The Mandalay Bus is an icon of Canberra, an icon I was unaware of until a recent trip to the Capital, it is a big yellow double decker bus that is parked off the road in a carpark in Braddon. Apparently it has been present for years but it shut down in 2013 for some major renovations, obviously it has re-opened. It is a happy friendly place suitable for every walk of life, it is open really late for drunken snacks, it is open early for nanas like myself and it is family friendly. If it is not raining there are plenty of milk crates to sit on and if it is raining then suck it up princess because you still want to get it in your belly!!
And so it was with me, it was my last night in Canberra, it was pissing down, it was about 3 degrees, I had been sick for 3 days but I did not care, I was determined to eat at this place, I had read nothing but praise and I am quite new to the food truck form of eating and I like the idea, I had always put food trucks down to Dagwood dogs and hot dogs and fairy floss and later diarrhoea and vomiting post 80s Royal Easter Show, I was into the idea that food trucks and vans and even buses were now cool and freaking gourmet!!!
As it was raining everyone eating or waiting waited under a small covered area in front of the order window, if it wasn’t raining I could see all the places we could spread out and that would have been awesome, regardless I would be eating nomnoms. They appeared to make every order fresh so I waited about 5mins before I could order and then about 10mins before I could indulge.
The venue served satay, tortillas, hot dogs, fried wings, fries, jalapeño poppers, parmesan chilli waffle fries, prawn twisters, triple chilli wings, veggie samosas, crepes and much more including specials.
Firstly, the people are lovely, the food is fresh, the food is divine and the condiment game is grandmaster level. I decided to try two things, and they were totally amazeballs on every level. I started with PRAWN TWISTERS ($9) because I had no idea what they were and holy cow I loved them – had them with a chimichanga sauce, while standing at the edge of the covered area trying to stay warm and dry – LOVED THEM – they are the long conelike things in the top left quadrant of above photo. I then finished it with a main I could happily live on for life – BURMESE GOLDEN EGG CURRY W/ RICE ($10).
I cannot rave enough about the food – my favourite food in the Capital for a quick meal, a delightful meal, a cheap meal and one of those comfort meals that makes you feel all warm on the inside. For the hideous weather I ignored just to eat it, that egg curry was the warming thing my body needed, by the next morning I was right as rain and back to my usual annoying self, just before I had to drive back to Sydney :(.
The outer crunch of the egg coating was superb and complimented the perfectly cooked eggs, and the richness of the tomato based sauce was so warming, it was like a thick soup and a spiced bolognese sauce rolled into one, and the rice and bamboo shoots topped it off with some crushed nuts and greens to boot. Perfectly balanced and something I will hunt down again if they are serving it on my next visit – it was a special.
Food trucks and food vans are on the rise, no longer are they a novelty for markets and fairs. MISTER GEE’S goes crazy in Burwood, BRODBURGER started as a food truck and is now a huge pumping burger joint with some of the longest waiting times known to be man, only shadowed by the craziness of PATTISEZ (not a van). It appears the councils of the ACT seem to allow the food vans, trucks and buses with more ease than the militant regime councils of NSW, I think they are a sensational way to get out and have something interesting and new and something that is limited and original and abundantly flavoursome. The world would be better with more food vehicles!!
Divine food, great peeps, unique venue and something so comforting, what more could you want – thanks for the great meal MANDALAY BUS – you guys ROCK!! I WILL BE BACK FOR ROUND 2!!