More Nightly Cheap Eats
Let’s continue with yet another instalment of cheap eats. These dinner spots have now overtaken the progress of my brunch and fine dining explorations. We’re now on a money saving slant, and also more often than not, we’d decide to go somewhere cheap rather than cook and wash up on our week nights. It may not be quite as exciting as all those dining hot spots that you can see on Instagram, but I’m pretty much blogging our daily bread-and-butter meals that happens most nights.
Es Teler 77
This time round, we’re veering away from the superbly cheap (less than $8) spots and going for the under $15’s. Fatbee gets his days where he craves for Indonesian fare, and on this front, Melbourne has more to offer than my Singaporean food equivalent.
Es Teler 77 is actually a food chain in Indonesia that has extended overseas. They also exist in Singapore… I remember mum buying back food from Es Teler on some nights, and how amazingly good the massive marylands of ayam goreng (deep fried chicken) were.
Nasi Uduk $10.50 – Coconut rice with fried chicken served with fried egg, chicken soup and sambal terasi
The menu can be found at the counter. Order at the counter and help yourself to cutlery, water, napkins and chilli sauce.
Fatbee picked this dish for me, it’s like nasi lemak (coconut rice) served with said ayam goreng (glorious in its crispiness) and a bowl of chicken soup. The soup tasted a lot like soto ayam in Singapore and it brought back a lovely wave of food nostalgia. At $10.50, this dish was very filling because of how rich the sweetish coconut rice was.
Nasi Pecel $10.00
Fatbee grabbed another unfamiliar sounding dish from the menu, which once again features the deep fried chicken but this time with normal steamed rice and a serve of veggies with peanut sauce. And let’s not forget the oh-so-Indonesian sprinkle of keropok (prawn crackers). He seemed contented with it.
Es Teler $5.50 - Avocado, jackfruit, coconut topped with shaved ice, our special syrup and sweet condensed milk
To further my Indonesian food education, Fatbee has been looking for a good version of the Indonesian dessert ‘Es Teler’, which translates loosely to ‘iced intoxication’. He says don’t ask him why it’s named that way, ha ha! Either way, we shared Es Teler’s version here… which consisted of coarsely crushed ice with coconut, avocado and nuggets of jackfruit. He found it slightly disappointing.
…I still can’t get my head around having avocado in a dessert dish, but can see it work if done nicely.
Chai – Eat Like Malaysian
127 Pelham St
Carlton, VIC 3053
03 9347 7448
Carlton is so convenient parking-wise for our nightly meals. So on another night, we visited a Malaysian spot just around the corner from Norsiah’s Kitchen. We did not enjoy this meal. I sometimes find it difficult to talk about less exciting food places, but a blog is a blog, so I’ve decided to share both sides of the coin.
Vegetarian Mee Goreng 12
We weren’t particularly impressed with the perfunctory service, and the food offerings here also did not excite. The Hokkien Mee (not pictured) was just oily, over salted and one dimensional without much in terms of ingredients in it. Fatbee’s Vegetarian Mee Goreng was equally underwhelming. After sharing this photo on Instagram, other followers also agreed that food at this spot wasn’t that great.
If this place improves, I might come back again, but for now we’re staying away. I’m sorry.
KL Bunga Raya
34 Errol St
North Melbourne, VIC 3051
03 9328 1762
On another evening, we just took a 3 minute stroll from Fatbee’s home to this spot to see if it’s worth a repeat visit.
For a week night, it was very busy and rambunctious with a mostly non-Asian clientele. I made a mental note to call and grab takeaway if we’d ever want to grab food from this place again. We’re not that fond of noisy restaurants.
R8. Nasi Padang 12.50 – Two curries chicken and beef served with seasonal vegetable with steamed rice
Here’s Fatbee’s nasi padang, which arrived in a monochrome display of curry chicken with a few pieces of steamed veggies. Even though the menu said it’d be chicken and beef curries (ie. two types), this dish only consisted of chicken curry.
