettuce; perhaps beetroot.

Even an egg or – God help us – pineapple.

 

 

Always in this imperfect delineation effort is the feeling that we have also been talking about quality – meaning less of it in the Aussie renditions.

Well, at Not Just A Burger we find we can happily dispense with such dull figuring.

The burgers are just plain great.

Improbably, Not Just A Burger Cafe is located in a neighbourhood  in which we would never have reason to look – a back water of light industrial action off Sunshine Road, about right opposite J.R. Parsons Reserve and the silos.

We heard about this place and its work via Sunshine Locals.

Paul and Maria (pictured above in pre-lunch repose) are on to a good thing here – they service the many local workers, but are also a building a reputation for night-time fare and deliveries.

This a bare-bones tradies place that offers many of the usual food choices (see below).

But the burgers are where the action is at.

And Bennie and I could not be happier with our lunches.

 

 

We both go for the N.J.A.B. Inferno ($12) with bacon added.

It’s all terrific – lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion, with jalapeno slices, N.J.A.B hot sauce and some Sriracha deftly combined for the just-right degree of heat.

Yes, the meat is thinner and wider in the Aussie fashion, but it tastes of real-deal beef.

My choice is regular bun.

 

 

Bennie opts for brioche.

Ha!

I can imagine various smarty pants quipping that the presence of brioche here marks this place as not a true Aussie-style burger joint.

Who cares, though, when the burgers are this good?

 

 

The crinkle-cut chips ($4) are fine and hot. We are provided a serve of Sriracha for dipping.

 

Kurt’s place

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Be Quick boss Kurt Schwier is enthusiastic about Dietz range of organic, Fairtrade teas.

Be Quick Bargains, 465 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9312 7244

There has been a discount grocery on the corner of Ballarat Road and Leonard Street in Sunshine for a long time.

In fact, it was suggested by a reader as a worthy of a story right back at the start of CTS – closing on 10 years ago.

I didn’t follow-up then.

But now I’m in the place – and happily confess that’s because it’s been run for the past year or so by long-time CTS pal and fellow hardcore music nut Kurt Schwier.

Kurt’s background in the biz shows – I am impressed by the foodie-friendly nature of his line-up and, of course, the prices.

 

 

Use-by dates?

Well, they’re part of this sort of set-up.

Kurt tells me he his straight-up and honest with his customers about individual products being offered here.

My understanding is that for some products, those dates are vital.

For others they are less so – and for many, they are effectively meaningless.

 

For years, CTS HQ has been going through a pack of these every week or so. I wish we’d been paying this price all that time!

 

Kurt tells me his customers come from a wide catchment.

Sunshine locally, of course, but also from the likes of Caroline Springs, Taylors Lakes and Deer Park.

And among them come a wide range of folks with various European backgrounds, as well as many with roots in the Philippines.

 

Kurt knows his booze.

 

One of the first things Kurt did when taking over the business was install a suitable sounds system.

Of course!

He confesses the music is mainly for the enjoyment of he and his staff – but customers are free to enjoy it fully, too.

The volume is far from obtrusive, though the strains of good, funky sounds are always thereabouts.

 

 

The most impressive thing in Be Quick for the CTS foodie sensibilities?

This array of pickles and the like – almost all of which are regularly stocked items.

 

 

Though I’m told these sloths are also good, steady sellers.

I leave Be Quick with quite some booty – mainly cookies and so on – for which I have paid $15.

 

Outlook: Very sunny

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Cafe Sunshine & SalamaTea, 21 Dickson Street, Sunshine. Phone: 0491 605 775

CTS observed yesterday, on the Cafe Sunshine Facebook page, a very nice looking falafel plate being spruiked.

A dish that wasn’t on the menu when we visited at the weekend.

And the dishes enjoyed on two previous solo visits by CTS senior are no longer on the current menu (see below), either.

Cafe Sunshine & SalamaTea is a newish operation right in the heart of Sunshine.

If they’re still finding their feet, some menu tinkering is for sure in order.

Even better, I suspect new and surprising dishes will continue to pop up here with regularity, depending on the whims and passions of whoever is in the kitchen and what is available from the joint’s suppliers.

This will suit anyone prepared to go with the freewheeling flow of the place.

Perhaps not so much those who expect a menu to be a menu and that’s that.

That would very much be their loss – for the food here is rather wonderful, provides a distinct point of difference in Sunshine and is ultra-affordable.

As well, the place is also very much about providing employment and more for refugees and asylum seekers. See Star Weekly story here.

The simple fare is largely of Persian nature, with eggs the big players, in a warm and welcoming cafe.

And I’m told evening meals are in the soon-come category.

 

 

Bennie likes his Persian breakfast ($13) very much – including the tahini dip flavoured with honey.

