Cookie Monster suggested lunch at HM Quan after reading about it from Lauren (Footscray Food Blog).
Located opposite Footscray market, I was taken aback when I stepped foot into the restaurant. There was fake grass, bamboo dining sets and the sound of running water. It didn’t quite fit the suburb but hey, it certainly was cool.
The menu offers plain congee with a variety of condiments to choose from, some bun (rice vermicelli) dishes and a couple of rice items. Cookie Monster and I had a bowl of congee each, with sides of caramelised fish, caramelised pork and chilli bamboo. I was keen to try the coffee avocado smoothie but unfortunately it wasn’t available that afternoon.
The food was simple. Plain congee with just the right consistency (some can be done too thick or runny), with sweet charred meats and tender bamboo shoots marinated in chilli oil. Cookie Monster and I couldn’t complain, especially when we walked out, nicely full and having only spent $15 between the 2 of us.
HM Quan offers comfort and simplicity. Bask in the green, take in the peaceful trickle of water and down some soul-soothing congee. But do not leave Footscray just yet, coz down the road, there are 2 delicious snacks that will fill the gap for peckish afternoon tea: Nhu Lan’s breadrolls and T.Cavallaro’s famous cannolis.
T. Cavallaro & Sons
98 Hopkins Street
+61 3 9687 4638
T.Cavallaro and sons is a family business that has been around for more than 50 years and offers Melbourne’s best cannolis. The recipes are authentically Sicilian and sweet treats such as biscotti and cakes are available. I was after the renowned cannoli which are filled with either vanilla and chocolate pastry cream or ricotta. I had a ricotta-filled one to go which I devoured very quickly with supreme satisfaction. The filling is surprisingly light and not too sweet and housed in a crunchy deep-fried cookie-like shell.
Footscray offers a crazy abundance of food options. And what better way to experience it than on a rickshaw? The Footscray Rickshaw Run is part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival that is created by the Footscray Traders’ Association. It involves a foodie adventure of 6 stops around Footscray, with food sampling, kitchen lessons and entertainment, going from place to place on a rickshaw.
When Lauren asked for volunteers as rickshaw pullers, I shot my hand up thinking “why not, it’d be pretty fun”. A week later, I found out that Fakebooo was attending the Footscray Rickshaw Run and I arranged for Lauren to have my shift coincide with Fakebooo’s session. Fakebooo had The Angmoh come along as his plus one, and that’s how I ended up pulling both boyfriends in my rickshaw.
I shall now share my experience as a volunteer rickshaw puller. It is not hard, trust me, I managed to pull 140kg of total boyfriend weight. The journey can be somewhat staggered and contorted, especially if there is a bit of delay at particular stops. My legs were mostly between stops 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-1 and 5-1 (which is the longest and most tiring of the routes). This also means that I did not get to pull The Angmoh and Fakebooo throughout their entire Footscray tour. Traffic, both human and vehicular, can be somewhat tricky to navigate, especially during peak hour. And even stationary objects, like dustbins and parked bicycles, can also contribute to a bit of tight squeeze when you’re pulling a rickshaw on the pavement. At the end of the session I had worked up a bit of sweat, developed thickened calluses and lost a tiny bit of skin from repeated abrasion. To all rickshaw uncles out there, respect.
The Angmoh really enjoyed his Footscray tour. He sampled more than a fair amount of food in the following itinerary:
- D&K Live Fish: freshly shucked oysters
- Little Saigon Market: tropical fruit (rambutans, longans, lychees)
- Sen: rice paper rolls (rolling lesson included)
- Phong Dinh: hu tieu, a rice noodle soup
- To’s Bakery: coconut pancakes, sugarcane juice, drum entertainment and massage
- Sapa Hills: bun cha ha noi (rice vermicelli with chargrilled pork)
I thought he might need to work off some of his dinner, so I enlisted him to pull the rickshaw for the final leg of the tour, while Fakebooo and I sat and enjoyed the breeze in our hair. Thanks honey, I love you.
Having had a long day and The Angmoh having an early start the following morning, I didn’t stay for the meal provided at the end of the rickshaw run. Instead, Lauren had kindly organised a takeaway meal from Sen. As we made our way over to collect it, the lady boss recognized The Angmoh and was astonished to hear that he had dined comfortably while his girlfriend was out on the roads slaving away. As she handed over the takeaway bag, she bade me good night and told The Angmoh that next year the roles have to be reversed. The takeaway meal was bun cha ha noi, and I ate every single bit of it in my drained exhausted self. There was pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, bouncy noodles and tender charred pork. It was a heartening meal, which I’d desperately needed at 10.30pm that night.
The Footscray Rickshaw Run turned out to be an enjoyable experience. Thanks Lauren, Kenny (Consider The Sauce), Rebecca, Mick and Matthew for the wonderful company. Fakebooo will be sharing his experience, so stay tuned here!