The curry was mild and okay, Fatbee commented that they shouldn’t call this nasi padang, where rice is normally served with an archipelago of many many side dishes to enjoy it with. He thinks it should be called chicken curry on rice.
N6. Fried Kway Teow 10.50 – Rice noodle, fish cake, shrimps, chinese sausage and spices
Another thing that happened here was… Fatbee’s curry rice arrived waaaaay in advance of my dish, so he finished his meal before I could start mine… but at least our waitressed apologised. This char kway teow was the dry style with a bit of charred flavour but I thought it could’ve been less salty. Overall, it was o-kay.
We did not have that memorable a dining experience here, so will probably not include this place into our ritualistic list of nightly cheap eats. But to be fair, I do tend to be rather strict when it comes to Singaporean and Malaysian fare in Melbourne. And either way, this place is doing very well with a lot of local patronage.
I’ll next cover a Japanese-Korean takeaway spot that Fatbee has a soft spot for.
The place is run by Koreans, it’s located somewhat along his walking route home, and serves as an easy spot to grab a generously sized takeaway bento box on his way home.
Chilli Pork BBQ Bento 12.00 Spicy pork BBQ with rice, tempura, salad and 3” side dish
And that’s exactly he did for me after one of my long days at work. Even if it’s takeaway, seeing food on the table when you reach home feels so good because there are some nights you don’t even want to go out again just for food, let alone cook! I devoured this bento box of spicy Korean BBQ pork very happily.
Tonkatsu Bento 13.00 Crumbed pork with rice, tempuras, salad & side dish
Another evening, we strolled into Tokyo Maki to grab yet another simple dinner before Fatbee went for his night shift at work. This time, we just shared one bento box between us… we’re trying to reduce the impact of our nightly eating out habits by sharing dishes and eating less!
I liked how the salad was dressed in citrusy ponzu sauce, and the freshly deep fried tonkatsu was pretty decent although the sauce could’ve been served on the side. Of the remaining side dishes, I liked the fried seaweed and honeyed potato, while I found the sweet potato tempura to be a touch old (hard) and the soy chicken wingette came cold.
I was more objective on our second in-house visit to this place probably because on the first time, I was so tired and hungry that I gobbled up the takeaway with gusto. Which goes to show how our perspectives and feelings towards food changes depending the kind of day you’ve had.
All that said, I really like the generous servings they give here and for the most part, the actual main dish (like tonkatsu and BBQ spicy pork) is actually great value for money for that price point.
The Grand Tofu
The dishes below were bought as takeaway, then served on our dishware at home Yong Tofu $10.50 – Six pieces of stuffed tofu served with noodle soup
And we get our sick days… there was one week where Fatbee came down with the flu and called in sick. So I did the nice husband-y thing by buying back healthy soothing foods for the soul after my day at work. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of this nondescript eatery along Racecourse Rd in Flemington… what you’re seeing here is me plating up the takeaway I’d bought.
One-dish Asian meals tend to lack veggies for the most part, so this is probably one of the few dishes (like Bun Cha) where you actually get to eat vegetables. The Grand Tofu’s feature menu item would be this dish, and it was only this visit where I discovered that you don’t have to commit to a set menu of items. You can actually pick six items of vegetable-y goodness, then choose your soup (I got the traditional clear ‘braised’ soup of course) and noodles (rice vermicelli for me).
I picked two serves of stuffed eggplant, a piece of bitter gourd, buy choy, stuffed tofu and fried bean curd skin stuffed with prawn. While this overall offering isn’t as great as what you’d get in Singapore’s hawker centres, I think it stands its ground pretty well in Melbourne. We were happy.
Homemade Egg Tofu $12.80
We also got a delicious serve of homemade silken egg tofu to share, this is one of Fatbee’s favourite menu items at this restaurant, and I love it too. And look… more veggies!
Vegetarian Fried Rice $8.80
I also bought a takeaway pack of vegetarian fried rice, which we halved and had for lunch the next day. Once again, it featured more tofu… what’s not to like about tofu? My only fear is… if I eat tofu too often, will I get boobage from all that soy?
Ha ha ha ha… okay bad joke… :D