Thursday, November 27, 2014

Banana butterscotch pudding

November 9, 2014

I've been accumulating bananas in the freezer and wondering what to bake them in. I wanted to make this sticky banana pudding while Michael was away travelling but I can't find the recipe online anymore - and boy howdy, have I looked. It was after my latest failed search that I let it go and started researching alternative versions. There are actually plenty of self-saucing banana puddings out there that my fond memories prevented me from noticing.

I went with a Bill Granger recipe posted on fuss free cooking. I knew it wasn't the same as my ol' fave - I remember there being butter and/or cream in the butterscotch sauce - but if anything that made it simpler to prepare. Given that mashed banana is a common egg replacer in vegan baking, I doubled on the fruit and cut down on ingredients in the process.

Pouring a watery syrup over the cake might look weird, yet I trusted it would work (I've done this once before). Granted, it's not as buttery as the original, but this butterscotch sauce thickens and pools in the bottom of the dish and leaves sticky caramel on the edges of the cake, just as it should. The pudding is very, very sweet and I'll try reducing the sugar in the cake down to 70g or so next time I bake it. Fresh from the oven the pudding is cakey and almost light; after a day in the fridge it tends toward dense and fudgy. It's a treat either way.

Banana butterscotch pudding
(slightly adapted from fuss free cooking,
where it's credited to Bill Granger)

85g butter or margarine
115g castor sugar
2 bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 cup almond milk

butterscotch sauce
140g brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 cup water

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a baking dish

In a large bowl, beat together the butter/margarine and the castor sugar until fluffy. Beat in the mashed bananas and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Sift over the flour, baking powder and salt and gently beat it in, gradually adding the milk as you go. Pour the cake batter into the baking dish.

Place all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring them to the boil. Gently pour the sauce over the cake batter. Bake the pudding for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is cooked through.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Loving Hut II

Update 07/04/2020: Loving Hut has been rebranded as Brother Bon.

November 8, 2014

Leigh Drew has been in Melbourne recently promoting her new cookbook Greenilicious. She found time between celebrity appearances and repeat visits to Yong Green Food to share a meal with some veg bloggers including Veganopoulous, Green Gourmet Giraffe, The Good Hearted, Veganise This! and Kittens Gone Lentil.

Veganopoulous kindly reserved us a table at Loving Hut Northcote, which we've been long overdue to revisit. The menu has expanded to almost fifty savoury dishes with a variety of mock meat and non-mock dishes, stir-fried, deep-fried and completely un-fried foods. Everything is vegan, and the menu is coded for gluten-free, raw, chilli-heavy and onion/garlic foods.

I've had an eye on other bloggers' meals at Loving Hut throughout the year, and it was darn difficult to settle on just one for dinner. Ultimately I went for the sizzling katsu duck ($14) doused in a sweet and sour plum sauce, topped with a few steamed vegetables. The mock meat was excellent with a tender, slightly fatty texture and crisp crumbing.

The fried chicken that so impressed me on our first visit now has a spicier sibling called the volcano ($17). It's an even heftier serve of mock meat doused in a three chilli-rated sauce that marks it as Michael's meal - I don't have the heat-tolerance to steal more than a bite!

The dessert cabinet's expanded with the menu, and we couldn't help but test it out too. Lower shelves hold homely goods like brownies and jam tarts, and the top shelf is reserved for some of the fancier cakes. (After we picked a couple of these, our waiter proudly mentioned that they're made by his partner.) This chocolate and hazelnut slice (~$6.50) was silky smooth and topped with a toffeed pecan and sherbetty powdered raspberry.

The Loving Hut staff were efficient and personable, even stopping by to check that our meals were OK - unheard of at a Supreme Master venue. On our chattering, seat-swapping table of eight I was oblivious to the half-empty food court atmosphere I've previously reported. The only shortcoming was ours and not the restaurant's: we were too enthusiastic about the deep-fried dishes and should have made more space for their fresher, vegetable-focused foods. Perhaps we can make amends next time.


This shared meal has been mentioned in passing on Green Gourmet Giraffe and Veganopoulous.

You can read about our first visit to Loving Hut Northcote here.


