3 #Canberra Beanies

Tak Kee Roast Inn in Dickson

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After weeks of prodding from fellow foodie and sympathetic fellow-dad Sir Bungle aka @ I finally dropped into Tak Kee Roast Inn in Dickson for some Gow Gee.

Tak Kee Roast Inn

Now those of you who have been paying attention to the ACT Department of Health notices  (or the Canberra times or RiotACT) over the past few years may remember a story regarding some health notices and warnings about food storage and preparation practices at Tak Kee in the past. I’m assured by my friend John, who eats there regularly, that he has never had anything to complain about and the fact the place is regularly packed with people at lunch and dinner leads me to believe they have learnt from their past mistakes and fines.

Anyhoo… I arrived a bit early and unlike my other recent lunchtime reviews, had a toddler in tow. So the challenge was to get some affordable food for both of us. I decided to take Sir Bungle’s advice and order a Gow Gee soup.

gow gee

My Gow Gee arrived very quickly and I realised I had failed to follow Mr Bungle’s strict advice and had mistakenly omitted the beef brisket form my order. Never mind, my Gow Gee sans beef brisket was very delicious, particularly on a wet autumn day. To feed the ankle-biter I also ordered a small combination fried rice, knowing she liked rice, ham, peas and egg, which I expected in the dish.

fried rice

It looked great and was bigger than expected. I tasted it (always check for temperature with kids and they don’t like things that are too spicey). It was delicious. I assumed she would love it and put it in front of her. But she tasted a spoonful and decided she didn’t like it. Bloody hell! This may have had something to do with the fact we were surrounded by people ordering all sorts of dishes and I suspect now (wisdom of hindsight) she thought she could be a bit pickey and choosey as well. Oh well, looks like dad was eating rice too!

I had another quick look at the menu, and asked her in my nicest voice “Bubba, would you like some spring rolls?! They are very yummy and you like eating spring rolls!” … which wasn’t as patronising as it sounds because I’ve seen her devour the things repeatedly. She nodded! I ordered a serving of two spring rolls.

By now Sir Bungle had arrived and (not surprisingly for a regular) seemed to make his order through osmosis. It went something like this: “G’day ladies!’ – “Hello Mr, how are you?” – “Good thanks, bit cold today. How are you?” – “We good Mr. You want usual?” – “Yes please! and I’ll have a couple of your pork spring rolls too”. Within a few minutes Sir Bungle had his regular fix.

beef brisket gow gee

Sadly for me, the arrival of yet another soup seemed to convince Ms 1.9 that she also needed soup. The spring rolls looked and tasted awesome and no matter how much I coaxed her they were instead enjoyed by dad and Sir Bungle.

spring rolls tak kee

Unsurprisingly, Ms 1.9 did end up eating a lot… of my soup. And those tea cups double as perfectly-sized noodle soup bowls for a toddler aspiring to be a food critic.

ms 1.9 noodle critic

My experience at Tak Kee was very good. I can see why Mr Bungle raves on about it and why so many people I know have been regulars for so many years. I think the episode with ACT inspectors is well and truly in the past and I’ll happily recommend it as a place to eat affordable and tasty authentic Chinese food.  I’ll give it 3 Beanies for value & taste.

Goes without saying, the prices for the Beef Brisket Gow Gee soup and other tasty dishes at Tak Kee are VERY good.

tak kee prices

Tak Kee Roast Inn on Urbanspoon


Noodle Cafe Garema Place

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I recently had the pleasure of joining another Canberra Foodie (Eileen, better known as @TheFoodAvenue) at her favourite inner-city affordable eatery – Noodle Café in Garema Place.

Noodle Café is located right next to HonkyTonks, so makes a convenient pre-party dinner venue as well as a great place to meet friends for a cheaper and satisfying lunch for as little as $10.

The $10 lunch specials are varied and the main menu has plenty of other affordable options as well.

noodle cafe specials menu

I chose to ask if I could have an authentic beef Pho that included tripe, a delicious dish I grew to love at authentic Vietnamese restaurants around Australia. The friendly waitress obliged, even though this dish wasn’t on their usual menu. It cost a few dollars more than the lunch special pho but was well worth it.

