We found it especially useful during those long lockdown months, wherein we joined the many fans of the place for takeaway goodies that were always enjoyed, picnic style, in nearby Cranwell Park.
Mostly we’ve been OK with the wait times.
But there have been times when shuffling around the used car lot with other customers has been a bit of a drag.
And there have been, too, times when we’re read the signs of bulk customers and an eating service barely coping so we’ve split for elsewhere.
So we are delighted, upon fronting up for a Saturday lunch, that Chai N Dosa has become a restaurant proper.
The long-observed building activity has produced a real neat dining house.
Heavy on wood, it has a lovely airy and rather rustic feel about it.
It has, mind you, a perfectly fine fast-food vibe going on.
And there seems no doubt that takeaways and deliveries will continue to be the outfit’s mainstay.
But we are VERY happy to be seated and sheltered.
The kitchen is WAY bigger than that in the pokey caravan/truck that preceded this bricks and water (joke for a former colleague) version of the business. This is no doubt a boon for the hard-working staff.
And while polystyrene containers continue to be headed out the door, eat-in service is done utilising cardboard.
Chai N Dosa, it seems, will remain a lunch destination for us.
So that means we miss out on the specials we see on Facebook such as fry piece chicken with pulao.
So I am delighted to opt for a special posted on the menu board – poori with aloo curry ($11.99).
Pooris? Could well be my favourite kind of deep-fried dough!
I devour my three with glee.
The aloo curry is not what I’m expecting at all – but it is very good.
The fine spuddy sludge is dotted with corn and cashews!
Bennie opts, as on so many other occasions, for the standard masala dosa ($10.99).
It maintains the high standard we have come to expect from Chai N Dosa.
Spring Rolling, 608A Melbourne Road, Spotswood. Phone: 9017 5913
Through more than 15 years with one agent across three properties, we are well used to property inspections.
This time, though, there’s something of a wrinkle – the property manager doing the biz, for the first time that I can recall, is a bloke.
He’s bemused to be chatting with Kenny Consider, whose food rantings he once enjoyed in a certain suburban newspaper chain.
Back when that was a thing.
For my part, I am bemused to be handed an intriguing tip – one of this South Kingsville resident’s fave places is a Vietnamese joint.
Duly noted and set down for almost immediate exploration.
So off we head for a Saturday lunch.
Well, no wonder we’ve never noticed Spring Rolling.
It’s been open since March, but we could drive past for years without it registering, such is the anonymous nature of the piece of Williamstown/Melbourne Road on which it resides, that vague impression fanned by the fact that the traffic here is something of bottleneck requiring stern driver attention.
Spring Rolling is, as we’d guessed, geared very much towards takeaway/delivery business.
But the interior is pleasant and cheerful, with a couple of tables and window bench seating.
We make ourselves at home.
We are not expecting anything by way of exotica or regional dishes.
So no surprises for us that the menu (see below) is a mainstream collection of greatest hits.
And that, too, is fine by us.
The food we enjoy is excellent – fresh, zingy and delicious.
Our food is presented in the same cardboard containers that are heading out the door.
Fine – we customise by ripping off the flaps for eating ease.
Bennie goes the bun/vermicelli route – with fresh sliced beef ($15).
He pretty much inhales the lot.
In quick time.
For me it’s com/rice with grilled chicken ($15).
The chicken is not high on smoky grill flavours, but is fabulously tender, chooky and yummy.
As with Bennie’s meal, all the bits, pieces and accessories are in fine order.
What a wonderful boon Spring Rolling must be for locals on both sides of Williamstown Road.
Hudsons Road and Vernon Street are not without their charms and assets, but Vietnamese food – or, really, anything like it – is not what they’re about.
We see a bunch of Saturday lunch delivery drivers come and go as we dine – testament, surely, to the place’s popularity.
And despite being situated right on a very busy road, parking is plentiful on the side streets.
Gozleme Pide and Sweet House is a Turkish restaurant, true.
Yet somehow that description seems inadequate to describe a wonderful place where so much is going on.
