MSG: The Melbourne Social Guide

Helping you add flavour to this wonderful city.

Posts Tagged ‘Cheap Eats

Co Do

with 4 comments

196 Victoria St, Richmond
Phone: 9421 2418
Open daily 9am-10pm
Mains $8-$20
BYO – No corkage
Transit: Victoria St / Church St. Trams 24, 78, 79, 109
.
Located in the heart of the Vietnamese precint in Richmond – along Victoria street. Co Do does a good trade, and is always full, churning out dishes to feed its hungry patrons.
We scoured the 200+ dish menu, and chose a couple from the Co Do  Specials menu including

Steamed mini pancakes with minced prawn and green bean paste ($6.50)
These were also sprinkled with with  mung beans, pickled carrot and radish and spring onion. This dish was served with fish sauce, and tasted reasonable –  the pancakes were a little bit bland, but I am very partial to  mung beans so it got bonus points to me for that. The pancakes themselves were a little average.
Also on the specials menu was the

Bún bò Huế $8.50 – Hue traditional Vietnamese Style Chili Beef soup, sliced rare beef, pork, beef loaf, pork loaf and prawn cake

Bún bò Huế is a traditional noodle  soup from Huế, consisting of vermicelli noodles swimming in a spicy, beef and tomato based soup flavoured with lemongrass.

This is one of Co Do’s ‘signature dishes,’ and is listed underneath all their signage. Thankfully, this version does not disappoint – sweet, sour, spicy it is wonderfully refreshing yet packs a punch with intense flavours.

Bun Rieu (approx $9)

A thick, tomato-y soup with crab meat and drop noodles.

Close-up of the thick ‘drop’ noodles.
This dish was intensely filling, with a thick, tasty tomato-based broth with pieces of crab meat. We could not finish this dish. The flavours were good, but it was definitely very filling!
The accompanying plate with salad, bean shoots, mint and lemon to add to the soups.
We also ordered a Vietnamese coleslaw with jellyfish and chicken. This wasn’t bad, it could have done with a bit more spice, and the several limp pieces of jellyfish were a little disappointing, especially since I ordered this purely for the jellyfish.

Jess’ Ratings

Taste: 7.5. The soups were full of flavour, probably helped along with a little MSG. The bun bo hue packs a pretty good punch, but isn’t overly spicy. Let down by the pancakes and the salad.

Value: 9. You’d be hard pressed to make the broth with the amount of ingredients you’d need to buy for the price. Amazing value, as with most joints along Victoria Street.

Service: 6. You don’t come for the service. At least you don’t have to pay for it either.

Authenticity: 7.5. I’m not Vietnamese, but I think it fairs well in authenticity.

Atmosphere: 6.5. Cheap, cheerful. Quick. It doesn’t pretend to be a fine dining restaurant, but like I said. You don’t pay for a fine dining restaurant.

Overall: 7.5. Great stalwart on Victoria Street. Come for the bun bo hue.

With over 200 items on the menu – it would be impossible for everything to be perfect – though some dishes here are certainly close. I’m very keen to come back and sample some of the other items, and also to try the pho – which Billy of Half Eaten claims to be pretty good.

Written by glutamatejess

August 3, 2010 at 1:02 am

Penang Affair

leave a comment »

Penang Affair

325 Brunswick St.
Fitzroy VIC 3065
(T) (03) 9419 7594
website
foursquare
urbanspoon

Penang Affair on Urbanspoon

Much like with my last review of Roundhouse Roti, this place is also a Malaysian restaurant that’s also not really on the map for Malaysians locally. However, I did read two positive reviews of the place here and here and there was also the high rating on urbanspoon so off I traipsed, with a friend on that day in Melbourne last week where it bucketed down with rain.

Firstly, I must commend Penang Affair’s slightly verbose and very over-the-top owner, he seems to have garnered quite a legion of fans! Many of the things I heard about this restaurant (including the comments on urbanspoon) all seem to recommend him as somehow the main dish… or at least a source of entertainment that alone makes the trip worth it.

Onto the food. The dish I’d heard most about was the spicy tempura eggplant ($16.90) so that was a must-try. My companion is a vegetarian so we also ordered the vegetarian mee goreng ($10.90) and I indulged in the chilli & garlic quail that was on the specials board as a random entree.Straight away upon entering the restaurant I had the feeling that it would be catered towards the Western palate, based on the uncluttered atmosphere with minimal decoration (apart from some large paintings, one of the owner (!)) and I was mostly right. The flavours in the food overall didn’t at all feel “Malaysian”.

