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Tag Archives: dandenong

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizzaiolo, not a Chef. That’s what Daniel Cester asked me to address him when I asked him if he was a professionally trained Chef. That was a new one for my vocabulary and just like most of you now, I did a quick Google search!!

When I first received a mail regarding this new pizzeria that has opened up in Dandenong North, I was ecstatic, surprised yet a bit saddened by the fact that I no longer live in the suburb. If you have followed my journey here, you would know that I consider myself a self proclaimed food ambassador of sorts for Dandenong. My life in Australia started there and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to pursue my food dreams.

But distance was not going to keep me away from visiting Pizza Strada…

Just as Daniel had described to me, Pizza Strada has a casual vibe to it from the location to the ambience inside. He was particular on starting his pizzeria in Dandenong as his whole family lives in and around the suburb so there were lots of childhood memories associated. Also he believed that great food (in this case, pizza) is all that you need to get people to visit.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The décor is minimal, comfortable and modern. And it’s a place for people from all walks of life. Daniel explained that in Italy, a pizzeria is not a formal dining restaurant but a casual food joint where people walked in for a quick meal, during lunch hours or after work catch up with friends. Hence he wanted the same appeal for Pizza Strada, and not design it as a formal dining space.

There is a large blackboard and foosball near the entrance; appeals to both the young and old alike. Children are welcome to play, draw and watch pizzas being made; as I mentioned it’s a casual space so let your kids be without (as long as they don’t create a ruckus) letting them stay glued to their devices.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Daniel’s passion for pizza is obvious if you observe him making a pizza. He loves a good chat so feel free to walk up to the front where the live pizza counter is situated. He would be more than happy to give you a ‘pizza education’ while your pizzas get made fresh in front of your eyes.

At Pizza Strada, you will find Neapolitan style pizzas; again have a chat with Daniel to learn the differences in pizza making and how it differs from region to region in Italy. A special 48 hour proofed dough that is Daniel’s signature recipe is shaped by hand and then topped with the freshest ingredients and drizzled with homemade infused oils (the basil oil and chilli oil is simply heavenly). It is then cooked for 60-90 seconds in a special wood fired oven to get that unique crispy base with a thick and puffy cornicione around the edge.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

As it’s a pizzeria, there’s nothing else on the menu except pizzas. And again, no fusion or gourmet stuff here; it’s as real as it gets to tradition.

The bar is not yet functional, hopefully soon because I would love to enjoy some Italian Chiantis with the pizzas. But there are some traditional Italian fizz drinks that are a must try. We tried three different flavours and loved each one of it, though my favourite was the green citrus (Mandarino).

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Before the pizzas arrived, we had a taste of the lemon granita. It’s more of refreshing palate cleanser than a dessert, and kids would simply love it.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

The first pizza we ordered was the Siciliana; a classic with tomato, mozzarella, Fior di latte, San Daniele prosciutto, artichokes, olives, capers and basil. The flavour of every ingredient shines through in this one especially the artichokes which are marinated for that extra layer of flavour.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

The second pizza we tried was the Diavola (with tomato, mozzarella, Fior di latte, Calabrese salami, capsicum, chilli flakes, oregano, and basil). When we ordered this, Daniel did mention that it’s a spicy one. And when you have Indian tastebuds, and someone tells you about spice, you are more likely to scoff at them like I did. But I couldn’t be more wrong, because the Diavola is a ‘hot’ one. But oh boy, it tastes heavenly. It’s got a solid chilli kick, but the flavours are so intense that every bite creates a riot on your tastebuds. A must try if you like a bit of heat!

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

And the final one to arrive was the dessert pizza. But if you are a chocolate or rather a Nutella lover, you could ask for this one. The Nutella Pizza with loads of cream and strawberries.

This part of the review, I think I should let Adi write, because he was the one who clearly enjoyed it. We had leftovers which got polished off the next day promptly. Order it if you love Nutella!

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

I do prefer medium to thin crust pizzas generally but Pizza Strada is definitely a pizzeria that I will travel for and dine at again because its great quality, tastes amazing and made with love and passion.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

3A/46-64 Outlook Drive,
​Dandenong North, Victoria, 3175

Phone: 0412 808 893

https://www.pizzastradabar.com/

Timings:

Monday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Tuesday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Wednesday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Thursday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Friday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Saturday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Sunday: ​4.00pm – 11.00pm

Disclaimer – I was invited to dine as a guest at Pizza Strada, but all the opinions are mine and unbiased.

Pizza Strada & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review

It’s hard to miss The Public’s Corner because of its strategic location, right on Lonsdale Street near the stairs leading up to the council office and library. It’s probably one of the busiest and vibrant areas of Dandenong.

