Gong Xi Fa Cai, Rendang

Dragon dancer

Another year, another chance for lion dancers to molest the unwary.

lion dance

The risk of a lion dancer catching aflame grows each year.

A hanging lettuce

The hanging iceberg lettuce attracts them. Welcome to the Chinese New Year.

I had a vague plan to hit up some dumpling joints but was derailed by a newish Malaysian place: Old Town Kopitiam. It looks much like the gentrified coffee shops in Kuala Lumpur with shiny marble table tops, uncomfortable stools and dark timber aplenty. Maybe they’re not just a clone of the Old Town Coffee but a real franchisee? On the upside, the menu reads like Malaysia’s greatest culinary hits: bah kut teh, , , rendang, cendol. Their char kway teow comes with the option of bonus clams which is always a good sign. And they’re all priced in the pre-millennium sub-$10 a plate range.

Nasi Lemak, Old Town Kopitiam
The nasi lemak ($8!) is a bit short on the coconut but has the crispiest ikan bilis (fried anchovies) possible. The beef rendang was collapsing under its own weight, thick with actual herbs and spices rather than something that had come from a can.

They were fresh out of . All the more reason to go back.

Location: 195 Little Bourke St, ,


I miss the threat posed by random drinks especially one in a bottle that has been reused until it develops a thick ring of scratched glass. Sadly, this one isn’t alcoholic.


Limca tastes like stale lemonade that someone has attempted to revive with a teaspoon of powdered ginger. There is no saving it. The cap says “Contains No Fruit”, which becomes obvious by the time you’ve had a few swigs. As a small positive, it is barely carbonated and lightly sweetened.

India at Home, 565 Barkly St, West Footscray,

Backyard Pizza

Pizza oven
Happy New Year.

The great Australian side effect of Baby Boomers with too much time on their hands is the backyard pizza oven. I’m certainly not complaining. For all that grief that has been caused by Gen-X being locked out of the managerial class is now being repaid in hot, crusty pizza. Who else has the time to salvage bricks and construct or owns the property to put it on? Who else got so obsessed by Tuscany?

Leek and Blue Cheese Pizza

This is the caramelized leek and blue cheese pizza that I shamelessly stole from Y Carusi restaurant in Brunswick, Melbourne. If you’re short on leek, you can always bulk it up with caramelised onion but frankly anything sweet with blue cheese fits on pizza: cooked pumpkin, multitude stone fruits, pears, figs. I’m no purist.

In the background is sopressa, olives and Black And Gold-brand preshredded mozarella. Buffalo mozarella be damned.

Leek and Blue Cheese Pizza

Leek and blue cheese, coming fresh from the oven.

Sopressa, olives, supermarket mozarella

Sopressa pizza

The Spread

The full spread.