Monday, July 30, 2012

Ebi Fine Food

18A Essex Street
VIC 3011

We'd been meaning to try Ebi Fine Food for a while, and finally made it there on a cold and wet Friday winter evening. The concept of a Japanese and fish and chips fusion restaurant on Essex street in West Footscray had always intrigued me. The mix in styles seemed slightly dissonant in my mind, but on arriving it was possible to see the two themes mixing and complimenting each other from outside.

Inside there are some Japanese touches, but the overall layout is definitely chip shop style, with two 2 seater tables and a counter/bar with another 6 spots. Although it was pretty busy while we there, and a bit of squeeze getting sat down, the dining area doesn't feel overrun by people waiting for or picking up takeaway. The menu, which is available on the 'about' page of the Facebook site is complimented by daily specials which also appear on the main fb page daily as well as the blackboard.

The veggie balls are billed as a vegetarian version of an Osaka street snack. The crunchy exterior covered a tasty interior, and the mayo style sauce was a little reminiscent of McDonald's burgers, in a good way, although I may be a little off the mark on that one as I haven't eaten at Macca's for over 10 years...

The prawn gyoza were brilliant, the golden crispy shells containing real chunks of prawns, and must be the best I've had!

The special bento on this occasion starred two korokke, a Japanese take on croquettes, the first packed with Beef and Shitake which worked well together, the other containing a mix of Salmon and potato.

I went for the prawn bento, which came with a great little salad, interesting eggplant with a satayish topping, tofu, bamboo and rice as well as the well cooked prawns with their tangy sauce.

Ebi is apparently trying to get a license, but at the moment is booze free, which helped keep our bill down to only $42. The service was friendly and swift given how busy they were with both diners and takeaway customers. Rather than feeling like a takeaway it almost feels as if you are in the kitchen, in a good way. I'm sure we will head back, and I'm interested to try their Japanese take on fish and chips...

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pho Dzung

234 Russell Street 
VIC 3000

Another lunch with a friend in the city and they suggested Pho Dzung, not far from the office... I must have walked past it before, but hadn't noticed it. It's on the corner of Russell and Lonsdale street, and while not huge has plenty of signage on the window!

Inside it was very busy on a Friday lunchtime, packed in fact. The fit out featured photo's of the dishes from the menu on the wall and a TV thankfully turned off, but was otherwise fairly plain and modern.

We ended up sharing a table with another group and one other diner right by the counter and under the sign. We got copies of the double sided single sheet menu with photo's of some of the dishes. It also had the addresses of sister restaurants in Richmond and Footscray. I haven't been to either before, the Footscray branch is apparently on Nicholson street near little Saigon market.

We both ordered pho and the herbs, chillies and bean shoots arrived soon, looking pretty fresh... I was warned that the chilli slices were hot, and it turned out to be true, just two slices in the broth was noticeable!

Linda had the beef and tendon pho, apparently the tendon is good for you! The thinly sliced beef was pink and the dish looked great.

I stuck with the tried and tested sliced chicken pho, which contained plenty of tender slices of poultry in the tasty stock. The medium sized bowl which I polished off satisfied my lunch time hunger on its own.

It was easy to understand why Pho Dzung was so popular, good food and reasonable prices - $9.50 for a medium bowl! The only downsides being the level of crowding and having to share tables. The service was pretty efficient, but there wasn't any time for chit chat.... It may have knocked Meekong off top spot for
pho in the city!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Lunchtime Escape

96 Gertrude Street
Vic 3065

It was time for another lunch with Brendan and we ventured slightly further into Fitzroy to the Lunchtime Escape. It's on the generally trendy Gertrude Street, but in the stretch sat opposite the Fitzroy commission flats where things are a bit more basic. This doesn't detract from the smart Victorian/Edwardian building that houses the cafe, with tables set up outside.

The interior featured bare brick walls and high ceilings with basic cafeteria style hot plates and the limited menu up on the wall. There were a few other tables occupied when we arrived, but it certainly wasn't busy.

Brendan selected the club sandwich special which included chips and a soft drink (or maybe even a coffee...) all for $10. It looked good and happened to be his first club sandwich and he seemed to enjoy it.

I went for the veggie lasagne, which I was going to have with salad, but the friendly waiter recommended the potatoes and capsicum. The meal was satisfying without being exciting, the tomato covering of the lasagne was different to the usual cheese, but did provide plenty of moisture.