Pho Noodle Cafe

My lunch partner Eileen chose her favourite dish, a delicious combination chow mein with perfectly cooked noodles (the two beautiful photos below are hers). We also shared a couple of fresh and perfectly cooked vegetarian spring roles and a couple of tea pots of chinese green tea, all for the extremely reasonable price of $33. Considering the excellent table service (with complimentary prawn crackers) and the freshness and taste and large portions I was extremely impressed.

combination Chow mein vege spring rolls

The flavours of the food were amazing. If the food is not exactly to your liking, there is the usual plastic container of chilli and flavouring sauces that anyone who frequents authentic Asian restaurants would be familiar with.

sauce and chilli condiments basket

Noodle Café gets 3 #Canberra Beanies and joins our list of top ten affordable eateries in Canberra.

If you’re not sure where to find this place, have a look behind the big screen in Garema Place or next door to Honky Tonks. Or if you prefer Google maps, just look up 5 Garema Place.

noodle cafe behind the big screen

Noodle Cafe on Urbanspoon


Flute Bakery Redux

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Lovely review of The Flute Bakery with great DSLR photos from Tara!

In The Taratory

Flute Bakery is my fave, and has been for a long time. I’ve dedicated a lot of time to bringing people on board with the Flute love, from bringing cakes to work to telling everyone who’ll listen about it. It’s now two years since I last wrote about it, so it’s a good opportunity to check whether anything’s changed (hint: no – it’s just as good as it’s always been).

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Flute Bakery

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This week I had the pleasure of great company and delicious food when I caught up with my friend Tara for lunch on Friday. Tara wisely suggested Flute Bakery for a pie and coffee. We both enjoyed a delicious beef curry pie and what Tara describes as “the best macarons in Canberra”. As well as the curry pie I had a cappuccino and pear galette for only $12.50!

If you like pastry or pies The Flute Bakery is worth a trip to Barrier Street Fyshwick. It’s at the Bunnings end.


beef curry

pear galette


The Flute Bakery on Urbanspoon

Mon Thani Curry Palace, City Walk

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mon thani facade

I recently enjoyed the amazing flavours of Mon Thani (City Walk, Civic) for lunch. Inspired by an old review on the Riot ACT (which you can find on the page below) I decided to check out this quiet restaurant with the hand-written signage pasted to the windows.

This is totally no-frills. You order and pay at the counter from a limited choice of 7-8 dishes. No entrees. No deserts. But wow! tastes great!

For only $8 you eat in with your choice of two curries and a generous serving of rice. Drinks start at $2 so this is a genuine $10 nutritional meal of internationally renown cuisine (Burmese and Thai) that will leave you satisfied and happy.

Am surprised that this place is still relatively unknown but think it might have something to do with the lack of publicity. It wasn’t even listed on Urban Spoon (until I added it a few days ago, along with the link below). I now need to remember to look up the correct phone number my next chance in Garema place. Urban Spoon only lets you add restaurants if you can include their phone number. Can you tell I didn’t know it? Before you ask, yes I tried to look it up online to no avail 🙂

mon thani

Here’s a link to the Riot ACT review of Mon Thani

Mon Thani Curry Palace on Urbanspoon

Canberra City Labor Club lunchtime specials

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The specials board outside the City Labor Club is always worth a read.

labor club a frame

The City Labor Club doesn’t have much competition from other community clubs in the civic area. There is an outpost of the Woden-based Hellenic Club and a Magpies Club but they are both smaller and less well-known and further away from the prime position next to the Merry Go Round in the centre of town at Garema Place. For the uninitiated, Canberra’s Community Clubs are unique in Australia. They have privileged access to gaming machines in return for community funding and not-for-profit constitutions. Their boards are elected by the members and all profits are in theory reinvested into the club or the community.

They are also well-regarded for affordable food and drinks. Most adult Canberrans are members of at least two of their local clubs. On this recent Monday I paid $9.90 for a chicken Parmy and $4.50 for a welcome cold schooner of VB. Both looked & tasted great. 3 #Canberra Beanies.


