What’s up in Willy?

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Raga Indian Cuisine, 223 Nelson Place, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 6982

A couple of years ago, Consider The Sauce was very excited to try – for the first time – the funky South African workingman’s soul food that is bunny chow.

Sadly, before I got around to a return visit to Sanctuary Lakes shopping centre for a return encounter, the humble cafe concerned closed down.

(See here for that story and some background on bunny chows!)

So I was delighted, as we ambled away from enjoying Nelson Place’s new Italian joint, that Bennie noticed the above notice in the window of a nearby Indian eatery.

At the first available, opportunity I’m there.

After I order my lamb bunny, the staff/management soon work out I’m “that guy with that camera” – and I am unsurprised to learn Raga has ties to the now defunct Point Cook cafe at which I first tried a bunny chow!

 

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So I am brought a complementary dish courtesy of the chef.

Quail 65 is a knockout – and probably the best Indo-Chinese dish I’ve ever tried.

The rotund fritters are wonderfully crisp and nicely salty on the outside, while the shredded quail meat inside is fabulous.

All is attended by lovely, spiced cucumber noodles.

They are so good!

But I am mindful of leaving room for my bunny so donate the remaining two fritters to the grateful inhabitants of the adjacent table.

 

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Now take it as given that my experience with bunny chows is limited … but that said, I reckon my Raga lamb bunny is a killer delight.

The accompanying salad, served in a giant prawn cracker, is just right.

The lamb curry is plentiful, very spicy and studded with tender spud chunks.

This time around, knowing a little of bunny lore, I make only small use of cutlery, mostly use my hands and love every mouthful of curry and bread.

But it’s a big meal and I call a halt to my feasting after consuming all the curry and about half the bread.

The price?

I suspect experienced Durban bunny hounds will snort with derision at paying $17.50 for what is ostensibly blue-collar street food.

But I don’t have any problem with the price tag – it’s a good investment, IMO, for a fine meal.

And especially given this is probably the only place in Melbourne, and even within Australia, that serves bunny chows.

After all the cafe-style Indian places we frequent, it’s been real nice to spend some time in a proper, well-appointed Indian restaurant.

And the thalis ordered by a happy a neighbouring table seem like a great deal. The thalis, like the bunnies, are served on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The mint/tamarind sauce that came with my papadums was adorned with latte art!

 

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Nelson Place, top stuff

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Mascalzone Pizzeria Osteria Artigiana, 217-219 Nelson Plavce, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 7269

Mascalzone has been open about three weeks, replacing one of the nondescript venues for which Nelson Place is mostly known, that one replacing another before it.

Mascalzone is sure step in a good direction.

It’s done out brightly with an accent on Italian in decor, ambience and food.

There’s a big brick oven at the rear and a display cabinet of fine-looking antipasto goodies at the front.

We find the service for Saturday lunch is terrific and our food is brought to us in a timely fashion.

Mascalzone’s menu (see below) is a smartly tight line-up of modern-classic Italiana that extends from starters through pizzas, pasta and salads to dolci.

 

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When checking out such joints as this for the first time, we routinely choose one of the basic pizzas just to see how they shape up.

In this case that means the napoletana ($18) picked from a list of nine red pizzas and five of the white kind.

Our pizza is very nice with simplicity being the thing and the toppings all of good quality and in the right proportions.

The crusts are have a wonderful charred thing going on.

 

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From the list of five pastas, we select the pappardelle al ragu di agnello with roasted asparagus ($22).

At first, the lamb shoulder sauce and the white pasta present as so pale as to be pallid.

But there’s do doubting the home-style depth of flavours in the meat, the attendant juices and the excellent cheese gratings.

All this rests upon and about truly wonderful house-made pasta that is al dente perfection.

 

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Tiramisu ($10) is a dream of cream and not much else – but we love it anyway.

Next time we’ll be up for sharing one of the two antipasti platters.

And there will be a next time.

Nelson Place, food destination.

 

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Yum cha by Kenny – no relation

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Kenny’s Yum Cha House, 34 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8688

The premises recently occupied by Kenny’s Yum Cha House was previously, and for many years, a rather nondescript noodle shop we never tried.

A new family has taken over, headed by dumpling-making dad Kenny, and they’re doing very nice things.

I confess to having tried “hokkien noodles” a few weeks before Christmas and being unimpressed.

But then a home delivery of some of yum cha items – and very good they were – re-sparked my interest.

 

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So heading to Ferguson Street with two regular CTS companions, I am filled with hope.

But there is cause to be cautious in terms of optimism.

After all, normal expectations for yum cha goodies served in such a humble, corner store setting would normally fall into the realms of cheap, enjoyable but surely frozen and mass-produced dumplings and the like.

 

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What we enjoy at Kenny’s Yum Cha House is way, way better than that – top-notch yum cha that pretty much matches what you’ll find at any of the storied yum cha places around town.

In fact, this place sort of redefines yum cha and how it can work.

Yum cha doesn’t have to be Sunday brunch; it can also easily be dinner.

Great yum cha doesn’t have to involve trollies; it can just as easily be a la carte.

In truth, it can even be argued that ordering as you go is preferable.

 

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Finally, Kenny’s Yum Cha House proves beaut yum cha doesn’t have to be served in a vast barn; a smallish neighbourhood enterprise can do it, too.

