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Cheapie Lunch (Under $20)

Banh Cuon Ba Oanh

I love restaurants that do one thing, but do it well. And when it comes to Banh Cuon Ba Oanh? It’s all in the name. For the uninitiated, banh cuon is a wonderful little Vietnamese dish of steamed and rolled rice noodles, not unlike the ones you get at yum cha. But instead of being served with tea as a mid-morning snack, banh cuon is traditionally served for breakfast, though you’re certainly welcome to have it for dinner here, if you don’t find yourself tempted away by the other home-styled northern Vietnamese dishes.

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Al Yasmin

It’s been literally yonks since I’ve had a good Middle Eastern meal, and as I’m only a few weeks away from moving out of Sydney’s southern suburbs – one of the best locations for no-frills Lebanese food in the city – I was keen to use that time to check out some of the more popular restaurants in the area. And if you prowl a little around the internet, you’ll see that Al Yasmin is a name that comes up frequently on the best-of lists. Having expected a cramped, fluorescent-lit space, the reality came as a pleasant surprise. Not only is the space brightly lit, clean, and spacious, it even had some rather pretty paintings of desert scenes hung along…

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Tontaro Honten Ramen

Another day, another bowl of ramen. And up for review today is Tontaro Hoten Ramen, the relatively new venture by Jun Toyoda, whose artery-clogging ramen at O-San has a bit of a cult following. Though I’ve been told that Tontaro is a step up from the food-court setting of O-San (having never been myself), the set up here is nevertheless very no-frills. The blond wood panels a sparse, canteen-like space, and everything is pretty much self-serve. I do however appreciate the individual seats lining the edge of the restaurant, which makes solo dining a much less awkward situation if you’re bothered by that sort of thing.

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Faheem Fast Food

I love it when my sister comes up from Melbourne to visit. Not only is she great fun, she also provides the perfect excuse for me to try out places that I normally wouldn’t visit, usually due to health and/or price reasons. And today, the plan is to have a huge Indian/Pakistani feast at Faheem’s Fast Food. Calling Faheem’s a restaurant would be a stretch; it’s barely even a canteen, with its rows of Formica tables squashed into a tiled room with zero décor. Service is strictly limited to three points – when they take your order, when they bring out your food, and when you head up to the ancient register to pay. But ambience and hospitality is not…

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Oppen

I find it a bit hard to get excited over brunch these days. As much as I love the indulgent weekend ritual, it does start feeling a little same-same after a while. And paradoxically, this is actually exacerbated by how infrequently I have time to go out on a Saturday morning. When I do finally get around to it, I tend to expect the world from my brunch, and end up getting quite disappointed if it doesn’t live up to my hopes. Thankfully, I had spotted Oppen a few weeks before I was due to come back to Melbourne for Christmas, and was rather keen to try out their Scandinavian take on brunch.

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Holiday Eats – Thailand Michelin Guide

Although I spent most of my time in Thailand just eating whatever I felt like and could get my hands on, I did also take a quick gander at the Michelin Guide to see what eats they recommended. And whilst I had no intention of paying through the nose for high-end meals – that’s not what a holiday to Thailand is about in my opinion! – I did take a good look through what local eats they’ve highlighted as the best of the best. I ended up with a pretty hefty list, and whilst I didn’t manage to get through everything, I did try enough to cobble together this little series of mini-reviews. And so without further ado, here we are!

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