There was another restaurant operating at the same location earlier, which I have been to so I was a bit curious when I saw the new signboard. So decided to try out the place for a weekend brunch, to find out if it was just rebranding or has the menu/food changed.

The décor and ambience of the restaurant has not changed much, but the menu has gone through some changes definitely. While many of the dishes from the old menu remains, there were quite a few new ones added. And there’s also a revamped drinks menu which was great to see.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

So for drinks, I got a glass of the Leopardwood Shiraz (Heathcote, VIC) and Sam got the classic Mojito. Nothing much to write about the wine except that it was a pretty decent one. Sam felt that the Mojito lacked balance in terms of sweetness and the staff said that she could provide with some sugar syrup but he opted to have it as such.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For starters, we got the Saganaki with sautéed figs and pita. I have had Saganaki before, prepared it a couple of times too so there were high expectations. But this one didn’t match up, found it a bit too salty and hard. The pairing with figs was delicious but the best part of the dish was the pita….so fluffy and soft. I would order the pita again, perhaps with some dips.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, I got the Lamb Loin Chops served with mixed grains, chat potatoes, roquette, roasted capsicum and feta. Before I get onto the taste, let me tell you that the portions offered here are huge so account for that when you place the order. Getting back to the dish, I enjoyed the chops a lot; the meat was cooked well and the sides tasted delicious. I would have preferred some sort of jus or sauce though or perhaps mashed potatoes instead of chat for that creamy element to the dish. Otherwise a really nice one….

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The second mains we ordered was the 12 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder served with mashed potatoes, topped with greens, feta and jus. The meat was so tender, juicy and fall off the bone and the accompaniments matched perfectly. I felt that the meat could have been seasoned more but then that’s a personal preference. This was the perfect weekend indulgence!

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, The Public’s Corner is a nice place to meet up whether it’s for a working lunch, quick coffee date or a relaxed dinner. The food is not the best you will have, but it’s good, value for money with great service on offer.

 The Public’s Corner
Shop 1, 225 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong. VIC 3175

Phone no: 03 9794 6697

Timings:

Monday: 7am – 3pm
Tuesday: 7am – 3pm
Wednesday: 7am – 10pm
Thursday: 7am – 10pm
Friday: 7am – 10pm
Saturday: 8am – 10pm
Sunday: 8am – 10pm

The Public's Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dandenong Market – A Slice of History in your Shopping Bag + a Giveaway ($200 Market Voucher)

 

Established in 1866, Dandenong Market is the second oldest and largest market of Melbourne. Often referred to as the Cook’s Market, it has always played a central role in the community – farmers, small business owners and public alike.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

My association with Dandenong Market began in 2013, the year I migrated with my family to Melbourne. Living a stone’s throw away, the market soon became my shopping haven. The vibrant and bustling scenes, fresh produce, spices, friendly vendors calling out their wares were all a reminder of my home in India. And those initial days of newness in a foreign land seemed to diminish away, instead replaced with a sense of belonging.

It’s my weekly trips to the market that has provided a lot of inspiration for the blog in those early days. Even today, a trip to Dandenong Market is enough for me to come back home feeling inspired and bursting with ideas. And that’s largely because of the amazing variety of produce that can be encountered here.

The bustling multicultural community lends a unique charm to the market making it a utopia for food lovers!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The market also conducts free Food Discovery Tours, a perfect way to go behind-the-scenes and get an exclusive glimpse into the everyday workings of a busy market. It also provides a deeper understanding of the produce, sustainability and interesting stories of the traders who runs these businesses.

With over 200 traders, the market is a bustling expanse and private tours like these can be of great help especially when you want to buy the best on offer. There are also different kinds of tours of offer and booking is essential even though the tours operate free of cost. Learn all about the tours and make a booking here.

I was lucky to be taken on a tour by Chef Tim Hollands, who is extremely passionate about Australian produce. In fact Chef Hollands is a well known food consultant and owner of Tim’s Foods and Tim Hollands Catering who is on a mission to introduce fresh Australian produce to the outside world. Food provenance and sustainability are very important to Chef Hollands and I could not have asked for a better tour guide.

Now as I mentioned, the Dandenong Market is huge and bustling with more than 200 traders and it would be impossible to write about each of them. So here is a photographic tribute to some of my favourite traders, shops and cafes to share with you.

(I have provided information regarding each place beneath the photograph, but you can also find more information about the traders here.)