Here you’ll find the dips/bread/salad/meat combos expected of a “Turkish restaurant”, though it is a long way from being a “kebab shop”.
Here there be also – as the name indicates – gozleme and pides.
And the desserts?
Oh my – there’s a startling array of sweetness to be had, one we are only starting to get our heads, and taste buds, around.
Topping off all this excellence are Hakim and Sevgi (she’s the baker).
From 2011 to 2020, they ran Flemington Kebab House, just a few doors up the road.
With their new joint, open since March, they are running full blast with the idea of home-style food with a profound emphasis of fresh and yum.
Their genuine customer care and delight in sharing their food raises them to lofty status.
Hakim intuitively understands our desire to try a wide range of the available without over-ordering, so he delivers us a couple of plates/bowls that are “off menu”, as well as mixing up the dips that are part of our mains choices.
Lentil kofte ($10 for six) are beaut, lemony cigars made mostly of bulgur.
We have eaten – and eat – a whole lot of chilli sauces/dips/gravies derived from cooking traditions the world over.
But I don’t think it’s any kind of stretch to state that Turkish chilli dip is our all-time fave – and the version served here is right up there with the very best.
We just love the chilli bite matched with tang and crunch.
The yoghurt/cuke and red capsicum dips are just as good.
Lentil soups are another world-wide staple with which we have wide experience, including at home.
The Gozleme Pide and Sweet House rendition is of the smooth, mild, blended variety.
It’s nice, but doesn’t really grab us.Perhaps the other soup (white bean) for us next time.
For me, it’s the grilled chicken meal for $20.
The many chicken pieces are superbly tender and tasty.
They’re abetted by spot-on accompaniments – more chilii dip joined by great hummus, tabuly, grilled tomato and capsicum, and cabbage salad.
Bennie and Veronica choose the lamb kovurma meal ($20).
The lamb kovurma is plain and tender, simply all chopped up and finished in the oven.
Both plates are topped with a couple of lamb kofta patties and yet more of those fabulous salads ‘n’ dips.
Our main have been presented with what at first I take to be a regular Mid-East serving of rice laced with broken vermicelli.
Turns out this actually bulgur with the aforementioned noodle bits – and it’s a pre-prepared product.
We will getting some of this for our pantry; such a great thing to have with dips, koftas and the like.
We three are rather joyful to be eating so well and, mostly, so healthily.
Sweets – including baklava – go home with us, while the gozleme and pides will wait for another day.
Noon, 31B Sun Crescent, Sunshine. Phone: 9078 9089
Things are certainly proceeding in a more measured manner these days at Consider The Sauce.
Quite a lot of that is due to events that have affected everybody and everything; and quite a lot, too, is down to me leaving the regular workforce.
So a couple of posts a month seems fine.
Urging these tendencies on is also about myself losing the hell-for-leather outlook that years back saw me hoisting four or five posts a week.
Losing, too, a hard-edged competitiveness I am happy to relinquish.
I no longer endlessly peruse news and reviews in other media outlets or keep myself up to date with what other bloggers are doing.
Yet while the stats tell me visitation and reader numbers are well down on a half a dozen years ago, it’s clear there remains a hardcore of readers, fans, supporters and friends who continue the journey with me and us.
These fine folks are by now, I’m sure, well aware of and comfortable with our modus operandi.
Stated simply, I think it’s largely about embracing uncertainty.
Seizing with glee upon the random and whacky!
So that means we often have only a vague idea of where we’ll be dining when we head out to eat.
And that means, too, being completely unfazed when our destination eatery turns out to be closed – regardless of whether Google or Facebook has informed us otherwise.
Opening hours have, as you all know, become even more random because of staff shortages, so it’s only sensible to be relaxed about the situation.
This kind of approach finds little sympathy with readers such as the gentleman who wrote me a pithy letter of complaint several years ago.
He’d responded to a review – I fully forget of which joint – by booking a table and driving all the way from a distant eastern suburb.
Upon arrival he found … the restaurant closed.
Not a happy camper.