This is a surprise to his father, as it tastes just like the halva he generally sneers at.

Also included are fig jam, butter and a concoction of walnut and sheep feta.

All this is teamed with Afghan flat bread sourced from the Afghan bakery that has opened up just around the corner on Hampshire Road.

 

 

I share the same basket of bread – more is happily supplied upon request – with my Persian omelette ($15).

This is simple and sensational – eggs and feta sent into the dizzy heights by the plethora of fresh mint and other herbs on the side.

The vegan baklava (top photo, $3) does show the absence of butter – it’s drier than regular baklava – but is still enjoyable, as are our $3.50 cafe lattes.

 

 

Enjoyed by me on previous visits were a tangy noodle soup utilising a variety of pulses and …

 

 

… Persian scrambled eggs with feta and herbs.

Yes – a very, very close relative of my weekend omelette!

 

A Sunshine Star

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Afghan Star Restaurant, 251 Hampshire Road, Sunshine. Phone 0431 970 348

There are – I believe – three places serving the food of Afghanistan in Sunshine.

Amid the (mostly) Vietnamese hubub around Sunshine central and Hampshire Road, they are easy to miss – and Afghan Star is perhaps the most anonymous of them.

It looks, from the outside and inside both, like a humdrum takeaway joint of non-specific origins.

You can get a pizza here – with pineapple, if that’s your kind of thing.

The decor is utilitarian.

But after sporadic visits over the recent couple of years, I reckon it’s time for a CTS story.

Because I really do like this place.

And if the review visit – with Bennie Weir and Nat Stockley in tow – doesn’t quite reach the heights of my previous (solo) visits, I nevertheless remain enamoured of Afghan Star.

Here is less proper restaurant routine and more a place to grab some quick and very cheap Afghan food.

There’s a range of stews/curries called qorma. I’ve tried a couple of them; they’re good.

But really, the top action here is all about grilled meats.

 

 

But first let me note a couple of happy details – the sort of thing that tickles the CTS soul and makes us love places beyond the main gist of the food.

One is the wonderful fruit salad tablecloth with which we are blessed.

And, no, I am not being facetious.

 

 

The second is the stupendously wonderful flatbread – it’s hot, freshly made and enormous.

On each and every visit I have made to Afghan Star, I have taken at least half one of these home with me.

So good!

 

 

And if I order charcoal chicken, I end up taking some of that home, too.

Because a whole, excellent chook – with flatbread, some salady bits/pieces and a minty dipping sauce with a subtle yet important chilli kick – costs $14.99.

That’s a for-sure bargain!

The chicken is very, very good, best and most juicy/succulent on the bone, though inevitably a bit dry in the heart of the breast.

That’s what the minty sauce is for.

 

 

It’s a fine thing that there’s plenty of my chicken to go around, because Bennie is disappointed with his doner mix kebab platter ($10).

For starters, he doesn’t believe it accurately reflects the colour photo at the serving counter upon which he’s based his selection.

It’s OK – but amounts to HSP on a plate.

 

 

Much better – and returning to the heart of the Afghan Star matter – is Nat’s mix kebab platter, another $14.99 steal served on rice and with the same flatbread, salad and sauce.

The tikka/shish lamb meat is very tasty, though a tad on the dry/tough side. Just a tad …

The kobida/kofta minced lamb meat is much better – chewy and nicely (mildly) seasoned.

But really, these are minor quibbles – this kind of food/meat usually sells for more, and sometimes way more, than here.

Afghan Star gets the job done nicely and with smiling, efficient service – and all with a comprehensive lack of on-trend or hipster angles.

For that alone, I love it.

 

Pure Sunshine

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Ghion Restaurant & Cafe, 12 City Place, Sunshine. Phone: 0423 362 995

There’s no doubt the old Sunshine station – and its gloomy, even spooky tunnel/underpass through to City Place – deserved and needed to be replaced.

But given the new station edifice involves a much less direct and stair-heavy route, I wondered what impact the new station arrangements would have on City Place and the surrounding businesses and neighbourhood.

Surely, the curious would be much less inclined to venture to “the other side of the tracks” from Sunshine central and its much more numerous shops and eateries?

Well, yes – I guess so.

But something rather nice appears to be happening in the face of this enforced “separation”.

You see, it’s now possible to consider that City Place and the adjacent Sun Crescent constitute an entirely different neighbourhood.

Or even a different suburb – one with its own pace, space and vibe.

It’s very laid back, with none of the hustle and bustle of Sunshine proper.

I’d not go so far as to suggest this neighbourhood is prospering or constantly buzzing, but it does seem to be getting on with doing its own thing.

It’s tempting to describe the overall vibe as African, but that would be misleading.

There’s hairdressers/barbers, a cafe, groceries and an arts space.