Details of the giveaway for a $200 market voucher at the end of this post.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start the tour with a cup of coffee, shall we? Café Valentina by Melba Coffee is a great place to stop by for a cuppa of your choice. I especially loved the cold drip coffee and you may also like to take home some of their award winning roasted beans.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Hart’s Honey is another favourite of mine and I often stop by to replenish and stock up the honey section of my pantry. Owned by Joza Hart, the stall is very famous for the different varieties of honey like Iron Bark, Mixed Blossom, Red Gum, Leatherwood (from Tasmania) and Manuka (from New Zealand). Hart also stocks creamed honey and honey comb but my favourite is the Orange blossom honey for its citrusy undertones. Do stop by for a chat; Hart is great company and loves to talk about his products.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

It’s a given that you will be shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables at the market. Do wander around the different stalls like Luppino Fresh (the oldest trader in the market), S&G Fresh, Alexander Produce etc… to see what’s in season and score a bargain. Markets are all about exploring so refrain from buying all the produce from just one place and rushing out unless you are in a hurry. For me, these braided shallots were the highlight of the day!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Sam’s Spice and Grocery….the most inspiring space for me in the market. I can easily spend hours here pondering over rows and rows of spices from all around the globe. In fact, most of my spice education happens here. A trip to Dandenong Market is worth it just to visit this store.

All of you know how crazy I am about seafood and Dandenong Market is one of my absolute favourite places to buy fresh seafood. Recommending two shops;

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The first is Hellenic Seafood, owned and operated by the Ganotis family. This is the place for sustainably sourced seafood, extremely high quality produce and my go to store for salmon, red snapper, oysters, mussels, clams etc….

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The second is Schwarze Seafoods, my next favourite because of the sheer variety of seafood available. Especially the place to visit if you are sourcing seafood for traditional dishes from other cuisines like Indian, Asian etc… And to all those who have asked me so many times, I get fresh sardines and mackerel from here most of the time.

There is a great selection of bakeries inside the market and my top two picks would be Baker Boys and Melina’s Bakery & Larder.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Baker Boys is managed by Jawad Zada who fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban rule and arrived as a refugee here in 2001. Since he was a baker there, he continued in the same profession here, taking courses and doing apprenticeships to establish himself as a baker here. While you will find all sorts of baked goods in his shop, my absolute favourite are the Afghan style flatbreads with herbs and chilli flakes……a stunning combination with a delicious lamb curry.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Melina’s is my go to shop for sourdough and rye bread. There are so many different styles available especially for those who are interested in artisan breads and European styles. My favourite would be the plain sourdough which makes an excellent base for a rustic and delicious Bruschetta.

Apart from all the fresh produce, deli, meat and seafood traders, Dandenong Market is also home to other shops, a space often referred to as The Bazaar. This place can indeed be a treasure house if you are willing to spend a little time and walk through the rows of clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, toys etc…..

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

One such store is Linda’s Workshop which specializes in fine pearl jewellery. Rows and rows of beautiful pearl jewellery that won’t break your bank!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The Afghan bazaar is actually located in the meat and deli hall because they also stock a huge variety of Middle Eastern groceries but I would recommend looking at the ornate traditional homewares , tea sets and other kitchenware for such bargain prices.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are a book lover, then you must pay a visit to Volkan Books. Owned by Mustafa, this is a very popular space not just to buy books but also to swap and sell books. And if you bump into me there, do come and say hello.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And even though I have not personally used their services, I was drawn to the beautiful ambience at Christalignment. The staff is trained in supernatural healing, presence therapy, dream interpretations etc…..

If all that shopping and walking around has left you tired, then it’s time to indulge your tastebuds at the Market Square.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start with Saccha for a refreshing glass of cold sugarcane juice. Lez is a veteran of the hospitality industry and he definitely knows to mix his drinks. Opt for the plain freshly squeezed juice or try one of his signature drinks. Highly recommended!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Food from all around the globe is on offer here and some of my favourites include The Grill (for delicious burgers and kransky sausages), Sansan’s Dumpling House (for handmade traditional dumplings, golden pies and soft Chinese buns), Andy’s Mauritian Hut (for dhal puri, curries and vadai/chilli cakes) and Fat Kebabs (for kebabs, Middle Eastern pizzas and the best lahmacun I have ever had).

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And if you like spicy, rich and bold flavours, then it is PiqNiq Hut that you must head to for delicious Srilankan food. All the traditional favourites like Kothu roti, devilled chicken, goat curry etc…. are available.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Finish off your meal with delicious freshly made doughnuts from the much loved Dandee Donuts, perhaps the most famous of all eateries at the market.

I also had some very interesting conversations, all thanks to the DSLR around my neck.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Like this gentleman from Cairns who is visiting Melbourne and loves the Dandenong Market.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And these two gentlemen who came here 30 years ago from Iran and now call themselves proud Melbournians. It was a joy to see the pride they had in their eyes while speaking of what a welcoming nation Australia is. Let’s keep it that way folks!

I can write forever about Dandenong Market but all good things must come to an end. And we have the giveaway to talk about too;

The folks at Dandenong Market would love to have you and so they are giving away a $200 market voucher to one lucky subscriber.

