Highpoint’s new food champ



Farang Thai BBQ, Highpoint, Maribyrnong. Phone: 0478 959 182

Heading to Highpoint, we have no previous experience with the food truck iteration of Farang.

I warn Bennie – and in the process, myself – to keep expectations in check.

A food truck setting up a pop-up operation at a shopping centre?

My scepticism is not just about the quality of the food, but also concerns serving sizes.

We are HUNGRY.

We shall see.

Farang is set up in shipping containers outside at the Rosamond Road side of Highpoint.

It’s well done. There’s the kitchen/servery, some outdoor tables and a cosy indoor area with a bench and seating.

My doubts are given a swift kick towards optimism with a view of the gleaming kitchen.

I mean, how often do you see a fat mortar and pestle in such a place?



We both order Farang’s meal-for-one box set for $15, myself with house-made northern Thai sausage, papaya salad, relish (nam prik noom), sticky rice and (as a sort-of garish) the health food known as crispy pork cracklings.

And – just like that (sound of fingers snapping) – there go all my all low expectations.

This is some serious Thai tucker.

The serve size is excellent for the price ($15).

The papaya salad is wet, crunchy, delicious and studded with peanuts.

The sausages?

Oh my.

Amazing – they explode with flavour from lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and more.



Bennie’s similar Farang box deal come with grilled pork shoulder (moo yong) with nam jim jaow dipping sauce.

He, too, loves his meal – though, IMO, the meat is merely very good, as opposed to my superb sausages.



Our box deals have been sufficiently generous and fine to assuage our hearty appetites, but in the interests of a broader blog story, we order Farang’s grilled corn ($6).

We have been short-changed elsewhere when ordering variations of this dish.

But here we’re happy.

The corn is juicy and comes with a coating of salted coconut milk and, according to the menu, sweet chilli jam.

There’s precious little evidence of the latter, but we both nod approvingly as we gnaw.

Bring on the dental floss.

Farang Thai BBQ will, we’re told, be at Highpoint until March – after which other arrangements may kick in.

It is open until 9pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; until 6pm on the other days.


Thai street food excellence

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Dodee Paidang Thai Street Food, Bar And Cafe, Basement, 353 Little Collins St, Melbourne. Phone: 9602 4968

This place could hardly be any more Melbourne – down a CBD laneway AND in the basement.

It’s also destined to be a smash hit.

Nat and I have made it soon after opening hour on opening day and we’re joined by many similarly enthusiastic in-the-know food fans.

Dodee Paidang is a very welcome Melbourne outpost of a Sydney operation that already boasts three outlets – see website and menus here.

Here you’ll find all your usual Thai staples as found in eateries across Australia – pad thai, satays and so on.

But if that’s the sort of thing you want, you may as well stay closer to home.



Because the main action here not on the orthodox menu, but instead on the big street food menu.

One one side are a range of “soft-boiled rice with spicy soup” offerings.

Nat – far more of an expert on real-deal Thai food than I – tells me these are something like a cross between a regular rice dish and congee.

They sound intriguing!

They sound great!

But they’ll have to await another visit.

We both go for variations on the theme paraded on the other side of the street food menu – noodle soups.

There’s a choice of seven different types of noodles and many different options when it comes to other protagonists.



My own “Super MaMa” (jumbo, seen here, $16, regular $8.50) is a treasure festooned with crisp shards of wonton pastry.

Built on a base of squiggly wheat noodles, my super soup contains some good-quality seafood (calamari, prawns and a couple of fish pieces – I don’t inquire as to the species of the latter).

There’s some greenery, too.

But the main thing here is the broth.

Nat tells me our meals are pretty much exactly like what he’s enjoyed on – yes! – the streets of Thailand.

The broth is tom yum – but not as is served in most Thai restaurants in Australia.

This is less heavy on the lemongrass; it’s nicely sweet and has a citrus vibe going on.

And – this is the best bit – the flavours merge and improve and become more intense as I consume, so the last couple of mouthfuls are the highlight.



Nat goes for a meaty dish with rice noodles and is equally happy.

His regular Do Dee Variety – tom yum noodle with combination meat – costs a profoundly cheap $7.50.

In there are two kinds of balls, meat and seafood, as well as chicken and pork.



Just for variety’s sake, we get a couple of moo ping pork skewers ($3 each).

I reckon they’re ace; Nat’s verdict is that they lack the desired, smoke, chargrill flavour.

But … that’s a minor quibble.

We suggest you hustle down to Dodee Paidang with haste.

And before the hordes drawn by the inevitable coverage in the likes of Broadsheet descend.


Nat Stockley and CTS with Dodee Paidang boss Mon on opening day.


Classy Thai for Footscray




Issan Thai Street Food, 10 Droop Street, Footscray. Phone: 9689 9404

Footscray central – ahhh, so much wonderful food, so many lovely people.

Apart from the central themes of Vietnamese and Ethiopian tucker, I can think of at least half a dozen other food varieties without even trying.

But Thai?


Never has been hereabouts – or not in my 15-year memory of western living.

The nearest Thai restaurants have been in West Footscray, Seddon and Kensington.

With the arrival of Issan Thai Street Food, that is no longer the case.




And by adding another strand of diversity to inner Footscray, I think Noi and her hubby Vince are being very smart indeed.

As well, they’re adding some welcome life to the mostly moribund-over-the-years Westville Central building.

I know that in the wake of the Little Saigon fire, there were suggestions that Westville Central could – even if only temporarily – play a similar role.

