Melbourne's best snacks: Western suburbs
Read about the best snacks around Melbourne's western suburbs. When you're ready to eat, use the map to journey through the area, stopping for one snack at a time.
It's time to find some of the best snacks around Melbourne's west.
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival has brought together some of Melbourne's most established and promising illustrators, along with the city's leading food writers, to capture the best street eats around our city and beyond.
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Snacks of the western suburbs
Some of these might be on your tried and tested list for when the hunger pangs strike, others might be a new hidden delight to discover.
Read all about the people that make these delectable snacks, what makes them the best, and where you can find them.
When you're ready to eat, use the map to journey through the area, one snack stop at a time.
Crispy pata, Chadz Chickenhaus, Sunshine
There are two types of snack in this world: snacks that are a deep-fried pig trotter, and snacks that are not. If you’re a fan of the first camp, Filipino institution Chadz Chickenhaus is for you. Served as either an auxiliary main course or a communal beer snack, crispy pata is all about more-is-more.
“Ours became well known for its size – and our ability to make the skin crispy,” begins a manager at Chadz. “The crispy pata is twice cooked. First it’s tenderised and boiled in spices and aromatics. Once cooled down it’s deep fried, and that’s where the magic happens. A lot of people believe a good sign for a good crispy pata is bubbly skin. But we manage to create a crispy skin without the bubbles!”
The trotter lands on the plate in snackable shards, the bone resting atop like a hunting trophy, and comes with a sharp soy-vinegar dipping sauce that cuts through the mouth-coating oil. Coming in at well over a kilogram, Chadz’ crispy pata is unlikely to be a snack for one, so be sure to corral a couple of hungry helpers for this journey to porcine paradise.
Chadz Chickenhaus, 475 Ballarat Rd, Sunshine.
Text by Frank Sweet.
Damper with whipped golden syrup butter, Mabu Mabu, Yarraville
“Everybody from different countries has their own bread, and I think in Australia, our bread is damper,” says Torres Strait Islander chef and Mabu Mabu owner Nonie Bero. “That’s what I grew up with and that’s all I know, so that’s why it’s important to me.”
Indigenous Australians have been making bread with crushed native seeds and nuts for tens of thousands of years; at her Indigenous café in Yarraville, Bero makes her damper to a recipe she was taught by her father. It comes in either pumpkin or wattleseed varieties – the latter tastes reminiscent of hazelnut, with hints of chocolate and coffee.
Though it’s traditionally baked in an underground oven called kup - murri, Mabu Mabu’s version of the bread is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed in a regular oven. The result is a fluffy and well-hydrated bread that works well as a side – the cafe serves slices alongside heftier dishes such as the kangaroo tail bourguignon or fried green tomatoes – or on its own, served with a decadent whipped golden syrup butter for a sweeter take.
And you can easily make it at home: Mabu Mabu sells kits for making three kinds of damper.
Mabu Mabu , 13 Anderson St, Yarraville.
Text by Chynna Santos.
Pastrami Mami Bagel, Migrant Coffee, West Footscray
The Pastrami Mami was the first bagel Melo Malazarte and Stacey Earsman came up with for their tiny western suburbs cafe. The sandwich is now a best-selling signature and, says Malazarte, epitomises what Migrant’s food is all about. “It’s like a classic New York-style reuben but instead of sauerkraut we use atchara, the Filipino pickle.”
Highlighting Filipino (and Thai and Pacific Islander) flavours is an ongoing project at the café but it’s incidental rather than explicit. “We don’t explain atchara,” says Malazarte. “We add it because it’s good to have that Filipino pop, but it’s also a talking point, a chance for us to open a conversation about Filipino food.”
At the risk of stymying that in-café conversation, atchara is a green papaya pickle, made here after a recipe by American-Filipina food pioneer Nicole Ponseca, an inspiration for the team. “We use shredded green papaya, daikon, capsicum, carrot, and raisins and brine them in raw sugar and white vinegar with ginger, salt, and garlic,” says Malazarte. It’s a tart, zingy, crisp foil for the smoky pastrami, Swiss cheese, and cream cheese, which play rich and smooth.