For those happy to embrace the CTS ethos, we recommend Noon Restaurant, a newish place in Sunshine serving Sudanese food.
We’ve been frequent Sun Crescent visitors over the years to eat at such places as Panjali and Spicy King, but the premises occupied by Noon had escaped my notice because they’re tucked away some distance from the main grouping of shops.
Bennie tells me it used to be a tradies-style cafe.
It’s a huge place, but is doing quite good business on the mid-week night we visit.
That is correct.
But between the items that are listed on the eatery’s DoorDash page and much arm-waving and consultation with our friendly server we get there.
She, by the way, is from Nepal – which strikes us as another splendid piece of random.
She intuits, correctly, that we – myself, Bennie and Veronica, joined by Justin later on – are pretty much open to anything and everything.
So that’s what we are presented with.
And what we are presented with is some very tasty tucker bearing a resemblance to other North African (and Middle eastern) food we have enjoyed, with a few engaging twists thrown in.
We dine without any pricing being made known to us, trusting in the process.
Lamb shank soup is tasty and packed with a robust sheepy flavour of the kind we are so familiar with from similar concoctions served in Flemington’s Somalian restaurants.
Though this one is quite a bit more fatty!
Then it’s on to some serious pot food – served in the manner of dips.
Two have meaty lamb bones residing within and at least one is made with okra.
They’re all good!
These are Bennie’s favourite part of the meal!
Served with these stews is a Sudanese-style flatbread.
A bit like a thinner, drier version of injera, it’s just right for the job at hand.
We’re also provided with some chubby Turkish-stlyle rolls. They’re fresh and warm and fit right in.
These super dooper barbecued lamb pieces, some on the bone.
They’re well cooked and some would consider the meat tough.
I’ll settle on “nicely chewy”!
They remind us of the cumin-laced lamb skewers we enjoy in regional-style Chinese places.
A word on the salad side trimmings served with our various dishes: They are all excellent, fresh and crunchy – something we invariably find to be the case in African eating places of various persuasions.
Justin and I make quick work of the fish – two tilapia, deep fried.
I’m usually quite snooty about these farmed fish, but these are fine.
Plenty of bones, but also plenty of mildly flavoured flesh.
Bennie and Veronica, not being the fishy kind, sit out the tilapia.
But they’re not done yet!
They spy a passing lamb shank, very much like the look of it, so order one for us all.
It’s the biggest shank I’ve ever laid eyes on – more like a smallish leg, really.
The meat is, it seems to me, very plain and almost unseasoned – but still yummy.
It’s been quite a feast – one for which we pay a few cents above $100, an amount that seems entirely reasonable for feeding four of us darn well.
Coverage of Braybrook at Consider The Sauce, through the years, has been scant.
Well, apart from those eateries we have enjoyed on the Ballarat Road aspect of the suburb.
Nevertheless, every time we are scooting up South Road, bound for Sunshine or elsewhere, we inevitably grab a fleeting glimpse as we pass of the gorgeous old shopping strip on Beachley Street, always hoping for some kind of food stuff to be going on there.
Now there is in the form of Haiki & Co.
Actually, there has long been foodiness here, though not with neon lights blazing.
Haiki & Co itself resides in the premises formerly occupied by Romu, which afaik was a rather ritzy and much-loved take-home/catering sort of affair.
And, as we discover during a guided tour of the precinct by one of the Haiki owners, other Beachley Street shops are active in the fields of baking and chocolate.
The early morning aromas can be, I’m told, rather intoxicating.
Haiki & Co is a cafe – of sorts.
Internally, it is – as it now stands – all kitchen, with eat-there options down to a couple of outdoor tables.
This means the joint is very reliant on take-away and delivery services – it is on Uber Eats and DoorDash.
And while regular dinner hours are being observed, impromptu openings for the odd lunch service are being posted on the eatery’s Facebook page.
So it behooves food fans to follow them there for updates.
We have – and that’s how we end up enjoying a sunshiney lunch on a public holiday.
And what a fine time we have.
The food we enjoy is very good, remarkably priced – and the whole deal is pretty wonderful.
From the entree list (all priced at $8, see full menu below) we start with cauliflower falafel with babaganoush.
They are excellent in every way, containing combining traditional chick peas with cauliflower in superbly deep-fried packages.
Such skilled frying so early in the day – we are the day’s first customers – augurs well, we reckon, for the chips to be served with Bennie’s soon-come burger.
We are happily compensated for being served three falafels (instead of the listed four) by being presented with the missing patty accompanied by a serve of samosas.
These, too, are terrific.
The chips that come with Bennie’s chicken burger are just as good as we expected.
The burger itself ($16, bacon $2 extra) is a no-fuss, straight-up tidy piece of work.
Nothing too flash – just good ingredients well done.
My Asian-style linguini ($18) is a treat of a quite different sort – but just as lovely.
The noodles aside, the main ingredients are chicken and mushrooms.
It looks a bit like pad thai or char kway teow and tastes like neither – which as it should be.
It’s only mildly spiced, despite the many chilli flecks mixed through.
Haiki & Co is a massively cool and friendly place to dine – or get takeaway!
We are three, we are headed for Footscray – and we are aiming to chow down on some ace Ethiopian tucker.
Ahhh, as it turns out, the restaurant we have in mind is unavailable to us.
So we do what we always do in such situations – we walk about half a block up the street and eat somewhere else.
It’s that easy – and ongoing testament to the sublime luxury of living so close to Footscray and a number of other westie suburbs with high food concentrations.
Actually, in this case, way more than mere yum and into realms of giddy delight.
It’s fair to say the Ethiopian we enjoy at Abol is as good as any we’ve consumed.
Abol African has been open about a month when we visit.
Boss man Abel tells me that prior to this he ran Jambo, just up the road apiece, for about seven years.
The menu at Abol African has a section devoted to fish dishes.
That aside, though, it is basically an out-and-out vegan place (see full menu below).
That’s fine by me – even if we’d paid more attention to the veg-inclined signage outside, I still would’ve insisted we eat here just out of curiosity.
And besides, it’s strongly embedded within me that on the occasion of countless previous Ethiopian meals, the meat dishes have been enjoyable but it’s been non-meat side things that has really been the heart and soul of the food.
The fare we enjoy at Abol Africa is emphatically in line with such ruminations.
It is spectacular.
We order one of four combo selections – the Hudade Special for two to three people at a cost $40 all up.
That turns out to be an extraordinary bargain!
One of the menu-listed dishes is missing from our platter, but we barely notice.
The rest are superbly cooked dishes, some familiar, some less so.
The lentil salad (azila), seen at centre, is zingy and brilliant.
The shiro wot (chick pea stew, far right) is a smooth delight.
The duba wot (pumpkin stew, far left) is fine, too, but me ‘n’ Bennie – being not pumpkin fans – mostly leave that to Veronica.
But it is all wonderful, all extremely delicious, with a highlight being the profoundly spuddy dinich wot (potato stew, top right).
And we get extra injera at no extra cost.
Before tucking into our main feast, we devour three sambusa ($3 each).
Again, these are state-of-the-art and as good as any we’ve experienced.
Crisp, ungreasy, beaut.
And, yes, despite the filling being an unmeaty mix of lentils, onion and spices.
Abel tells me he uses a mix of avocado, olive and mixed vegetable oils in his cooking.
Look, we love/enjoy a good old doro wot swimming in oil/butter as much as anybody.
But the Abol Africa cookinge leaves us with an equally profound sense of having eaten well and healthily.
Abol Africa is a pleasant, bright space to spend some time – and there is a fine-looking and tabled garden/outdoor section out back.
A sit-down restaurant/cafe-style meal at Chatkora’s will have to wait, it seems, another couple of months.
But they ARE using the real-deal kitchen out the back – and maybe that’s the reason our Sunday lunch there is the best ever Chatkora’s feed we’ve enjoyed.
The staff being freed, after all, from the confines of the truck now parked out the back at Unit 4, 45 Leakes Road, Laverton North.