I am not party to the commercial or real estate dynamics involved, but it is good to see some life around the place.

After a solo visit by myself for reconnaissance purposes, a happy group of seven CTS pals hit Issan and have a swell time.

We find the service fine and the wait times appropriate for the food we ordered.

The sharing platter som tum tard (top photo $18.90) is a doozy – a big mound of excellent spicy green papaya salad is surrounded by pork crackling, chicken wings, wet-smooth noodles, bean sprouts and chargrilled diced beef.

Even the hardboiled egg halves are superbly done, with the yolks gooey, not runny.




Our order of satay tofu ($6.90), fuelled by the intense curiosity of three members of our group, doesn’t impress greatly – I think we have been expecting tofu a little more crusty and crunchy. This is OK and the peanutty sauce is good.




The pork skewers of moo ping ($10.90) are outstanding.

The meat is perfectly cooked, packed with chargrill flavour and served with a zingy tamarind-based sauce.




Our serve of Penang curry with beef ($15.90) is of modest proportions but all good.

Here, it’s the deeply, richly flavoursome sauce/gravy that is the hit, with some of us continuing to mop it up with rice long after the curry’s main protagonists have gone and other dishes have arrived at our table.




Pad thai with chicken ($13.90) is a fine version of this popular dish.




The chicken salad of larb gai ($13.90) really impresses with its freshness and tang.




Likewise with the equally sexy moo narm tok ($13.90) – sliced grilled pork with lemon juice, herbs, chilli and toasted ground rice.

My photo here doesn’t adequately convey the fatty, chargrilled gloriousness of the dish!

At Issan, you’ll find not much by the way exotica, offal or regional specialties.

But our general consensus is that the Issan fare is a considerable cut above what is generally found in your typical suburban Thai restaurants.

We double ordered several dishes – the moo ping, the larb gai and the moo narm tok – and ate substantially and satisfyingly well.

Yet the bill for seven of us comes to a few cents under $20 each.





Yarraville Thai

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BlueStone Thai, 58 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 0110

It seems like a lifetime ago …

Pre-blog, and before taking up our now long-time residency in Yarraville.

I recall visiting the venerable bluestone building in Ballarat Street when it was still a pub and had something of a name for steak and chips.

After that it became Dig A Pony, which we never got around to before it folded a few months back.

Now it houses BlueStone Thai and we’re up for it.

Having scoped out the menu online, I have no expectations of anything too adventurous or regionally based or unusual, like we might find up the road apiece at Yim Yam.

But that’s OK – just some nice, straight-up orthodox Thai will do us fine.

That’s exactly what we get.

The dining room is all dark-wooded niceness and warmed up on a chilly night.

The service is very good.




Chicken satay ($9.90) is excellent, four sticks bearing thigh meat perfectly cooked and served with a runny peanut sauce.




Mildly spicy green curry ($14.90) is a good-sized serve stuffed with plenty of meat pieces and vegetables.




Basil chilli stir fry with pork ($14.90) is likewise mild, by our standards, and also rather good.

Two bowls of rice cost us $5 and the total bill is an excellent $44.70.

BlueStone Thai seems likely to have found a nifty niche – serving the kind of Thai food in which many punters delight and away from the frequently nutty crush and madness of the Ballarat/Anderson streets nexus.

On the way home on this Friday night, we witness Anderson Street absurdly gridlocked for blocks in both directions either side of train tracks – and with not a train in sight.



Thai/Lao smash hit



Noi Lucky, 4/1-3 St Johns Avenue, Springvale. Phone: 9546 9774

Such is the sprawling spread of Melbourne that a journey from the west to Springvale seems like a substantial road trip.

We’re Springvale-bound on Good Friday in the happy knowledge that like its largely Viet contemporaries in Richmond, Footscray, Sunshine and St Albans, the business centre is sure to be rocking despite the public holiday.

Upon arrival, we are nevertheless knocked out by the level of rocking.

Springvale is jam-packed, gridlock in all directions – much of it seemingly caused by SUV drivers with a penchant for double parking.

It’s busy!

No matter – we eventually find a park many blocks from our destination and happily walk to our lunch rendezvous.




Strangely, this is just our second visit to this intensely foodie neighbourhood – we certainly wish it was closer to home.

Our aim on that first trip was the same as it is on our second – to eat some really, really fine Thai food.

We were flying solo that first time so had an OK lunch but felt we could’ve done better.

This time around we have expert assistance in the form of our good mate Nat Stockley (a big fan of Thai food), his wife Jackie (Thai by birth) and their niece Yaya, who arrived from her home in northern Thailand less than 24 hours before to study in Melbourne.

We’ve got the A Team on our side this time!

And for that we’re grateful.




We enjoy Thai food and have written about on this site, though certainly not as often as the food of Vietnam or India.

But we know Thai food is not one of the western suburbs’ strong point.

And we know there’s really, really great Thai food out there in Melbourne – because friends such as Nat and Andy of Soi 38 have been telling us so for years.

So we’ve long awaited the opportunity to get a guided tour of one of Nat’s Springvale hidey-holes, as it happens at a fine eatery that serves Thai food and also a goodly range of dishes from Laos.

Do we make the most of the opportunity?

Yes, we do!




Not everything we enjoy at Noi Lucky knocks our socks off but we enjoy it all one way or another.

And it is certainly the most fresh, crunchy, stimulating and delicious meal we’ve ever had from a Thai and/or Lao restaurant.

