Flying back home to Manila for two weeks. My last PAL meal going to Bangkok was horrendous and I had low expectations for this flights meal. I was pleasantly surprised to have decent food.

PAL June 08 Lunch

This was a beef stroganoffy type of preparation and it wasn’t that bad for economy food. On the long haul flights, the meal also comes with the whipped butter and cheese and crackers which I like most from the meal tray.

PAL June 08 Snack

This is the usual pizza bread and sandwich which PAL serves as a snack on long haul flights. I actually like this and I’m fine with having this on every long haul flight rather than the straight from the fridge cold adobo roll which they also serve as a snack.

My favorite is the Anzac biscuit which they include on MNL – AUS flights. The combination of oats and dessicated coconut in a not too sweet biscuit makes the Anzac my favorite type of biscuit.


Swanston Street in the Melbourne CBD is crammed with Asian restaurants which offer quick and cheap meals. We ducked into Vietnamese Grill Bar which looked rather new with clean and modern interiors. The menu is filled with the usual Pho dishes and rice toppings. We opted for the combos which would let us try a bit of everything.

 Pork Chop Combo
Combo 1 Pork chop, broken rice, spring roll and ice longan drink $12.80

 Grilled Chicken Combo
Combo 2 Grilled chicken on tomato rice and ice longan drink $12.80

Summary : I did say these places offered quick meals, but I didn’t expect food which not only tasted bland but also pre-cooked. The chicken was cold and the pork chop has the toughness which comes from being reheated too many times. My friend and I both agreed this was really bad Asian fast food. The only thing this place had going for it was its interiors.

Rating : One nighter
Food   : None

Vietnamese Grill Bar
305-307 Swanston St Melbourne 3000
Phone : +613 9650 0068

Little Lamb

Box Hill is like a mini-Chinatown. It has so many authentic looking Asian restaurants in the area which are cheap, cheery and authentic. Little Lamb is a particularly busy place because it has a $20 hot pot buffet. It’s name is probably inspired by the popular Little Sheep Hot Pot chain in China. It is close to impossible to get a seat on weekends without prior bookings.

Little Lamb Broth  Sze Chuan Broth

You can select from a clear broth or the sze chuan broth . Don’t be too intimidated by the red color of the sze chuan broth. It look spicier than it tastes of. My lips and tongue didn’t go numb which is my gauge for spiciness.

Little Lamb Meat

You can order all the meat you want.

Little Lamb Veggies

More expensive items such as the prawns , oyster mushrooms can be ordered once. The rest  of items such as assorted fish and prawn balls, veggies, noodles are unlimited.

Taro Pancake

Your $20 also buys you dessert! There is the taro or redbean pancake which is extremely oily and taste just like tikoy (Chinese New Year Cake/ Nian Gao). It’s pretty good though. Just wash down all the oiliness with the free tea.

Glutinous Rice Balls

This glutinous rice balls are my favorite though. Soft and chewy with peanut or black sesame filling inside. I totally got addicted to these chewy balls and I’m craving to go back to Little Lamb again just for this!

Summary : Defnitely good value for the money. I would come back here again and again for my hot pot fix especially this winter season!

Rating :  Love it
Food   :  Hot pot

Little Lamb Hot Pot
Whitehorse Road, Box Hill
Tel : 98909854

Footscray is the multi cultural centre of Melbourne. Visit Footscray and try out the cheap and exotic food among the rows available. My visit to Footscray was to sample the Ethiopian cuisine made famous by Ethiopian immigrants who have settled in the area.

Cafe Lalibela has been a stalwart of the Cheap Eats guide for years now and seems to be the top choice if I wanted to try Ethiopian cuisine. The place itself is homey and done much nicer than the other food shops in the area. Very authentic feel with African artifacts displayed throughout.

Cafe Lalibelah

Wat is the traditional Ethiopian dish. Wat means stew. Each meat stew (wat) has a similar onion-and spice base featuring berbere which is a spicy chili paste. Wat can be prepared with chicken (doro) or beef (sik sik). It can also be vegetarian or even contain fish.

Instead of a stew, the meat or vegetables can be sauteed and this is called Tibs. Another Ethiopian dish is Kitfo, which consists of raw (or rare) ground beef marinated in mitmita ( a very spicy chili powder) and niter kibbeh ( seasoned clarified butter). This is kind of like a steak tartare and looked pretty strange to me. It looked just like a mound of raw minced beef which I wasn’t too adventurous to try!

Injeera and wat

We had Do-Ro WAT ($12) which is chicken stew marinated with spices and herbs simmered with hard boiled eggs, berbere ( spice mixture ), garlic, onions and niter kibbeh ( seasoned clarified butter ). For some legumes to balance the meat, we had Meser Wat ($12), lentil stew simmered in hot peppers, onions, garlic and spices, moderately cooked until they slightly blend with the sauce.

