Burger bounty

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5 Districts NY, Unit 5/2 Thomsons Road, Keilor Park. Phone: 9193 6616

A black and rather brutal-looking building in a brand new industrial estate in Keilor Park may not seem like a place for some choice eating.

Bennie certainly thinks that’s the case.

So he is surprised – truth be known, I am, too – that 5 Districts is actually doing quite brisk trade during a Monday lunch session, humming along straight after AFL grand final weekend.

That Monday lunch business and a close watch on this new establishment’s social media in the past few weeks would seem to vindicate management’s commitment to this location – it’s a winner in a broader neighbourhood obviously crying out for just such a venue.

 

 

There’s a lot of room inside, including a variety of eating spaces, communal tables, stools and chairs.

The upstairs/outdoors area is already a hit at the wind-down end of the week with locals and employees of the many nearby businesses.

Based on an early menu seen by CTS while getting up a preview story a couple of months ago, we have been expecting a much more lavish menu including dude food heavyweights such as ribs and fried chicken.

Instead, we discover the menu (see below) has been pared back for the settling-in period.

That’s fine by us – burgers it is.

 

 

Bennie’s Piggy Smalls ($17) – with heaps of excellent shredded pork and equally generous quantities of apple slaw – is a doozy and goes down right fine.

 

 

In some ways, my selection of the place’s basic burger – the County Classic ($14) – is even more impressive.

With beef, cheese, bacon, leaves, tomato and “Districts special sauce”, this is your regulation burger done very well.

The fine cow patty, excellent, is surrounded by be equally good ingredients.

Nothing flash – just sturdy, tasty simplicity.

 

 

We find sides of fries with our burgers ($4) are good rather than great – it is very early in the week and the day, so we refrain from being too judgmental.

We do enjoy dunking our fries in the various hot sauces available – and find a tub of the mildly-spiced, house-made concoction as good as any of them.

5 Districts NY gets the thumbs up from us!

 

Gami whammy

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Gami Chicken & Beer, Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre, Point Cook. Phone: 7379 7288

We’ve had us some fine fried chicken of late – notably at fine Korean establishments in Laverton and Williams Landing.

Among the feedback we received following those two stories was a robust suggestion we check out the fried chicken served by the Gami chain.

OK, we’re up for that – even if we are always going to have a natural affinity for smaller and/or family businesses.

So off we toddle to Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre and the newish Gami outlet there.

This is not a neighbourhood into which we stray often – but today we’re happy for the change.

 

 

The Gami outlet is not in the centre proper – instead it is perched alongside Point Cook Road.

Inside, it has many of the hallmarks and vibes of a fast food eatery – and even looks a little like the tarted up interior of a shipping container.

But this is a real-deal restaurant, with good table service during a medium busy lunch rush.

We choose from the separate lunch list (see below) and its tighter, slightly cheaper roll call of dishes from the main menu.

On the menu proper there are plenty pf options – salad, stews and so on – that do not involve deep-fried poultry.

 

 

After ordering, we are presented with two small, complementary dishes to keep us busy.

Sweetish pickled radish and … does anyone know what these stubby Korean versions grissini are called?

In any case, they’re a nice time filler.

 

 

A small side of chips ($4.50) are hot, good and just a little on the chewy side.

And, yep, that’s regular tomato sauce.

 

 

Bennie is happy with his Gami chicken burger and chips ($15.50).

It has good, crisp chicken and a heap of crunchy cabbage.

 

 

But I suspect he envies my half boneless chicken ($18, dinner price $19.50) and its mix of thigh and chicken pieces.

And so he should – this is fabulous fried chook, every bit as good as that provided by the two Korean restaurants cited at the start of this story.

Some of the breast pieces are tending towards dry, but not unforgivably so, and this is also a generous serve, bigger than it appears at first glance.

Alongside is a very fine and spicy dipping sauce.

There’s also more of that fresh and crunchy cabbage, anointed with a mix of mayo and, yes, that’s regular tomato sauce.

I’m pleasantly surprised at how well this lubricating duo works.

 

Superb Japanese food

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

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

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

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

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

It is superb.

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

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

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

 

 

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

How good – and gorgeous – is this?

Lovely housemade pickles – a rarity in any Japanese place.

Sashimi with regular pickled ginger.

Ridiculously luscious stewed eggplant.

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

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

Rice and top-class miso soup.

Wow.

 

 

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

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

And so will you.

 

Westie eats goss 20/9/19

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In Seddon, the interesting life story of the old servo on the corner of Charles and Gamon streets is getting a whole new chapter.

 

 

The building is being given a substantial makeover, as is the inviting garden area outside.

New management will continue with the Charles & Gamon name.

 

 

Consider The Sauce’s source – my accountant Ross, actually, he being one of the partners in this new enterpise – says folks should think along the lines of “pizza, beer and wine”.

 

 

Coming soon to Barkly Street is Filipino eatery Chibog West Footscray, sandwiched between a barber shop and Bawarchi.

The posts on the joint’s Facebook page seeking staff describe it as “aiming to bring a mixture of modern and traditional Filipino cuisine to the public in a laid-back gastro pub setting”.

 

 

Yarraville has a brand new, shiny gelati outlet.

The shop at 175 Somerville Road, joins sister Augustus outlets in Pascoe Vale and Essendon.

 

 

Also new to Yarraville – at 13 Anderson Street – is Mabu Mabu.

Described on its website as a “Torres Strait owned and run business with an emphasis on using fresh, seasonal and native ingredients to create beautiful dishes that bring people together”.

The menu – also on the website – lists such intriguing dishes as kangaroo tail bourguignon with native thyme and pepperberries and island fried chicken burger with pickled sea succulents, seaweed mayo and taro chips.