A millions miles from rubbery fish cakes and tired, pre-made curry sauces …

Noi Lucky is tucked away in the corner of a carpark in a corner of the Springvale commercial/food precinct.




At first blush, it could be any one of hundreds of cheap Asian eateries spread across Melbourne, such is the familiarity of the vibe and everything about the place.

But the menu (see below) is something else – yes, there are fish cakes and curries in there.

But there is very much else besides and it all looks fantastic; and very, very affordable.

In the end, we are happy to let Nat and Jackie – regulars here – do the ordering, selecting a range of mostly Lao dishes they favour.




With one exception – the chicken feet salad ($15).

We love us some yum cha-style, blackbean-sauce chicken feet so are dead keen on seeing what this is like.

The contrast could hardly be greater.

The poultry hoofers are, incredibly, boned!

What’s left is pale and chewy; I’m not sure if it’s been boiled or marinated or both – not a big hit with us but OK.

The rest of the salad ingredients are utterly superb – fresh-as, zingy, crunchy, perfect. They are available with a range of other protein protagonists.




Nam khao (Lao crispy salad, $14) is rice seasoned with coconut and red curry, “crispy fried” and tossed in a spicy citrus dressing and fermented pork.

This dish has a real nice nuttiness about that I suspect comes from both the coconut and the crisp-frying of the rice.

It’s very moreish.




Kao pad nam (Thai fried rice with fermented pork, $13.50) is something of an ordering contrmeps but we eat it anyway.

It’s a good fried rice.

In both this case and the Lao salad, it should be noted that there is nothing at all confronting or freaky about the fermented pork – it’s just a sausage-like pork byproduct that wouldn’t be out of place, for instance, on the more familiar (to us) Vietnamese pork chop with broken rice.

Om (top photo, $14.50) is a Lao stew of beef, with vegetables (including baby eggplants and mushrooms), galangal, chilli, lemongrass and dill.

It’s not an immediate hit with me but I warm to it – and could even see myself ordering it first-choice for a solo meal here with rice.

The dill flavour is very strong!




Moo krob (crispy fried pork, $14.90) is a meaty delight that is nonetheless overshadowed by …




… grilled ox tongue ($14), which is – according to the menu – the joint’s most popular dish, with the marinated muscle served with a “Thai dipping sauce” that is mostly soy.

This is more comprehensively cooked than I may have expected and is quite chewy.

But the meat is of wonderful flavour and I can’t stop eating it.

It’s true this outing to Noi Lucky has involved a bit of driving but we make up for it by dropping into Oasis Bakery on the way home for a stock-up shop!

We are left with the wistful desire that the western suburbs had more Thai/Lao eateries such as the one at we’ve enjoyed for lunch – with experts guiding our way.








Soi 38 – at home in a CBD laneway




Soi 38, 38 McIlwraith Place, Melbourne

Consider The Sauce has been happily following the Soi 38 handcarts around for a few years – see posts here and here.

So it’s a natural thing to rock up happily to the unofficial opening party of the permanent home for Soi 38 in the city.




Our pal and Thai food nut Andy and his mate Top have found a superb location – in a laneway between upper Little Collins and Bourke, the laneway also serving as access to a parking building.

It’s a gritty, funky retreat that suits these guys and their food to a tee.

And those handcarts have become part of the decor.




The boat noodles on hand are just as delicious as every other time we’ve had them.

The Soi 38 restaurant’s other offering – tom yum soup noodles – will have to wait for another day.




This place is highly recommended as a lunch spot for those who work in or are visiting the Spring Street end of the CBD!

Soi 38 bowls cost $10.

Open Monday-Saturday 11am-3pm.

See the “Just Opened” story in The Age – words by Consider The Sauce, photos by Nat Stockley.






Above average suburban Thai



Saha Thai Cafe, 431 Macaulay Road, Kensington. Phone: 9913 3663

To the CTS way of thinking, Macaulay Road in Kensington is something of an under-achiever in the food stakes.

So we’re way happy to be tipped to the existence of this cool Thai joint by colleague David.

It’s not on the shopping strip but across the train tracks and down the hill where things get very commercial/industrial very fast.

Anyone who passes this way with any regularity know how nutty the traffic situation can be.

Macaulay Road seems to be a rat run avenue mid-way between the more usual arterials of Racecourse and Dynon roads.

Nevertheless, in two visits to Saha, there’s been ample parking available on the other side of the road from the cafe.




Saha is a superior version of your typical neighbourhood Thai restaurant – I bet the inhabitants of the residential backwaters around here are very happy about its arrival.

As far as I can see, there is nothing really unusual on the menu, but what there is comes out well done, at good prices and served with smiles.

One could take the view that this a basically a takeaway place that has some capacity to do eat-in.

On the other hand, with its handful of lovely dark-wood tables and white-enamelled chairs, far better to think of it as a casual and cool cafe.




I’m told the veggie curry puffs ($6) are made on the premises but as always it’s hard to actually tell for sure – maybe they mean cooked in-house?

In any case, with their flaky pastry and good fillings, these are beaut.




Yes, the fish cakes are rubbery but in a nice way.

They also boast a nice spice kick and a pronounced tang of coriander.

The sweet chilli sauce is, I think, store-bought but tarted up in-house.




Saha chicken salad ($13) finds a mildly-spiced and juicy chicken mince jumble atop supermarket leaves.

