4 Gilbert Rd, Preston, Melbourne
Allow me to start this post in complete honesty; this post was meant to be about a different restaurant.
Ok, so now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me talk briefly about my relationship with Indian food. I’ve eaten at an Indian restaurant once, and once only. A fancy place in Sydney. I must have been allergic to one of the deliciously exotic spices used in Indian cuisine, because I was violently ill and curled up in the fetal position for hours that night with the worst stomach cramps, and what we’ll call gastro-like symptoms for the next 24 hours. That was something like 6 years ago. Which sucks for my husband, because he loves Indian food.
He’s been a bloody trooper for the last few months in particular, helping and supporting me when I’ve needed it more than ever before. I thought it might be nice to take him out for Indian for dinner to say thank you! Well, that was shot to shit pretty quickly… We turned up to Labbaik in Preston, which I’d heard was pretty good. The food may be good there, but after seating ourselves, fetching our own menus, and sitting there for 5 minutes with absolutely no service, we got up and left.
I turned to my Zomato app for advice, and came up with Lovely Indians Restaurant, a few kilometres away. With a 4.0 out of 5 rating, I figured it should be pretty decent. Over we drove, and walked in, and hovered around the front door for 30 seconds before being seated. Then, the lady who seated us went out the back, and never returned. We waited another 5 minutes, having been seated and then ignored, no menu, no water, nothing. So we got up and left again. That kind of (lack of) service on a Friday night is not acceptable. I tried, I really did, but hangriness was developing by that point, so after a few choice words, I directed husband to Chumanchu. I was in absolutely no mood for another disappointment – I’d been there before and knew the food was great, so figured that’d be a safe bet. It had also been a while between visited so I was hoping the food lived up to my good memories of it!
You can check out my last visit here (I didn’t bother taking any photos of the restaurant because the interior hasn’t changed at all since my last visit), and despite having been around for a while now, the place was still packed. Tables were reserved all over the place, and we were seated on the big communal table in the centre of the restaurant because it was so busy, which is always a good sign. There are heaps of delicious options on the menu, and it’s hard tp narrow your order down to only a few, but here’s what we ate…
We got a serve of the pork banh cuon (2 pieces for $11.00) which were as delicious as I remembered them being last time, and every bit as good as the ones I ate in Vietnam. Delicate steamed rice “crepes” nestled on a bed of bean sprouts, filled with tasty pork, and covered in deep fried shallots. Order these, they’re great.
Next up were the prawn spring rolls (6 pieces for $13.00). They were really good, heaps of prawn meat and a great nuoc cham dipping sauce with lots of crushed peanuts.
The main courses here are absolutely enormous, so one is more than enough to share after a few entrees! We went with one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, banh xeo ($19.00) – a pancake of sorts filled with pork and prawn, bean shoots and mung beans, covered in fresh herbs, and golden fried to perfection. I ate a ton of these all over Vietnam, and this is the best one I’ve found back here in Melbourne. It is honestly the biggest serving I’ve ever seen and we were both stuffed after polishing it off. Last time I visited I said I’d come back just for this, and I’ll say it again (husband agreed).
After a shitty false start (followed by a second failure), I was stoked that we ended up at Chumanchu – I’d been wanting to go back for ages, and after the initial disappointments, it tasted even better. If you’re needing something to look forward to at the end of our last long weekend/public holiday until November (blehhh), consider Chumanchu to break up the week! And if anyone has any recommendations for good Indian restaurants that will actually provide some service to their guests, I’d love to know about them!!