Food, glo­ri­ous food

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips

I F you’ve been hang­ing out for bu­utz, khu­ushuur, giomon­toi hourga and Ching­gis rice, then take a trip to Devon­port where Lit­tle Asia is, to the best of my knowl­edge, the only restau­rant in the state serv­ing Mon­go­lian food.

The delightful owner, Mon­go­lian- born Jackie Norovsam­buu, says what she cooks is the ro­bust, ev­ery­day food she grew up with and, in her gen­er­ous por­tions and fl avours, you can un­der­stand how it fu­elled Genghis Khan and his hordes as they swept out of the steppes to con­quer much of China and Eastern Europe.

In the re­cently opened La Lucha, Devon­port also has Tas­ma­nia’s most en­joy­able Mex­i­can restau­rant.

You can sip your choice of mescals or Span­ish and South Amer­i­can beers, wines and other spir­its at the bar among Dia de Los Meur­tos mu­rals and bull- fight­ing posters be­fore sit­ting down to a va­ri­ety of au­then­tic red, yel­low and black Mex­i­can moles spic­ing tacos, pork car­ni­tas and beef ribs with nary a na­cho in sight.

While their soft taco shells are not as tastily corn- flavoured as those from Ho­bart’s Taco Taco van and the moles need a bit of a boost from the ac­com­pa­ny­ing bowls of fresh chilli-spiced sauces, the cook­ing and the cantina-like at­mos­phere are very good.

For­mer al­der­man and restau­ra­teur, Eric Hayes, brought the fi rst espresso ma­chine to Tas­ma­nia in 1956, pay­ing £ 950 for it at a time when a new Holden cost £ 750.

Un­til then, ac­cord­ing to Eric, cof­fee in Ho­bart was “a cup of luke- warm milk with a tea­spoon of Tur­ban essence stirred through”.

That same year, now as an agent for Gag­gia, he sold a ma­chine to the newly opened Pierre’s in Launceston.

It’s taken a while, but Launceston cof­fee lovers have never had it so good, with more and more cafes join­ing well- es­tab­lished places such as Co­cobean and Cro­pline in get­ting se­ri­ous about their beans and baris­tas.

Among the newer ones in the CBD, the cool, mod­ern In­side Cafe on Pat­ter­son St does a good cup while Amelia Espresso in Ge­orge St of­fers ex­cel­lent break­fast heart- starters and cof­fee with BYO lunch.

But true afi ciona­dos might head for the clut­tered, hole- in- the- wall Cof­fee Repub­lic in the Bris­bane St Mall, where it’s all about the bean and noth­ing but the bean.

Be it sin­gle ori­gin, high­land, low­land, Ethiopian, Gu­ata­malan, Kenyan or from some spe­cial­ist San Sal­vado­rian fi nca, they roast the beans on site and the re­sults are ex­cep­tional, par­tic­u­larly a very rare some­thing they were re­cently sell­ing – or at least of­fer­ing – at $ 12.50 a shot.

Read­ers might also re­call the good cof­fees the Cof­fee Repub­lic gang did in the shed at Dark MOFO.

The other good news from Launceston is that owner/ chef Don Cameron is lift­ing Mud Bar to new heights, slowly in­tro­duc­ing some of his sig­na­ture Asian- in­spired cre­ations into the menu.

And, af­ter my very dis­ap­point­ing last visit, it’s good to see Still­wa­ter once again back to its best and de­serv­ing of its rep­u­ta­tion and that Davies Grand Cen­tral is cel­e­brat­ing 20 years with more than 1000 Tas­ma­nian wine and food items on it shelves.

FRESH IDEAS: Jackie Norovsam­buu serves up a plate of Mon­go­lian food at her Lit­tle Asia restau­rant in Devon­port; right Launceston’s Mud Bar head chef Daniel Chip­pin­dall with a dish of Viet­namese Sugar Pork. Pic­tures: CHRIS KIDD

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