It’s all fresh and works good.




Massaman curry ($14.50) is the spiciest of our selections but not overly so.

The sauce is rich, dark, smooth and sticky, and the beef is beautifully cooked and of good quality.

The disappointments here are the spud chunks – they’re under-cooked.

The beef is more tender!

Thai try in Chadstone



D’Elephant Thai, Shop F018, Chadstone shopping centre, 1341 Dandenong Road, Chadstone. Phone: 9568 6600

Consider The Sauce has never before set foot in Chadstone shopping centre.

I’ve often been told that it is a bit more upmarket and swish.

This – an invitation to a blogger/media/industry tasting at D’Elephant Thai restaurant – is my chance to see if that’s the case, and to make very interested observations about the food on offer.

Especially in comparison with our very own reference point, Highpoint.




I’m aware that Chadstone is huge and that I see only a very small part of it.

Nevertheless, turning up typically early, I take in warmly regarded Malaysian and Chinese eateries, several classy-looking cafe-style outlets and a really fine grocer/greengrocer/deli – all within a few hundred metres of my destination.




D’Elephant Thai is a relatively new establishment, the management of which is keen to gauge the reactions of a mixed bag of invitees to their food (see menu below).

The place is nicely done out in cheerful style.

The event is very well run and the staff are wonderful.




I admire the joint’s aim of providing good Thai food at affordable prices in a shopping centre context.

As my handbag for the night, Nat Stockley, points out, some of the very best and most personality-laden Thai food in Melbourne is also some of the cheapest.

But for Bennie and I, in the west, Thai food is invariably a notch or two more expensive than the other readily available multicultural choices.




I enjoy the D’Elephant food.

A couple of dishes – a soup, a curry – are way to sweet for me.

On the other hand, several dishes have a good, feisty chilli whack going on – not something you’d normally expect in a shopping centre and something to be wildly applauded.




A centrepiece of the proceedings is a som tum station at which the papaya salad is being prepared from scratch for the assembled.

They should definitely think about making this a permanent fixture.

(The salad was good.)

Would we eat at D’Elephant Thai if it was at Highpoint?

For sure.

(Consider The Sauce was a guest of D’Elephant Thai management and we were served food from a pre-set event menu. Editorial input into this post was neither sought nor granted.)











Newport Thai hit



Siam Kitchen, 334 Melbourne Road, Newport. Phone: 9391 5179

Consider The Sauce has received a good deal of medical advice in the past six months or so.

Some of it was about food.

“We really like Siam Kitchen in Newport,” the doctor said. “The wok dishes and salads – not so much the curries.”

That’s the kind of advice – medical or otherwise – we’re happy to follow!

Truth is, Siam Kitchen has been on our radar for a long time.




The restaurant occupies the same strip as the recently covered Odd Spot Cafe.

We are expecting a modest, typical suburban Thai eatery.

So we’re surprised and delighted to discover within a really love room dominated by dark wood and tastefully decorated.

We’re happy to report that by and large the service and food reflect those good first impressions.

This place is a handy and classy notch or two better than the phrase “suburban Thai eatery” implies.

It’s early in the week but the place is busy, with a good half of the tables occupied and a constant stream of takeaway customers coming and going.

There’s only one front-of-house staff member at hand and she’s working very hard indeed, though some kitchen folk help out by bringing full dishes out and taking empty ones back in.

It’s Bennie and I only tonight so we keep it simple by choosing two entrees and two mains plus rice.

The entrees satisfy rather than thrill us.




We whip through two roti breads served with satay sauce ($5) in quick time though it’s all rather nondescript and the sauce lacks punch and is too sweet for us.




Crispy golden bags (tang tong) of marinated pork mince with garlic, spicy onion and herbs served with sweet chilli sauce ($6.90) are way better and much more interesting than your average won tons.

The chilli sauce, too, is a flavour hit, boasting more zip and depth of flavour than your typical commercial version.

I cannot tell if this one of those commercial brands tarted up in the kitchen or one made from scratch – either way, very nice!




Seafood pad cha of – “traditional” stir fry with peppercorn, ginger, eggplant and mixed vegetables ($14.90) – is my selection based on the eggplant component.

As it turns out, the eggplant is pretty much the least of it.

There’s plenty of seafood that tastes very fresh – I slurp up the mussels as Bennie is uninterested, and the scallops have terrific flavour.

Best of all, there’s nothing tame about the seasoning levels here – it’s a spicy blast.




Crispy chicken salad with herbs and chilli topped with peanuts ($13.90) is Bennie’s choice and the outright highlight of our meal.

The chicken bits really are crisp, and delicious to boot. And we love the crunch of the peanuts.

There’s a significant chilli hit here, too, and real tang thanks to coriander, mint and lemon juice.

Unlike some people we could mention, we’re by no means Thai food experts – but for what it’s worth, the Siam Kitchen menu appears to have no really unusual dishes or surprises.

That said, this is the best Thai food we’ve had in the west.

Check out the Siam kitchen website, including menu, here.

Cheap, quick Thai

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Thai Deli, 195 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne. Phone: 9696 6895

We spotted Thai Deli while ambling along Clarendon Street destined for Shakahari.

We liked the look of it – small, busy, cheap and with an abundance of that lived-in look that Consider The Sauce finds so alluring.

In the weeks following, Bennie spoke of the place a couple of times – I like it that such a business registered in his mind.

He even compared it with a much-missed Carlton institution. There’s big differences between the two, but I get where he’s coming from.