Loving Hut
377-379 High St, Northcote
9077 1335
menu: one, two 

Accessibility: Lookin' good! A very wide automatic door, flat floors and moderately spaced tables. We ordered at our table and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets, but I spotted a disability-labelled unisex toilet down a wide corridor at the back of the building.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lucy Lockett

November 4, 2014

This is a story of major oversight on our part - it appears that cafe Lucy Lockett has been serving up original and abundantly veg-friendly breakfasts and lunches just a couple blocks from our home since February. And we had no idea. 

We blame the awnings that obscure their signage. When a cafe opened in this spot almost two years ago, we looked over the menu and didn't see anything we wanted to order. Since then it's evolved from Red Scooter to Red Vespa to the current Lucy Lockett without making any further impression on us at all. Thankfully our friend Troy is a little more observant recommended their menu to us.

As I hinted above, there's a lot to recommend - smashed avocado comes with spring onions and coriander (and Vegemite if you like!), mushrooms are braised with spinach, there's a breakfast burrito stuffed with scrambled egg and beans. The sweet side is as extensive and thoughtfully composed - the bircher muesli is vegan with a pina colada theme, house roasted granola comes with popcorn, and the French toast is crumbed with banana chips and oats. I can almost forgive them for adding bacon to their sticky date and almond pancakes. And that's not even delving into the toasties and lunch options! With crystal clear dietary markings throughout, these guys are true friends of vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs.

Michael relished a sunny plate of vegan, gluten-free corn and zucchini fritters interspersed with quinelles of avocado, sour coconut cream and sweet chilli jam ($18). My serve of Dr Marty's crumpets ($8.50, pictured top) came in a fancy stack, dripping with rich house made peanut butter, mixed berry jam and fresh strawberries. I also sampled my second iced chai of the weekend ($6.50, also pictured top), though based on the confused murmurs behind the counter it's rarely ordered. It was a mild milk tea chilled with both ice cubes and ice cream.

Staff were friendly and relaxed on a quiet Melbourne Cup morning. Prices hover around $15 for breakfast, rise towards $20 for lunch plates and soar beyond for folks ordering the biggest meat-based meals. Those price points are becoming more common in Melbourne's cafes, and I don't mind paying them here, where the veg options are so numerous and varied.


Lucy Lockett
140 Barkly St, Brunswick
8388 7138

Accessibility: The entry is flat and the interior is spacious. We ordered at our table and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Heartattack and Vine

November 3, 2014

We took advantage of cheap Monday nights at Nova to catch up with Cindy's aunt for a movie and a meal. I'd been itching to try Heartattack and Vine, the newest kid on the Carlton block, with an impressive pedigree (it's been opened by Wide Open Road and A Minor Place alumni and follows their tradition of a musical reference moniker).

They've transformed the old Brown's Bakery space into a tremendously stylish bar - beautiful wooden tables, exposed bricks and gorgeous light fittings create a lovely atmosphere. It's cosy inside - maybe 30 seats - and there are a couple of big outdoor tables on Lygon if you want to sit outside.

We had no idea what to expect food-wise, but we had high hopes. It turns out though that H & V is more bar than restaurant, modelled on the bars of Italy, where food is all about shared plates of small bites. They've got the drinks nailed down - a great range of bottled beer plus Coburg Lager on tap, cocktails, an impressive wine list and an array of Six Barrel Soda Co soft drinks. Cindy and Carol split the raspberry/lemon and the cola and were impressed by both.

There's no menu to speak of - the kitchen puts together an array of dishes each day and you talk them through with the staff and make your choices - $3.50 a dish or 3 for $10. We wound up with 9 dishes ($30) - this included all the vego options (they'd just run out of a salad) plus some anchovy-stuffed olives for Carol. The day we visited vegans would have been limited to the crisps, the spiced nuts and the green olives (all of which were good). We added some cheese and pickles on delicious bread and some gooey, cheesy arancini, plus they threw in some crisps as a bonus. The dishes were all excellent, although teetering on the brink of decent value - $30 got the three of us enough food to get through the movie, but really not much more than that.  

We had a good time at Heartattack and Vine - the staff are super friendly and the vibe was busy without being overly crowded, but I struggled to scale back my expectations to bar food from the full meals I'd been imagining. This isn't really H & V's fault - they do what they do very well - I'm sure we'll be having drinks there again before too long, but it's probably not a dinner destination if you're feeling hungry. They're open all day - coffee and pastry at breakfast, a few different sandwiches and rolls at lunchtime and booze all day. It's a welcome addition to the neighbourhood and will provide fierce competition to the bar upstairs at Nova


The lunch options at Heartattack & Vine have been reviewed at de-brief me already.


