Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Grand BBQ

Target Centre, 236 Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Intimidating is an understatement. Despite being in the Target Center food court, The Grand BBQ operates more like a street side hawker store, where eating isn’t just a simple meal, it’s an experience. Between receiving our numbered ticket and balancing our food precariously to the table, we had already engaged in a turf war over tables, and an epic quest to find cutlery. 

The picture menu is backlit and concise, specialising in roast meats on rice or noodles....

Yong Tofu Cabinet
... and yong tofu, a Chinese-Malaysian noodle dish that’s fully customisable with your choice of noodle, broth, and various fish-paste based items.

The chefs work hard here, churning out mountains of noodles in a frantic production line as the stern-faced ladies at the register bark out order after order into the miniscule kitchen.

BBQ Pork and Wonton Soup Noodle ($10.3)
BBQ Pork and Wonton Soup Noodle ($10.3) is a favourite childhood meal of mine, albeit one that I haven’t had in a very long time. Dense fists of wonton packed with prawns and pork and umami, fresh egg noodles (FRESH egg noodles!) full of springy goodness, and a light broth that is both cleansing and nourishing. The familiar and comforting flavours are like eating a hug.

Yong Tofu ($10.5)
Sending a terrified Chris off to hold our fort, I constructed what’s essentially a curry laksa version of Yong Tofu ($10.5) with egg noodles and vermicelli for him. Included in the price are six pieces of deep fried, fish-pasted items from the cabinet, of which I chose: fish stuffed mushroom, fish stuffed Chinese donut, seafood eggplant, fresh fish cake, fish ball, and lightly fried seafood stuffed beancurd. The curry laksa soup is a bit disappointing – there was a good amount of spice and not too much coconut milk, but it unfortunately lacked any depth of flavour. The generously sized pieces of yong tofu fared a lot better; whilst they are quite similar in taste, the freshness and quality of the ingredients couldn’t be denied. The seafood eggplant, with a wedge of bouncy fishcake sandwiched by a piece of velvety soft eggplant that happily soaked up the soup, ain’t too shabby at all. 

Grand BBQ operates at a lightning pace at lunchtimes, with clientele as varied as Melbourne can provide. The food is simple, the service is limited to the provision of a clean table and cutlery, and portions are on the smaller end for what you pay. Yet I left the restaurant strangely satisfied by the hustle, the bustle, and the fresh wholesome food. But if you want a quiet, relaxing lunch, then you’d better go somewhere else. This place is a goddamned battlefield. 

Rating: 12.5/20 – lunch break wars 

The Grand BBQ on Urbanspoon

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