"I think I'm a little bit excited in the pants" says Steph giddily when a plate of food is set in front of her. A little later we say "We have four girls and two meatballs" and immediately burst into laughter. For those that think that I'm hanging out with a particularly rowdy bunch of girls, you'd be slightly off the mark for today I'm hosting a "Meet My Suburb" Walking Tour of Kensington and Kingsford with a bunch of fellow food blogger gals Betty, Reem, Steph and Trina. In our best effort to eat but still fit into our clothes, we're going to stop and eat and then do some walking. We were very lucky and had some lovely warm weather this particular weekend which made the stroll down Anzac Parade all the more enjoyable (and the iced drinks at our pit stops all the more satisfying). Our tour started at High Noon on a Sunday at Pondok Buyung where we were baying for brains...
The Bain Maries at Pondok Buyung
A few days before I had emailed the group asking them if they wanted to try brains. The answers were swift and decisive and all in the affirmative so we fronted up to the colourful bain marie display and ordered a plate of lamb's brains, fried chicken and chili chicken along with a Es Campur and Es Telur drinks. In order to eat as much as possible, all 5 of us split a plate which thankfully doesn't bother any of the shopkeepers there as we eat and go (ok and chat for a while but no-one was waiting for a table I promise). Total damage for the group at this stop? $17.
Mixed plate with 3 selections $11
Close up of the brains-don't they look oh so brainey!
It's the first time for many to try the lamb's brains and they're surprised at how soft and spongy they are and how mild they taste for offal (as compared to things such as liver or kidney). The chili chicken is a favourite of the group with it's spicy chicken flavours and moistness whilst the fried chicken is too dry, something that I often find with Indonesian style chicken.
Es Cendol $3
Es Campur $3
Underneath the icy tower of the Es Campur-yes avocado!
The icey drinks are welcome and the Es Cendol is a caramelly, coconutty iced drink with wriggly tapioca noodles or "worms" and is refreshingly sweet. The one that has everyone intrigued is the Es Campur which is similar to an Ice Kacang. Underneath the shaved ice, sweetened condensed milk and rose & raspberry syrup is a treasure trove of goodies ranging from pieces of avocado, grass jelly cubes and the sweeter than sweet palm seeds which have a molar sticking texture to them. We fish around and see that there are just enough of them so that everyone can try one.
Grotta Capri outside
After our little "appetiser" we head off down Anzac Parade and past Grotta Capri which is closed on Sundays and Sushi Tengoku which was said to reopen at the end of August but has yet to do so.
We walk into Pempek Clovelly for some Pempek which are a type of fried Indonesian fish cake. Here at Pempek Clovelly they do all sorts of shapes and each is a different flavour. We buy a mixed bowl of Pempek sitting in a sweetish and sourish soy sauce which is flavoured with sugar and tamarind. Total damage for the group at this stop? $17.50.
Everyone crowds around and we diplomatically help ourselves to the various Pempeks. The large, most expensive one is the Pempek Telor at $7.50 has a whole boiled egg in the centre. I don't like the parts with the egg as much as I like the fish cake so I'm a cheap date as far as Pempek is concerned. The other Pempeks are $2.50 each and we seem to prefer the Fish Skin pempek (not as gruesome as it sounds and definitely not too fishy). The Tofu Pempek is a fat spongey square of tofu pressed against the fish cake and is also good and there is a stick version with just the fish cake itself shaped into a baton. We see a savoury Murtabak go to another table and it looks great but alas there is a 20 minute wait and we need to keep going if we are to hit all of the places we want to.
There's a bit of a stretch of walking (about 15 minutes) but everyone is in good spirits and concurs that this will only serve to stimulate the appetite. We walk past UNSW and get to Kingsford and hit our next stop. We've taken a detour for our tour as we've taken up a lot of time chatting and want to make sure that we hit La Paula for empanadas before they close at 4pm so we stop at Tea Inn to refresh ourselves with an iced dessert and some takeaway drinks.
We share an iced desert with 3 types of toppings: mango (unfortunately canned), sweet lotus seeds and red beans. It seems to take an inordinate time to arrive despite its simplicity but when it does, we dive in gratefully, parched from our walk in the hot sun. There are murmurs of much contentment and I particularly like the sweet lotus seeds and red bean but I'm not a fan of tinned Mango.
The drinks finally arrive - we ask them to be given to us in takeaway cups so that we can keep going as there is a short walk to La Paula. We've all chosen variations of the Snow Shake drinks which are drinks with flavouring, shaved ice, milk and fat, chewy sago pearls which you suck up with fat straws. We try the sesame, papaya, watermelon, taro and Winter Melon flavours. Trina tells us a story of the Winter Melon_ "Winter melon is called dong gua in Chinese (the phonetics I've used are Cantonese), and as explained "dong" sounds phonetically like both east and the "dong" from Mao Zedong even though the characters are actually different, and "gua" which means melon or gourd is the slang term for "death" (hence why gourds are usually banned from the dinner table at auspicious days like weddings or Chinese New Year)._
So, together the words (for Winter Melon) sound like "Mao Zedong drop dead". This wasn't explicitly outlawed by Mao himself but by his Communist minions. It was more strictly enforced in Beijing and the official cities, less policed in areas of Southern China where my folks are from. Instead people were ordered to call it "heung yeung gua" literally "facing the sun gourd", as the sun rises in the east, and the clumsy way of saying "facing the sun" replaced the word east" . Ahh the life of a dictator...