So soon we are back to take Thai Deli for a run.

Myself, Bennie, Che meet up with Thai expert Andy from Krapow and get busy.

Perhaps I’ve been a little naive in hoping that a cheap Thai joint in the guts of South Melbourne would offer at least a couple of stand-out or unusual dishes.

It doesn’t.

But what we have is certainly enjoyable, very affordable and – I estimate – at least a little better than your average suburban Thai offerings.




Chicken pad siu ($10.90) is perhaps the best of our four dishes. It’s oily, yes, but has some wok hei and is tasty and popular at our table.




Chilli basil chicken ($10.90 with rice) is a single-person serve and just OK.




Lamb salad ($11.50) has heaps of good, fresh greens and other veg bits. Thankfully, the sweet chilli sauce is abetted by something with a little more tangy – tamarind maybe?




Beef panang curry $11.90) is good but very mild. Like the chilli basil chicken, I like the chunky (unprocessed) vegetables, including potato.

Andy reckons there’s bottled or canned sauce used to make this and other dishes the place does. Just about all Thai restaurants do so, he maintains.

I don’t mind that.

And if I lived or worked around here, I would no doubt be at least a semi-regular at Thai Deli.

But the truth is that within a couple of blocks there are three other places that do stuff that is lustier and more hardcore – see here, here and here.




A welcome return



Yim Yam Thai Laos, 40 Ballarat St, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 8585

So scarifying was our last visit to Yim Yam in Yarraville that it has taken more than five years to return.

On that occasion, on a busy Friday night, the place was uncomfortably cramped and the staff seemed harried to distraction.

At that time, a much younger Bennie was very much unused to spicy food, so we made a point of choosing one dish by adhering to the restaurant’s chilli grading system.

But our “one chilli” choice was so unbearably hot that even I could eat only a few mouthfuls.

When I tried to raise this matter with the staff member who seemed to be in charge, I was blown off with a dismissive wave of the hand.

It was a long time ago – and certainly before the arrival of Consider The Sauce.

But, yes, it has remained in memory a vivid experience for both of us.

Returning for a mid-week dinner, we find much – perhaps even everything – has changed.


The place has expanded, with a lovely dining room now adjoining the original, smaller eating and kitchen space.

The staff are happy, obliging and on the ball.

With this sense of expansiveness, what might have previously been viewed as an imposition – being seated at the window bench right next to the door – is just fine by us.

We navigate a dauntingly long menu of dishes mostly unfamiliar to use with aplomb, ending up with just the sort of meal we desired, even if our picks are a little on the unadventurous side.

Even better, by going without our usual soft drinks and appetisers of the snacky variety, the bill clocks in at just a tick over $40, which we hold to be excellent value considering the quality of the food.


Vegetarian pad thai ($12.90) is a fine foundation for our dinner.

It’s quite wet and mildly spiced, yet has a good lemony tang and a profusion of lovely vegetables, sprouts and tofu.


Vientiane salad ($12.90) is Bennie’s choice and it’s a good one.

This one, too, has a bold lemon quotient, but we pretty much inhale the “white noodles with shredded green papaya, tomato, peanuts and herbs with a lemon flavoured dressing”.


Our protein hit comes courtesy of guy yang gup jaow mark kham – “marinated grilled chicken with chilli tamarind dip” ($15.90).

It’s good but doesn’t transport us to delight as our previous, vegetable-based choices did.

That’s down to the chicken being a little on the bland side and also being very like the Vietnamese grilled chook we’ve eaten so often.

The sticky tamarind chilli sauce is terrific, though.

If anything, the best part of this dish is scooping up the mess of carrots, coriander, spring onion and peanuts imbued with the chicken/marinade cooking juices.

Tonight’s Yarraville adventure has come about because I’d had quite enough of driving for the day, so somewhere, anywhere in our immediate backyard has been the go.

Walking around Anderson and Ballarat streets leads us to acknowledge just how many Yarraville village eateries we have yet to visit and/or write about, even if quite a few of them fall into the “special occasion” category for us.

Still, it’s been a happy outing in that we’ll be more than glad to return to Yim Yam where previously we have stayed away.

Soi 38’s Popup Tour of Thai Noodles – get on board!



Soi 38 Thai Noodle Tour, opening night, Sketch & Tulip Cafe, 364 Victoria Street, North Melbourne. Phone: 9329 9665

We love Andy.

We love his website, the Thai-centric website Krapow.

And we particularly love the way he and his Soi 38 colleagues are allowing Melbourne to sample superbly delicious “under-represented” Thai dishes.

Especially when they are presented in the imaginative and alluring manner represented by Soi 38’s latest adventure – “A Tour Of Thai Noodles” spread over a succession of Friday nights at a very cool North Melbourne bar/cafe.

The first night of the “tour” sees various friends and pals of Andy and Soi 38 front up to Sketch & Tulip for complementary bowls of noodles as a promotional effort for the upcoming Friday nights.

Tonight’s fare is boat noodles – that doesn’t slow us down any, even if we have written about them before. See here and here.

And who should we clap our peepers on immediately on arrival?


Two of our favourite people, food-wise or otherwise – Ms Baklover of Footscray Food Blog and street food obsessive Nat Stockley!

OK, we’re obviously at the right place!

If anything, the boat noodles are even more yummy than before – with a deep, dark and rich broth of just the right amount of chilliness and two kinds of beef.

