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Curry in Melbourne

Finding decent curry in Melbourne seems to be a lot harder than it looks. With more and more Indian restaurants and take aways appearing all over Melbourne, I did not expect the dissatisfaction that I have had.

Since moving here a few months ago there have been more times that I’ve wished I’d eaten baked beans at home, than times when I’ve been honestly satisfied with the food. It seems to be normal to use poor quality ingredients and heaps of oil.

Bangla Sweets & Curry Cafe
I suspect that this Aloo Muttar came from one of those $2 packet curries. More sauce than vegetables, and bland and sickly at that, it was possibly the most horrible curry I have ever had. Pakoras were dry and bland, and I was never quite clear if they were lying about animal products. Very rude service, and the first place I have encountered that usually add cream to their Aloo Mattar. Avoid.

Funky Curry
I think the name says it all. Out of a bain marie with the only flavour being cheapo chili powder.

Tandoori Times
This place seems a bit hit and miss, with there only being one time when it was actually really good.

Lentils as anything at St Kilda and Abbotsford
Spot on with their flavours. And finally – quality, organic ingredients. Once I went and it was mostly greasy sauce, but the other times have been great.

Gaylord
I’ve already written about this place, well worth going for lolz and the fantastic naan and aloo gobi. Edit: Dishes on the menu are not well described, and the waiter’s inability to speak english gets frustrating, also their beer is not cold enough. That garlic naan, and the aloo gobi is enough reason to return though.

Wild Yak Tibetan Restaurant
Not Indian, but delicious, healthy tasting curry with an excellent balance of flavours. The steamed Tsel Momo with hot sauce are especially delicious, as is the Shoko Tema Curry. Fair prices, and well worth the trip out to Northcote. Heaps of vegan options and excellent service.

Fitz Curry Cafe
This has to be the best Indian take away I’ve had. I tried the pumpkin masala (usually made with dairy, but they were happy to make it without) and the mushroom mutter. The vegetables were organic and perfectly cooked. The curries were full of vegetables, with a good amount of sauce.

Ganesh, St Georges Rd, North Fitzroy

Very nice atmosphere, organic, seasonal ingredients and lovely service – without their politics being shoved down your throat.  BYO everything, there is a bottleshop just past the nearby merry creek.  All vegan except for the lassi as of 3/1/09.

Places I have yet to try:
There is some all veggie place in Preston that’s really cheap
Vegetarian Nirvana Cafe on Bridge Rd

Please comment if you know of anywhere good!

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Chinatown

Camy Shanghai Dumpling House Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

Walking past Gaylord’s indian restaurant, giggling like the silly children we are, I expected some really good dumplings, and crazy service. Arriving through these doors, we are greeted with not just stressed, but hateful staff! The crazy man shouted “FOUR” and pointed at a group of two, hanging in one of the booths, forcing them to move so we could sit there.

We had a look through the sticky pages of the menu, and the beer list laminated to the table with very funny photos of the scary man, with beers superimposed on to his hand, and speech bubbles urging you to try such and such beer. Unable to decide, we ordered way too much: 2 bowls of dumpling soup, 1 crab and pork thing for the meat enthusiast, a plate of 20 dumplings, pumpkin cakes, taro cake and fake duck. First to arrive were the dumplings and the soup, quite some time later, the other dishes were gradually brought out, much to our horror.

There was some questioning of the hygiene of this place, in my mind. Everything seemed a bit dirty, and there was a constant fear that they had snuck something unhealthy into my food, other than the gallons of grease used to cook most of it! The flavour of it all was a bit funny, kind of bland, kind of unenjoyable, yet still, I ate, because I hate wasting food.

Towards the end of the evening, the soundtrack of the cheesiest love songs of all time, was interrupted with a recording of ‘happy birthday’, straight from a John Waters film. More and more I began to realise how classic this atmosphere was, with crazy man running around, barking things at customers, running in and out of the kitchen. After drawing on our food with the red sauce and arranging the dumplings into shapes, crazy man came back and barked: “HOW MANY?” 2? at our beers. When paying, he ordered at the meat enthusiast “1? TOMMOROW 2!!!”.

Leaving the venue in high spirits, with aching stomachs, we laughed and laughed about crazy man and his music and grotty little place, wishing slightly that we had gone to the New Kum Den.

New Kum Den Heffernan Lane, Melbourne
There is actually a “Kum Den” up the road, so I guess this means the original Kum Den wasn’t closed town for dodgy ingredients. New Kum Den has lots of nasty sounding non-vegan things on the menu. The novelty of eating there is enough to go though, they have a vegan soup there (mixed veggie or something), and that was pretty good.

GAYLORD Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne
ZOMG VEGAN NAAN. Yes, they have so many breads that are vegan there it is exciting. The Aloo Gobi is excellent, perfect flavour combinations and heat. The second time I went the waiter could barely speak english, so I wasn’t able to find out whether another dish was vegan. Well worth going for that garlic naan and aloo gobi and lolz.

Hofbräuhaus Market Lane, Melbourne
Not the best service, but they were able to make a vegan meal. The red cabbage is delicious and they serve awesome giant beers.

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