14

Great Meals At Good Days In Brunswick

Good Days Brunswick

After seeing quite a few photos of the Good Days vegan option Vietnamese noodle salad floating around online, Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe blog and I made a lunch date to check it out. Good Days are a recent addition to the southern end of Sydney Road in Brunswick, having opened about ten weeks ago.

Johanna and I had read about this great looking dish on Where’s The Beef?, with the house made tofu mushroom spring rolls and so we both ended up ordering it. The other vegan option was a mushroom pho and the tofu rice paper rolls. My first impression of my noodle salad was WOW THAT’S BIG. I wasn’t expecting such a generous serve! The spring rolls were crispy and great, tucked in with black sesame cucumber, bean shoots, baby spinach, spring onion, pickled carrot and daikon, fresh herbs, fried shallots, roasted peanuts, the noodles and topped with cassava crackers ($15). The nuoc cham dressing was on the side. Everything worked so well together, enough to make me want to go back for another one pretty soon:

Good Days Brunswick

Usually I like to visit a place twice before blogging about it and so that was a nice handy convenient excuse to return again for a lunchtime mushroom pho. As well as the pho, I ordered the mushroom tofu rice paper rolls which were nice and stuffed, served with a great hoisin peanut sauce ($4.50):

Good Days Brunswick

Like the noodle salad, the mushroom pho ($15) was served in a large bowl. I loved the broth which was a nice surprise because in the past when I’d tried the non vegan versions, I found some of the flavours overpowering and so I wasn’t sure what to expect from a vegan version. The grilled mushrooms were excellent, nice and firm and something to get your teeth in to. The noodles were plentiful too:Good Days Brunswick

Good Days mention on their Instagram page that the pho is gluten free, though the king mushrooms are marinated in a soy dressing so if you tell the staff you’d like gluten free, they can leave that out.

Good Days Brunswick

Service was great, I was greeted by friendly staff who were happy for me to take photos. There is two-person seating along the side wall, a larger table by the front window and some bench setting along the counter (with the added advantage of seeing your meal prepared). I was offered drinks each time but didn’t check them out because I’m happy with water refills.

The lunch and dinner menus are the same. The menu is small, though don’t let that deter you in any way! These are the kinds of carefully crafted and considered meals where the staff know their stuff and I know with me, it’s now my go-to place when I want pho or a Vietnamese noodle salad because I know I will love my meal.

Good Days Brunswick

It’s great to see yet another restaurant serving delicious vegan options. Sydney Road keeps on getting better with more of these vegan options frequently popping up, which is a far cry from when I first became vegan four or so years ago and was scoping out Sydney Road and not finding anywhere near as much!

Good Days are open for lunch from 12 noon to 3pm, then dinner from 6pm to 9pm, Wednesday to Sunday.

Good Days Brunswick

Good Days

165 Sydney Road, Brunswick

http://good-days.com.au/
Good Days Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

6

Lunch at Loving Hut in Northcote

Loving Hut in Northcote is has recently reopened for lunch again: HURRAH! Great news for my family, seeing as we go there enough for dinner but we much prefer lunch hours.

I’ve taken my sister to Loving Hut before and so she and I decided to take mum. The plan was to order the southern fried chicken– that is ALWAYS the plan, so you can imagine my face when I was told they didn’t have any on the day (Sunday).

The other plan was to try something different. I always get the homemade curry with white rice because I like it so much. Then I’m all okay I’ll get something different next time, but the next time always involves getting the  homemade curry “one last time”.

My something-different entree were the steamed rice rolls with mushroom mince ($7). Oh my, these were delicious. Not stingy on the filling at all.  Mum, my sister and I really enjoyed them:

Loving Hut Northcote mushroom rolls

Loving Hut Northcote mushroom rolls

My sister went for the crispy wontons ($8). To me, wontons are pretty much okay, not resulting in those oh-man-these-are-great feelings like I had with the rice rolls:

Loving Hut Northcote crispy wontons

For her main, my mum ordered the curry laksa ($12). Mum really liked this and my sister and I tried a bit and agreed it was good. Mum would have liked more heat in hers but for me it was just right:

Loving Hut Northcote curry laksa

My sister ordered the homemade curry ($13. Ha, I still got some after all!). It tasted the same as the one I had on Thursday night but my sister’s had more veggies in it. This was good because as much as I like it, sometimes the amount of veggies are hit and miss:

Loving Hut Northcote homemade curry

Our server recommended I try the Broken Rice ($13). Wow, what a great recommendation.  I loved this plate of (vegan!) egg, sliced ham, chicken, potato, carrot and of course the broken rice, along with nuoc mam dipping sauce. I’d order this again and I was glad I went for the something-different to my usual:

Loving Hut Northcote broken rice

Here’s the southern fried chicken I had last week. Boy did I love the leftovers the next day:

Loving Hut Northcote fried chicken

These are the tofu bites, soft tofu sprinkled with rosemary salt. I liked these but they weren’t a hit with the family and I wouldn’t order them just for myself again:

Loving Hut Northcote tofu bites

The sweets display has treats like walnut slice, custard tarts, apple turnover pies and jam tarts. These look identical to those made by La Panella Bakery in Preston. I asked if the sweets were from La Panella and was told that the same people own La Panella and Loving Hut Northcote and that they make those sweets there at Loving Hut but the recipes are the same used at La Panella. My sister and I got a custard tart each to take home. I didn’t take a photo because they got a little squished but these were good, not that sickly sweet kind of non-vegan custard tarts you find in bakeries everywhere.

Although I was assured the Loving Hut custard tarts are vegan and that they use the La Panella recipe, some Melbourne vegans have reported that La Panella do not label their custard tarts as vegan (La Panella sell vegetarian and vegan goods). So make sure you ask about the custard tarts there at La Panella.

Here’s a piece of hazelnut peanut cake I bought last week from Loving Hut. I don’t remember how much it cost but wow it was one nice cake. I don’t know if they make it on the premises or if they buy it off someone else, but it was the first and only time I’ve seen a non-La Panella style sweet there:

Loving Hut Northcote peanut hazelnut cake

Loving Hut Northcote has a bit of an odd setup, which doesn’t appeal to all. The freezer section and shelves, selling vegan products, are at the front of the restaurant when you walk in so when you’re walking by outside, you don’t see tables and chairs right there.  I’m sure Loving Hut have their reasons for this (too bright/hot in summer perhaps) but I can’t help wonder if they’d attract more passers by if they moved the dining area right by the window. Some people aren’t fans of the big sliding door either, especially if your hands are full.

I was discussing this with mum and my sister and mum commented on how clean and open the place is and she much prefers that than a smaller cramped space. I also really like the open space. If you’re there as part of a large group and many of you have prams, I’m sure there’d be enough room. It’s a great size for holding a function and I think families would like it too, because if your children want to get up and walk around the table (hello DeeW) there’s enough space so that they’re not bumping in to chairs and ticking people off.

When we’ve gone there as a family for dinner, we usually go around 5:30 as that’s the time we’re driving through Northcote. We’re usually one of about three or four tables. Today during lunch we and another table of two were the only people in the restaurant, though a few people came in for takeaway.

The toilets are to the rear of the restaurant. There is a single men and women toilet each, plus a disabled/family toilet with a lot of space. The hand basins are in an open area for everyone. The toilets and basin areas have always been clean when I’ve used them.

There’s a big tv screen which sometimes plays nature style videos or is switched off. I have not seen any Supreme Master videos playing, like you see at Loving Hut in Richmond. Music is kept to a low volume.

Service has always been friendly, though we have had a couple of orders misinterpreted or missed. No biggie, everything was fixed right away.

Loving Hut Northcote

377 High Street, Northcote

9077 1335

http://www.lovinghutnorthcote.com.au/

 

16

A Really Lazy What I Ate, Plus a Return to Gong de Lin

Again I’ve fallen behind with making notes of what I’ve been eating.  I’ve been kinda sorta ‘good’, and having some raw stuff but mostly in the form of smoothies and juices.  I’ve found that when I make things that are a little more time consuming, I’m the only one that ends up eating them which is not exactly ideal if there are a lot of nuts involved.  Plus once the cooler weather hits I turn in to one of those people who don’t like eating raw in cold weather!