One is stewed and the other, I’m told, is marinated for a couple of days in soda water and then simply poached.

The latter is pale and pinkish and pulls off one of my favourite food tricks – it’s both tender and marvellously chewy.


We admire the way the Soi 38 crew are pricing their noodles.

Sure, tonight we’re supping “on the house”.

But even at the regular price of $5, you can go one, two, three or more bowls and still be getting an outright bargain on food you’ll not find anywhere else in Melbourne.

Or probably Australia for that matter.

Here’s the Thai Noodle Tour itinerary:

Week 1: Kuay Teow reua Nua Nahm (Beef boat noodles)

Week 2: Kuay Teow Sukhothai Muu Haeng (Dry sukothai pork noodles)

Week 3: Kuay Teow Tom Yum Muu Nahm (Hot and sour pork noodles)

Week 4: Kuay Teow Bamee Bpuu (Dry crab egg noodles)

Week 5: Kuay Teow Bamee Bped Nahm (Braised duck egg noodles)

Week 6: Kuay Terow Tom Yum Muu Haeng (Dry hot and sour pork noodles)

We plan on making as many of these occasions as we can.

You should, too.

For further details, check out the Soi 38 website and/or Facebook page.

Sketch & Tulip Cafe on Urbanspoon


A motherhood statement



Mum Mum Asian Street Food, 67 Flemington Road, North Melbourne. Phone: 9329 7106

Mum Mum is a lovely eatery on Flemington Road that’s been open about four weeks.

Given its location opposite great swathes dedicated to the medical industry – where the food options are probably not so hot – and the many offices around here, I reckon this place will go well, especially at lunch time.

But anyone who feels their pulse quickening at the attractive thought of dining at an establishment with the words “Asian Street Food” incorporated into its name had best take a chill pill.

We end up reckoning there is good and maybe even very good food to be had here, even though our lunch is mixed bag.

It’s more that anyone seeking the funky pungency and aromas and spiciness of real-deal street food may be a little disappointed.


From what the staff tell me, the usage of the street food term is a bid to create a point of difference between Mum Mum and the family-connected straight-up Thai place right next door.

So while the lunch menu from which we order is basically a Thai document, there are items such as taro prawns, seafood gyoza, various dumplings and spring rolls in the “Little Something” section.

The ground floor dining room of the Victorian double-storey building is a very nice, with different kinds of wood in the chairs, tables, stools, floor, stairs to the upstairs and screen creating a warm feel.

I like the idea of a Thai-style curry “free of coconut milk” and I like the idea of a lighter lunch with lots of fresh vegetables – so I order the “jungle veg. curry w. rice” ($11.90).


This turns out to be a miscalculation on my part, because without coconut milk – or some other thickening agent – what I get, of course, is not curry but soup.

The vegetables are fine and the broth is spicy and highly fragrant with kaffir lime and basil.

But somewhere along the way this misses the mark with me – it fills me up but leaves me feeling empty.


Bennie does much better with his “fresh basil chick w. fried egg” ($11.90), which is much more sexy than his dad’s lunch.

Piled on top of rice is an oily, garlicky mix of chicken mince, lots of fried onions of the kind that Bennie really loves these days and other vegetables, with a fried egg as head gear.

This, too, is rather spicy but too much so for the boy.

Interestingly, our pal Nat had a rather different experience with this dish at Mum Mum – as you can see by reading his comments at Urbanspoon.

Whether this is because Bennie has been served a very different and much better meal, or whether we are utterly clueless about a food style on which Nat is an internationally renowned expert we know not.

As we depart, I spy another customer tucking into what looks like a marvellous plate of lamb mussaman curry – that’s for me next time!

Check out the Mum Mum website here.



Ace Thai noodles



Sukhothai noodles by Soi 38, Indonesian Street Festival, Victoria Market

The Indonesian Street Food Festival is a typically, happily intense Melbourne multicultural celebration.

There are heaps of stalls and heaps of people.

We see some unusual dishes and we see many on which we could for sure take a punt.

But we maintain our focus.

We are here, primarily, to try out the offerings of the second public appearance by the Soi 38 team of Andy from the Thai-centric blog Krapow.

We were delighted with the boat noodles we had in North Melbourne and are eager for a second helping.

This time out, Andy and his crew are cooking up sukothai noodles.

Andy’s description runs thusly: “A light pork and garlic flavoured broth, various proteins including fish balls, sliced pork, pork balls and dried shrimp served over sen lek rice noodles and topped with sliced snake beans, fried pork crackling and crushed peanuts.”

(For a more detailed description of this dish and its background, see the Krapow post here.)


The Soi 38 team members are going flat out, as are those of every other stall.

But our noodles are not a bain marie job – they’re made to order for all customers.

So we’re happy to pay, take our numbers and scout out a couple of hard-to-find seats.

It’s all worth the wait and jostling – and then some.

We both go the soup option instead of the dry variety (both $8).


The broth is tangy, yet at first, such are the quantities of the other ingredients, it seems to act more as a sauce than a soup.

But as we consume the contents of our bowls, the dish takes on a more soupy persona.

The flavours become more intense; so does the spiciness.

We are both very happy chappies.

We sincerely suggest you keep track of Soi 38 through Krapow or its Facebook page – they’re offering a delicious, very affordable, friendly and fun way to enjoy Thai recipes and dishes you are highly unlikely to see listed at your local or favourite Thai joint.






