By Casey Neill
Springvale showcased its multicultural culinary offerings for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
Chef Russell Bald led a Greater Dandenong Council-run tour on Friday 31 March, starting at My Cambodia Restaurant in Buckingham Avenue.
He said the restaurant bought its produce fresh each day from market stalls in the Springvale shopping precinct, particularly the Balmoral Avenue area.
Mr Bald pointed out the butcher where he buys his duck, a spot for cheap wombok – Chinese cabbage – and a fish store.
“The fish you’ll find here is not your average fish you’ll find at your fishmonger,” he said.
He said Cambodian food was very aromatic and not hot. He regularly dines out on Cambodian dishes with his children.
It’s really simple food but it’s done really well,” he said.
The tour group tried spring rolls, special fried rice that was packed with sweet meat, cubed beef with a lemon pepper dipping sauce, laksa packed with tender prawns and calamari, lemongrass chicken and crispy, spicy chicken ribs.
Among the tour group was a couple from Collingwood who frequented Victoria Street in Richmond – Melbourne’s Little Saigon – but had never been to Springvale, an Endeavour Hills chef and his family, and Greater Dandenong locals finding out more about their own backyard.
The second stop was Milan Teahouse in an alley off Buckingham Avenue.
Host Wendy Wong came to Australia from Guangzhou, China, and shares the knowledge of tea passed down through generations of her family.
She told the group that they should never drink the first infusion.
Instead, pour hot water into the teapot and swirl it swiftly before tipping the liquid back out.
Use that water to warm the cups.
“A warm teacup makes the tea smooth and aromatic,” Ms Wong said.
She brewed the Chinese iron guan yin tea for a tasting.
It had a floral-heavy flavour and is said to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol, cool down the body and help with weight loss.
The pu-erh tea ranges from bitter to earthy in flavour, depending on when it was picked, and is said to lower cholesterol.
Ms Wong said the teas were packed with antioxidants and vitamin C and that some could be stored for decades.
She recommended the tour guests store their tea outside of the kitchen so that it didn’t absorb other flavours, and said they could use the same leaves for up to eight pots of tea.