Or maybe the Chatkora’s Indian street food is simply very, very excellent.
Which it is.
Our latest visit is an opportunity to reflect on how this eating house has become such a charming, yummy part of our lives.
We do it for weekend lunches – when the roads involved are pretty much free of the industrial-strength traffic that chokes them on week days.
And even, I suspect, week nights.
It’s a sweet weekend romp – along Geelong Road, Grieve Parade, Dohertys Road, Foundation Road and then back a wee ways on Leakes Road, thus avoiding any potential bottle necks associated with Lavo Market.
No in-house seating/tables? No problem – we’re happy to prop at the rear end of our car, it’s dusty boot acting as a table.
My choice this time is Old Delhi matar kulcha ($16.95, top photo).
It is a riot of flavour/texture explosions and supremely enjoyable.
The raita is studded with puffed rice.
The matar curry is wonderful – and made using, maybe, yellow split peas; as opposed to the chick peas that feature in several other Chatkora’s dishes.
The flatbread – kulcha – is quite different from most other Indian flatbreads in that it is leavened. It is a little fluffy and all crash hot.
As with my lunch selection, a key component of Bennie’s pav bhaji ($16.99) are the two kinds of red onion – raw chpped chips and pickled strands – which seal the deal on texture.
Pav bhaji can be eaten as a kind-of burger, with the thick veg curry gravy slathered between the soft buns/pav.
Or eaten in the usual curry-with-flatbread style, as Benniedoes.
Master Parotta is a sooper dooper Ballarat Road food truck.
It serves Malaysian food.
Malaysian food that is also, in many ways, Indian food – something along the lines of Panjali in Sunshine and Orange Hat in Altona.
Unsurprisingly, there are also similarities with Parotta Station in Brooklyn – though that is more your straight-up Indian eatery.
We love musing upon and enjoying the overlapping commonalities between these sorts of places – though really, referring to Indian food” or “Malaysian food” can seem a little silly when the lines are so blurred.
Same dynamic applies, more broadly, from the north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean right through to Japan.
The red lines drawn in colonial times – and sometimes redrawn since then – are meaningless to countless generations of cooks.
Master Parotta, where the food is halal, has some seating and parking available, though I’m led to believe things can pick up here later at night, so both may then become scarce.
Don’t let that put you off!
We – myself, Bennie, Juz – eat very, very well.
With just one unknowing mis-step that will be rectified next visit – and that’ll be soon.
Lamb murtabak ($16) is wonderful in every way, a key ingredient being the slightly under-cooked onion that provides crunchy texture.
The parotta here come flatbread style – as opposed to the escargot/scroll versions at Parotta station.
Two egg parotta ($6.50 each) are excellent.
Important to note: The gravy/sauce that is served with both our murtabak and egg parottas is very good.
A sort of mix of veg and dal, it has more substance than the runny gravies we know from elsewhere.
As such, two egg parottas – or two of the other varieties (see menu below) – can constitute a light and affordable meal all on their own.
Mee goreng ($12) is fine, mildly spiced, nice and moist and with shredded/cubed chicken throughout.
Parotta Cobra is the most expensive dish on the Master Parotta menu at $20.
It’s described as “2pcs parotta, half boil egg, and come with chicken varuval”.
We enjoy it muchly, but rather wish the curry and egg (fried, not boiled) were not placed atop the parotta in a tub.
The curry has a heap of bones but is very tasty; and wetter than varuval we’ve enjoyed elsewhere.
Next time, we’ll order plain parottas ($8 for two) and a serve of one of the curries ($10-$12) so we can do the combining/mixing ourselves.
Avliya Balkan Cuisine & Desserts, Shop 78, Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre, Point Cook. Phone: 0423 470 458
In a couple of decades adventuring all over, around and in Melbourne’s west, we have enjoyed quite a range of Balkan food.
But in a shopping centre? This is a new wrinkle for us.
We discover that Avilaya is tucked away in a corner of Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre in a cool spot that offers both indoor and outdoor dining.