I go this club regularly for lunch and am rarely disappointed. At other times I’ve had $9 meat-lovers pizza. My friends have also ordered healthy $14 salmon and avocado salad.

clc pizza clc salad

But I tend to go back for the parmy. The hot one is particularly good.

hot schnitzy

Canberra Labor Club on Urbanspoon

i-Pho, Garema Place

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One of my favourite places for a quick, healthy and affordable lunch in Garema place is the Vietnamese café i-Pho. You order and pay at the counter and the standard Vietnamese fare is served hot and fresh to your table. The Pho is very good and large enough to leave you sated for the rest of the day. Recently we also tried and enjoyed Vietnamese-style rice paper rolls, which are sold for $5 for a pair, so for $10 you can enjoy four – a quick and healthy meal on their own.

ipho rice paper rolls

But our favourite dish is the combination Pho, which a perfect mixture of fresh ingredients, herbs and varied meats, including a small amount of offal, making it very authentic. I’ve also enjoyed the seafood noodle soup (pictured below) for $13.50.


It’s also worth checking the specials board as you walk in for tasty bargains. Unfortunately my Vietnamese is a bit rusty, but the friendly staff are always happy to translate.

ipho menu

i-Pho is highly recommened. 3 #Canberra Beanies.

IPho on Urbanspoon

Gaby’s van in Barton

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Thanks to inspiration from @In_The_Taratory I ventured into Barton’s back-lots to search for a fabled food van that served the best burgers in the inner south. This van was legend amongst public servants from the surrounding office blocks as far as DFAT, AGs and Treasury. Luckily I got there just before Christmas and the rumoured closure over much of January, when the parliamentary triangle drifts into a temporary slumber.

gaby closure

I was very impressed. After being greeted by Gaby through his small ordering window I was greeted by one of the waiting staff and wished a Merry Christmas, and given a chocolate treat to enjoy with my drink while the hamburger (with the lot) which I just ordered was cooked.

gaby card

Gaby’s is excellent value and the burger tastes just as good if not better than the many more upmarket (and more expensive) burger joints sprouting up all over Canberra. Gaby’s is a bit of a time capsule, reminding us how small family-run burger joints and take-aways should be.

gaby burger 1

Needless to say I was very impressed with my $8 burger with the lot + $2 drink. Should mention that Gaby’s only opens weekdays when those lucky public servants are around in large numbers. Gaby’s gets a predictable 3 #Canberra Beanies.

Update April 2014: Gaby’s is now under threat from a relocation order via the NCA. There is an online petition if you’d like to help and stories on the Canberra Times and Riot ACT websites. I also noticed recently that Gaby’s wasn’t featured in Urban Spoon so have remedied that (although how much longer they will be able to stay in their current location I do not know).

A typically tasty burger from Gaby's

Gaby's Takeaway on Urbanspoon

Global Cafe (Ethiopian)

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You wouldn’t know it from the relatively drab exterior on the Northbourne Avenue, between the late night Pharmacy and the interstate Bus Exchange, but this place hides an Ethiopian gastronomic adventure.

Global cafe facade

My friend and I had rice, veg, 2 traditional Ethiopian curries (I had beef & lentil and my friend had beef, chicken, chick pea curries) all for $10 each including a can of drink and some traditional Ethiopian bread. The curries were mild. This exotic food was very tasty and we will both happily return for more. 3 #Canberra Beanies.

global cafe ethiopian

Global cafe and bar on Urbanspoon

Belconnen Labor Club Chandler Cafe Chicken Curry

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The small bistro-style café (Chandler café) at the Belconnen Labor Club is one of the North’s hidden gems, particularly for big blokes that enjoy a flaming hot curry.

Was passing  through #Belco recently so I wandered into the #Canberra Labor Club to try a hot meal at either Superwok or the Chandler Café. The lunchtime queue at Superwok was long (because it’s reasonably priced tasty food in an air-conditioned club with relatively cheap beer).

A word of warning about the curry though. I loved it as I like my curries hot. But I watched a young woman struggle to eat half it. She wanted more but couldn’t handle the heat so asked the kind lady for a take-away container to finish it off at home (no doubt with a large tub of yoghurt to dull the pain 🙂

Belco chicken curry

This massive & HOT green chicken curry only cost $10.90. It was big enough to feed two hungry peeps & make them cry. The beer was very cold too, which really hit the spot on a warm day when you’re eating curry. Loved it. Highly recommended. 3 #Canberra Beanies