The meat is scooped onto a huge tray covered with injera. Injera is the traditional Ethiopian bread used in place of utensils. Injera is a thin but spongy flatbread as large as a tabletop. It is made from locally grown teff—the smallest grain in existence and found only in the African horn. It has a very tangy taste to it from the fermentation of teff. Be careful with this bread as it is very filling! 

Everyone on the tables shares their meal from the tray served. There’s an Ethiopian maxim: people who eat from the same plate never betray one another. You tear off a piece of the injera bread and use it to scoop up the wot or tibs from the communal tray. A bottle of Ethiopian beer would be a good way to wash down all the wot.

Summary : Ethiopian cuisine is an experience. The flavours of the injera bread and wats were all new to me as well as communal eating. Although Ethiopian cuisine didn’t really grab me, I was still very glad to have tried Cafe Lalibelah.

Rating : Chance Visitor
Food : Wots

Cafe Lalibelah
91 Irving Street
Footscray VIC 3011
Tel : +61 3 9687 0300     

Bar Santo specialises in predominantly southern Italian cuisine, known for its simplicity and freshness combined with traditional cooking methods from the north. This little Italian bar in St. Kilda has nice views of the beach if you seat al-fresco.


Calamari Fritti – Fresh Calamari rings floured and fried and served with aioli $8

Salmon Risotto

Risotto al Salmone Affumicalo $19.50

Bar Santo Fish

Pesce al Cartoccio $29

Summary : The food we had here were indeed simply cooked. Just the freshness of the produce with herbs and seasoning. The food was a bit bland though, I had to grab hold of the salt and pepper shakers to season the risotto. Calamari could definitely be improved too as the breading was a bit soggy. What I liked about the food was the lightness in preparation though. The food wasn’t covered in heavy sauces and let the simplicity of the food’s flavours speak for itself.

Rating  : Chance Visitor
Food    : Nothing I would reorder again. Try something new on the menu.

Bar Santo
7 Fitzroy St
St Kilda VIC 3182
Phone : +61 (0)3 9534-1236

Gelato is Italian ice cream.

The rise in gelato’s popularity has a lot to do with fat and air. Gelato is made mainly with milk rather than cream and contains 7-8% butterfat depending on the ingredients.  In ice-cream, the fat comes from butterfat and cream, up to 18% since more cream is used.

The second difference between gelato and ice cream is its air content. Air gets whipped into ice cream as it churns much in the same way cream becomes whipped cream. Gelato, however, because it is made with milk rather than cream, does not expand. The high density of gelato allows for a higher intensity of flavor per bite. For this reason, high quality but subtle flavors like hazelnut and tiramisu are available to you in gelato but not in ice cream.

Trampoline is a popular gelato chain in Melbourne.

Trampoline interiors

The shop itself is fun and bright

Among all their yummy sounding flavors, my favorite is hazelnut roche since I’m such a hazelnut fan.

Trampoline flavors

Some of Trampoline’s flavors on display : Green Tea and Grape, Lime Pie, Coffee caramel, Strawberry, Chocolate Nougat, Spiced choc, Passionfruit and Yoghurt

Trampoline cone

A scoop of Spotty Dog ( chocolate ice cream with chocolate specks ) and Espresso.

Summary : Get inside a gelato shop and go crazy trying out the unique flavors.

Branches all around melbourne

North Richmond is the ‘Little Saigon’ of Melbourne. You know you’re in North Richmond when you see Vietnamese words on all the signboards hanging. There’s also asian bakeries and groceries after every few shops. People visit this side of town for the cheap and satisfying bowls of pho and spring rolls from any of the rows of Vietnamese restaurants lining the road  down Victoria street with names like Tho Tho, Thy Thy and Minh Minh.

Thanh Ha is one of the more popular Vietnamese restaurants in the area. How do we know that? There’s Thanh Ha and Thanh Ha 2 a block away from each other and both are packed. We’re talking about laminated tables, large food pictures and food menus pasted on the wall here. Food is cheap, hearty and good. The menu is quite extensive and aside from the standard pho and rice rolls, try out something from the specialty part of the menu.

 Rice Paper Roll
The Rice Paper Roll with pork and shrimp  $8.50 are made with the freshest ingredients. Large prawns and fillings which show the rolls bursting at the seams.

 Vietnamese Pancake
Thanh Ha is popular for their vietnamese pancakes ($13). It’s wafer thin, crispy and stuffed with beansprouts, meat and prawns. It comes with a plate of lettuce and mint leaves, with a small bowl of chilli dressing. You basically tear off a bit of the pancake, some mint, wrap it in the lettuce with dressing and take bites from it. Almost all the tables have a plate of this pancake which amusingly is larger than the plate it comes in!

  Tomato Rice with Crispy Chicken
Tomato Rice with Crispy Chicken Aud 9.50

Summary : Food is cheap and authentic. Surprisingly, vietnamese food I’ve tried in Australia are much better than what I had in Vietnam. A lot comes from using fresh and quality ingredients on the food.

Rating : Like It
Food   : Vietnamese pancakes

Thanh Ha
172 Victoria St
Richmond 3121 VIC
Phone :  (03) 9429 8130      

Next Page »