Heartattack and Vine
329 Lygon St, Carlton
9005 8624
facebook page

Accessibility: There's a small lip on the door as you come in off the street. The interior is pretty crowded and the seating mostly low stools. You order and pay at a high bar. The toilets are unisex, but not particularly accessibility-focused otherwise.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blue Buddha Cafe

January 2016: Doing a bit of blog tidying up - Blue Buddha closed sometime in 2015.

November 3, 2014

Following our lunch at Tadka Boom!, Michael and I ran a few errands in the city and then walked north to Raw Trader with dessert on our minds. It was closed for the Melbourne Cup long weekend and Short Stop next door had only just that minute sold out of donuts. Dang. We whipped out our smart phones, confirmed that Blue Buddha Cafe was open and continued walking north.

Tucked just beyond the Queen Victoria Markets, this cafe has transformed a flat corporate building with a benevolent blue Buddha mural. Inside there's second hand furniture, cotton cushions, board games and a small lending library. Michael picked a pew and I wandered over to the counter to survey our options. The brunch foods that others have posted about weren't really apparent, but it was easy to discern our cake-and-drink options.

I picked out two non-bananified raw cakes from the display case ($6 each) - a wedge of lemon and avocado cheesecake, and a cupcake-sized chocolate and avocado cheesecake. They were homely and well-balanced: not overladen with sweetener or coconut oil, and perfectly portioned.

Drinks are fair trade and soycharge free - Michael went for his usual flat white ($4), while I took on their soy iced chai ($5). The latter was remarkable! Made with real tea and real spice with only a subtle hint of sweetness, this could be my perfect iced chai. I'll guess I'll have to go back soon just to be sure. Next time I'll turn up in time to try their mushroom bacon too.


Blue Buddha Cafe has already received positive reviews on Veganopoulous, The Good Hearted and A Melbournite.

Blue Buddha Cafe
30/1 O'Connell St, North Melbourne
8395 0699
facebook page

Accessibility: There's one small step on entry and a moderately spacious interior. I ordered and paid at a low counter. The furniture is a mix of cushioned wooden pews, milk crates, and more standard table and chairs. We didn't visit the toilets.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tadka Boom!

Update 27/1/2019: Tadka Boom! has closed down.

November 3, 2014

We were pretty excited when Tadka Boom! opened in the CBD, bringing with it the promise of India-inspired breakfast dishes and more straightforward lunches. Idli-based breakfast dishes and scrambled eggs with lentil and rice pikelets sounded fascinating and fun. Sadly, we took a few months to get ourselves sorted for a visit, by which time they'd ditched the brekkies entirely. The new focus is healthy Indian lunches, which suited our mood for a lazy long-weekend trip into the city.

The restaurant is tucked into Goldsborough Lane, a little courtyard filled with office-worker lunch spaces and not a lot of atmosphere. The layout inside is bright and cheerful - block colours, cute circular fluoro lights and upbeat staff. The menu is a slightly odd mix of wraps and rice bowls, snack-sized dishes and Indian-inspired sliders and tacos. It's veg-friendly and well-labelled, with heaps of options for vegans. 

The Indian felafel tacos (2 for $10) sounded intriguing, but I decided to go with something more conventional - the Varansi Veg rice bowl (spicy vegetable mix with brown basmati rice and lentil dahl, $10.90) with a side of Bombay bites (lentil and herb nuggets with coriander aioli, $3.50 extra). The bites were okay - a little on the dry side, but a nice herby flavour and a decent amount of aioli for dunking.

The bowl was more successful - the spicy veggie mix was fresh, almost salady, with plenty of fresh chilli chunks dotted through the cabbage, greens, carrot and likely cooked cauliflower and the dahl was hearty. I was impressed that they keep the spice levels up reasonably high - this could have been pretty dull if they'd been a bit less adventurous.

Cindy tried one of the salads - lured in by the promise of samosas as a key ingredient. The Boom!osa combined broken spinach and potato samosas with fresh greens, blackened chickpeas and a spicy dressing ($10.90). 

