Thursday, 22 August 2013


he says:

My grey nomad in-laws recently moved into the caravan park in Sunshine which I took as the perfect opportunity to try and find some new Western suburban gems. After spending the afternoon trawling through Consider the Sauce and Footscray Food Blog and Urbanspoon I really wasn't much the wiser on where we should go. What I mean is, blogs like CTS and FFB serve a wonderful purpose in telling you about great new places but then I often make the mistake of reading more about these places on Urbanspoon which it seems these days is mostly dedicated to tearing places down and leaving you less certain of whether to visit them or not. In this instance That's exactly what happened and I decided to take the safe option and go with a tried and tested favourite - Quan Viet in Braybrook. On the way there I used my phone to google the address for my in-laws and a wonderful thing happened. Google suggested some other places nearby - one of which was Sang's Takeaway Food restaurant in Maidstone. One more click and I learned that Kenny had visited previously and given it the thumbs up and that was enough for me! Change of plans - we're going to Sang's in Maidstone.

When you arrive at Sang's you will be greeted by owner Duc whose attentive service is second only to his passion for what he is doing. I sat watching him patiently explain to some customers that 'yes we do sell Chinese food but we don't have sweet and sour pork although we do have a lot of other delicious dishes'. And he is absolutely right about that. For me it's a sign of a great menu when I get completely overexcited and order way too much food. Cue list of over-ordered but amazing meals.

The first dish to arrive was Vietnamese Papaya Salad with Prawns. This dish is that typical Viet combination of lovely presentation and fantastic flavours and wonderful texture. From memory this was around $16, a bargain for such a great dish, and a deceptively large serving. These days I mostly tend to eat the Thai Papaya Salad Som Tum but on tasting this dish I was reminded that my introduction to green papaya was via this dish from Luke Nguyen's book Songs of Sapa.

The next dish was Honey Chicken but not as you know it, this is Sang's Vietnamese style Honey Chicken and it is superb!  Think succulent juicy chicken with a sweet slightly charred crust. Add a bowl of sweet chilli sauce and you've got dipping heaven baby! Loved this dish, it was also $16 and quite large. On my next visit this dish and the papaya salad will be the first two items ordered.

One of the first dishes that stood out on the menu wall of photos (I love a good photo menu wall) was the Banh Xeo. This dish is apparently named after the sound the crepe mixture makes when it hits the hot pan, think Seeeee-ow! At $10 it is easily one of the cheapest Banh Xeo you will find and this was right up there with the best of them. It seems to be a dish that has a few different variations but this style is similar to that served at Quan Viet, a lot of places make a huge crepe almost 50 cms across that is quite sparse on fillings. This versions is the opposite - short, fat and delicious. It comes with a pile of herbs and lettuce for wrapping up bits of crepe and stuffing them in your mouth. The whole process is pretty messy, the box of tissues on the tables really comes in handy! 

This last dish is Salt and Pepper Fried Fish, the type of fish was specified but I didn't take close note and therefore forgot. What I didn't forget was the fantastic light and crispy batter that the fish was encrusted in. I often see (and order) salt and pepper squid at Vietnamese restaurants and this was just as good, possibly better. Hey, I love any excuse to eat sweet chilli sauce! I also ordered a huge serving of fried rice but am obviously a bit out of blogging practice these days and completely forgot to take a photo. If you live out West or are just visiting I highly recommend dropping to Sang's, the pricing is excellent and the food is even better.

Sang's Takeaway Food Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 11 August 2013


he says:

Yes I haven't posted much lately but life has been pretty busy what with running a popup restaurant, having a baby and holding down a full time job, plus a few other projects. So excuses aside I was given a bit of a kick the other night by one of our Soi 38 regulars, "you need to update your blog more often". As I responded, it isn't for lack of ideas, I have about 10 posts that I probably should write but somehow get distracted. So my plan is to pick up the pace a bit and write about my favourite Thai places in Melbourne. I mean, I still eat and I eat almost exclusively Thai food so inspiration isn't a problem. Yes I cook a lot of it myself but I still manage to find my way to some of the better places on a regular basis. So in no particular order here goes, the first place that has been nagging away at me in terms of needing to write about is FOMO.

FOMO is run by the lovely May who who also runs probably my all time favourite lunch spot Pad Thai in the Midtown building. I have never written about it but it has been a regular for years, anyway that will change soon so I promise. For those who don't know, FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out and is directed at the Thai expats living in Melbourne who are missing out on all the amazing food that is available back in Thailand. Well it isn't just the expats who are missing out, it's been over a year since our last trip and I suffer from serious FOMO almost every day!  