The fine and long-term Chinese eatery Dragon Express remains in place, while around the corner on Sun Crescent is the utterly fabulous Panjali Banana Leaf Malaysian Restaurant, as well as a kebab shop, an Ethiopian place and a Sri Lankan outlet.

Back on City Place, Ghion is doing really good Ethiopian tucker and has become a regular haunt for those seeking a lightish casual lunch in a tranquil, relaxing setting.

I’m guessing it’s also on the ball come dinnertime.

The classic vegetarian combo yetsom beyaynetu is awesome here – as good as any I’ve tried.

Lentils/pulses three different ways; the familiar carrot/potato, beetroot and greens; sprightly salad – all beautifully cooked and presented, all in just the right quantities for a wonderfully balanced meal.

This winning offering costs a supremely cheap $12.

But if you visit Ghion on Wednesday – day or night – it’ll cost you a mere $10.

How good is that?

Among the various meat dishes, lega tibs ($13) is lovely.

It’s a tomato-based, zingy concoction with good lamb chunks and the onion providing nice crunch through being just the right side al dente.

Wait times at Ghion are spot on – long enough to bespeak much care in the kitchen, short enough to ward off hungry impatience.

Our kind of food

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Nat Stockley captured in his natural environment.

 

Panjali Banana Leaf Malaysian Restaurant, 3/10 Sun Crescent, Sunshine. Phone: 9193 1740

On the Panjali menu, there’s dosas, vadai, dal and curries.

But you’ll also find roti canai, mee goreng and nasi lemak.

I cannot recall – in what is now many decades of trawling funky eats places all over Melbourne – any other eatery that so thoroughly, wonderfully expresses a particular school of transnational cooking, in this case Indian/Malaysian.

Panjali has been open about three months and is popular – as I discover on a CTS reconnaissance trip for Sunday lunch.

The service is warm and the prices are extremely cheap. It’s closed on Mondays, but other than that it keeps long opening hours.

 

 

House-made curry puffs ($5 for two) are ungreasy and have a thick casing that is nevertheless good; the spud-based vegetable filling does the job.

 

 

On my initial solo visit, I go for the eponymous banana leaf meal.

 

 

When Nat Stockly and I return for a more in-depth exploration of the menu (see below), he does the same.

The basic banana leaf meal costs $9.90 and consists of a generous rice pile anointed with vegetable-studded dal, with various vegetable dishes arranged alongside, along with rasam, yoghurt, pickle and pappadams.

For an extra $6, I top my meal up with a truly excellent and big fried chicken piece. The chicken has been freshly cooked and placed in the bain marie just as I order, so is an obvious choice.

For $8, Nat gets a serve of lamb curry. It’s quite good, but could’ve been a bit hotter.

Nat opines that often the state of pappadams can be taken as a fair indicator of the rest of a restaurant’s food.

Ours are crisp and unoily.

I could eat them all day.

Perhaps it could be said this kind of food is not for everyone – the vegetables (cabbage, beans, pumpkin, okra, broccoli) are cooked down to quite an extent.

But the food and the place that serves it most certainly hit the spot with us, and will do likewise for dedicated CTS readers.

 

 

From the noodle line-up, mamak mee goreng ($10.90) is simple, lovely and surprisingly dry – in a good way.

No meat or seafood here, the dish getting its flavour kicks mostly from just cabbage and egg.

 

 

The many tempting roti variations will have to wait for another visit.

Instead we order chicken murtabak ($10.90).

 

 

It’s tremendous in every way – hot and fresh; and delicate and hearty at the same.

The stuffing is a great mix of onion, egg and shredded chicken.

And I love the lightly pickled fresh onion served on the side for extra crunch.

As we depart after a fine meal, Nat quips: “That’s my kind of food!”

And that, right there, gives me the headline for my story.

 

Meal of the week No.47: DaLat Hill Sunshine

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Perusing Sunshine Plaza on a casual walk-through, one might conclude it’s doing it tough.

There are a lot of premises without tenants.

The supermarket has become a Dimmeys.

The fresh produce/market Big Fields has become the otherwise identical Vicfields

And the deli next door has closed.

But …

There still exists here a community vibe of the sort that struggles to gain a foothold at the bigger shopping centre across the road and others of its kind.

The tables and chairs outside the aforementioned deli, for instance, seem to remain a friendly gathering place.

And Sunshine Plaza management continue to fight the good fight with regular FB updates on centre affairs.

Another crew that’s injecting life at the plaza is the one behind DaLat Hill Sunshine, which occupies one of the premises fronting Hampshire Road.

 

 

Despite its Vietnamese name, there’s no rice paper rolls or pho here.

Instead, they are going their own sweet way, developing a niche based around steak, along with regular cafe fare (see menu below).