Cindy was impressed by this (although it also had high spice levels, which were a bit of a challenge) and inspired by the idea of including samosa chunks in a salad - expect a homemade interpretation at some stage soon!

Tadka Boom! is the kind of place you'd love if you worked nearby - an affordable, varied menu with plenty of veggie options. I'm guessing it'd be pretty busy on a regular work day - even on the Monday before the Melbourne Cup public holiday things were getting pretty full by 12:30. Their lack of any weekend opening hours mean it might be a while before we get back. It's definitely worth checking out if you do work in the neighbourhood, though - I'd love to hear what the tacos are like!


The Lentil Institution has already covered the vegan options at Tadka Boom! and was quite impressed, while Gastrology and Grazing Panda both enjoyed the omni options. Brunch Addict's post makes me a bit sad to have missed the brief breakfast period, and there are a series of posts on special freebie events at My Fair Melbourne, Bread & Butter, I'm So Hungree and ForkSake.


Tadka Boom!
Shop 22, Goldsborough Lane, Melbourne
9600 1633

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway and a reasonably spacious interior. Seats are a mix of high stools and regular tables. You order and pay at a lowish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rhubarb & strawberry sorbet

November 1-2, 2014

I'd kind of promised icecream for our pizza party, but then I got all excited about that baked ginger cheesecake. I figured something fruit-based might best match it and pulled out The Perfect Scoop for a browse. It didn't take long to pick the rhubarb and strawberry sorbet.

If you're comfortable stewing rhubarb and have a food processor or blender then you've got this recipe sewn up - the method's reasonably simple and the ingredient list is simpler still. I found that the sorbet's consistency was a little crystalline straight from the freezer, but it became soft and frothy as it melted. It was a cool and tangy contrast to a dense, creamy and spicy cheesecake.

Rhubarb & strawberry sorbet
(adapted very slightly from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop)

400g rhubarb
2/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
250g punnet strawberries
1/2 teaspoon squeeze lemon juice

Wash the rhubarb, remove the leaves and trim the stems. Slice the stalks into 2cm lengths. Place them in a medium-large saucepan with the water and sugar. Bring it all to the boil, then turn down the heat and pop a lid on top, simmering the rhubarb for 5-10 minutes until cooked through. Let the rhubarb cool to room temperature before continuing.

Wash and hull the strawberries. Place them in a food processor with the rhubarb and its syrup and squeeze over the lemon juice. Blend it all together very thoroughly, until it is as smooth as possible. Refrigerate the mixture until it is very cold, ideally overnight.

Churn the sorbet mixture according to the manufacturer's instructions and freeze it for at least 4 hours before serving.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ginger cheesecake slice

November 1-2, 2014

This recipe has been on my dessert wish-list since I received a review copy of Veganissimo a year ago. The cookbook's helpful icons reminded me that it's both gluten-free and soy-free, and was thus an ideal dessert for our pizza party.

I've little to report when it comes to the making of this cheesecake - everything came together as instructed without any angst or uncertainty. The base is a slightly sandy mix of flours spiked with ground ginger, but its main role is to support a major dose of crystallised ginger. Over the top goes a cashew-based cheesecake mixture, and in a refreshing departure from the now-ubiquitous raw cakes this one gets baked.

The result is firm and dense rather than fluffy, creamy with a sweet heat. A small slice brings big satisfaction (...particularly when one's belly is already full of pizza).

Ginger cheesecake slice
(from Leigh Drew's Veganissimo!)

3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2-1/3 cup olive oil

200g crystallised ginger, roughly chopped

cashew cheesecake
2 cups raw cashews
1 cup almond milk
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely sliced
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cover the cashews for the cheesecake in water and soak them overnight.

Preaheat an oven to 160°C. Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.

In a large bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients (buckwheat flour through to ground ginger). Pour over 1/2 cup of the oil and mix it through with a spoon or clean hands. If needed, add more oil a tablespoon at a time until the mixture resembles wet sand. When the texture is right, pour the base mixture into the baking tray and spread it out evenly, smoothing it down with the back of a spoon. Bake the base until it is golden at the edges and beginning to dry out, 10-15 minutes.

