Peko Peko. It’s one of only a handful of Taiwanese style places that I know of in Melbourne and somewhere I’d wanted to visit for over a year. In fact it’s kind of a mystery why I’d never been here before, particularly given I’ve got friends that live about thirty seconds walk away. Anyway, Saturday night was coming and Ms Counting her Calories and family were going to be in town and were looking for a suggestion not too far from Southbank, so Peko Peko it was.
For somewhere so small and unobtrusive this place is popular – very popular – and booking ahead is a really good idea. I think we saw one lucky couple just turn up and find a table while we were there but others ended up walking away. Inside is kind of quirky in style, with a telly tubby on acid painted on one wall and the front counter looking like it had been decorated by someone with a fairly macabre sense of humour.
After a bit of discussion we decided on three entrees to share between us. First to arrive were our fried beef strips with wasabi mayonnaise. All I can say is yum. Some things just hit your tastebud sweet spot, and this was it for me. The creaminess of the mayonnaise, the light punch from the wasabi and the nicely moist beef just all worked together. I think the more general favourite though was the Taiwanese sausage, full of flavour and not overly fatty as I had feared. And our chicken wings? Nice light batter, moist meat, a good example of their kind.
The dinner boxes were a bit hard to share so we each just ordered our own – Ironman the pork cutlet, Ms Counting her Calories the chilli chicken, Ms L a sweet and sour chicken and me the pop corn chicken. These were very generous in size and I thought pretty good in quality. The batter for the pork cutlet and pop corn chicken had obviously been seasoned giving it a much punchier flavour. Ms L’s chicken avoided that killer of sweet and sour dishes, being sickly sweet and syrupy, and Ms Counting her Calories chilli chicken had quite a kick to it. The salad served in the box, usually just an afterthought for these sorts of meals, didn’t let the side down. And it’s only a simple thing but I liked the few black sesame seeds sprinkled over our rice.
At this stage it was marginal as to whether we would order desserts but that Ms Counting her Calories, trooper that she is, convinced us to do so. I think it was partly because she had heard good things about the earl grey panna cotta, so we were really only deciding on what would be the second dessert to share. In the end with went with the yoyo pancake, as much for the novelty value of the name as anything else I suspect.
The yoyo pancake was so named because it was shaped like a yoyo biscuit, filled with custard and served with vanilla ice cream. Consensus was that it was good but more custard would have been appreciated. The earl grey panna cotta has a mixed reception, with Ms L liked the black sesame ice cream served on the side but not the strong tea flavoured pana cotta. Ms Counting her Calories took the opposite view, liking the panna cotta but not the ice cream. And me, well I liked both.
While I wouldn’t cross town to eat here again I’d definitely consider it if in the area. It’s similar in style to a lot of the student oriented eateries around town, but a bit better in quality (and higher in price). Service was good and the place has a style of its own. Serving size is generous and if you are looking for a cheap, student style eatery where you can fill yourself up on mainly fried treats for under $20 you’d struggle to do much better.
Food – 8
Ambience – 7.5
Service – 7.5
Price – 7
190 Wells Street
South Melbourne Vic
Tel: (03) 9686 1109