Food and Drink
Posted by Jade Kelly
27. Feb, 2012
Surely you’ve heard the expression ‘to turn green with envy’, but have you ever heard of someone turning yellow from chili? No, me either … until a Sri Lankan girl told me her relative did exactly that. A great place to start is the humble yet hot Hop and Spice in Braybrook.
If you haven’t tried it, traditional Sri Lankan food is quite similar to Indian, only hotter. On a typical menu you can find an array of starters, rice, curries, even a mango lassi. There’s a curious little dish called hoppers: akin to a bundle of string, hoppers are made from rice flour pushed through a press to create a thin white noodle which is then steamed so it sets in place. They are served either steamed, deep fried or with a sunny-side egg on top.
Our large group ordered almost everything on the menu so I can recommend trying their big crunchy samosas which reveal the loveliest aromas when cracked open ($2 each), the rich and fiery mutton curry ($9), the tempered potato with fluffy boiled potatoes stirred with fresh herbs and slices of chili ($7), and the cashew nut curry in a creamy sauce with peas ($8.50). Everything was top notch and nobody had complaints, a rare phenomenon.
Service was friendly, but a heads up that some of your order may not make it to the table, or even onto the notepad – but Hop and Spice is one of those places you order too much anyway.
As is common with these hidden gems of the west, it’s not much to look at and is really quite tiny, but you definitely get serious bang for your buck here as well as some giggles over mistakes on the menu.
The sink on the wall made sense once I saw a man eating with his hands like a pro – rice and curry but with no bread, a culinary skill to rival only the chopsticks my friends. Next time I will attempt this skill and hopefully have room for the Sri Lankan sweets too!
I’m keen to check out the Friday & Saturday $20 buffet special and I would also recommend you bring your own alcohol as they don’t serve booze.
HOP AND SPICE
284 Ballarat Road, Braybrook
Open Tues – Sun 10am – Late
In the first of our monthly peek behind-the-scenes of Melbourne's restaurant scene, we witness the mayhem and madness of Chin Chin's daily staff meal. Affectionately known at 'trough'.
We were lucky enough to attend Chin Chin's first birthday bash and document David Thompson's 13-course degustation as it happened.