While the base is baking, place the almond milk in a small saucepan with the fresh ginger pieces. Simmer the milk over low heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow the ginger to infuse into the milk as it cools for a further 10 minutes.

When the milk is cool enough, remove the ginger pieces and pour it into a food processor or blender. Drain the cashews and add them too. Add the remaining cheesecake ingredients and blend them thoroughly until as smooth as possible.

Sprinkle the crystallised ginger pieces over the base. Pour over the cheesecake mixture and smooth over the top. Bake the cheesecake until it is golden on top and firm around the edges, 40-50 minutes. Allow the slice to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Grillin' cheese sauce

November 2, 2014

Last weekend we had some friends over for a vegan pizza party. I made a quadruple batch of my favourite pizza dough, we grabbed a few fresh veges and cured olives from the market, and we invited our friends to bring their favourite pizza toppings too. Michael collated a range of grated and gratable vegan cheeses and I had a go at making my own.

This pizza cheese recipe from Live Blissful resembles any number of cheesy vegan sauce recipes out there, based on mock-milk and ground cashews with nooch, lemon juice and garlic for flavour. But the way it bubbled and coloured and crusted in the oven took me by surprise - it definitely brings the golden-gooey look to an otherwise cheeseless pizza.

Tastewise, it was pretty mild. I used a little onion powder instead of garlic due to our guests' dietary requirements and will revert to a generous shake of garlic powder in other circumstances. (It probably wouldn't hurt to increase the nooch and lemon juice quantities either.) This formulation works well in tandem with grated commercial vegan cheese like Cheezly or Daiya; they've got flavour and a bit of stretch but can dry into miserly strings in the oven and this sauce lends body and creaminess.

This cheese sauce still has something to offer on its own, and we grilled up a good portion of it on plain toast too.

Grillin' cheese sauce 
(from Live Blissful)

1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cover the cashews in water and soak them for at least an hour. Drain the cashews and blend them with the rest of the ingredients until the sauce is as smooth as possible. Transfer the sauce to a saucepan and heat it, stirring constantly. Take it off the heat once it's thickened, around 5 minutes.

Use the sauce on pizza, toast or inside grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Broccoli soup with tahini, lemon & pine nut dukkah

November 1, 2014

Our veggie box included a couple of heads of broccoli and some silverbeet, so Cindy's recipe radar went off when she came across this soup on My Darling Lemon Thyme. It was perfectly designed to fill our post-Halloween lazy day - a simple soup, easy to whip up and healthy to help our recovery from all the cocktails and over-eating at Smith & Daughters.

Ah, if only. This was basically a disaster - our stick blender blew its motor in the middle of the process, our tahini sauce sank like a stone rather than swirling neatly on top of the soup and I managed to splash the half-blended soup all down my front. Good times. Luckily, there was enough leftover for us to re-blend the soup on Monday with a new stick blender and for me to eat it with less of a grump on and actually enjoy it. The tahini sauce in particular is excellent - tangy and salty and providing some depth to the flavour of the soup. I think I've been scarred enough by this soup not to put it into high rotation, but it's not really fair to blame the recipe for our appliance breakdowns and my clumsiness - go and look at the great photos on My Darling Lemon Thyme to get inspired.

Broccoli soup with tahini, lemon & pine nut dukkah
(slightly adapted from a recipe on My Darling Lemon Thyme)

tahini & lemon sauce
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon pine nuts
4 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
water to thin things out if necessary (the recipe recommends 2 tablespoons, but our mix seemed plenty runny without it).

1 leek (the white parts), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 heads broccoli (stems and florets), roughly chopped
1 litre veggie stock
1 x 400ml can coconut cream
a small bunch of silverbeet leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons dukkah (the original recipe wanted za'atar)

Start with the tahini sauce. Smash up the garlic, salt, allspice and pine nuts in a mortar and pestle until it's a thick paste. Stir it together with the tahini and the olive oil and season and then set it aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the leek and garlic with the salt and cumin until it all softens nicely. 

Stir in the broccoli for a minute or two and then pour in the stock and simmer everything for 15 minutes or so. Throw in the silverbeet leaves and cook for another few minutes before adding in the coconut cream. 

