Pho Toan Thang, Flemington

People naturally gravitate towards queues. Perhaps it's curiosity. Or perhaps it's the intrinsic human need to be where the crowds are, to feel included and in the know. Either way, a queue outside a restaurant indicates more often than not that it is one that you should visit. If you have the time and stomach capacity to wait, that is.

At Pho Toan Thang in the inner west Asian hub of Flemington, you will find a queue snaking outside the restaurant, tucked inside an arcade, every day. Some times, if you arrive early enough, you may be rewarded with a short queue, perhaps only two or three groups long. Or if you're really lucky there may be no queue at all. This Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant is well known among the local community for its cheap, consistently delicious food and fast turnover. So don't let the line deter you, it simply indicates a level of popularity and cult-like following signals a good feed. It's not the kind of place you would take someone for a good chat or catch-up, but rather the eatery you would turn to for a quick, low-cost but extremely filling, satisfying meal.

Strawberries & Cream Sponge Cake

I must confess that prior to beginning the journey of this recipe, I had a slight aversion to (or rather, fear of) sponge cakes, for two main reasons.

Reason number 1: The recipe requires the whipping of egg whites. Not that I am scared of this, but rather the lack of a stand-mixer in my kitchen requires a labour of love and 10 minutes of semi-vigorous physical activity to achieve glossy, stiff-peaked whites.

Reason number 2: It's hard to predict how successfully the cake will turn out, as there are a number of variables that could cause it to go downhill. For example, overbeating the egg, beating too much air out of the mixture or having a cake that disappointingly deflates upon taking out of the oven. I say this because the latter happened to me the last time I attempted a sponge to make lamingtons. I later realised I hadn't left it in the oven long enough to rise and become stable.

Zeus Street Greek, Drummoyne

Street food is my kind of food. Sure, give me a beautiful, three course fine dining  meal any day, but take me out for a bowl of fresh, herby, zingy noodle soup or smoky, spiced satay and I'm a happy girl. I've developed a kind of aversion to kebabs, though, because I often find them too oily, big and altogether overwhelming for my stomach.

Zeus Greek Street Food takes street food to a whole new level. Gyros, the much loved Greek relative of the kebab, is tended to lovingly and given a gourmet twist, with the addition of Aegean slaw, preserved lemon mayo and sides that stretch far beyond the typical kebab shop menu.