The drinks are varied in success. The papaya is quite powdery and weak, the taro is quite weak in taro flavour and missing that purple shade (although that's probably an artificial colour), the sesame is burnt tasting as sesame can sometimes be, the watermelon is not particularly watermelon-y but not bad and the one I enjoy the most is probably Steph's Winter Melon which actually tastes like Maple Syrup! With our reinforcements in hand, we make our way onto La Paula. Total damage at this stop? $29.60.
We walk past Romance (the scene of a very fun and memorable meal) and heads towards La Paula. Oddly situated in the middle of nowhere it is right next to a funeral parlour. We take some empanadas to eat in but not before an adorable little boy with a chocolate covered mouth helps us pull chairs around a table.
Chicken Empanada $3.70
We order one of each of the Empanadas as well as a Humitas (sweet corn wrapped in corn husks) and they bring them out hot. They're quite big and we try the Emapanadas de Pino (beef, onion, olive, egg and spices), the Empanada de Polle (Chicken, onion, olive, egg and spices), the Empanada de Espinaca (spinach, egg and spices) and the deep fried Empanada de Queso (with homemade cheese filling).
Spinach & Cheese Empanada $3.70
Beef Empanada $3.50
Of the baked empanadas most prefer the beef empanada as it is the most flavoursome and the chicken is perhaps the least favourite as it seems to lack the spices that the beef has (although we dip this in the chili sauce). The pastry is a little thick, especially where it folds over. Reem promises to email us her empanadas recipe which she does the next day and it looks like a goodie.
Empanada de Queso $2.60
The cheese one is delightfully stringy and produces many food porn shots. And this is where Steph says her famous quote "I think I'm a little bit excited in the pants".
The Humitas is curious, it actually tastes like a tin of creamed corn with spices and perhaps one for creamed corn lovers as it's mostly left behind.
We all buy various cakes and pastries to take home with us - the common denominator to all of these goodies being Dulce de leche. The prices are between $1 to $2 each for the alfajores with the flan and meringue sponge cake being $3.25 each. Total damage at this stop excluding cakes? $18.40.
Later at home I try the flan and is wonderfully eggy and wobbly, a touch more eggy than a creme caramel. The sponge cake is my favourite with a thin spread of dulce de leche on each layer and a fluffy cream meringue on top and a dousing with evaporated milk it is a hit with everyone that tries it. I wonder if it's a version of the Tres Leches Cake.
Meatballs $1.50 each
At this point some of us are full but being troopers, we all vow to push on. There are only two places to go. The first is Pinangsia Noodle House for their gigantic meatballs. At this stage Trina has to leave so we walk in, take a table for four and ask for two meatballs. The guys behind the counter find it amusing and I suppose four girls and two meatballs is a funny thing indeed. They arrive within minutes and they're huge, about 8cms in diameter, with a fluffy interior and nothing at all like an Italian meatball. Inside is pork mince but the texture is so unusual, sort of like one of the Ham Sui Gok dumplings that you get at Yum Cha. Despite the pork smell it has a distinctly fishy aroma but when it's dipped in the chili sauce, it really comes into its own and the fantastic texture comes to the fore. Total damage at this stop? $3.00.
We leave our meatballs for the last stop Ayam Goreng99 but as we cross the street and walk to the front we see a staff member clicking the door shut. They were closed for the afternoon at 4pm! So we did what a good foodie would and improvised. Our last stop was a few doors down at Shalom where Betty had recommended the satay sticks.
Satay Sticks with rice $10
It's all red inside and prices start at a tiny $4.50. We order and pay at the counter and shortly after the satay sticks arrive. Betty was right (of course), they're excellent and are very tender and juicy indeed, in fact some of the nicest satay sticks I've had in a long time. They've got that distinct char flavour that I love in a satay and are still moist so that they ease off the stick easily. Total damage at this stop? $10.00.
We spend some time talking and chatting - it's amazing the capacity we have for food and gossip even after talking non stop for the past 4.5 hours! The total average damage per person for all of this food? An amazingly low $20. And were we full? Absolutely but given the mouthfuls of food we had it was more like a mobile cocktail party. 5 girls, 6 places to eat and I'm sure many kilos lost and gained...
To host your own walking tour down Anzac Parade, I'd recommend bringing cash, comfortable shoes, sunblock and a hat (don't get sunburnt!). Look out for more Meet My Suburb Tours coming up :)
To avoid clogging the blogophere with reptitive content, not everyone will be blogging this ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, would you or have you eaten brains? Or are they part of the no-go category for you?
124 Anzac Parade Kensington 96632296
If you would like to try the brain curry, this is available from 12 noon each day.
198 Anzac Parade Kensington 9697 0009
311 Anzac Parade Kingsford
319 Anzac Parade Kingsford
118 Gardeners Road Kingsford (off Anzac Parade) 9663 1041
458 Anzac Pde, Kingsford NSW 2032