Here you can get T-bone, ribeye, scotch fillet and the like at fair prices.

But the place’s big drawcard, one designed to get new customers through the door yet also remain an always available “special”, is the Special Rump Steak for $10.

We are a little surprised to be asked how we want our meat cooked, as we figure the $10 steak will be of the ultra-thin variety sometimes served as part of Vietnamese steak-and-eggs and for which precise cooking instructions are pretty much irrelevant.

So … medium rare for us both.

How good can a $10 steak be?

The answer, at DaLat Hill Sunshine, is … just fine.

Sure, you’ll not be chowing down here on prime, big-bucks beef, but our steaks are enjoyable nonetheless.

And they’re nicely sized for our Saturday lunch, steak not normally being something we would otherwise ever consider ordering for anything other than an evening meal.

And then, only very rarely.

Haha!

But what makes our meals more than just adequately satisfying – and propels them into realms of bargain pleasure – is the care taken with the accompaniments and the presentation.

The mashed potato is very, very good.

The asparagus spears are both cooked through and crisp.

The thin gravy is fine for meat dipping.

And even the rosemary garnish does its part by imbuing all with a just the right amount of perfume.

The service is fine and smiling – as are the Vietnamese iced coffees with which we depart.

 

Pumped up for the South Sudan wrestling

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South Sudanese Wrestling All-Stars at Chaplin Reserve, Sunshine: Inner states (Victoria, NSW and ACT ) v Outback states (SA, WA and Queensland)

Even after talking top several people, I remain – as an utter newbie should – largely ignorant about the finer points of South Sudanese traditional wrestling.

In this all-star tournament, the wrestlers and their camp followers are situated at opposing ends of the Chaplin Reserve soccer ground.

 

 

The wrestling itself – many bouts – is serious, though doesn’t appear to my untutored eye to be as tricky or technical as that practised at the Olympic Games, for example.

But it ain’t Mexican wrestling, either! Duh!

 

 

I’m told the young women self-create the beautiful chants in Dinkan dialect and that they’re all about supporting their teams.

A South Sudan take on We Are The Champions?

 

 

Hmmm, dunno about that!

But work of these singing queens is certainly more soulful, beautiful, stirring – and just plain better – than anything ever dreamed up by Freddie Mercury and Co; IMO!

 

 

While the athletes and their retinues were loud and proud in their finery, it is also notable that very many spectators among the big, happy crowd also are dressed to the nines and 10s.

What’s it all about?

Community!

I love it!

 

 

New pal Emily Yuille, who is very active in Melbourne’s South Sudanese community, provided the following appreciation!

Thanks!

“Wrestling is a contest traditionally between young men of the Dinka and Mundri tribes in South Sudan.

 

 

“Sport plays an important role in the lives of young South Sudanese people with wrestling being one of the greatest and most popular. People love it.

“While largely unheard of in Australia, the past several years has seen the sport grow across the country, with teams in most states: Queensland – Maroons
Canberra (ACT) – Powerhouse, Melbourne – Lions, Adelaide (SA) – Cobras, NSW – Blue Warriors, Perth (WA) – Western Empire.

 

 

“The contest is all about showing strength. The contestants don’t hit each other. Using their strength they force someone to the ground and if you’re still standing, that means you win. There is no harm to done each other.

“Wrestling matches happen in three-minute bouts, with a draw declared if neither competitor can force their rival to the ground.

 

 

“For many, competing is often a rite of passage. In some families, people’s grandfather or uncle could also be a wrestler, so it goes down the generations.

“When you start wrestling for a championship, it means that they are a young man growing up and get to leave your family and your youth life.

 

 

“While only men compete in South Sudanese wrestling, the women play a valuable role during competitions, often providing encouragement and songs of support in their native languages.

“They make songs for their champions to give them morale and energy, they sing in Dinkan dialect, which also teaches the younger kids how to sing and communicate in their language and get connected with their culture.”

 

 

The South Sudanese Australian Traditional Wrestling Association Facebook page is here.

Go here for a short SBS story and film about South Sudan wrestling.

 

Shiny grill time

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DeGrill, Sunshine Marketplace, Sunshine. Phone: 0402 189 860

A small, single-frame cartoon in the Sunday Age a few years back always makes me chuckle when I think of it.

Two blokes are surveying the Sunshine Marketplace shopping centre.

One says to the other: “Wow – this really is the United Nations of bogans!”

I like it because it’s bloody funny.

But I also like it because I like it that Sunshine Marketplace is like that.

We may live in Yarraville, hit the new fried chicken place in WeFo as soon doing so is viable and even frequent hipster places in Footscray proper … but we love all the west and its people and food.

Which is why CTS loves venturing to not only Sunshine, but also Werribee, Deer Park and beyond – and will continue to eat and review and tell stories from well beyond the ribbon that is the inner west.

