Tag Archives: Preston

cheap noodles and dumplings far from the city

I first heard about Noodle Kingdom and its awesomeness from Food Rehab and couldn’t believe I lived so near to such foodie goodness. My friend Suz organised a nearby outing to roller derby in Reservoir and so I suggested that we all go out to dine there beforehand. Who would have thought you could avoid the city and still have a night of good entertainment! Hurrah! Further research indicated that newspapery foodie types thought that Noodle Kingdom wasn’t too bad either. My excitement grew.

We dined at a ridiculously early hour (as in 5pm) knowing that we’d have to line up for good seats for roller derby and still the place was fast and furious. Tristan and I were there early and decided to share some steamed pork dumplings. Do not be fooled by how plain they look – they are seriously delicious. These dumplings have fairly thick skins and the meat is tasty and has lots of chives. Incidentally, Lindsey who arrived later, was not a fan of the thick skins. I personally love them, but thought you might like to know that not all foodies do. A little more research indicated that thick dumpling skins are apparently Northern Chinese in style (feel free to rap my knuckles with a ruler if I’ve got that wrong).

steamed pork dumplings

When all our party arrived, most of us went the massive, cheap noodle bowls and thus confusion reigned when they started to come out thus augmenting our dumb Westerner mentality. Yes, that includes me despite my ordering the authentic Lanzhou beef noodle soup. Hearty broth with thin noodles and a bloody generous serving of tender, sliced beef put me in a damn good mood. I mean, the noodles aren’t even $10 a bowl.

authentic Lanzhou beef noodle soup

This is a picture of Tristan’s order – before Lindsey errantly nicked his marinated egg – the beef brisket with hand pulled noodles. As you can see, the noodles are a lot thicker. This was an action shot stolen before we discovered that Lindsey was eating the wrong dish. Oops! Lindsey is not above telling people when they are being “bloody food bloggers” which is fair given he’s a consummate cookie-foodie.

beef brisket with hand pulled noodles

The Noodle Kingdom antics don’t end here. After a Melbourne Makers session way out of my hood, on the way home Tristan and I (as we both live out this way) slyly looked at each other and decided to revisit the noodle palace. And ordered way too much food, of course. None of which came out in the order expected. For instance, the cold seaweed which arrived last but I think of it as an appetiser. Not quite as tasty as Japanese seaweed salads, but still nice.

seaweed (cold side dish)

After both our noodle dishes arrived, dumplings with hot and spicy soup came. I dare say I could have done with more chilli oil which is unusual for me! Oh Noodle Kingdom, your dumplings have never disappointed me. Always tasty and fresh.

dumplings in hot and spicy soup

On this occasion, I ordered the combination beef noodles. I wasn’t quite sure what ‘combination’ meant in this instance, but it contained an assorted array of vegetables and also had coriander giving it a Vietnamese ‘feel’. There were these wrinkly seaweed leaves quite like nothing I’d ever had before that was just wonderful as they soaked up the broth really well. You can see them lurking in this photo – the dark things in the top left corner. They were also quite the textural treat.

combination noodles with beef

Tristan had the pork and preserved vegetable noodle bowl. I am in awe of the man’s eating prowess. He managed to help me with my dish, eat most of the dumplings and finish his own bowl of noodles. Then again, given how delicious the food is, it’s not hard.

pork and preserved vegetable noodles

Not much else to add really: I think the fact that it’s warranted repeat visits should convince you it’s great. Don’t expect fancy dining but be sure to linger outside before entering to watch the masters make the noodles and dumpling skins from scratch. If you can’t venture out as far as Preston (though seriously, get over the suburb hate and give it a go!), there’s another Noodle Kingdom located in the CBD on Russell St though my sources tell me it’s not as good as this one. I might like it more if they could be bothered replacing some of their severely chipped bowls ones, I don’t think that’s too much to ask…is it?

Noodle Kingdom on Urbanspoon

spontaneous PhoTUB antics

When you go out with a bunch of folks you’ve invariably made friends with thanks to Twitter and engage in any form of social activity, everything becomes <insert activity here>TUB because many of us will have met each other via MTUB. This was the case one evening when a bunch of us decided to check a pho house in Preston called Pho Hung, a few doors down from the more esteemed Noodle Kingdom (review of that place coming soon! edit: here we go!). It all started with a Foursquare update – someone had gone to Pho Hung earlier in the day, declaring they’d had the best pho ever there. One person read it wanted to go and before you knew it, spontaneous pho party.