To enter;

  • Subscribe to my blog using your email id (the subscription box can be found at the top right hand corner on the home page)
  • Sign up to Dandenong Market newsletter here.
  • Leave a comment below stating you have done both.

The competition will run from 15th to 29th March, 2017 and the winner will be drawn on 30th.  Open only to residents of Victoria; the winner will be announced on my social media channels so make sure you are following me.

Good luck folks!

This giveaway is now closed and a winner has been drawn. 

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review

ARZ was first recommended to me by a senior official at the Dandenong council. Knowing my extreme fondness for Middle Eastern cuisine, she suggested the place and wanted to know what I thought of the food. While this conversation took place almost a year ago, I somehow never managed to visit ARZ till 2 weeks ago.

ARZ has changed ownership recently (we had a great conversation with the head chef post dinner) so I cannot do any comparison between the old and new.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

On arriving, we realized that there was a private party happening and since it was in the main dining area, we were not sure if the restaurant was open for public. Within seconds, the staff came out to greet us and informed that the restaurant was open to all as long as we don’t mind the extra bit of activity and music that was happening. She also suggested that we could sit outdoors if we felt that it was noisy inside.

We were quite glad to be seated outdoors because it was a beautiful evening and the weather was just perfect for an outside dining experience. Must say that the dining space inside the restaurant is beautiful with textured walls, low lighting and plush seating and outside, it’s rather basic with plastic chairs and tables but that did not deter us one bit.

Moreover my husband had also noticed that many people sitting outside were using the sheesha/shisha. And on enquiring, the staff said that the sheesha could only be used outdoors which reinforced our decision to sit outdoors.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ has a really good menu to give you a glimpse into traditional Lebanese cuisine. Instead of a-la-carte, we decided to go for the banquet option so that we could have a taste of many dishes. The banquet we chose has no dessert options but a range of savoury dishes as outlined below;

The first to arrive at the table was the cold mezze which included a trio of dips – hummus, garlic tahini dip and beetroot dip along with bread and tabbouleh. Classics done well but that beetroot dip deserves extra mention because it was really delicious.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Soon arrived the hot mezze…Lebanese sausages grilled to perfection (really delicious), chicken livers cooked with onions and spices (another fabulous dish) and a platter of falafels, fried kibbeh, pickles, onions with sumac, all served on a bed of lettuce. While all the dishes were excellent, the sausages and falafels stood out to me personally as the most delicious.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

To be pretty honest, we were quite full already and didn’t mind the fact that the next course took a while to come out. And while we were waiting, we decided to order for a Sheesha and chose the double green apple flavour…our first Sheesha experience in Melbourne. While I do not smoke or encourage smoking of any kind, the Sheesha was more of a fun experience than anything else.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And then it was time for the grilled meats to arrive…a platter laden with chips, chicken skewers, lamb seekh kebabs and beef skewers topped with more of the sumac spiced onions. The skewers were pretty similar to many others I have had at other Middle Eastern restaurants. The lamb kebabs were really good but the beef was not tender enough to be enjoyed. And while the chips have become standard fare in Australia, I would have preferred a salad instead.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Desserts are not a part of the banquet; would have been nice to have a traditional one included to complete the meal experience. But there are a few on the dessert menu that you could try out.

The hospitality and service at ARZ is commendable; the staff are attentive and make you really feel welcome. We also got the opportunity to have a good chat with the Chef and hear about his passion for the cuisine.

Will I go back? Yes, most definitely….

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine

Shop 2, 78 Cheltenham Road
Dandenong
Victoria 3175

Phone no: 03 8743 3929/03 9799  0999

Website: http://www.arzlebanesecuisine.com.au/

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post!

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review

If you have read my review on Al Rahimi Restaurant in Dandenong, then you will know how much I love the cuisine of Afghanistan. And living just 5 minutes away from Lonsdale Street, it was high time I had a review of Pamir up on the blog.

Dandenong is quite an interesting suburb in terms of culture and food. It’s diverse and colourful; we truly practice ‘live and let live’ down here. Afghan food has a huge presence here, with plenty of restaurants and takeaways lining the Afghan precinct and also on Lonsdale Street.

Owned by the husband and wife team, Uzbekistani Chef Alisher Azizullaev and Shahini Ahad, Pamir is situated on the busy and vibrant Lonsdale Street. The exterior is rather unassuming, a small door which leads to a flight of stairs. The restaurant is situated on the second floor and if you are not familiar with traditional Afghan décor, you will be surprised by the ornate interiors and rich, dark woodwork. On the walls, you will find plenty of references to Afghanistan like pictures, maps, traditional outfits etc….