 

 

So we applaud the opening of DeGrill at Sunshine Marketplace.

It’s a bold and adventurous move – it is situated, after all, right opposite Maccas and right next door to the cinemas.

I could say that DeGrill is aiming for the same sort of focus as Grill’d or Nando’s – but that would be doing DeGrill a disservice.

Because the menu is significantly more broad than such a comparison might imply.

I suspect the menu may have to be tweaked over time to find out what really works in this particular setting.

But over two visits, CTS and friends enjoy some good food and good service at (mostly) good prices.

The style is classy fast food and proper cutlery and crockery are in use, as are fine salt and pepper grinders.

 

 

There are three hot dog options on the menu, two featuring kransky or chorizo.

But the classic ($7.50) is constructed using a standard frankfurter.

So all is regulation here, but its recipient is pleased enough.

 

 

“Crispy” chicken ($9.50) has the wow factor aplenty.

The serve consists of three superbly cooked wings anointed with a tangy sauce.

Very good!

Especially when served with …

 

 

… a side of mash and gravy ($6).

This a rarity is Melbourne in general, let alone in a Sunshine shopping centre.

It’s OK, we all like it – but it’s not spectacular.

 

 

The menu’s “between the buns” section lists nothing that could be described as a beef burger, but based on our table’s orders of the cheese steak ($9, above) and …

 

 

… the only marginally different philly cheese ($9.50), this may be the way to go here.

Both are keenly priced and boast good ingredients and dressings.

The steak is thicker than routinely found in steak sandwiches and, best of all, is so well cooked that biting through for a mouthful is done with ease and without the whole sandwich falling apart.

Big thumbs up for that!

 

 

Under the heading “from the grill”, DeGrill offers dishes such as a flat iron steak ($17 and $26) and chicken ($16 for half, $29 for full).

These and others may fulfill the implied promise of more hefty meals.

Sadly, the beef short ribs ($16) do not.

It’s common knowledge ribs are expensive to secure and are inevitably at the upper end price-wise wherever they appear.

It’s common knowledge, too, the beef ribs can be fatty.

But these are very fatty indeed, and the three segments amount to not much more than a brief meal of not many more mouthfuls.

As well, as per the eatery’s name, these rib bits are grilled and not smoked, as you’d generally find at the numerous barbecue-style places across the city.

The coleslaw ($4.50) lacks crunch – maybe because its main component is savoy cabbage?

It’s under-done in the seasoning/flavour department, too, though some quick work with the salt and pepper grinders soon fixes that up.

 

 

CTS is over the mega shake thing – too often they seem to involve poor quality ingredients and unjustifiably high prices.

This DeGrill brownie shake ($9) defies both factors – good price, nice shake.

We wish DeGrill well.

Maye its arrival will inspire others to hang out their shingle in the same locale.

Thanks to Annie and Ali for helping us with this story!

Check out the DeGrill website – including full menu – here.

Very socially adept

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Sunshine Social, 64 Glengala Road, Sunshine West. Phone: 9312 0223

Sunshine Social is a hit and hoot and we love it to bits.

This is the biggest thing to hit Sunshine West for years – the adjacent Glengala Road shops barely seem to have changed for the best part of a decade.

In fact, this may be the biggest western suburbs food story of the year.

We bowl up just a few days after opening day, eager to check out the vibe, try the food and see if the widespread community interest and hopes are being fulfilled.

The answer is a rousing “yes” – albeit with a couple of food mis-steps noted below of the very easily forgivable these-are-very-early-days variety.

 

 

The old servo has been done up a treat, the swish fit-out preserving the old-time feel of the building and, best of all, the wonderful roof that once sheltered filling-up motorists from the elements.

It would be easy to describe the furniture, fittings and general ambience as “industrial”, but there is a bit more warmth to the place than that might imply.

As well, even on a busy Friday night, the noise levels are surprisingly subdued.

Three of us have drinks, two starters, three mains with various sides and a single, cheapo dessert and pay just a tad over $100 – so Sunshine Social represents good value for money as well as a whole heap of fun.

We arrive early after having dithered about a later start time involving a bigger assemblage of Team CTS, but are glad we’ve reverted to 6.30pm kick-off as the place rapidly fills up after that.

Sunshine Social doesn’t take bookings – it’s not that sort of place – so while it’s as hot as it is right now and the curiosity factor is high, it would be wise to pick your time with some thought.

Loosely based on the concept of old-school charcoal chicken shops, Sunshine Social goes from there to offer a menu that broadens out to take in some multicultural ideas, all the while offering a cohesive gameplan.

 

 

Marinated olives and chargrilled vegetables ($7.50) are a delightful way to get our meal underway.