One of my favourite smoothies is the Cake Batter Smoothie from Eat Raw Eat Well.  It’s made with cashew milk, avocado, date, orange, lemon.  I love this smoothie so much:

cakebattersmoothieHusband and I were near Richmond again so we dropped in to Loving Hut for our usual.  Husband gets the spring rolls.  You can see in the photo they look like regular spring rolls, whereas our previous visits gave us the more puffed up lumpy bumpy pastry:

springrolls

I was determined to try another dish but in the end I just felt like the tofu puff-veg curry again.  I’ll get something different next time…

tofu puff veg curry Loving Hut

I made the cheesy-onion raw cauliflower popcorn in the dehydrator using this recipe at Little Vegan Bear.  Caeli is right when she says these feel junky but without the junk!  I just wish my family ate it but I’m not complaining that I get it all to myself:

cauli popcorn

My mum made a nice roasted eggplant dip and green beans with potato and carrot.  Yes, that’s a chores list that says scrub toilets:

beans dinner

Mum also gave me some of the burghul she made and this made another hearty meal served up with grilled mushrooms:

mush beans burghul

I made up some lentil and bean ‘meat’ based on a recipe from Isa Does It though I added in some mushrooms.  I had this during the week rolled up and pressed in my sandwich grill press thingy, or in a tortilla.  I made Johanna’s Cauliflower Cheese Sauce with some minor modifications (like veg broth instead of soy milk, and I used nooch instead of tahini).  I ended up putting more sauce on my plate so I could use the tortilla as a mop because this cauliflower sauce is yumz:

taco meat cauliflower cheeze sauce

I made Moroccan Chickpea Burgers from Holy Cow! I liked them but the family are really, really fussy when it comes to burgers.  As in, they don’t really eat them:

moroccan veg burgers

March 14th was Pi Day.  I didn’t make anything on the day, but the day before I made a sortof pie in the form of an apple rhubarb crumble.  I believe North American peeps call this a crisp:

rhubarbpie


I was mostly happy with the two person banquet at Gong de Lin recently (we were not served the baby corn soup) so when I got home I’d purchased another two person Scoopon.  I took my sister to Gong de Lin last week and the soup came out straight away.  We had the same entree of steamed dumplings and spring rolls, but these dumplings had a different filling than last time and were bigger too.

For our two main meals the sweet and sour mock pork came out but instead of the spicy mock chicken, we had a mushroom dish.  I thought it was good taste wise but anything other than button shaped mushies make me nervous.  My sister is braver than me in this respect and polished it off. The downside here is that we waited for rice to come out but none appeared.  Flagging down the waitress was pointless because other tables were getting really impatient and beginning to call out.  Besides, my sis and I were really full by this point that we said mehhh don’t worry about the rice:

gongdelin2a

I had talked up the dessert course T and I had last time.  This time however, we were given the same ‘dumplings in clear broth’ though the broth again seemed to be water with sugar.  As for the marble sized dumplings, I must report these were a massive let down.  They were plain balls of unsweetened dough with no flavour.  We ate one each then pushed it aside.  Mega disappointing:

gongdelin2b

My sister and I walked around a bit to ease our full stomachs.  We stopped in at the Organic Food and Wine Deli in Degraves Street for some cake.  The vegan options were lemon poppyseed (my sister got  that).  I went for the chocolate cherry cake.  Both tasted nice but were a little on the dry side.  I took a photo of my sister’s slice of cake but it was too blurry (this photo isn’t much better):

ofwd cake

I should point out The System my sister and I use.  When we go out to eat, we never order the same thing.  We pick two menu items we both like and we share.  Husband doesn’t get this.  He belongs to the school of “if you want something, just order it”.  Alas, he hates it when I pick from his plate.  In my defence though I must state that this ‘picking’ is always me taking a sample from his plate before I’ve used my cutlery and he’s welcome to try some of my meal.  Ditto for my sister or others who follow The System.  You don’t double dip of course.  But Husband does not understand this amazing System.