Pamir has a very warm and comforting ambience. There is plenty of seating space so bookings are only essential on weekends but you are likely to find a place even without one. But do make a call beforehand as the restaurant is often booked out for events and social gatherings.

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Within seconds, we were greeted by the hostess and seated at a comfortable table. Pamir does not have a bar but its BYO so remember that when you visit. The food mainly revolves around traditional Afghan and Uzbek cuisine. The menu is pretty self explanatory but if you do need suggestions or help to understand the flavours of a dish, the staff is always there to help you out.

If you are eating at Pamir for the first time or want to experience many dishes from the cuisine, then the banquets are the best choice. There are different types depending on the number of courses and also a vegetarian version. Since we were familiar with the dishes and have had the food before, we decided to go a la carte for the day.

The first to arrive at the table are the dips (also referred to as chatnis) followed by the salad and flatbreads. Three different types of dips or chatnis are served and these are the minty cucumber yoghurt dip, tomato chilli chatni and the carrot dip. The salad is a simple one with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and leaves drizzled with vinaigrette. And the flatbreads, one of the best I have had; soft and pillowy and perfect to scoop the chatnis.

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Fresh Green Salad at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Freshly baked Afghan flatbreads at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish we ordered was the Chapli Kebab which is basically grilled lamb mince patties flavoured with coriander seeds, chilli, herbs and onion. Chapli Kebabs are quite famous in northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Chapli kebabs at Pamir were just perfect, so full of flavour especially that hit of coriander which warms your tastebuds yet allows you to taste the meat. The kebabs were tender with the mince cooked just perfectly. Highly suggested!

Chapli Kebabs at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There was no way we weren’t going to order to a plate of Mantu, one of our absolute favourite things to eat from this cuisine. Basically, these are steamed dumplings with mince and onions; then topped with a chilli chatni and a yoghurt sauce. An absolutely delicious experience! If you are a dumpling fan, then make sure you try the Mantu; you might not want to eat dumplings any other way. Another must try here.

Mantu (steamed dumplings) at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu and the next dish we tried was Potato Borani – finely sliced potatoes which are pan fried, flavoured with spices and herbs and finished off with tomato and yoghurt sauce. Nothing more to add except that it was really delicious and makes a great vegetarian dish.

Potato Borani at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And we finished the meal with the traditional Uzbek Pallow, a rice dish with lamb. The menu calls it as lamb biryani but that name is rather misleading as biryani takes on different avatars in different cuisines; this one’s more of a pilaf. Long grained rice that has been flavoured with whole spices and has a generous portion of carrots and sliced lamb through it. Just this rice and the yoghurt dip can make me a very happy girl. Absolutely delicious.

Uzbek Pallow at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There isn’t much choice when it comes to desserts so we decided to skip it. But I would love to see a few traditional sweets or desserts on the menu apart from the lassi, gulab jamun and icecream. You can finish off the meal with the traditional black tea which is great for digestion too.

In a nutshell, a restaurant you do not want to miss if you are looking for delicious, high quality, traditional Uzbek and Afghan cuisine. Make it your weekend priority!

Pamir Restaurant

195 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong
Victoria 3175

Phone no: 03 9792 0197
Website: http://www.pamirrestaurant.com.au/

Timings:

Monday: closed (open some days, check website)
Tuesday – Thursday: 4pm-10pm
Friday – Sunday: 12pm-10pm

Pamir Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Afghan Rahimi Restaurant and Reception (Dandenong) – a Review

A visit to Rahimi has been on the cards for such a long time, but it didn’t quite happen till now. Guess Melbourne has too many good food joints that a lifetime does not seem to be enough!

This restaurant is a stone’s throw away from where I live and pass by the place almost every week. But the realization that this is one of the best Afghan restaurants to dine in Melbourne came after reading a review by Matt Preston (Masterchef fame).

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The first thing that struck me walking into the restaurant was the ornate décor….. deep red brocade curtains, richly decorated wooden tables and chairs set in a large space and the low lighting which set a very inviting ambience to the whole place.

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Rahimi Baryalai, the owner of the restaurant, greeted us on entering and after enquiring specifics, we were seated and the menus bought out. While there are many a la carte dishes, it was the banquet option that caught my eye. And I would totally recommend this to anyone who is visiting Afghan Rahimi for the first time. Very reasonably priced, there are several banquet options ranging from $35 to $55 depending on the number of dishes and people; this is the ideal way to experience the best dishes that the restaurant has to offer.

We went for Banquet 3 (Afghani) priced at $45.00 which is a five course meal. The dishes are bought out one by one to the table and soon you have a banquet to feast on.

The bread and dips arrived first. I don’t think I have appreciated Afghan bread so much before (have had plenty of it); it was soft and the perfect carrier to scoop the dips and chutneys. There was a simple tomato and cucumber salad, a carrot based dip, a cucumber based yoghurt dip and a chutney. The perfect way to start off a meal exciting your tastebuds for the remaining meal….

Afghan bread, dips, salad and condiments

Afghan bread, dips, salad and condiments

The next dish to arrive was Mantu (Traditional Afghani dumplings steam cooked, made from pastry, mince and onions topped with yoghurt and tomato gravy). Perhaps, the most famous dish at Rahimi and Matt Preston’s absolute favourite. I don’t think words do any justice to what these dumplings do to your tastebuds. Melt-in-your-mouth, soft, creamy, juicy….oh, it’s an experience. Get yourself to Rahimi just for this.

Mantu (Traditional Afghani dumplings steam cooked, made from pastry, mince and onions topped with yoghurt and tomato gravy)

Mantu (Traditional Afghani dumplings steam cooked, made from pastry, mince and onions topped with yoghurt and tomato gravy)

Next came a plate of Borani Banjan (Fried eggplants covered with a fresh tomato and yoghurt sauce). I am not too fond of eggplants but this dish has converted me. The flavour was so bespoke that I happily forgot that I was eating eggplants.

Borani Banjan (Fried eggplants covered with a fresh tomato and yoghurt sauce)

Borani Banjan (Fried eggplants covered with a fresh tomato and yoghurt sauce)

The Afghani traditional rice came next. Now I have seen a zillion recipes claiming to be Afghani rice on the Internet; if you want to experience the real deal, visit Rahimi. Perfectly cooked rice with a generous topping of carrots and raisins with a subtle hint of spices.

Afghani traditional rice

Afghani traditional rice

Along with the rice came Meatball/Kofta curry (Lamb mince marinated with diced onions and herbs, curried in a delicious tomato and pea gravy). Yet another delicious dish; I think I have repeated delicious enough number of times by now and I don’t intend to stop.

Meatball/Kofta curry (Lamb mince marinated with diced onions and herbs, curried in a delicious tomato and pea gravy)

Meatball/Kofta curry (Lamb mince marinated with diced onions and herbs, curried in a delicious tomato and pea gravy)

Next to arrive was the Chicken Tikka and Lamb backstrap skewers. Loved the flavour on these meat skewers and it was delicious but would have preferred the meat to be slightly more tender.

Chicken Tikka and Lamb backstrap skewers

Chicken Tikka and Lamb backstrap skewers

Followed soon by the fried fish preparation (I couldn’t get the name of this one). Mr. Baryalai personally bought it to our table saying that it is a special preparation that he enjoys very much. Now most of you know my obsession with seafood but it would be perfectly fair to say that I have not eaten a more beautifully cooked fish preparation before. Subtly spiced and absolutely succulent and flaky fish; it is to be experienced.

Fried fish preparation

Fried fish preparation

The meal ended with a glass of traditional green tea that was flavoured with organic saffron and cardamom accompanied by gulab jamun (Dough balls are fried and soaked overnight in a sugar syrup) and another milk based sweet (which we call ‘peda’ in India but couldn’t get the Afghan name) and a bowl of vanilla icecream drizzled with honey for my little one. He got the ice cream for being a wonderfully behaved child and eating all his food. What a little personal touch…this is what customer service is all about.

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Reading so far, you would have an idea of why this spread is called a banquet. A thoroughly delicious experience, one which I will want to return to over and over again.

The customer service is exemplary; to have the owner of the restaurant taking care of every need of yours is not a common thing. Mr. Rahimi was telling us about how the popularity of his restaurant has gone up which makes it a hot destination for those living far but the locals of the suburb seem to have forgotten the place. You would easily find cabinet ministers and the elite dining at the next table to yours at Rahimi.

Quality food at an affordable price for all to enjoy is what Afghan Rahimi is all about. Perhaps the closest that many of us would get to experience true Afghan hospitality and the richness of the cuisine.

Rating – 9/10

Afghan Rahimi Restaurant and Reception

23/29 Walker Street
Dandenong
Victoria

Phone no: 03-97939981

Website: http://www.afghanrahimirestaurant.com/

Opening Hours:

Tuesday – Thursday: 4.30pm to 10.00pm
Friday: 12.00pm to 10.00pm
Saturday – Sunday; 4.30pm to 10.00pm

Afghan Rahimi Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post; all was paid for by me.

Tengri Tag, Dandenong – a Review

Have you heard of Uyghur cuisine?

Uyghurs refer to an ethnic community who live mainly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region in China and also a few other parts of Eastern and Central Asia. The cuisine of this region is referred to collectively as Xinjiang cuisine as there are many ethnic groups but the predominant one is the Uyghurs. With time, the specific cuisine of the Uyghurs has come to be known as Uyghur cuisine.

I first heard of this cuisine through a food travelogue on SBS Food. It would be apt to say that the people, food and culture of this land was an eye-opener. It is one of the lesser known cuisines of the world but slowly and surely making its way known in Melbourne as there are migrants from the region settled here. Must add that it is a joy that I can experience food from all around the world here, in Australia.

There are only a handful of Uyghur restaurants here, mostly frequented by those from that region but a few others who have discovered the unique flavours of this cuisine. Ever since I spotted one in Oakleigh, I have been wanting to try the food since it all sounded so delicious and flavoursome.

As luck would have it, Tengri Tag which originally was situated in Camberwell moved recently to Dandenong which made it all so convenient and easy for me.

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The most important aspect that you must be aware of Uyghur cuisine is that it is unique and perhaps, nothing like you have ever tasted before. And this is because it is a delicious combination that draws inspiration from the Chinese style of cooking (as we know it) and the Central Asian cuisine especially Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Most Uyghurs are Muslims (with exceptions) and so the cuisine also heavily borrows from the Muslim style of cooking of these regions.

Handmade noodles is heavily used in Uyghur cuisine and is a staple everyday food. There are historic claims that pasta could have originated from this during Marco Polo’s times but this is a much debated topic.

When you are dining out at a Uyghur restaurant, you will be pleasantly surprised to find kebabs, noodles, curries and stir fries, all sharing the same table.

Now to get on to my experience at Tengri Tag;

Located on Lonsdale Street, Tengri Tag is a huge space. Clearly designed to work as a restaurant and a community reception centre for weddings and events, the layout and ambience is more of a wedding reception space than a restaurant.

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We walked in expecting to be seated (there was a small counter upfront suggesting the same) but no one bothered with us till we caught the eye of a waiter. He guided us to a table and bought over the menu cards. Language can be an issue here with most of the waiters speaking only bits of English. The head waiter is perhaps the only person who has a good command over the language and since he is the one who will be taking the orders, it is best to address your menu related queries to him.
The menus arrived and we decided on a selection of dishes based on the little knowledge I have of the cuisine. One of the first things that struck me is the almost utter lack of customer service. The head waiter behaved as if he couldn’t be bothered and when I asked him to leave one copy of the menu card at our table, he was really hesitant. I explained that I would like to take another look at it as I was new to the cuisine but he was so reluctant to do so. A lot of request had to be done for him to hand over the menu to me. A reaction that surprises me!

No one was placing any water or Chinese tea or cutlery on our table but it all seemed to be there on other tables. Almost 20 minutes later, we figured that it is self-service. There is a table set up in front laden with all the cutlery, glassware, teapots etc…and we eventually figured out that you were supposed to get it yourself. It would have been nice if we were informed of this!

Now that you guys know what needs to be done, let’s get on to the food.

We started our meal with Uyghur oven buns. If you ever eat at this place, make sure you give this a go. Absolutely delicious; oven baked buns with a flaky exterior and a delicious soft meat filling. A cross between the English pies and the Chinese buns but much better, at least I think so.

Uyghur oven buns

Uyghur oven buns

Then came out the kebabs seasoned with chilli powder, salt and cumin. The Afghan-Turk influence to the cuisine can be clearly seen with these kebabs. You wouldn’t believe you are sitting in a Chinese restaurant and eating it. Really flavourful kebabs especially with the cumin coming through, we really enjoyed it. But I felt the meat could have been a bit more tender.

Kebabs seasoned with chilli powder, salt and cumin

Kebabs seasoned with chilli powder, salt and cumin

The next dish was the fried chilli with egg. Oh my…..hot and spicy but delicious. Strongly remniscent of the Sichuan style of cooking, I would totally recommend the dish if you can stand heat and actually enjoy it. I am definitely going back for this…

Fried chilli with egg

Fried chilli with egg

Fried chilli with egg

Fried chilli with egg

For mains, we got spicy chicken with special sauce. This dish simply astounded me….handmade flat noodles dunked in a rich, spicy Indian style chicken curry topped with fried dry red chillies. If someone had told me about this dish before I ever ate it, my foodie brain would have never accepted the flavours wondering how will it work. But believe me, the dish was a revelation. And I thoroughly enjoyed every spoonful of it. Again highly recommended for the heat lovers.

Spicy chicken with special sauce

Spicy chicken with special sauce

We got one more mains (not because we didn’t have enough food, just wanted to sample more of the cuisine) and that was handmade noodles with lamb and onion. This one leans more towards the familiar Chinese flavours , not very spicy but very flavourful especially with the onions. More of a wet style noodles with a bit of sauce than a dry one.

Handmade noodles with lamb and onion

Handmade noodles with lamb and onion

By the end of this, we were so stuffed that dessert was the last thing on our minds. And there really wasn’t much in terms of dessert except for a few staples. None really stood out to me.