You can choose your bagel but the Everything is everything, with a seedy crunch that adds to the Mami kapow.
Migrant Coffee , 3/576 Barkly St, West Footscray.
Text by Dani Valent.
Bindaetteok, Mumchan, Laverton
Alum Choi, chef-owner of Mumchan, set herself the task of introducing Melbourne to the pleasures of Korean food that lay beyond barbecue and fried chicken. For the past three years, Choi has been fermenting, curing, pickling, and cooking top-tier, additive-free kimchi, banchan (the small sides that accompany Korean meals), and main dishes in Laverton, and recently expanded to the CBD with a takeaway store.
One of her most popular dishes is bindaetteok: fried savoury mung-bean pancakes flavoured with kimchi and combined with either pork or seafood. Mumchan’s version is made from scratch (rather than with a pre-packaged flour mix, which is the norm in most Korean households), down to grinding peeled mung beans, making and aging the kimchi, washing, and seasoning it with salt, sugar, garlic and sesame oil before adding it to the batter.
It’s a dish that’s easy enough to find in Korea, but to replicate at home with this sort of care would require a lot of effort, so the local Korean community gravitates immediately to this dish. The bindaetteok are rarely eaten on their own, and Choi suggests pairing them with seokbakji, moon-radish kimchi (another of Mumchan’s specialties), or chasing them with makgeolli, the cloudy, lightly sparkling Korean rice wine.
Mumchan , 1b Triholm Ave, Laverton.
Text by Jess Ho.
Sambusa, New Somali Kitchen, Flemington
The Somalian sambusa is a breakfast and Ramadan snack that sees curried minced beef encased in a light, golden pastry. Abdo Sean, owner, and chef at New Somali Kitchen in Flemington prepares around 40 sambusa fresh every day.
Beef bolar blade is his cut of choice; it’s meat that’s typically used for low-and-slow braises but here is minced instead into tiny little beads. It’s then sautéed with cumin that Sean roasts and blitzes to order, coriander leaves, chilli and ground turmeric, ginger, and garlic to give it flavour and release its juices. The mixture is spooned onto the pastry, moulded into a triangular shape then deep-fried, the entire process taking Sean about 45 minutes. He serves his sambusas with a piquant, tangerine-coloured sauce called bisbaas, its lime juice cutting through the spice.
Sean was born in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, and fled with his family to a refugee camp before coming to Australia. It was at the camp that he would run and fetch ingredients for the women as they cooked, becoming acquainted along the way with whole spices and the magic of grinding them fresh. And his tradition of doing things from scratch is one of the things that distinguishes his cooking in Melbourne to this day.
New Somali Kitchen , 284 Racecourse Rd, Flemington.
Text by Rushani Epa.
Pâté chaud, Nhu Lan, Footscray
Crowds flock to Nhu Lan in search of bánh mì and there’s often a queue down the street outside its Footscray venue. But it’s not just the crisp Vietnamese baguette laden with roast pork, pickled carrot, and coriander that the people desire – owner Khanh Ziccardi says the venue sells around 200 of its pâté chaud per day and it’s no surprise why.
The snack in question is a flaky, buttery pastry that has a shape akin to a small flying saucer and tastes something like a sausage roll.
Ziccardi’s parents started the Vietnamese bakery in 1993 and have since gone on to create a Richmond store, too. Her family is from Vinh Long in Vietnam, and being in the south, there’s a strong French influence which perhaps explains the delicate puff pastry. The bakers at Nhu Lan roll the pastry on-site with fresh butter, while the filling is a marble-sized meatball incorporating minced pork, onion, water chestnuts, and Ziccardi’s mother’s secret seasoning.
The mixture is then inserted between two discs of pastry, brushed with egg, and baked until it’s golden brown. The process takes two-and-a-half hours from start to finish and is worth every minute.
Nhu Lan Bakery, 116 Hopkins St, Footscray.
Text by Rushani Epa.