My sister and I had gone in to the Manchester Unity building:

manchesterunity1

manchesterunity2

We got in the lift and were snapping photos of ceilings and so on then got told off by the people from some of the businesses there.  Had we seen a ‘no photography’ sign we would have respected it.  It’s silly they don’t have signs up, I know people who go around to old buildings like this snapping pics of the interiors.

Husband and I have been enjoying watching Veronica Mars.  We had the final tv season put aside years ago and have just watched them all.  We’re definitely going to watch the movie.  I never thought I would enjoy a program set in high school (then college) but it’s a great show.  I especially love the interaction between Veronica and her Dad, always fantastically played:

veronicaketihmars

Another show we’re loving right now is Outrageous Fortune.  OF is a show produced in New Zealand about ten years ago.  I would love to work as a set or wardrobe stylist on a show like this.  I burst out laughing when Pascalle wore the trashy white boots with her bridesmaid dress:

outrageousfortune

I swore I wouldn’t buy any more cookbooks… a blog I follow is Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows.  Angela has just released her Oh She Glows cookbook and my copy arrived today.  Wheeee!  I really liked her introduction and I’m looking forward to trying out some of the recipes as they all look brilliant. Each recipe has a photo and it’s a pleasure to read through. Another book that arrived is Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen.  I’ve had my eye on this one for ages but always said no because I wanted to avoid eating bread.  But the truth is I do love a good sandwich and I’m not very creative when it comes to my own sandwiches.  Plus some of the recipes in this book look fab.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs from when I was young.  One year in the early 80s, probably 1982, I received my first record: one of those compilation albums with a bunch of hits from that year.  May I present Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five for your viewing pleasure!

6

Loving Hut Northcote: The Return. Again.

We love Loving Hut in Northcote.   Today we went with my sister and her partner for his belated birthday. This was their first time there and they really enjoyed it.  My sister no longer eats meat and although she considers herself ‘more vegetarian’, most of what she eats is vegan.  When she cooks, it’s vegan and when she chooses a meal from the cafeteria at work, she chooses something vegan.  Her partner is still omni but he’s very open minded and will try anything.

I ordered our usual entrees, which consists of fried stuff (spring rolls, moneybags and crumbed prawns) and we got the 7-piece serve of the southern fried chicken to share.  My sister and her partner loved it.  Their entree were the rice paper rolls with the crumbed prawn fillings served with two dipping sauces.  I forgot to take a photo when it came out:

loving hut rice paper roll

I went for the vegan sushi entree in the hopes DeeW would eat it.  She eats avocado maki rolls but unfortunately she removed all of the filling here and nibbled at the rice and nori:

loving hut vegan sushi

For our mains, I decided to break from the usual homemade curry and try something different.  I enjoy the homemade curry so much that I always say “I’ll get something different next time”.  So I went for the katsu style breaded duck in plum sauce with some plain rice on the side:

loving hut duck katsu

This was a massive serve.  As you can see, it’s all the mock duck with a little onion.  I find dishes like this really difficult to finish on my own so I was glad that we all picked at eachother’s plates.  Even so I took the leftovers home.  The plum sauce was more a coating on the dish, which I prefer instead of the duck pieces drowning in sauce.  I’d recommend this more for a party that are sharing the food around, as a meal for myself it’s just too much, with no veggies to lighten it.

My sister ordered the pad thai which was listed on the daily specials board.  Again this was a big serve and after the entrees, my sister barely put a dent in it.  She left enough to fill a takeaway container.  I tasted some and it was pretty good, there was tofu and bean shoots throughout:

loving hut pad thai

Sister’s partner got the ‘shrooms dish with rice on the side.  He loves mushrooms and said his meal was great.  I tried a bit and it was quite nice, though I am a total wimpazoid when it comes to anything other than button mushrooms.  Even cutting shiitake slightly freaks me out:

loving hut shrooms

We were absolutely stuffed and waddled back to our cars.  As usual, the men serving us were lovely and our meals arrived quickly.  We got there at 5:30 and there was only one other couple but by the time we left more people arrived.  It seems everyone orders the southern fried chicken!

Loving Hut Northcote is located at 377 High Street in Northcote.  I blogged about a previous visit here

Linda from the Lentil Institution has posted about her trip to Loving Hut Northcote here.  Cindy and Michael from Where’s the Beef have also visited.