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Tasty-T, Shop 5/100 Furlong Rd, Cairnlea Town Center. Phone: 8361 8868

Four courses for $9.90, five for $11.90?

Sounds like the sort of cheapskate desperation lunch deal you’d score at an Asian eatery in a shopping centre, right?

Well, that’s just what this is – but with a few wrinkles.

For one, Tasty-T is of a shopping centre but not in one. Instead, it’s situated off to the side in a longish building also housing a gym and other non-retail businesses.

More to the point, Tasty-T is far from being a plastic-seated food court cheap eat.

In fact, it’s super swish by Consider The Sauce standards, featuring well-padded and comfortable seating and otherwise lavish but still quite tasteful furniture and fittings.

(Unfortunately, I become so thoroughly enmeshed in enjoying my lunch and the company that goes with it that I forget to take photographs of the premises – bad blogger!)

I’ve been hipped to Tasty-T by Eve from Conversation With Jenny – read her review here – and it’s she and colleague Linda who join me for this mid-week lunch.

All three of us go the $9.95 route – soup, two entree snacks, main and drink, doing without Thai sweets in the interests of a short lunch break for my companions.

Tom yum goong is a suitably small lunchtime serve. It’s very sweet but with quality contents.

The good, unoily spring roll seems to be mainly stuffed with spud and/or pumpkin.

The fishcakes are a highlight of our lunch – only mildly spiced, they have really nice texture and flavour, and little of the rubbery aspect often found with these, especially at less expensive places.


My massaman curry with rice is possibly the most mildly spiced curry dish I have ever eaten. Having said that, it’s not overly sweet, the spuds are perfect and the meat is tender and only a little bit fatty.


Based on the hefty gobful of her noodles I consume, Eve is the big winner with her pad Thai gai. The noodles are vermicelli rather than the usual flat variety, the dish is surprisingly unoily and the whole thing sings with crunchy textures from the vegetable quotient.


Linda seems quite content with her gai pad med mamuang (chicken stir fry with mixed vegetables and cashews).

In a neat bit of synchronicity, as I was preparing to write this story, I was engaged in email correspondence regarding another matter with Consider The Sauce fan Jacqui.

Turns out Jacqui is a Cairnlea local, lives just a black or so from Tasty-T and is well familiar with the place!

These are her comments:

“We go during lunch on the weekdays and weekends and have also ordered take out for dinner a few times! I like the thai fish cake entrees – so tasty! We also like the yum ped yang (roast duck salad). The pad Thai and massaman curry are also OK. There’s also a dish I had at lunch once with fried chicken, rice and salad so I thought that was quite good value! It’s so good because it’s spacious and the staff are really helpful when I bring my little bubba with me!”

With the proviso that the seasoning levels here are way, way below what I suspect almost all Consider The Sauce followers expect or desire from Asian food in general and Thai food in particular, Tasty-T is an attractive proposition in a variety of ways.


Penn Thai

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Penn Thai, 208 Somerville Rd, Kingsville. Phone: 9314 5556

Penn Thai occupies the same space formerly occupied by She’s Thai.

The new management has spruced the place up a bit, we find the service and welcome a real positive and,  judging by the number of takeaway orders going out the door, they’ve already won many friends.

For my part, expectations are modest – along the lines of a good feed of wholesome, tasty suburban-style Thai food without the edginess or adventure that some of our more funky Thai-loving buddies habitually pursue.

But there’s a wrinkle here – one that shows the food doesn’t have to be explosively great for it to be part of a most excellent eating out experience.

You see, Bennie has mentioned his ever growing interest in Thai food several times in the past few weeks – so I am only to happy to encourage him.

And he really, really loves our mid-week dinner.


In our attempts to have a broadly based meal, we do something that would no doubt make true Thai food cultists grimace – we order soup with tofu.

But our tom kha ($6.90) is fine, if a little on the mild side. Bennie loves the tangy broth, the chewy tofu actually adds a certain meatiness to proceedings and there’s stacks of other lovely vegetables.


Satay chicken skewers ($5.90) are ordered solely with Bennie in mind.

Perhaps the glee with which he greets the rest of our meal indicates it’s time to start giving these a miss on future outings.

They’re OK, but I find them a little dry and tasteless.

But then, I always do.


Massaman beef curry ($14.90) is the big hit of the night.

It’s runny, sweet and delicious.

The meat is superbly, fall-apart tender and minus fat or gristle. The spuds are equally good, while the peanuts and a few strands of carrot and red capsicum add texture.

“This is fantastic,” Bennie mumbles around serial spoonfuls.


“Steam mix greens with oyster and sesame sauce” ($4.90) are good but as plain as can be. Lacking personality of their own, they quickly become just another element of the curry.

Penn Thai is open seven days a week and does home delivery.



White Guy Cooks Thai photo shoot

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White Guy Cooks Thai photo shoot, Yarraville Station

Previous posts here and here.

This was just around the corner and about a block away, so I thought I’d pop down just for a look-see – so no big-deal post here.

The shoot was for the RMIT MBA alumni newsletter.

Had me a prawn slider – it was beaut!

However, I stand firm in my affection for these guys – the vibe is great, the food is neat and, I believe, reasonably priced.

As Ms Baklover has pointed out, it’s a fun alternative.



Food trucks in the west: Generating a buzz …



Jakob’s Kitchen/White Guy Cools Thai @ Yarraville Gardens

We’ve never been  clear on what the impediments were that kept Melbourne’s growing food truck scene out of the western suburbs for so long.