Let the mixture cool a bit and then stick-blend until the soup is smooth (or your blender explodes). Serve with a dollop of the lemon-tahini sauce on top and a sprinkling of the pine nuts and the dukkah.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Springtime salad with ricotta & hazelnuts

October 21, 2014

Broad beans come and go quickly in spring, and we were lucky to be delivered a paper bag of pods in our vege box, along with some excellent asparagus. A 'broadbeans' tag is tucked into my recipe bookmarks for just such a moment; this season I pulled out a salad recipe that Anna posted on beans & barley five years ago.

I made a couple of minor changes, swapping the rocket for vege box lettuce and serving the ricotta in big dollops rather than tossing it through the salad. It's rare that I use honey at all, but I loved the way it combined with apple cider vinegar in the dressing (and I'm sure it'd be fine to use maple syrup or similar instead).

With a vibrant green foundation of lettuce, broad beans and asparagus, richer protein in the ricotta and hazelnuts, and a lively sweetness in that honey-vinegar dressing we found that this had everything we needed for a light dinner.

Springtime salad with ricotta & hazelnuts
(slightly adapted from a recipe on beans & barley)

handful of hazelnuts
450g unpodded broad beans
1 bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 handfuls green leaves, rinsed
100g fresh ricotta
salt and pepper, to taste

Gently toast the hazelnuts in a dry frypan, then set them aside.

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to the boil. Extract the broad beans from their pods and discard the pods. Chop the asparagus into 3-5cm lengths. When the water is boiling, add in the broad beans and blanch them for no more than 2 minutes. Scoop out the broad beans and add the asparagus to the water, blanching them for 1-2 minutes before scooping them out.

Heat the apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan. Stir in the honey until it's dissolved. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Hopefully by now the hazelnuts are cool enough to handle. Rub off their brown skins and roughly chop the nuts.

When the broad beans are cool enough to handle, use your fingernails or a small knife to remove the skins from the beans.

Arrange the green leaves in a bowl or on a platter. Arrange the broad beans and asparagus on top, then dot over teaspoonfuls of the ricotta and scatter over the hazelnuts. Pour the dressing over the top and serve.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Wang Wang Dumpling

October 19, 2014

We spent Sunday afternoon at Coburg's Post Office Hotel at a terrific gig. Though we'd snuck in a few shoestring fries, we were ready to escape the pub chaos and grab dinner elsewhere after the encore. Wang Wang Dumpling was only a short walk away - the Elegant Gourmand at tummy rumbles blogged about it yonks ago and it was exactly what we wanted.

Wang Wang Dumpling is large and reasonably spacious, with the easy-to-wipe-down surfaces and hand-written specials of a family restaurant. I noticed that they were running a steady takeaway trade up by the counter.

The menu is a huge plastic binder with veg dishes scattered throughout - it's a bit of work to establish what the options are and prioritise, but there's plenty to choose from.

The staff started us off with some complimentary hot tea, and we ordered additional big botttles of falsely-fruity iced tea ($3.50 each) as we mixed up dipping bowls of soy sauce, vinegar and chilli oil.

The spring onion pancake ($4.50) was a crispy-golden monument to deep-frying with only the smallest flecks of green.

Fried tofu with salt and pepper ($14) is new to the menu. While the batter and garnishing chilli-capsicum dice are great, this batch was woefully underseasoned; we found ourselves dredging the odd piece through our chilli-soy bowls.

The fried vegetable dumplings ($10.00) were more satisfying. Biting one in half, I could discern finely minced mushroom and green vegetables inside.

We weren't in the mood for noodles, but apparently Wang Wang make their own. One of the hand-written signs promised deep-fried icecream, too, but good sense and a stomach full of fried dough won out over my screaming nostalgia. I'd like to return to try more and luckily we're only a #19 tram ride away. With reserved but friendly service and a quick turnaround on orders, this is a nice venue for comforting and unfussy meals.


Wang Wang has also received positive write-ups on Consider the Sauce and The Quince Poacher.

Wang Wang Dumpling
3/51 Waterfield St, Coburg
9354 0294
menu: drinks, entrees, dumpling & soup, chicken & duck, claypot, beef & pork, more beef & pork, seafood, vegetable & omelette

Accessibility: There was one step up on entry and reasonably spacious tables inside. We ordered at our table and paid at a medium-high counter. We didn't visit the toilets and suspect they might be located outside of the restaurant.