The white and somewhat frilly ambience at first seems to indicate to us that it’ll be the kind of place we will for sure be offered to us coffee and sweets/cakes – and maybe burek if we’re lucky.
We’re wrong about that – Avliya offers a much more in-depth and broad range.
Even better, there’s a deep love of food going on here, evinced by the fact that everything – including bread and several kinds of side dishes and dips – is made in house.
Trahana ($7.50), listed as “traditional Balkan soup”, is a nice light starter – beef broth-based, it comes across as a sort of near relative of chicken noodle soup.
My Spicy Balkan Burger ($22.50) looks rather plain and unadorned, eh?
But it doesn’t eat that way at all!
The chargrilled bread remains moist and all delicious, the nicely-spicy patty is great and all the bits and pieces – including excellent and very hot crinkle-cut chips – are fine.
It barely needs the house-made ajvar I am nevertheless provided at no extra cost.
The more substantial offerings here are really big; I finish precisely three quarters of my burger, despite commencing with a robust appetite.
Bennie enjoys his by-request chipless Bosnian Souvlaki ($15.95), which is served with a nice side salad and tazatziki.
Me, I’m sort conflicted by the mixture of chicken and cheese!
Our second visit to Avliya is the result of a rather wonderful spontaneous accident – we’re in Point Cook having picked up a Gumtree comic purchase.
It’s hot and we’re a bit stumped for a lunch location and in no mood for going out of our way – so we plump for Balkan and braving the potentially ugly parking/crowd situation at Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre.
All that proves a breeze and we once again appreciate Avliya’s coolish and secluded location in the centre scheme of things.
And food-wise we do even better – this time taking the route of the aforementioned burek.
They are awesome – the best we’ve had!
We share the standard beef model (above, $15.95), served with a tub of yoghurt, and …
… and the zeljanica ($12.95), which we’re told is stuffed mainly with cottage cheese, some rictotta and a little bit of egg. The side tub of tomato goes just right!
Our goodness parcels make for a superb and lightish lunch.
One day we will journey to Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre intent on trying at least a couple of Avliya’s sweet treats/cakes – they really do look awesome.
But the substantial size of the meals at both our lunch visits renders them a no-go zone for us.
Bar Romanee, 25 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 8451
In which we upscale one of our favourite lockdown treats into a real-deal dine-in experience.
Along with park picnics of takeaway food in slightly more far-flung environs of the west, we survived the most recent Melbourne lockdown thanks to several partakings of Bar Romanee’s Monday steak night.
Up to that point, we’d tried Bar Romanee for nothing more than a Cup Day steak sanger, also consumed in a nearby park – it was very good, too.
More in-depth exploration of the swish, clubbish joint being delayed, of course, by circumstances.
But our takeaway Monday steaks?
Hoo boy, they were utterly excellent – we both happily concluded they were the best we’d had from anywhere at any price at any time.
Being eaten on cardboard perhaps even heightening that sense of deluxe, our steakswere joined by good chips and wonderful slaw.
My suspicion that steak – and chips – were not suitable takeaway material was ameliorated by teamwork and the closeness of Bar Romanee to our home.
Park outside, grab the beefy goodies and then swiftly home – in each case, we were dining in style in well under five minutes.
But now things are a bit looser, we’re actually in the house on a Monday night.
What a lovely place this is!
There’s a Yarraville buzz on and there’s a nice crowd in, yet the buzz is not rowdy, noisy or oppressive in any way.
We’re told by our wait person that some Monday punters go with picks from the broader menu, but just about everyone we see around us is steaking it.
So we do, too.
It’s all brilliant – medium rare genius, a rich sauce, chips that are hotter than we’d managed to rush into our living room and superb slaw, studded with cuke and radish slices and scented with dill.
Look, we know there are other steak specials around – we’ve even tried some of them.
And some of them are significantly cheaper than the $30 Romanee price.
But in terms of deliciousness and value for money, Romanee is unbeatable.
Journeying to Myth Cafe – for the first of two visits – we muse about its location.
