The night didn’t start out well. That’s for sure. Let me set the scene…
@GumboKitchen food truck advertised a New Orleans-style evening do behind Melbourne Cemetery on Twitter, where they would have a live band and serve gumbo and po boys from 5-10pm. I was reluctant to head along. Not due to any misgivings about the event – more concerned whether they could pull off the amount of cooking that would be needed. I had previously visited Gumbo Kitchen on a quiet strip of road in Northcote where there was around 10 people to serve and I only had to wait about 10 mins for the food. Happy with that.
Now multiply that amount of people by 30 and I have a right to be worried. There was a long snaking line of people waiting to place their order and/or debating whether to leave. We stood in the line for 15 mins. It didn’t move.
This was a perfect opportunity for them to reach out to Melbourne’s other food trucks – Beatbox Kitchen, Taco Truck, Señor BBQ et all – to assist them. They knew a shed-load of people would turn up so why not be prepared? This would have shown the solidarity they had for each other and in turn they would get our support. It also would have shown the Sydney-Food-Truck-Marketing-Machine that down south, we didn’t need the government to help get an initiative off the ground, ours is more organic and for the people. And not a tourism stunt.
Anyway, with a ravenous and grumpy girlfriend to feed, we left and decided upon sharing-plate-Sicilian at Bar Idda a little further up Lygon Street. We tried it last year very soon after we touched down in Melbourne and enjoyed it even though we were skint and could only manage three guilt-ridden dishes. We perused the menu and decided upon our food and drinks. And then we waited. And waited. We made eye contact numerous times with various waitresses and were ignored. Half an hour later and no drink order taken, we upped and left. Again.
Only one thing could help us now – curry. But Melbourne seems to have a knack of failing us in the Indian stakes. That was until we stumbled into Kake Di Hatti, with its many Age Good Food Guide recommendations from over the years pasted in the window. We started off with a serve of onion bhaji – good, not stand-out, but satisfyingly crunchy and not dripping with fat, a thumbs up for now, but we were keen to get to the main event.
WordMonkey, having recently visited Kuala Lumpur, has been hankering for a cottage cheese curry ever side she encountered one at a hawker stall there, so she was ecstatic at finding Muttar Paneer – fresh homemade cottage cheese and green peas cooked in spicy capsicum and tomato sauce. Conversation stopped after the first mouthful and she can now die happy.
I went for a Chicken Cashew Curry, which was one of a few daily specials that you had to search out yourself. Look for both the handwritten piece of butchers paper sitting in a picture frame and also the blackboard above the cash register – the staff don’t seem inclined to mention them. The curry was thick, nutty, with moist chicken and a slight kick. Most importantly plenty of sauce to drench the mountain of rice you get. The garlic naan – we had two each – were thin, crispy and gorgeously pungent. I might have preferred to have them on a plate as opposed to served in a scuzzy basket, but it’s a minor niggle.
Upon the dishes being placed on the table I was transported back to a presentation that was given by @Squeewubs (Ashley from I’m So Hungree) to a group of aspiring bloggers. She was discussing things she found difficult to photograph – and curry was top of the list. Her issue was there was no angle that would present the brown soupy mixture in a positive light. I had the same issue and can feel her pain. But I did my best, and at the end of the day, that’s all anyone can ask.
Kake Di Hatti is super-affordable – pretty much everything is under $12. And it was BYO – 99 cents per person. Make full use of the Blackhearts & Sparrows bottle shop across the road as you very rarely get to have your own choice of craft beer with your curry.
This may well make our Cheap Eats 2012 list and eclipsed our previously favourite go-to Indian place – Curry Leaf in Elwood.
In light of this, what is your favourite curry house in Melbourne?
Kake Di Hatti
128 Lygon Street
East Brunswick, VIC 3057
ph. 9387 7771
*Note: Licensed & BYO
*Note: Order only one serve of rice as it will be able to feed 4 people