6

Banquet Lunch at Gong de Lin

I’m a bit behind the times with this whole Scoopon thing.  I signed up recently because I think it gave me some extra bonus entries in to a competition.  Anyway, one of the Scoopon deals arriving in my inbox was a 100% vegan banquet at Gong de Lin.  $39 for two people so I signed up quick smart because it was a $54 saving.  My buddy T and I rocked up today all hungry like and got a booth by the window (we had to make a booking).

We started by ordering a ‘freshly squeezed juice’ first, though we were a little suss about the ‘freshly squeezed’ origins:

gongdelinbanquet

First up, according to the Scoopon coupon description were the vegetarian spring rolls.  These were fairly standard spring roll fare but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because spring rolls are usually always yum:

gongdelinbanquet

The steamed vegetable dumplings came out at the same time.  I thought these were quite nice and would happily order them again:

gongdelinbanquet

Course 3 on the Scoopon menu description was baby corn soup… but ours never materialised.  I didn’t realise this when we were there, it’s only now reading the menu for this blog post that I realise we didn’t get it!

Next up: bean sprouts in Sichuan style sauce.  These were okay, with some thin noodles in there.  It was more of a refreshing accompaniment and I’d be happy if I could make this at home.  Nice and simple but tasty:

gongdelinbanquet

At the same time we also received a bowl of rice each and the sweet and sour ‘pork’.  Ahhh!  This tasted exactly like the non-vegan version you find in standard suburban Chinese restaurants.  You know, where lemon chicken is on the same menu.  I haven’t had sweet and sour pork (vegan or otherwise) in many, many years and this was a nice bit of nostalgia.  I believe this could fool a meat eater:

gongdelinbanquet

Because I was a bit of a doofus I tipped all my rice in to my bowl and plopped the sweet and sour pork on top, right before the waitress brought out the chicken with hot and spicy sauce.  The mock meat here wouldn’t fool a chicken-eater, but the dish was really tasty.  Suits me fine as I’m not in to mock meat as a meat substitute, I eat it because it’s food I like. Nothing to do with meat. I had to salvage half of my rice for the hot spicy chicken dish:

gongdelinbanquet

Finally we got glutinous rice balls in a sweet sauce.  The ‘sauce’ was more like warm water that was sweetened.  I really liked the black filling which tasted like bean paste and sesame.  A word of warning: take a pocket mirror.  Maybe even a toothbrush, because the filling got all over our teeth, in our teeth and we had to sit there cleaning out black bits.  Seriously, take a mirror and you’ll see what I mean:

gongdelinbanquet

I asked T what she would like to say for the blog and she said BRING A MIRROR.

Gong de Lin is located at  level 3, 264 Swanston Street, right near Lonsdale Street.  Walk in to Noodle Kingdom then take the elevator immediately to your left.  I previously visited Gong de Lin and I was happy with my meal there, though the second time I walked out as I waited for nearly twenty minutes to order and I was the only customer.  Trust me folks, I was making the ready-to-order face. You know, the slightly insincere half smile with raised eyebrows?  Anyway. When I’m hungry, you can’t mess with me.

I’m a bit bummed now that we missed the baby corn soup, there was no mention of it whatsoever so I’m slightly miffed. Regardless, I liked it all enough to order another two person coupon and I’ll take my sister.  This time I’ll take the coupon menu with me and make sure I get everything! T and I were so full we walked it off, down to the recently opened Broad Bean Organic Grocers in Southbank to take a look.  They have a good variety of products and vegan treats:

broad bean organic grocer

broad bean organic grocer

broad bean organic grocer

We took a peek at Testing Grounds, a public open art space opened in October 2013 that was formerly a vacant lot.  That’s the Victorian Arts Centre in the background:

testing grounds

It was quite warm out in the sun so we finished our city outing with a nice big cold juice at a juice bar in Melbourne Central.  I forgot to take a photo of the juices, but here are some scenes of a typical Melbourne day in the city.

cityscene1

cityscene2

cityscene3

I thought about asking this person if they could do a Weeping Angel pose.  Then I thought they probably get asked this all the time and find it REALLY annoying:

cityscene4

Don’t blink!