Everything we have is good or better:

  • Pan-fried dumplings ($8 for five).
  • Pork dumplings ($5.50 for three).
  • Chive prawn dumplings ($6 for three).
  • Pork ribs in black bean sauce ($5.50).
  • Chicken feet in black bean sauce ($5).

Only the last mentioned are in any way less than excellent; they lack a certain spicy zing.

 

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As well, as we find that assessing a yum cha joint can at least partially be done on the basis of greenery, we order Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce ($12) – and that, too, is lovely.

 

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It’s been a rather smashing meal – cheap, easy, impromptu (we pay $16 per person).

And on a Monday night in Williamstown!

 

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Kenny meets Kenny.

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Meal of the week No.25: Kiosk by d’Asporto

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Getting all excited about the impending opening of Kiosk by d’Asporto at Williamstown Beach – including doing a story for The Age and then doing a blog story about doing a story for The Age – is all good and well.

But it’s not in the realms of proof-is-in-the-eating.

 

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So lunch it is for us.

We choose a beaut day for it – sunny but not hot, precious little wind and not too many people around.

There’s two tables adjacent the kiosk but we grab two of the stools right up close.

 

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Bennie has one the gorgeous-looking panini on display – pulled pork with Italian coleslaw ($10).

It’s fabulous!

The bread is fresh, the pork has great flavour and the slaw has nuts and dried fruit.

 

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I’m not sure how Italian the fish and chips ($10) are but I love them anyway.

It’s easy to do so as they’re hot and crisp and delicious.

The chunk of flake is of modest proportions but is all meaty perfection.

 

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Also freshly fried are the arancini – the larger ones of potato and cheese ($3 each), the smaller of a sort of rice-y bolognese with cheese ($1.80 or four or $6).

They are totally yummy taste balls.

 

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The fine display of sweet, baked goodies – and the coffee and the gelati – will have to wait for another day.

It’s only one meal – but Kiosk by d’Asporto really does feel like a game-changer for westside beachside eating.

Kiosk by d’Asporto – photo shoot for The Age

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Read The Age story here.

Right from the time we got a nice reader’s tip that something good was happening at Williamstown Beach, Consider The Sauce has been following the doings there with high interest.

 

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Not just because stuffing the lifesaving club’s kiosk with really good Italian street food is such a fine idea but also because the lovely crew from Pizza d’Asporto is up to their necks in making it happen.

 

 

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As well, such a brilliant idea is it that selling it as a “Just Opened” feature for The Age was a breeze with that rag’s food editor Roslyn Grundy.

 

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Today’s the day for the photo shoot.

 

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I don’t expect to be playing a particularly active role – but it is my story and besides, you know, it’s fun.

 

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Claudio, Antoinetta, Ros, myself and everyone else involved has been most fervently hoping for fine, sunny weather.

 

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That we don’t get.

 

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But Melbourne being mercurial Melbourne, we’re all pretty happy with the overcast but warm, windless conditions.

 

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Oh yes, it could be way worse.

 

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Figuring the photographer was booked for 1.30pm, I’m a bit shocked to bowl up at 1pm to find the shoot already underway.

 

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I am also aghast that the kiosk is chockers with all sorts of beautiful food and that all hands are on deck – when the official opening is still a week away.

 

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But while it’s likely only two pics will be used to accompany my yarn, truth is this is also a handy trial run for the entire Kiosk by d’Asporto operation.

 

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I have a nice old time chatting to all and sundry as photographer Wayne, his wife, Nicole, and Antoinetta get the business done with professional aplomb.

 

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Then we eat!

Read The Age story here.

 

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Meal of the week No.17: Prince Albert Hotel

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At about the time CTS enjoyed a lovely meal at Williamstown’s Prince Albert Hotel we became aware they were soon to join the ranks of those offering Sunday roast meals.

Of course we had to check it out!

Bennie and I subsequently turned up and went away disappointed as we’d arrivedĀ a week too early for the roast introduction.

This Sunday, though, I am even more in the mood as it’s a chilly and rain-blasted day.

The pub is warm, I pay for my roast pork plate, wait and am then blown away.

The Prince Albert is setting a new benchmark if this lunch is anything to go by.

The above costs $15 and it’s wonderful.

A handful of crisp spud chunks.

Another handful of delicious, whole roast baby carrots.

Two meaty slabs of pork with tremendous flavour, not as fall-apart tender perhaps as rare roast beef or lamb but superb eating nevertheless.

A mound on the side of fine, mustard-laced slaw.

Nice tub of jus for dipping.

Downsides?

The apple sauce is cold and the pork skin is chewy rather than crisp.

But so good is my lunch I feel churlish even mentioning them.

Wow.

See earlier story here.

Santorini/West Welcome Wagon/CTS benefit – the wrap

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The fundraiser night for West Welcome Wagon hosted by Santorini Greek restaurant in Williamstown and Consider The Sauce was a hoot and a wonderful success.

Many, many thanks to Craig and the Santorini crew for making us so welcome and filling us up with so much fantastic food!

After subtracting booking fees and a very generous per person fee for food, West Welcome Wagon will be getting just a tad under $1000.

 

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Some very generous bidders on our three auction lots put another $500 or so in the kitty.

So all up, West Welcome Wagon will get more than $1400 to help continue its amazing work with asylum seekers in the western suburbs.

 

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So thanks, too, to Santorini (again!), La Morenita/Latin Foods & Wines and Brother Nancy for their generosity in terms of auction goodies.

 

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And a final big “thank you” to all who supported this event!

We’re already discussing the next one.

 

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