Starting with the quail, while the bird was cooked to perfection (and kudos to them for that) and the meat delicious, the sauce it was swimming in was too strong and way too salty. I love quail as a meat and beyond basic seasoning and spices, I don’t think the bird needs to be smothered in sauce.

The mee goreng was by far the worst dish there, pretty much all I could taste in it was tomato sauce. I have no idea if they actually use tomato sauce in it but it reminded me a lot of bad mee gorengs I’ve had in the past (China Bar, I’m looking at you). Definitely no authenticity there. The highly billed spicy tempura eggplant was probably the best dish on the night but still wasn’t anything amazing. The seasoning was nice but there was something wrong with the tempura batter. Tempura is supposed to be fluffy and crisp, this was neither.

All in all, nice try Penang Affair, and I can see you have your group of loyal (probably mostly not Malaysian, sorry) followers over there in Fitzroy but we probably won’t be coming back.

Alex’s Ratings:

Taste: 4/10

Authenticity: 4/10. The kind of ‘innovation’ that we’ve seen at restaurants peddling Westernised food time and time again. Not the good kind.

Ambiance: 5/10. Extra points for the cool paintings, nothing else stood out.

Service: 7/10. A little slow but that was due to the owner being caught by various customers trying to talk his ear off. He explained that his staff member had called in sick so he was being a one man show. He was friendly, talkative and helpful.

Value: 4/10. Poor, you can get much better quality Malaysian food for much better prices, but to be fair the ‘hawker dish’ section on the menu at least doesn’t try to overprice things like mee goreng.

Overall: 4/10

Written by alexlobov

February 16, 2010 at 3:29 am

Roundhouse Roti

with 3 comments

I’m a big Malaysian food aficionado. Having been to Malaysia and Singapore almost a dozen times I feel I’ve honed my palate fairly well when it comes to judging quality and authenticity in amongst the decent-sized set of Malaysian food offerings in Melbourne. A quintessential part of any Malaysian food experience is the Malaysian-style roti, normally fried with lots of oil and ghee and butter (and sweat, which probably makes it taste better… really).
Roundhouse Roti has never been massively famous on the Malaysian food circuit (not popular among the horde of Malaysian and Singaporean international students in Melbourne which are normally my weathervane for Malaysian food openings and the like) but has a decent reputation and buzz among Fitzroy hipsters.

Roundhouse Roti
220 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.
Opening Hours: Tues to Sat 12pm – 8pm
(T)  (03) 9417 4285
The general premise behind Roundhouse Roti seems to be an adaptation of the amazingly delicious Roti dishes of Malaysia into something more healthy and more appealing to the Western (Fitzroy hipster) palate (ie. Oil!? *freak out*). The place is decked out nicely and is a pleasant place to sit (except for my pet peeve – stools, why don’t people know the value of back support!) The extractor fan is seriously rad, as the Age called it “the world’s most ornate extractor fan clad in what looks like charcoal-painted pressed-metal ceiling panelling.”
We had the Roti Telur (Roti with egg inside), one with the lentil Dahl ($9.00) and the other with Beef Rendang ($10.00). Immediately, the lack of oil was glaring, and to a seasoned roti eater it felt like a glaring omission until you remembered the the restaurant’s owner Lee Chong wanted it this way. The roti itself, while cooked on a grill and not a tandoor, almost felt like it was tandoori roti but without that tandoori charcoaly awesomeness. It tasted dry and quite bland. Similarly, the rendang and the dahl were watery affairs with minimal flavour punch (to Lee’s credit, the beef was tender and very tasty). Again, it’s important to remember that this is not a screwup, this is the idea behind the cuisine.

Roti Telur with Beef Rendang

I can’t say that the food experience was something I would go back for, unless I’m seriously detoxing and want something that tastes better than muesli & salad. The food reminds you why oil and ghee are so awesome, they make things taste delicious. However, for the rest of you health freaks that want some decent ethnic food then check out Roundhouse Roti, you’ll probably be more satisfied than we were.
Alex’s Ratings:
Taste: 5/10.
Authenticity: 7/10. Given that this was never supposed to be real roti and is the healthy version (arguably, what the hell is healthy roti?) the score is adjusted to reflect the execution of the healthiness while still maintaining taste.
Ambiance: 7/10. Cool place and all, but tiny, cramped and stools. Stools dammit! I hate stools.
Service: 9/10. Friendly, relaxed, attentive, no problems with minor adjustments to menu items and all this given they were closing in 20 minutes.
Overall: 6/10. Good idea, but at the end of the day, I like food that tastes real good, and the food just didnt taste that good.

Roundhouse Roti on Urbanspoon

Written by alexlobov

February 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm