Thursday, September 13, 2007

September 6, 2007: Hooked

My love of fish and chips was the greatest challenge to overcome in my shift to vegetarianism three years ago. My devotion to chips still abides, of course, and that battered-fish-shaped hole in my life is filled relatively well with other things: tartare sauce, tempura veges, crumbed tofu with lemon, and occasionally an actual dish of faux fish. So when Elegant Gourmand recently raved about fish'n'chipper Hooked, mentioning killer fries and tempura veges, I was, well... hooked. So I lined up a quick and casual dinner there prior to an opening night screening of Ratatouille.

Hooked is every bit the trendy takeaway: the stencil drawings, prices and menu options are consistent with its Chapel St address, but you'll receive counter service, paper wrapping and ineffectual plastic cutlery even if you're eating in. The full extent of the vegetarian options are already outlined in EG's post: light tempura veges with a soy dip ($8.50), a hooked salad ($8.50; featuring mixed leaves, tomato, cucumber, bbq corn, pickled ginger, bean sprouts, kumera crisps and a oil-free dressing) and chips ($4.50 for regular size). We ordered one of each...

First up we tried the tempura veges - while Michael enjoyed them, I was less impressed. My first piece was actually a haphazard ball of multiple veges bound together with batter that wasn't completely cooked through - not exactly light and crunchy. And there wasn't enough darn sauce! Still, I am pretty shameless in my consumption of deep-fried foods, and I found what enjoyment there was on offer in helping Michael polish these off.

Next I unwrapped our parcel of fries - thankfully these lived up to the expectations that EG inspired! Chunky and fleshy on the inside, with just enough golden crispness on the outside. Again, our 90c pot of tartare sauce wasn't enough to bathe all our potatoes, but there was complimentary ketchup and vinegar on the table to pick up the slack.

The salad, too, was far better than I'd expect from the average fast food joint. Generous mixed greens and a lovely bite from the pickled ginger, this is the perfect counterbalance to the greasier foods I can't resist. The crunchy kumera chips were delicious, of course, but not entirely necessary amongst the oil-fest that was the rest of my dinner.

And what of Ratatouille? I didn't find the script and characters as charming as some of Pixar's previous efforts, but the visuals are their most stunning yet. I think it's worth seeing on the big screen, just to gaze beyond the action at the cute restaurant kitchen and gorgeous scenes of Paris-in-a-parallel-universe. The climax of the film, in which critic Anton Ego tastes the dish of the title, is pitch-perfect in its depiction of the joy of eating.

To follow this tangent even further, the 20 years of Pixar exhibition at ACMI continues for only one more month! A must-see for lovers of animation - it's worth the price of admission just for the zoetrope, I swear.

Address: 172 Chapel St, Windsor
Ph: 95291075
Price: veg mains $8.50, regular chips $4.50


  1. Come over to the dark side and have a piece of battered fish with us carnivorous ones Cindy.

    I want to go watch Ratatouille as well. A film about food is quite rare. And generally Pixar do very enjoyable movies for all ages.

  2. I thought Ratatouille was brill!!! We saw it last week at the Dromana Drive i, which made for a funky retro experience!!

    Check out my review

    (great blog BTW.. I really admire your photography. Mine is crap!!)

  3. Hey Thanh! I think my fish-eating days are over, but thanks for the invitation. ;-) Food films are reasonably rare, and animated ones even more so! The cartoon food is quite fun, I hope you enjoy it.

    Thanks for the compliments, Purple Goddess! I think the quest for improved photography is one most food bloggers share... there are many beautiful sites that I look on with envy.

  4. Hey there cindy - well, I'm glad you enjoyed the chips and salad at least! We didn't try the tempura veg on our visit, so sorry to hear they didn't come up to par on yours.

    But the fish really was wonderful (if you're into such things ;-))

    I saw Ratatouille with EG yesterday, and thought it was really entertaining and quite spot on foodwise. But then, it did have some rather special consultants in the way of Thomas Keller etc. Loved seeing the microplanes in action, and the snootiness of the food critics (ahem).

  5. Hiya Mellie! Thanks again for the recommendation. :-)

    No need to worry about snootiness, I don't think - your sense of humour is clear all over your blog!

  6. I like that black octopus on the wall, was it a drawing or was it a sticker?

  7. Tippitappi, it looked very much like a stenciled painting to me - difficult for me to imagine how it was executed, though, because that would require an enormous stencil! :-)