Random Cheap Eats

10/14/2009 11:59:00 PM

As seems to happen every few months, the My Pictures folder on my computer starts to get a little too full... here are some different interesting things we've been eating out in Melbourne. Enjoy!

Nyala African Restaurant
131 Brunswick St
Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9419-9128

Nyala is that African restaurant on the quiet side of Brunswick street that has been there forever. I visited once with my folks in 2001 (the pre-blog days), having read about it in the Cheap Eats. Back then, the Cheap Eats was my main guide to restaurants in Melbourne - how times have changed!

We went a few months back at the behest of my bro's girlfriend Su who had received some discount vouchers. We got a banquet, which was great value. We were STUFFED and you can take away whatever you can't finish.

African beers - Hansa on the left, Harar on the right.

For desserts Su ordered a pudding (I forget the name, sorry), which had bananas, cream cheese and a hint of cocoa in it. But great choice, it was delicious!
For myself, I was tempted by the South African milk tart. Not just because the accent rocks; I saw a recipe for it in Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries some time ago and have always wanted to try it. As you can see, it was a bit broken, but still tasted good. The pastry was not too sweet (shortcrust, I think), and the filling was creamy and light, with a hint of cinnamon. I'm not too sure how necessary the whipped cream, choc ice-cream and store-bought choc sauce was though!
Nyala African on Urbanspoon

Thai Taste
92-94 Johnston St
Collingwood VIC 3066
(03) 9495-6694

We drove past here on our way home from the city, and remembering Thanh's enthusiastic recommendations, decided to stop in for dinner. The food was very impressive (although the coconut-cream based curries were too rich, even for my taste). What I did want to share with you though, was the desserts!

We ordered "deep fried fruit salad" from the specials board, mainly out of curiosity. Here is what it turned out to be!
Fruit Salad (i.e. Goldburn Valley tinned fruit salad), wrapped in spring-roll pastry and deep fried. It tasted nicer than it looked. But again, what is up with the unneccesary chocolate sauce and frozen boysenberries?

The killer dessert here, however, was the amazing durian with coconut.

Inside the hollowed-out coconut was sticky rice cooked in coconut milk and sweet durian flesh. This meant that there was slippery coconut flesh to be scraped off the sides - yum! It was absolutely wonderful! I always think I don't like durian until I actually eat some. The durian was really fresh, soft and creamy - my dad said it must have been Malaysian durian, not Thai durian, hehe. (No but seriously, Malaysian durian is the best - musang king sedap, man!)
Authentic Thai Taste on Urbanspoon

Dumplings Plus

269 Swanston Street
Melbourne 3000 VIC
(03) 9663 8181

Whilst in the CBD one night, a craving for dumplings took hold. Not willing to give the deplorable HuTong another go (average dumplings, terrible service), I decided to walk into Dumplings Plus. I used to come here with my parents back when it was Ye Shanghai.

We ordered fried pork dumplings, fried chicken with rice and spring onion pancakes. I figured they'd be pretty good as we could see the ladies in the back making each dumpling by hand.

Here are the dumplings.
As you can (probably) see, they were pretty crap. They had thick doughy skin, were unevenly fried, and they were all stuck together. I swear, the dough in between the dumplings was still uncooked! You'll see that the ones at the back didn't even get brown at all.

The fried chicken looked a bit more promising...
...but was still disappointing. The chicken was quite dry, and was really, really bland, even after adding the dipping sauce.

The spring onion pancakes were ok, but really doughy. I've had better.

Dumplings Plus. Fail!!! I'll stick to the burbs for my dumpling-fix from now on!
Dumplings Plus on Urbanspoon

Es Teler 77

319 Swanston St
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 4243

We wanted cheap food after seeing Inglorious Basterds, and I suggested Es Teler. I haven't been here since my uni, non-pork eating days (all the food is halal). They have a good range of homely dishes and are really cheap. And I got to practise my abysmal Malay! (Which is pretty much the same as Indonesian when it comes to simple things).

Nasi Ayam, satu!
Chicken rice. I loved the super-hot chilli sauce (and the fact that there were 2 different types!), and the chicken was both crispy and moist. The only thing I wasn't too keen on was the soup - it was quite thick, and had a flavour that I'm not used to. Perhaps it's a typically Indonesian soup? I'm not too familiar with Indonesian food in general.
Es Teler 77 on Urbanspoon

Ambrosia Mediterranean Cuisine
221 Camberwell Rd
Hawthorn East VIC 3122
(03) 9882-3422

Ambrosia definitely doesn't count as a cheap eat (at over $20 for a main meal and mostly seafood offerings), but I wanted to share with y'all these awesome desserts we had there last time, courtesy of Jal the owner. The custard thing is a typical galaktoboureko (custard-filled phyllo), and the little puffs are yeasty donuts, soaked in honey syrup. Wow. A decadent dessert, best shared and eaten with a strong coffee! (We had a group of 7).
Ambrosia on Urbanspoon

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  1. Nice seeing you again last night! I like Es Teler 77. I have a local Indonesian joint near me called: Garamerica. They do a mean and cheap Ayam Bakar. mmmm

    I do want to try out Nasi Lemak off Lygon St. Heard great things. Holla if you both wanna go and pig out there after your "lobster for breakfast" trip! LOL

  2. Sounds good to me! I haven't had enough Malaysian food lately. :)

    Oh and this is the post where I mentioned the "galaktoboureko"!!

    Let's all practise: GA-LAK-TO-BOU-RE-KO! Lol.

    xox Sarah

  3. I've walked past Nyala so many times before as well. I'm always tempted to give it a try, but then it's usually deserted (early in the night) so unsure how good it was. Must try it now.

    Thai taste rocks. You can't go wrong with anything that has durian though, that's my theory anyway.

    I think you should give HuTong one more go. Their dumplings and Xiao Long Bao are really good. Service though is patchy. Go when you're not in a rush to be someplace else after. Even Matt Preston reckons HuTong's dumplings are pretty good. Read it here

    Finally, I used to love galatoboureko too. But now I have a new love, bugtsa. The one at Hellenic Republic is amazing, but I found one at Oakleigh that's pretty good too. I forgot the exact name of the bakery, but it's something like Coffee cake or something. At $6 for a massive bugatsa, it's damn good.

  4. what a great selection of dishes. The dumplings are a total let down. I love my dumplings and those are terrible!

    The very last dessert sounds and looks amazing, custard and doughnuts...hmmmmmm

  5. Hey Thanh - Nyala's pretty good! Not mindblowing, but good. The banquet always has waaay too much food. I just googled bugatsa - it totally looks like the type of dessert I would love!

    Maria - I know, how disappointing! I was really looking forward to dumplings that night too. :(

    xox Sarah



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.