The service was very friendly and prompt. If you are after a basic and satisfying lunch it this would be a good place to escape to.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012


48 Essex Street,
West Footscray
Vic 3012

One of the new wave of cafes that have opened in and around Footscray during 2012, W48 is tucked away in Essex Street. From the outside it is fairly anonymous, we first spotted it due to people seated and standing outside. We got the fear at that point, we'd unsuccessfully tried to visit the Milking Station a few weeks back, and had both just taken part in Run Melbourne, so didn't want to have to wait for ages...

Fortunately however, things weren't super busy once we got inside and we shown to a spot on a long high table running along one of the walls. Fortunately the chap on the end finished his meal soon after, so we could scoot up and get his spot, as in the middle the drawers under the table unfortunately meant we couldn't get our tired and sore legs under. The fit out was as modern and stylish as I had expected after reading about it elsewhere, with a balance of industrial, antiquey and homely items.

The menu covered plenty of healthy brunchy options, with a special up on the board.

My long black was lovely, not too bitter sans sugar.

I had the avocado, hummus and lemon on toast, which came with bonus rocket. The hummus was a little on the runny side, but otherwise it was perfectly prepared.

The toasted ciabatta of buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and tomato was huge, the kind of sandwich that can require disassembly, it certainly looked great and was rapidly completely devoured. We abstained from a raid on the pastries etc. displayed in the counter...

Although it was reasonably busy the service was prompt, efficient and friendly, the bill came to around $30. I'm sure we will wend our way to wefo again in the future to sample the delights this comfy oasis.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Le Bangkok

195 Lonsdale Street,

I hadn't noticed Le Bangkok on Lonsdale Street until a work lunch was arranged there. Nestled in the strip of mainly Greek eateries between Russell and Swanston streets it doesn't really jump out at you.

Once inside the bare stone walls look good and the fit out is pretty modern, if not particularly Thai in nature. We sat upstairs in an area that was decorated with large western style paintings.

For entree I had the "Spring Roll Puk", filled with mixed vegetables, fungus, and shitake mushroom, served with plum sauce. These were good but not particularly exciting, and were on the small side.

The curry puffs looked good and were filled with yellow curry mixed with chicken, mashed potato, and carrot.

I went for the Pad Cha Talay for my main, featuring stir fried prawn, calamari and rockling with seasoning sauce, Thai basil, chili, galangal, green pepper, and vegetables. As you can see it sported several bunches of green peppercorns which gave the dish plenty of kick! All the seafood mentioned was there, but the pieces were fairly few and far between, and in general were fairly small, the veggies were fresh.

The pad thai looked great, and I heard good things about the green curry.

The prices were around $5 for entrées and $15 for mains. The service was pretty efficient, and overall it was a good experience, certainly not a bad Thai option in the CBD.

Update: A  couple of weeks after visiting, Le Bangkok appeared in the news due to an overzealous attempt at pest control! So is it good they are trying to keep the place hygienic, or is it a worry they needed to use the bombs and/or used them so devastatingly!
Le Bangkok on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mad Mex, Melbourne Central

Level 2, Dining Hall,
Melbourne Central
VIC 3000

Phil had heard good things about Mad Mex and fancied Mexican, so the venue for our lunch was decided.

We met at the branch in the food court at Melbourne Central. Despite being towards the back of the court, and a little difficult to find, it was busy when we arrived. The queue gave us a chance to figure out what we wanted from the menu.

The time was useful as once we got to the counter there was a barrage of questions about what we wanted... Perhaps I don't eat fast food that much, but it seemed like there were lots of options even after I'd selected the vegetariano burrito.

Once we got our meals we managed to find some seats and unwrapped our burritos, Phil had gone for the carne, which looked pretty much the same from the outside. The regular sized offerings were pretty large to my eyes!

Biting into the soft flour taco's the eggplant, zucchini and mushrroms were well mixed with the black beans, rice, cheese and lettuce, sauces and guacamole. Overall there was a reasonable amount of flavour, but not quite the spicy explosion I'd been hoping for... Phil was slightly disappointed the meat too, nothing particularly wrong, but nothing too special either.

The service at the counter verged on to the shouty side of efficient, but they were busy, and we were both new to the place. Overall it did remind me of my one visit to a US burrito joint, so maybe that's a good thing, and it was happily free of too much kitsch Mexicana. For $11 it was a satisfying feed, but didn't quite live up to our fairly high expectations.

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