Dadami Dip, Cafe Sunshine & SalamaTea, Sunshine
“This is not an Iranian dish,” says Hamed Allahyari. “You can’t find it in any shop or restaurant.” He’s talking about dadami dip, the signature snack at his social enterprise restaurant. Melbourne first tasted dadami dip when Allahyari ran cooking classes with Free to Feed, a not-for-profit social enterprise that provided support when he couldn’t land a job, despite his experience in hospitality.
Allahyari arrived in Melbourne seeking asylum in 2013, leaving behind family and a restaurant in Tehran. He opened Cafe Sunshine & SalamaTea to help other asylum seekers and new migrants facing similar barriers to employment, but dadami dip had a following before the restaurant existed. “People really liked it and always asked what is the name,” says Allahyari. “North of Iran, in my country, ‘dad’ is “dadami”, so it’s my dad’s dip; dadami dip.”
Every year, Allahyari’s father would make the dip with a giant tub of labne from his sister’s farm. Mixed with bunches of fresh dill, mint and basil, plus red onion, chilli, cumin, sumac and olive oil, and garnished with nigella seeds and dried rose petals, dadami dip is as much a window into Allahyari’s childhood as it is to lavish Persian flavours dating back to the ancient Silk Road.
Cafe Sunshine & SalamaTea , 21 Dickson St, Sunshine.
Text by Sofia Levin.
Cannoli, T. Cavallaro & Sons, Footscray
When the Cavallaro family immigrated to Australia in the late 1940s, the ricotta that fills the family’s cannoli was impossible to source. “We filled them with the same patisserie cream we use to make our Continental cakes,” says third-generation pastry chef, Tony Cavallaro. Times change, and today the cannoli filled with ricotta – a mixture of two different ricotta cheeses, in fact, blended in house for just the right balance – are the Sicilian pasticceria’s most popular pastry.
The dough is wrapped around wooden sticks, plunged into the deep fryer and emerges brittle and bubbly. Each cannolo is piped to order with either the ricotta mix, chocolate custard or vanilla custard.
The piping to order is one of the keys to Cavallaro’s decades of popularity. “We’re old school,” says Cavallaro. “We don’t fill 400 cannoli in the morning and have them sitting on the bench. Therein lies the secret: you don’t buy cannoli to eat the next day.”
Cavallaro’s parents opened T. Cavallaro & Sons in 1956 in time for the Olympic Games, during which Tommaso Cavallaro, Tony’s father, would catch the train into the city to sell cannoli outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Sixty-five years on, Tony continues to make cannoli with his family, following his grandfather’s 19th-century recipe. “Our cannoli have stood the test of time for 65 years, and even longer before that in Italy,” says Cavallaro.
T. Cavallaro & Sons , 98 Hopkins St, Footscray.
Text by Sofia Levin.
Ricotta pastizzi, The Original Maltese Pastizzi Co, Sunshine
As Melbourne’s Maltese community will attest, when you’re talking about the butter-flaked national pastry of Malta, you’re talking Sunshine North’s Original Maltese Pastizzi Co. “And when you talk traditional, you’re talking ricotta or pea,” chimes in owner Melissa Wassilief. And her ricotta-filled pastizzi, in
particular, are worth crossing town for.
At roughly half the size of a pasty, the boat-shaped pastries sport golden layers fanning outward like the wings of the Opera House, giving way to a tablespoon of soft ricotta in the centre of each. They’re stunning, and clearly a labour of love. “We mix the pastry, it sits, we roll it and butter it and the next day it’s ready for use,” says Wassilief.
While the team is making the pastry, the cooking is also underway. “It’s a two-day process, and the process of rolling it with the butter gives it the lines – that creates the flakes. But it can take someone a year to get up to scratch in terms of speed and technique.” Brimming with niche Maltese produce, soccer jerseys and tea towels, the shop itself is effortlessly inviting, its window stools the perfect place to savour one of the flagship snacks of the west.
The Original Maltese Pastizzi Co , 19A-B Suffolk Rd, Sunshine North.
Text by Frank Sweet.
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