As can be imagined, pho was had by all but before that we ordered some entrées, many of which were to share. There was one serve of spring rolls, but seriously once you’ve seen spring rolls, you’ve seen them all so no photo of that. My choice was beef wrapped in vine leaves. I generally like to order my bun topped with this, but it’s too cold for bun.

beef wrapped in vine leaves

Our chum Anthony had the crispy chicken. Not so shareable, alas, but boy does it look appetising. Deep fried chicken never fails to please.

crispy chicken

The standard rice paper rolls with pork were also ordered. If I were smarter (which I sadly I wasn’t), I would have taken a picture of these mid-chomp so you could see inside. Whoops.

rice paper rolls with pork

Jon and Tristan both chose the beef brisket pho. Tris reports that it was okay, but not as awesome as Pho Chu The in Richmond.

beef brisket pho

I decided to stop being the second worst Asian ever* and challenged myself by ordering the beef with tripe pho. In fact, I was so excited, I sent Billy a text message to inform of this fact. I’m not particularly rad with offal though as a kid I loved blood pudding (bit of a Brit delicacy). Go figure. We lose so much adventurousness growing up. Anyway, the pho. Not as flavoursome as some I’ve tried, evidenced by the fact that I went nuts adding chilli to it. Yep, the chilliphobe hit up the chilli hardcore.

beef with tripe pho

Pho Hung is okay, but it’s not serving pho I’ll be dedicating sestinas to (and sestinas are pretty fecking hard to write). However, it’s casual, cheap and filling. I’d go again to hang with my PhoTUB crew.

Pho Hung on Urbanspoon

*in conversation with dear friend Lindsey, it transpired that I apparently wasn’t the worst Asian ever because he knew an Asian that got lost en route to the casino. By my own admission, that’s pretty bad.

a northern suburban breakfast treasure

Jackson Dodds, interior

I’ve mentioned before that out my way (northern greater Melbourne), there isn’t really much in the way of snappy breakfast places, but discovered another place not too far from my end of town, right at the termination of the 112 tram’s route. The little eatery is called Jackson Dodds and it’s on Gilbert Rd. Again, actual suburb is contentious – I’ve seen some say it’s in Thornbury, some say it’s in ‘Rezzo’ (Bogania for Reservoir, I believe). I’m personally inclined to place it in West Preston because that’s where the tram route says it finishes.

Location aside, it has fantastic breakfast and brunch options. The first time I went there, I chose to have kedgeree. There was no room in my belly for the toast provided. The rice was topped with mango chutney, and had smoked rainbow trout as well as a quartered boiled egg. I would have liked the rice to be a little spicier. But goodness, it was so good. I have never seen kedgeree on a menu anywhere so was quite excited to see, and try. The chutney is a little sweeter than I’m used to (the chutney my father has is usually more sour rather than sweet) but it’s probably suited to a more Western palate. Mmm, just thinking about this dish has my mouth watering. You need to try this.

kedgeree

The next time I went, with someone in tow, I agonised over the gorgeous menu options, but decided upon the pea and haloumi fritters, with tomato chutney and beetroot leaves. This is probably one of the most exciting brunch dishes I’ve had in a very long time. I couldn’t actually taste the haloumi, but totally didn’t mind – the peas were just out of this world. Imagine sweet, fluffy fritters. The chutney was sweet and had a little bit of chilli for kick. Personally, I love beetroot leaves as I find them really flavoursome. And then a side of bacon! Truly, this dish could do no wrong. I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. It looks gorgeous too.

pea & haloumi fritters

Equally impressive I’m told, was the dukkah eggs. They smelt delicious and wonderfully fragrant with Middle Eastern spices. I love the way the poached eggs appear encrusted in sesame and various spices. Partner said they were similar to the ‘lean green’ eggs dish at nearby Pearl Oyster, but even better. 

dukkah eggs

I also have a really soft spot for the crockery used for tea. It’s like they chose the best stuff of its kind available at the op-shop, or Savers.

retro crockery

This place is unbelievable value for money – nothing is over $15 and the food is just phenomenal for the price. There are so many other things on the menu that I’m dying to try. It’s sometimes a little hard to get the attention of the staff and it understandably gets very busy. Even if you live closer to the city, it’s so worth the trip! So, when are we going? I am itching for a reason to return, and show it off to friends.

Jackson Dodds on Urbanspoon