 

 

The aim of the crew behind Grazeland – the food precinct/theme park slated for erection in the vacant lot next to Scienceworks – to be open some time this summer appears to be on the overly ambitious side going by the non-activity at the site.

When contacted by CTS, a Grazeland spokesman said: “We are still waiting for our permit. Nothing else to update but we will keep you posted.”

 

 

Down at the Cotton Mills in Footscray, swish and new Gathered Cafe will soon be joined by Broadford & Barnett, which will inhabit the premises of the long-time cafe/takeaway shop at the mills’ entrance.

Vietnamese Seddon

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Miss An’am, 86a Charles Street, Seddon. Phone: 9048 4283

Consider The Sauce drives Charles and Victoria streets in Seddon so often that there is always the chance we’re taking them for granted.

The same holds true for CTS and other western suburbs roads and streets.

An informal business meeting is profound proof of us not seeing the forest for the trees.

Miss An’am had been blithely considered by us, if at all, as just another inner-west cafe.

But as soon as I walk through the door, I know I am way wrong.

Sure, Miss An’am IS an inner-west cafe – and the coffee is great.

But the perfumed air tells me immediately there is something else going on here.

I smell Vietnam – Vietnamese food and Vietnamese cooking.

Unmistakable.

 

 

Sure enough, the menu (see below) tells a tasty tale.

Along with some regular cafe fare, it lists banh mi, coleslaw and paper rolls.

 

 

But me and Bennie make a beeline for the two dishes on the specials list – though we suspect they are pretty much permanent fixtures.

For him, “authentic Vietnamese beef bourguignon” ($15).

This is, of course, the familiar bo kho.

And a good rendition it is, too, tender carrots chunks matched by plentiful beef cubes in a thinnish broth topped by coriander, the lot aided and abetted by baguette slices.

 

 

For me, pho ga ($16).

This is unusual in that the bean sprouts have already been added – and it looks a little light on.

Not so!

It’s a beaut version of another Vietnamese staple and more substantial than it appears.

The shredded chicken is delicious and plentiful.

The “with Miss An’am recipe” aspect?

Well, that just may be the significant black pepper inclusion and a broth that has a pronounced lemongrass tang, both of which add a welcome a refreshing twist.

Miss An’am is a cosy, cheerful place, with a lovely back dining garden and happy staff.

Vietnamese tucker AND great coffee – this here is a winner and no doubt a cherished “local” for regulars.

 

Back in West Footscray

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Bawarchi Biryanis Melbourne, 551 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9394 2200

In its now near decade-old life, Consider The Sauce has gone through various cycles and obsessions.

For instance, a few years back, we were all over Somalian food and the Flemington outlets and lovely people who provide it.

Not that we’ve turned our back on Somalian food – Bennie and I had a super feed at Mama’s Cuisine just last week.

But in terms of CTS stories, it’s fair to say our focus has moved.

Likewise with Indian food and restaurants, especially those in West Footscray – was a time when we seemed to be methodically ticking of the Barkly Street eateries on a weekly basis.

So it’s good to be back – with CTS A Team member Bennie Weir and Nat Stockley in tow.

We’re here at the invitation of Santhosh Xaveir, proprietor of Bawarchi Biryanis Melbourne (see full disclosure below).

And we’re in familiar surroundings – the premises were formerly a dosa place and, before that, those of Hyderabad Inn, which was written about by CTS on several occasions and was the venue for the first-ever CTS Feast.

 

 

This Bawarchi is tied in terms of nomenclature and branding to a parent company/chain with many restaurants in the US.

I had presumed, though, this would not extend the Melbourne branch’s kitchen and menu.

I am wrong, according to Santhosh – the Melbourne restaurant duplicates, or tries to, the food at all the other branches.

Is this an issue?

I don’t think so – such standardisation gets dicey and worse when junk food unfood is involved.

Indian tucker?

No problem!

And so we eat – choosing an array of dishes of the wide-ranging Bawarchi menu.

 

 

We start with vegetable hot and sour soup ($6.50).

Like all such soups in Indian places with Indo-Chinese food, this is loosely based on the chicken/corn soup style found in Chinese eateries, though this one is more runny, less viscous.

It’s good – but what does surprise us is the heat level.

This is too spicy – mostly from pepper, we suspect – even for us three experienced chilli fans.

 

 

Staying in Indo-Chinese mode, we try gobi Manchurian ($10.50) – deep-fried cauliflower.

Bennie and I like this a bunch, Nat less so.

There’s just enough crunch in the vegetable coating, after being doused in the tangy sauce, to keep dad and son happy.

 

 

A sizzler platter of chicken tikka kebab ($17) is also good, though a bit on the dry side.

 

 

Another sizzler platter – this time of tandoori pomfret ($32) – is the undoubted hit of the night, full and positive proof of the ugly-but-good theory.

Actually, better than good.

There’s a heap of fish flesh in there on both top and bottom of the bones – and it’s all firm yet far from dry, with an earthy, trout-like flavour.

As is often the case, the shredded cabbage into which the juices of the tandoori chicken and fish have dripped, is a nice, delicious bonus.

 

 

Two garlic naan ($3.50) are superb – hot, fresh and glistening with melted ghee.

 

 

Finally, given the name of the place and our three-way fondness for biryani, we have to make sure the rice is nice.

It is.

Gongura goat dum biryani ($16.50) is fine, with all the bits and pieces in place – goat on the bone, tender enough and coated in sorrel; good, darkish rice; half a hard-boiled egg; gravy and raita.

Check out the Bawarchi Biryanis Melbourne – including menu – here.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Bawarchi as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meals. We were free to order whatever we wished. Bawarchi management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to his story. Does anyone actually read this stuff?)

 

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.