Monday, October 31, 2011

Saigon Pho

73 Nicholson St,
Footscray, VIC 3011

We may have been to Saigon Pho before, but certainly not for a while. Across the road from Sen and around the corner from the Little Saigon market, this is the bit of Footscray where apart from a few signs you could almost be in South East Asia...

Inside Saigon Pho is modern and clean with an orange theme to the decor.

As would be expected from the name they specialise in noodle soups along with a few rice dishes.

We both went for varieties of Pho and the bean shoots, basil lemon and chilli arrived promptly.

The vegetarian rice noodle soup, pho chay, was a slight variation from my normal selection, the stock and rice noodles were served with plenty of tofu, broccoli, shredded carrot and some fried shallot. The broth was mild but pleasantly flavored, and the other components well prepared.

The Pho Ga was loaded with plenty of tender chicken breast in a rich stock, and was rated as up with the best on offer in Footscray.

The service was friendly and pretty efficient, and our 2 bowls cost us $17. Definitely a good choice if you are looking for pho!

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Phong Dinh

152 Hopkins Street,

I read about the Phong Dinh replacing the Korean restaurant in Lauren's post.

I don't think much has changed in terms of layout since it was a Thai restaurant we visited early last year. There were a few other diners around, but it was certainly quieter than the most popular local Vietnamese eateries for a Friday night.

The Bo La Lot, grilled beef in vine leaves had a strong barbecued beef flavour.

The entrée sized Sup Sui Cao, had a pleasantly flavoured broth with great prawn dumplings.

The rest of dishes started arriving as we ate our first courses, the Cai Ro Toi, Chinese broccoli with garlic was fresh and the almost burned garlic flavours worked well as we expected.

As can be seen on the sign at the top of the post Hu Tieu Mi dishes are a speciality of Phong Dinh, and I went with the 'Do Bien' or seafood option and dry rather than in soup. The combination of rice and egg noodles were served with prawns, squid, bean shoots a sweet chilli style sauce and peanuts topped with a popadom style crisp featuring an embedded shrimp.

The Ca Xao XO, fish with XO sauce came piping hot and steaming, and was loaded with plenty of veg as well as fish all covered in the pretty spicy sauce...

The service was efficient, the bill came to around $65 with a few drinks. The atmosphere was a little flat and I hope it becomes a bit more popular and gets more of a buzz as the venue is pleasant and the food good value.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Coopers Inn

282 Exhibition Street
VIC 3000

I'd eaten at Coopers once or twice before and returned with a group of colleagues for lunch. An older pub it is tucked away on the corner of Little Lonsdale and Exhibition streets overshadowed by the surrounding office towers

Inside there are 3 levels we were seated downstairs, there are also two further stories above, although I've not been above the first floor. It was fairly quiet when we arrived at 12, but soon filled up.

The menu has plenty of Australian pub classics with a few other options, not many were good options for my attempts to control my high cholesterol!

The crumbed pork cutlet wasn't really an option for me but looked good and went down well.

The Seafood Linguini looked to contain the advertised tiger prawns, scallops, calamari,
mussels and fresh fish...

The bangers and mash provided a good amount of sausage!

The pie of the day was lamb, and as well as looking good contained decent meaty chunks!

The chicken parma was generously sized and seemed to satisfy it's recipient.

I had the veggie Thai green curry which was served with rice and a roti, which was closer to a naan or chapati, not that I remember ever being served bread with a meal in Thailand. The veggies were fresh and curry sauce good with out being great or super authentic.

Coopers is certainly popular and still manages to efficiently serve its patrons. The meals were between $14-18 and provide decent value if you are looking for pub food.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Ramen Ya on Bourke

Shop 9, The Paramount,
108 Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Ramen Ya on Bourke is the second branch and potentially the begining of a chain of Ramen Ya shops, adding to the GPO location. This was my first visit to either branch, but I was encouraged by plenty of positive comments. The address had me fearing a dive into the back of a mall/food court, but you can enter directly from the street.

Immeadiately inside is the counter where you can peruse a menu, order and are given you wooden table number flag, fortunately despite the tables being busy, this area was quiet when we arrived, giving us a minute or two to make our choices. The main dining area is bright with tall, full height windows from the street. There are plenty of modern bright clean wooden tables seating up to 8, we managed to find one to share.

The ceiling is covered in hundreds of white paper lampshades.