It’s a deceptively big serving of beaut olives of various colours and dimensions and long strips of gorgeous red capsicum, zucchini and eggplant.

 

 

We try two of the five dips at $4.5o a pop (punters can get the lot for $16).

I am outvoted in my desire to try the beetroot and whole bean number.

Instead, we get the eggplant and pistachio/pea/mint versions.

The former is rather dry and crumbly but has robust roast cumin flavour.

The latter has little by way of nuttiness, the pea and mint dominating in a smooth operation.

 

 

Given the charcoal chook inspiration going on here, I was only ever going to order one thing – the very same thing that I ALWAYS order in chicken shops: Half a chicken with slaw and chips ($28.50).

The price here is higher, of course, but no more than expected.

The chicken near the various bones is excellent, moist and delicious.

The breast meat is dry – as it so often is, no matter the price.

But it’s not terminally so, and certainly all this could easily be fixed up with a small pot of gravy as per charcoal shop tradition.

The chips are very fine and the slaw – much drier and different in style from the usual – a crunchy, lightly-dressed delight.

 

 

The meat served with Nat’s order of “lamb shoulder with Mediterranean herbs” ($22.50 with one side) is tasty.

But we are both surprised the sheep meat is sliced and more like your regular lamb roast than the fall-apart epic the phrase “lamb shoulder” automatically suggests to us. And there’s not much sign of the advertised herbs, either.

In both the cases of my chicken and his lamb, neither of us feels the sweetish coating (chicken) or sweetish sauce (lamb) do anything to enhance our meals.

Chicken options with more high-powered seasonings taking in lemon, chilli and turbo-herbs would be a good move, we reckon.

 

 

The no-hesitation thumbs-up of the night goes to Bennie’s fried chicken burger ($13.50).

He loves the big, succulent, crisp chunk of fried chicken and gives his burger – abetted by slaw, cheese and jalapenos – an 8 out of 10.

He gets chips with his sandwich and an extra order of slaw on the side that is plenty big enough for both himself and Nat.

 

 

During the course of our meal, we’ve pondered dessert.

But predictably, we’ve loaded up plenty on the savoury segments of the menu, so treats such as choc ripple biscuit cake with peppermint slice shavings and cream will have to await a return visit.

I do grant Bennie his wish for a house-made choc top for $4.50.

He likes it.

You can tell by his unbridled display of passion and delight and enthusiasm for the camera.

We decide that there is nothing else quite like Sunshine Social in all of Melbourne – not that we know of anyway.

Sure, there’s a gazillion hipster burger places and almost as many barbecue joints and similar.

But a self-described “grill” that has no steaks and little seafood?

Nope.

On the basis of community reaction and our experience just a few days into its life, the place will endure and then some.

It is destined to become something of a second home to many.

And next time, we may expand our ordering horizons to the likes of pork ribs, grilled calamari, a range of meat on sticks or Moroccan lamb snags.

Check out the Sunshine Social website (including menu) here.

Westie barbers No.5: Coffee with your cut?

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AXE Barbers and Baristas, Shop 1/1 Foundry Road, Sunshine: Phone: 0414 427 769

Being a cheapskate, I normally avoid hairdressers or barbershops with a chic look – polished cement floors, like that – as they’re usually ridiculously over-priced for my minimal, buzz-cut needs.

But at new Sunshine outfit AXE Barbers and Baristas I do good.

And I get a fine cafe latte, to boot!

Mind you, “Axe” seems like a rather threatening name for a barbershop …

 

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… but that changes when I meet barista Engin (left) and barber Xavia, and learn that the name is made up of their initials and that of a third partner, Allan, who I don’t meet.

Xavia provides me with an expert buzz-cut for a price not far removed from those charged by the St Albans and Footscray Vietnamese hairdressers I usually use.

 

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These blokes will do well, I reckon.

There’s not a lot by way of service businesses at the Gold Leaf end of Hampshire Road, but there is new apartment activity representing potential customers.

There’s parking close by at both Hampshire Crescent and Sunshine Plaza.

Check out the AXE website here for hours and prices.

 

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Yum cha blow-out

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Gold Leaf, 491 Ballarat Road, Sunshine West. Phone: 9311 1863

In the past year or so, CTS has dined yum cha – see here and here.

But as enjoyable as those outings were, in places that run yum cha a la carte and to order and without trolleys, we figured it was time for the real deal.

 

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You know the drill – huge barn of a place, high noise levels, trolleys whizzing everywhere.

 

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So CTS and a bunch of willing pals hit Gold Leaf in Sunshine.

Typically, Bennie and I arrived first and somewhat early.

We were forced to cool our heels with other early arrivers as the staff meal tables were cleared and then – in we went!

 

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Within half an hour, the joint is packed and rocking.

With a group of eight eating madly, I don’t even think about keeping note of individual items and their prices.