West Melbourne? Qualifies as western suburbs under our always rubbery definition!
West Melbourne? Kinda handy to our inner-west home, actually – a nifty, sweet drive that is easier to navigate than, say, St Albans or Werribee.
West Melbourne? Close to North Melbourne shops and Victoria Market, but not a part of either; just sort of a small nowhere it seems to us.
So despite the ease of our journey, we wonder: Why?
We soon find out.
Myth Cafe is located in shop-level premises of a modern apartment block. There are others like it nearby, as well as many cool houses, many of two levels, of the type so prevalent in the residential areas that fringe Melbourne’s CBD.
Moreover, this housing – and local workplaces – seem to provide a handsome supply of Myth Cafe customers.
For good reason – the Myth Cafe food is excellent. It is very affordable.It’s a small and newish operation that is destined to soar and is already garnering many hot google reviews.
Out advice: Get in before the hordes respond to inevitable coverage in Broadsheet, Timeout or similar.
Delivering Malaysian food, Myth Cafe is still in the process of marshalling its resources.
So far, this means its specialty – yong tau foo, “a very Chinese (Hakka) dish common in Malaysia” (thanks to a knowledgeable friend for insights on the food here!) – is served up during the week, with a small range of broader and more diverse dishes available on Sundays.
But sometimes on other days, too! It’s a changeable situation.
More advice: Lock into Myth Cafe’s FB page, on which its crew regularly updates what’s what and what’s to be got.
Yong tau foo? Ha! We’re very cool with that, having enjoyed it quite a few times at M Yong Tofu in Flemington and a few other places, too.
Bennie enjoys the chee cheung fun premium ($17.50), with the various surimi-style stuffed items surrounding wide noodles bathing a tangy bean paste-based sauce.
For me, it’s the same yong tau foo with curry noodles ($15.80) – it, too, is most excellent!
Predictably, we both enjoy the luscious stuffed eggplant the most, but all the yong tau foo is superb.
The great thing about it here is that despite all being made from the same base ingredients of smashed pork/fish/tofu, each piece/variety seems to have a different texture and even flavour.
Cooking smarts in abundance!
On our follow-up visit, we respond to FB notification that two of the Sunday specials will be available to us as week-day lunches!
Stonking good they are, too!
My khao jam ($17) is a marvel of flavour and texture – it’s a sort of rice-based salad plate!
It’s served with fried chicken, salted egg (very, very, very salty!), fish crackers and various kinds of sublime crunchiness.
Bennie’s nasi kak wok ($15) is less flamboyant, but no less enjoyable.
Chicken curry and marinated fried chicken are accompanied by steamed rice and accesssories.
He particularly enjoys the marinated chicken.
And not for the first time, we muse that when it comes to fried chicken of various kinds, countries that start with the letters M and J generally have it all over those that start with US!
Blazed Bar & Grill, Sunshine Motor Inn, 608 Ballarat Road, Aredeer. Phone: 9363 1717
We’re not real big on steaks.
Maybe because so much of the new-world food we love chops beasties up into bits more akin to bite-size.
But maybe, also, because we’ve had some very average steaks in the west, ones that have sat lumpen and leaden in our tummies.
But we can be persuaded.
During the most recent lockdown, for example, a couple of times we indulged in the Monday night $30 special from Romanee in Yarraville – perfectly cooked steak, fries, slaw, whipped home and being consumed within a couple of minutes.
I believe the same deal – eat in or eat out – continues to be offered.
Then there is Blazed Bar & Grill.
This has become a scratch that demands to be itched and I eventually co-opt Justin into a visit.
Part of it is the online reviews – though I know well enough not to lend them too much credence.
Part of it, too, is the constant CTS desire to eat and blog in the less congested eating spaces of the west.
But mostly, I confess, I am simply tickled about the idea of chowing down in a motel – especially one located on an otherwise mostly inedible, “nowhere” part of Ballarat Road, just south the ring Road.
My slightly dodgy hunch and enthusiasm end up being fully vindicated – and Justin, too, is won over, despite initial bemusement-verging-on-wariness.