Whatever they were, they now seem to be points of the moot variety – as the food truck floodgates appear to have opened.

Who would’ve believed a few short months ago that on the Saturday before Christmas, Yarraville Gardens would be graced with not one, not two but THREE food trucks?

Yours truly has had some pleasure exploring the truckies, but for Bennie this is a first, so he’s suitably excited.


We head straight for Jakob’s Kitchen, which specialises in sausages and kranskys and the like.

We both get smoked cheese and chilli kransky.

We’re given a significant discount on account of us turning up about 20 minutes past opening time but things not really being up and rolling.

This discount is afforded us, we hasten to add, before the boss – Andy, dad of the eponymous Jakob – discovers we are punters of the blogging variety.

But even at the full whack of $8 we’d have no cause for complaint – our snags are fine!

The chilli hit is just right for both of us, the onions do their job and the cheese is flavoursome.


I had thought that’d be lunch for us completed, but after a pleasant jaunt around the park and the taking in of the summery sound of leather on willow – and as this is Bennie’s first food truck outing – we prolong our eating by hitting White Guy Cooks Thai, the crew of which is by this time operating right next door to the snagmobile.

On its first visit to Yarraville, I’d gone the curry route.



This time we both get banh mi sliders ($4) – pork belly for him, prawns for me.

They’re incredibly delicious – the main ingredients, the creamy mayo, the seasonings, the fresh rolls all insanely good.

That’s it for us – we’ll leave it to other hungry locals to partake of Dos Diablos Mobile Cantina, which is also due to arrive any time at Yarraville Gardens.

Jakob's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

White Guy Cooks Thai Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon


White Guy Cooks Thai



White Guy Cooks Thai, Yarraville Gardens. Phone: 0423 214 290

Food truck in the neighbourhood?

In fact, just two minutes’ drive up the road?

Frankly, I can’t get there soon enough.

This is such joyous news that I am therefore surprised to learn that I am White Guy Cooks Thai’s first customer for the day.

Then again, I also learn this enterprise has only been on the road – so to speak – for about a week and that it’s “very early days” in every regard.

The White Guy Cooks Thai crew members on duty for my Saturday lunch visit, Dave and Rachel, tell me the business did have to work patiently with the council to get approval to trade in the west, but that there were no great or insurmountable problems.


Predictably, of the food available I go for the curry dish.

My massaman beef and potato curry with rice and Asian coleslaw ($11.50), served with recyclable container and spoon, is outstanding.

The rice is fine/OK.

The slaw is sweetish and tangy, rather limpid and wonderfully chewy.

The curry is very mildly spiced and the gravy is of lovely stickiness.

The meat is a just-right tender, as are the potato pieces, which are joined by carrot and fresh basil and some mung bean sprouts.

It’s fantastic lunch that’s not spoilt at all by the highish temperature, lack of seating – the garden stone wall does a fine job anyway – or the wind, the latter at least keeping the flies mostly at bay.

Heck, I may even go back for dinner! (Having been told they’ll be open until at least 8.30pm.)

Like ’em on Facebook so you’ll know they’re at.

Thanks to Andy of Krapow for the tip-off!

White Guy Cooks Thai Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon




Boat noodles in Errol St

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Soi 38, North Melbourne Spring Fling, Errol St.

Having been out and about the previous day on official Consider The sauce business/fun, we figure this Sunday will be a cruise.

But the perfect visit to Highpoint – sleeping bag, four pairs of socks, in and out in under 20 minutes on a crazy mad busy Sunday – has us running ahead of schedule and in the mood.

Another pleasant surprise comes when, after telling Bennie he can have his choice of any burger joint within easy driving distance, he says: “I want noodles!”

So with much glee it is we head for North Melbourne and the Spring Fling in Errol St.

Andy, from Thaicentric blog Krapow, is using the festival to launch his Soi 38 enterprise and we’re keen for a taste.

Boat noodles are a new one on us – and most likely Most Melburnians, even those with a well-honed love of Thai food.

You can read what Andy and his crew are aiming at this Krapow post and the links at the end.

Their stall – fronted by a real-deal street food cart – is doing a roaring trade, but we wait just a few minutes to get our food.

Our boat noodles are a smallish serve that is just right for us and a fine deal at $5.

Andy may be irked by the comparison, but they come across to us as a drier Thai-style version of pho.

Thin noodles, a fish ball, some beautifully tender meat, all in a richly flavoursome pork broth, garnished with coriander, bean sprouts and crunchy, healthy (ahem …) pork crackling.

While being quite plain in the seasoning department, they’re very good.

Even better, they’re served in real bowls and non-disposable chop sticks.

In our experience with street/festival food in Melbourne, this is a first.

In our opinion, this is a thing of monumental hipness!

And it goes to show that if food sellers are really intent on not using plastic, styrofoam and otherwise throwaway trash cutlery and containers, it can be done.

Quite apart from the environmental aspects, it makes the eating experience so much more enjoyable.


We finish our meal with a serve – from the same crew of – khanom dorayaki ($5 for four).

These little pikelet-like sandwiches – filled with the likes of with custard, pandan Ccustard, sweet taro, sala custard and creaming soda custard – are soooooo good.

After wolfing down these light-as-a-feather pleasure bombs, we head for home having had a super lunch for $15.

Hopefully, this is the start of something big for the Soi 38 crew – we certainly wish them and will be keeping a watch to learn of their next outing.