I didn't used to go to many Japanese restaurants before moving to Melbourne, but have got more into them over the time being here, and got over my fear from the UK of small portions and high prices! So my bento box was first ever, and I chose the ebi featuring crumbed fried prawns, 2 gyoza, rice and salad. The prawns were fantastic, wonderfully cooked so still firm with a crispy coating and criss crossed with Katsu sauce and wasbi mayo. The gyoza were also really good and the whole box looked great, Brendan pointed out that it looked as good as the picture on the menu

Brendan went for the gyoza ramen soup, his thoughts on it were:

"For $10 I should have realized it was a large dish, though when one orders soup, one expects something a touch smaller. That quibble aside, I got what I expected from the photo on the menu and managed to almost finish it despite my conservatism - a positive sign.

The pork dumplings were clearly the highlight taste wise, though I had trouble getting them to my mouth in one piece - they'd crumble off the fork. Those white things with the purple swirl looked terrific, though I noticed no particular taste when I ate them. Otherwise, the flavors were delicious, the noodles were perfect, and I had no hesitation in finishing off the "broth" after the "hardware" of the dish was eaten."

The bento box was $11 and the ramen $10, both good value. The service was pretty efficient considering how busy it was, and reasonably friendly. I'd certainly happy with my lunch and wouldn't hesitate to go back.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Don Don

321 Swanston St

Don Don is up the top end of Swanson Street, near Melbourne Central and could be missed from the other side of the street with it's name covered by the sun shade out the front, although the regularly appearing and disappearing queue may help identify it, I obviously caught it at a quiet moment...

Inside the line was in evidence, I grabbed a seat while Phil ordered, paid and was served in seconds, we'd just managed to work out what we wanted to eat from the limited but keenly priced menus taped to the counter.

Within seconds my tofu curry was in front of me. The dish lived up to its name with two generous slabs of tofu sat on some rice along with broccoli, pickled veg and the curry sauce. The tofu was not marinated or flavoured at all, although the curry sauce did provide slightly sweet and spicy accompaniment.

The chicken curry was fairly similar to my dish, except for the obvious...

We managed to hold on to our seats for a while after finishing our meal, but eventually the throngs of people meant we felt we ought to vacate them. The meal was great value, with both dishes coming to under $15! An excellent spot for a quick, cheap bite...

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011


77 Charles St

Touks sits on Charles at the end of Victoria street, in the heart of Seddon. We'd been before for lunch a year ago or so, and ended up there again recently, on an unplanned trip, hence the poor camera photos. The outside area was busy on the with a mix of diners and drinkers on the weeknight we visited, there some spare tables inside though.

We wolfed down the bread served with olive oil.

The mushroom entree was great.

I had the veggie pizza, which had a good top half, unfortunately the base was a bit on the sweet side.

The special prawn and chorizo pizza was good too, but was also slightly let down by the dough.

The service was good and the pizza's were around $18 each. I think Tin Pan Alley up the street wins on the pizza front, but the Touks has a slightly more bar cafe feel, so it does depend on what you are looking for...

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grand Indian - Covent Garden

6 New Row
Covent Garden

Jegs and I fancied a curry while out in Covent Garden, and we stumbled upon the Best India Food Centre...

It was pretty empty when we arrived, inside the decor was at the smarter end of the old school curry house style, with traditional

The traditional triptych of accompaniments to popadoms in the UK, mango chutney, lime pickle and raita

Jegs went for the Chicken Bhoona which he seemed to enjoy.

I had the Vegetarian Thali, composed of dahl, onion bhaji, veggie jalfrezi, raita, pea curry and saag aloo. All the dishes were reasonable, the pea curry being a surprising favourite, overall they lacked the spicyness I 'd expected.

Jegs also had the matar paneer as a side dish.

The naans were good.

The service was fine, the bill came to £52 including a couple of beers. You can certainly find better indian restaurants, but it wasn't too bad.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Prince of Wales - Esher

48 West End Lane,
KT10 8LA

The Prince of Wales has relatively recently been renovated and looks good on a sunny day.

I visited on a Thursday evening with 2 mystery diners.

The crab cakes were good.

Chilli prawns had a crispy coating and thai style sauce.

I went for the curry night option which included a choice of two curries, onion bhajis rice and naan. The Butternut squash Dhansak with chickpeas was nice as was the Goan king prawn curry, although the prawns weren't king sized by aussie standards! Neither dish was particularly spicy, the naan and bhaji's were fine without being exceptional.

The chicken ham and leak pie looked great and went down well.

The Norfolk outdoor reared pork also satisfied.

The curry special was 10 quid including a beer.

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