Khao San Road

696 Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds
Phone: 9372 9113

I was a bit bummed I missed the outing with @jeroxie and @eatnik to this Thai restaurant, even though I’m not a great fan of Khao San Road in Bangkok. There’s far too much reggae and touting going on there for my liking! Mr N and I dropped in a couple of weeks ago for dinner before a show nearby. It was pretty bustling for a Thursday night, but they managed to squeeze us in without a booking. Throughout the whole night, theservice was friendly, quick and generally impeccable, even though they were busy.

We started off with a little entree of chicken and tapoica dumplings, which were an interesting mixture of textures, with the chewy, gelatinous tapioca contrasting with the crunch of water chestnuts in the filling inside, and the crisp juiciness of hte lettuce used to wrap the dumpling. Flavour-wise, however, I thought the dish could have benefited from a dipping sauce.

Next, we had the lamb fillet curry and grilled chicken salad. Now I wouldn’t consider either of these dishes traditional Thai, but they were both certainly good!

The lamb was well cooked, but still juicy and tender. It was a slightly odd take on a curry; huge chunks of potato, eggplant and pumpkin are hidden beneath the lamb, and it came on a plate. The ‘medium’ curry was probably too mild for me, but still pleasant.

The grilled chicken was well marinated, and the judicious use of thigh fillets meant the chicken stayed juicy. I’m not sure about the use of more Western salad leaves, but overall, the dish was refreshing and tasty.

I really liked the cute little ceramic ramekins the rice came in, too. I’d highly recommend the trip to Khao San Road – it’s even better than the real thing.

Khao San Road on Urbanspoon

Smoken Joe’s

680 Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds
Phone: 9370 4888

Smoken Joe’s is a pretty standard cafe/restaurant of that Blue Train/Automatic/Joe’s Garage vein, with a menu modelled on American Diner fare, plus pasta, plus some bistro food, plus curry (!?!?). They serve decent meals at reasonable prices, and there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the food.

As is usual in one of these places, there are a few things on the menu which are signature dishes, but you’ll find all of the usual suspects on the menu. I tend to find that they’re the best dishes on which to judge a restaurant, so I started off with the steak sandwich. The steak was still juicy and the toast was crisp. Not bad, in my books. Mr N had the chicken parmigiana. He was satisfied, and struggled to finish it all. I’ve got to say the chips were a bit of a let-down; not particularly crispy. I’m also of the belief that either you go shoestring, or you go fat chips. The KFC-gauge should be left to KFC. Well, OK, and Nando’s.

A return visit with other friends led to similar ordering. Mr I had the burger, and Mr A had the steak sandwich, on my recommendation. Both were satisfied with their meals, but there were no songs of praise to be sung. Mr A’s steak sandwich looked even better than mine.

I have been there other times when someone ordered the pasta (ho-hum) and the grilled salmon (a winner, but no photo!) but I’m yet to try their ribs or the surf’n’turf. I love a bit o’ doublemeat action.

Oh, but wait! I lie! There IS something remarkable about Smoken Joe’s. They have these OVERSIZED chocolate crackles and honey joys!!

Smoken Joe's on Urbanspoon

Fuel Espresso Bar & Cafe

4 Margaret St, Moonee Ponds
Phone: 9375 4499

I don’t go out for breakfast on weekends as much as I used to. I think living for a while in Viet Nam changed my tastes somewhat in terms of what I like to eat in the morning. I still really miss the fact I could run downstairs from my place and grab a banh mi (Vietnamese pork roll) or some xoi cuc Ha Noi (Hanoi-style sticky rice with chrysanthemum) or even a quick bowl of pho.

So when Mr N suggested we go out for breakfast last Saturday, I wasn’t sure what to get from the menu. I settled on a breakfast pizza, with salami, bacon, mushrooms and spinach. And yes, that IS indeed a poached egg with hollandaise sauce on the top. Given the hung-over state I was in, this pizza didn’t just hit the spot, it nailed it.

Mr N had the (massive) omelette with cherry tomatoes and chorizo. I didn’t try any, but the omelette looked very fluffy, and the chorizo was sufficiently spicy enough to challenge Mr N this early in the day.

The service was quite attentive, and though the meals did take about 25 minutes to come out, they had warned us of this in advance, and it seemed fair enough, as the place was very busy.

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