So in a nutshell, visit Tengri Tag to experience traditional Uyghur cuisine and a delicious experience. But forget customer service and ambience when you walk in. I am being partial to the former!

My rating – 7/10 (All for the food!)

Tengri Tag

151 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong
Victoria 3175

Phone no: 0481 235 468 / 9791 7216

Timings:

All days of the week – 5.00pm to 10.00pm

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Disclaimer – All the food and drinks were paid for by me.

Beletti Restaurant, Café and Bar – a Review

The day started off a little crazy for us. It was a Sunday and we woke up late (well, that’s fairly regular!). And since we were supposed to go out for ‘laptop’ shopping, had a meager and hurried breakfast so that we could get to the stores in time.

And the crazy timings meant lunch was skipped and it was almost 4 pm when the hunger pangs really kicked in. We live in Dandenong and since we were already in the vicinity, decided to stop for lunch somewhere in the area. Now Dandenong has a lot of restaurants and cafes, but not many good ones. We decided to take a stroll through Lonsdale Street to see if any place catches our fancy and Beletti, it was.

Situated on 159 Lonsdale Street, Beletti Restaurant, Café and bar primarily serves modern Italian cuisine.

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Given the time, there weren’t too many customers inside save for a couple enjoying a cup of coffee outside; there is an al fresco seating area too. We were courteously greeted by the staff, who after understanding our late lunch needs, seated us inside in a comfortable area. The ambience was sophisticated, inviting with comfortable seats and sofas. There were two dining areas, the larger, stylish and plusher one reserved for large groups, parties and events.

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Beletti has a good bar and the selection is really good; given the time of day, we settled for two cocktails. I went for the Cosmopolitan (vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, lime juice) and my husband had the house-special, Beletti Sea Breeze (amaretto, Malibu, cranberry juice, pineapple juice). I loved the Cosmo; it was refreshing, delicious and just what I needed to unwind. My husband enjoyed his drink but he felt that the cranberry taste was slightly overpowering.

Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan

Beletti sea breeze

Beletti sea breeze

And while we sipped on our drinks, my son was handed a colouring sheet and pencils which kept him occupied, a real simple trick to keep the kids silent and let the parents relax. The colouring sheet also had the kids’ menu outlined and he chose to have a cheeseburger and chips.

Cheeseburger and chips

Cheeseburger and chips

We started off our meal with a platter of fresh oysters, followed by a delicious, indulgent bowl of Beletti salad (mesculin lettuce, olives, feta, semi dried tomatoes, capsicum, carrots, onion with a balsamic dressing) with smoked salmon. The salmon was an extra topping.

Fresh oysters on ice

Fresh oysters on ice

Beletti salad with smoked salmon

Beletti salad with smoked salmon

For mains, I chose a duck breast with plum sauce and a wild mushroom risotto. I was a little skeptical choosing the risotto but it turned out delicious, perfectly done and flavoured. The plum sauce was sweet but flavourful and with duck, it was heaven on a plate. Totally recommend this dish.

Duck breast served with plum sauce and wild mushroom risotto

Duck breast served with plum sauce and wild mushroom risotto

My husband went with an aged porterhouse steak with a marble score 2 which was served with a red wine jus, fresh green salad and chips. He felt that the steak was a tad bit tough but the flavours were impeccable and he enjoyed the dish.

Aged porterhouse with red wine jus, fresh salad and chips

Aged porterhouse with red wine jus, fresh salad and chips

And though we couldn’t eat a morsel more, I still decided to get a dessert, something light to cut through all that richness we had just gobbled.

For dessert, we ordered the Passion fruit and Lime Bavouis with double cream and passion fruit lime jelly. And this turned out to be the most delicious part of the meal. We wanted something light and less sugary and this dessert was just that. The bavouis was light and creamy which went really well with the tangy jelly. The citrus flavours were refreshing and it was a beautiful end to the meal. I am definitely going back for this one.

Passionfruit and lime Bavouis with double cream and passionfruit lime jelly

Passionfruit and lime Bavouis with double cream and passionfruit lime jelly

So to summarize, we had a great time and a great meal too although, must admit that the prices were on the higher side.

Towards the end of our meal, the restaurant started getting busy so it would be a good idea to book ahead especially on weekends.

My ratings: 8/10

Details:

Beletti Restaurant, Café and Bar
159 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong, Victoria 3175
Tel. 03 9793 1600

http://www.beletti.com.au/Restaurant.html

Opening Times:
Monday – Friday: 7.00 am to midnight
Saturday, Sunday: 8.00 am to midnight

Disclaimer: All the food and drinks were paid for by myself.

Beletti Restaurant Cafe Bar on Urbanspoon

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