Suffice it to say, it really does make a difference – the food here was of a very high standard and the service fine.

 

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We had many of the staples and a few more adventurous things.

 

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Eating the divine roast pork/crackling, for instance, I placed in my bowl some of the attending noodles – only to learn I was eating jellyfish for the first time.

It was lovely!

 

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It was a wonderful experience and the price – a buck or so over $30 per head – equally splendid.

 

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But some things never change …

As we’re wrapping up desserts and wrapping up generally, I notice even more trolleys sallying forth laden with very interesting a delicious-looking items.

No room for them … this time!

 

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Life goes on at Berkshire Road

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Madam Curry, 71 Berkshire Road, Sunshine North.

Ah well, that’s the end of an era in western suburbs food history.

Marco and Maria from Latin Food and Wines (frequently referred to as La Morenita in the many stories we have run about them) have moved from their long-time North Sunshine redoubt for a great new home in Deer Park.

There’ll be more about them and that right here at CTS in due course …

It seems the sleepy Berkshire Road shopping strip that has been such a big part of our lives for so many years will become even more somnolent.

But food things there are still ticking over.

The newest arrival is the roti-producing outfit called Madam Curry, which has moved from Sunshine Plaza into the premises formerly occupied by a failed South American eatery.

 

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My understanding is that for the Madam Curry operation, serving walk-up customers curries, rotis and the like is strictly a second-string affair to the contracts they have to supply rotis across the city.

Thus as I arrive at their new digs for lunch I am wondering who will actually be stepping up for a lunch-time feed in the back streets of North Sunshine.

So I am happily surprised that as I am lunching, two different groups of local workers/businessmen come and go.

Madam Curry’s stock in trade may be supplying rotis to the Melbourne hospitality industry but it seems catering to the lunch trade in a neighbourhood where there is not much food to be had is a smart move.

The eat-in/takeaway menu (see below) covers a tight range of reasonably priced starters, roti canai dishes, wraps and noodles.

 

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Prawn dumplings ($5.50) are nice – plump and flavoursome – without having the oomph to be expected from a top-line yum cha joint.

 

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The prominent appearance of curry leaves is a good sign of home-cooking in my chicken curry with roti cani ($9.90).

The curry IS good, made so far as I can tell from thigh meat and featuring a goodly number of spud bits in a tasty, mild curry sauce.

The roti is OK but does have something of a mass-produced taste/feel to it.

 

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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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CTS Feast No.13: The Wrap

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CTS Feast No.23: Xuan Banh Cuon, 232 Hampshire Road, Sunshine. Phone: 0422 810 075. Tuesday, December 8, from 7pm.

What a happy pleasure it was holding a CTS event at our favourite Vietnanese restaurant.

Several guests were repeat offenders.

 

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Others were Xuan Banh Cuon regulars who nevertheless were happy to make the effort to join other fans.

 

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Many thanks to Xuan, Carson, Ang and the crew for providing us with such wonderful food.

 

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The biggest hit of the night was the mixed entree platter we each received of pho cuon thit bo (sautee beef wrap in fresh pho noodle), banh goi (Vietnamese puff) and cha mrc hai phong (northern squid cake).

The pho cuon thit bo especially impressed – Carson describes it as a non-soup, summertime version of pho, complete with rare beef slices and all the usual pho goodies.

Wonderful!

 

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CTS has held far fewer events this year than was initially anticipated – this being the third.

But they’ve all been very good!

We hope to see you next year at CTS Feast No.14 and beyond …

 

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Ace burgers in Sunshine

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Found 401, cnr Foundry and Hampshire roads, Sunshine.

It’s been a frustrating Sunday, one involving much driving, blog stories not eventuating and potential meals not eaten.

Worse, upon arriving back in Sunshine, I realise I’ve left my bag at an Indian sweets shop in Deer Park – so back we go.

By the time we return to Sunshine, we’re hungry … for just about anything, and blog be buggered.

But as it turns out – and despite recent proclamations of burger fatigue – we find something really good.

We find it in a rather anonymous looking cafe that’s part of the modest retail set-up in an apartment block at the other end of Hampshire Road than the one we normally frequent.

(Found 401 is about a block from Gold Leaf.)

 

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I’ve been hearing encouraging whispers about this place and its burgers, most notably from our regular provider of westie food tips and opinions, Lauren Sayer.

About this place, she is spot on.

As well as a concise burger line-up, Found 401 provides breakfasts and toasties, coffee and an assortment of other drinks (menu below).

I’d popped myself in on a previous Sunday but on that occasion had found the staff coping with the breakfast rush hour.

This time around we are, at first anyway, the only customers and we find the service and wait times very good.