This is the first dish I tried at FOMO, of course it was their boat noodles. These are easily the best boat noodles you can get in the CBD. This version is is the pork 'Nam Tok' which basically means 'with blood'. I'm pretty sure FOMO use blood jelly rather than actual blood which is what's used in Thailand but the jelly still adds a nice depth and richness to the broth. Aside from the richly flavoured broth, the highlight is the tender stewed pork which literally melts in the mouth. So if you're ready to graduate to the next level after Pho and move up to boat noodles then find your way to FOMO. 

I'm pretty much going in the order of the dishes as I tried them over multiple visits. I have such sweet memories of the duck soup with egg noodles I ate in Bangkok that I had to give this a go. Overall it was a lovely dish that I went back for a couple of times, if I'm being picky I really want a tender stewed piece of duck rather the shredded duck meat but that's just me. 

I knew ahead of time that FOMO was opening and waiting was difficult, especially as I knew they would be serving a menu of Thai noodles soups. Obviously these are my favourite dishes but also they are very hard to find, especially in the city. This is Tom Yum, hot and sour and supremely delicious! And that's proper Tom Yum, not the red prawn coloured broth Tom Yum Goong. Don't confuse them, they're totally different,. both are delicious but this version is the true king.

When I'm not eating Thai soup noodles I love a breakfast or lunch of Hoy Thod, which is also referred to as Thai Mussel Omelette. This is another of my all time favourites and I have a lot more to write about it that I can fit in this post, stand buy for a separate Hot Thod Post! in the meantime, get into FOMO and thy their version and let me know what you think, I will provide instructions on where to go next. Wherever you go, make sure you have heaps of Sriracha chilli sauce to drown it in, it's the Thai version of Heinz ketchup. 

When I saw the FOMO menu I got quite excited about spotting the Patongo or Thai donuts listed on the menu and had fond memories of late night visits to Haymarket in Sydney for a fix of freshly hand rolled fried donuts served with pandan flavoured custard... heaven! The FOMO pandan custard certainly ticked all the right boxes but sadly what was served up was not Patongo but rather a Vietnamese donut. And hey, if I'm enjoying a Congee for breakfast at Huu Huu Thanh then I want a Vietnamese donut but when I order Patongo... I want Patongo! 

When my parents were in town of course I took them to FOMO. The benefit of having a larger group is that you can order things you wouldn't otherwise order by yourself. Yes I eat solo a lot and I'm fine with it. This selection of grilled meats with Jaew sauce was divine. An absolute highlight that has changed the way I cook at home. For me this is what eating out should do, make you rethink how you prepare food yourself, that what good food does for me anyway. You should go to FOMO and try this, it will change what you think of as Thai food. And don't forget to order some sticky rice to go with it. 

I almost never order Thai curries these days, it's not that I don't like them cause I do. It's just that there are usually so many other things that I'd rather eat. I was with my parents and they love a good Mussaman so we ordered this one and we weren't disappointed. It was easily the nicest Mussaman I have eaten since the version we had from Roti Mataba on Phra Artit Road Bangkok. The beef was deliciously tender and the sauce gorgeously sweet. My parents enjoyed it so much they went back a few days later for another helping. And don't forget the cashews, if you like Mussaman try FOMO's and let me know what you think, I reckon its a winner.  

For obvious reasons it took me a while to dive in and order this next dish, Ox Tongue Krapow. Fortunately for me I was enjoying my lunch at the FOMO bar a few days ago and a guy walked in, sat next to me and ordered this dish. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to come back the next day and give it a try. All the usual flavours are there, basil, oyster sauce and of course chilli but what the most interesting thing was the texture of the ox tongue. The combination of being slightly chewy yet tender at the same time is something quite Thai and perhaps an acquired taste but albeit one not too difficult to come to appreciate. I will be back many times to enjoy it that's for sure. 

I'm going to finish with my latest favourite go to dish from FOMO. The Som Tum Moo Yang Khao Neow or Papaya Salad with Grilled Pork and Stick Rice. Superb value at $15.50, I have this at least once every couple of weeks. Be prepared though, it really has some chilli kick! Flavour wise its impossible to describe, you'll just have to go and try it for yourself! I recommend you grab a Cha Yen (Thai Iced Tea) to cool you down while you consume this awesome dish!  In my ideal world there is whole street of Thai restaurants serving dishes of this quality. And of course, this magical street is just around the corner from where I work. So yeah, I love FOMO. I hope you do too! 

FOMO Thai on Urbanspoon