We are impressed right from the start thanks to the friendly staff and, soon thereafter, the presence of chef Varun Mathur.
Varun explains the sourcing and grading of the house specialty – steaks – and dispenses advice with genuine warmth that sets us at ease.
We are seated in the huge dining room, which is deserted on an early week night. There’s a few customers in the adjacent bar who presumably belong to the numerous trucks parked all over.
Then – steaks for two it is.
Justin is very happy with his sirloin ($36), remarking that it is very, um, unusual to be presented with his steak cooked precisely rare as ordered and in this kind of setting.
The chips are good and the salad much more varied, crisp and colourful than predicted.
We’d cynically expected a typically sloppy balsamic-based dressing, but instead he gets a good mix of coriander, lime, mint, chilli and vinegar.
My ribeye ($38) delights in every way – cooked medium rare, juicy, delicious.
I would’ve preferred the chips/salad combo to accompany, but choose the veg option simply for variety’s sake.
And I am stoked about that.
The saffron mash and chargrilled mushroons and asparagus are excellent.
Blazed has been a wonderful – and somewhat unexpected – experience.
But there are aspects here worthy of a return visit or three.
The dessert list’s vanilla slice for one.
And the $20 burger-and-chips combos available in the bar.
In the meantime, we depart with a simple conclusion – Blazed does meat biz every bit as well and in every way as at least three inner-west pub-type venues of high repute we can think of.
Experiencing another post-lockdown catch-up/chow-down.
Presumably it’ll be the last one.
But so nutty have the past few years been, no one would bet on that outcome, hey?
In any case, it is with no little joy that Bennie, Veronica and my own self head to Niddrie to meet up with the famous Nat Stockley.
It’s been a long time between drinks. Or meals.
We’ve had good meals in this neighbourhood, but it always strikes us that it presents as the sort of strip that should positively bristle with great eats yet always falls some way short of that promise.
No matter – we’re definitely up for some Syrian food.
What are we expecting?
Quite a lot that is familiar from our various other numerous outings involving Middle Eastern and/or Mediteranean food across the west.
And, hopefully, some pot/oven stuff that is less likely to be seen in a restaurant setting.
That’s what we hope for – and that’s what we get.
The service is good and our food arrives with admirable swiftness.
As ever, we really enjoy any iteration of the tradition found across many food cultures of serving guests dishes that simply arrive without being ordered.
Think of lamb broth and bananas in Somalian eateries. Or little, tasty appetisers at good Japanese places.
At Shaam, we get a good fatoush and …
… and a creamy hummus in that tradition. Lovely! These are priced, respectively, at $14 and $13 if specifically ordered.
Before moving on to our three main dishes, we indulge is some more little dishes.
Kibbeh traboulsye ($3 each) are fine and meaty, though could’ve been a bit more that just barely warm at their centres.
We don’t like wedges. Generally hate them, in fact.
So we are bemused and delighted when our order of batata harrah ($13) turns out to be … wedges.
Their deliciousness is lifted, a lot, by the piquant “traditional dressing” of chilli, garlic and coriander.
On to our main courses …
The shish tawook platter ($27) has a familiar look to it, with all the nuts and bolts in good working order.
The chicken meat is a little dry and very garlicky.
Pot food, unrestaurant offerings?
They come to us as Syrian specials of the day as indicated on the menu.
I endeavour to discover their names and get only the non-evocative “daily dish meat” (top photo, $25) and …
… “daily dish chicken” ($22).
The lamb shank dish comes with an intense tomato sauce liberally studded with okra.
The chicken dish is the best of our meal.
The plain maryland swims in a wonderful and very lemony spinach sauce.
Both these dishes are rather austere in terms of seasoning and in relation to the sort of spicy, fiery food we devour so frequently.
But we relish the righteous home-cooking vibes.And the superb rice/pasta.
We’ve enjoyed our meal very much and reckon a bill total that clocks in at just under $30 per person – including a round of drinks – is pretty darn good.