I go for the BBQ burger ($10.50, top photograph) with beef, cheese, lettuce, bacon, mayo and BBQ sauce; I ask for the caramelised onions to be withheld.

 

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Bennie has the 401 burger ($11.50) with egg and 401 sauce added.

Both our burgers are terrific.

They’re nothing fancy – just good, solid all-round winners made with good ingredients and put together nicely.

The beef patties have a nicely solid meatiness about them.

 

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The chips ($4), too, are on the money and good value for the price.

They’re all crisp and unoily.

And no chicken salt or the like here – just a winning combo of salt and a dash of rosemary.

Bravo for the Found 401 crew for delivering burger goodies that are right up there with the best going around.

 

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We depart happy, hoping CTS readers Lorraine and Derek enjoy their meals as much as we did ours!

 

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Diwali with Suneeti

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Consider The Sauce never takes for granted the heart-and-soul situations that open up for us because we do what we do.

 

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A year or so ago, for instance, I spent an entire day with our wonderful friend and fellow blogger the Urban Ma and her family, preparing and then eating a fabulous Pinoy feast.

 

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This one is a bit like that …

 

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I met Suneeti when she and some pals were guests at the CTS Feast held at Curry Leaves, the fabbo Sri Lankan eatery in Sunshine.

 

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We sat at the same table, got talking and soon discovered that when it comes to sub-conintental eats – and what’s hot and what’s not so much in the western suburbs – we are very much on the same page.

 

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All of which led to the question: Would Bennie and I like to be guests at her family’s regular Diwali bash in their Sunshine home?

 

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Yes!

 

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And what a fine time we had!

 

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We enjoyed meeting a varied bunch of lovely folks.

 

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This was not you hardcore devout Hindu Diwali party – the assembled guests and family were from all over; there was meat and alcohol, though not a lot of either.

 

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The food?

 

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OMG – sensational!

 

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Mildly spiced, as befits a gathering at which there are numerous young children, but still just so very fine.

 

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Thanks, Suneeti!

 

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And, yep, we’d really like to return next year!

This story and these photos are published with Suneeti’s happy approval – she was too busy to take pics so is looking forward to this post as a memento!

 

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A Taste of Poland in Sunshine

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A Taste of Poland, 3/1B Bell Street, Sunshine West.

By Erika Jonsson

I’m a compulsive list-maker.

When I was in year 12 someone stole my study diary and wrote, “breathe in, breathe out” on every page, clearly amused by the idea I might not do it unless it was written on a list.

They weren’t far off the mark, really.

Most days I find myself creating a new list, from birthday present ideas a year out to playgrounds and cafes I’d like to visit.

Travel and lists go hand in hand for me – I have lists of places I’ve visited, countries I’d like to visit, cities I might otherwise forget to consider next time we are planning a holiday.

Travel and food also go well together in the western suburbs, where it’s possible to circumnavigate the globe without venturing far from home.

My family loves trying foods from previously unexplored cuisines, ticking off countries at every opportunity.

We’re racking up a pretty good tally – and we haven’t even made it to the Jamaican place in Yarraville yet.

So when my husband told me he was adding a new country to the list I was intrigued.

When he turned off Glengala Road in Sunshine West I was beyond curious.

 

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Consider The Sauce has already documented my love of dumplings, so when we pulled up outside A Taste of Poland it’s fair to say I was thrilled.

It’s an unassuming café attached to a small Polish grocery stocking everything from large jars of dried porcini mushrooms and pickled vegetables to chocolates and sweets.

The menu is small and exceptionally well priced – the most expensive meal on the board is $13.

We ordered a plate of potato and cheese dumplings (which I felt certain would be a winner with my two sons), pork with salad and chips and Polish sausages with cabbage and bread.

The lovely lady at the helm asked me which salads I wanted from the array of jars – I chose red cabbage salad and also ended up with a mix of cabbage, carrot and capsicum.

 

 

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The pork was tender and tasty, though nothing I couldn’t make at home.

The preserved salads were delicious and I added the cost of a couple of jars to our bill so I could enjoy them at home, too.

Five-year-old Joe and my husband both enjoyed the sausages, but the hands-down dish of the day was the dumplings.

No surprises there.

 

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One-year-old Hugh especially loved the creamy, smooth filling.

The dough was easy to eat and not the slightest bit tough.

 

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The dumplings are made fresh then frozen – you can buy them to take away from the freezer along with items such as croquettes and white borscht.

My coffee afterwards was quite satisfactory and my boys loved their jelly-centred chocolates as a treat.

Our three dishes plus a coffee, a juice and a soft drink came to about $35 and I also grabbed my jars of salad, pasta and dark chocolate to take home.

There is nothing fancy about A Taste of Poland but there doesn’t need to be, especially when you can feed four for less than $10 each.

I’ll certainly be returning for another dumpling fix soon.