Wednesday, 9 April 2014

G'Fun Cafe, O'Connor, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

When talking about cheap eats, I think there's a distinction to be made between Cheap Eats and Super Cheap Eats. The Melbourne and Sydney Good Food Guide supplement for Cheap Eats draws the line at $30, and a place like Pinchos is a good example of that kind of restaurant; $30 for tapas is really good value (with drinks on top of that). At G'Fun in O'Connor, you can get an appetizer/snack, a main meal and a drink, and still get change from $10. And if you're not that hungry you can get change from a fiver just for a main meal. That's got to be one of the biggest bargains in town.

Located in what used to be an Italian Restaurant in the South St row of shops as a McDonald's and a Red Rooster, the oddly named G'Fun Cafe has been a regular haunt for my family, especially when my father and I used to work just 5 minutes away. Lunch run orders for up to 10 people were not unheard of since at prices this low its a pretty easy sell, and we still offhandedly refer to it simply as 'Cheap Chinese'. G'Fun is owned by a fairly enterprising family who have worked out that there is a profit to be made if you open up near a university and offer no-frills meals for dirt cheap prices. I used to frequent their older store in Nedlands during my UWA art school days, and recently discovered it has since been rebranded under the G'Fun name.

The interior is an odd, spartan combination of standard cafe tables and decor that seems like it came free with the store when it transitioned from Italian restaurant to feeding bargain hunters and hungry student masses.

Obviously too expensive to pull out, the old pizza oven remains, though I'm sure it has not been used for years now. Though keeping elements of the old store, G'Fun have recently renovated their counter space by moving the hot display cabinets closer to the kitchen and moving the condiment station further away - all good and logical moves to make the busy weekday lunchtime service as fluid as possible. Alissa and I came on a lazy Sunday afternoon, hence the emptiness in the photos above.

Usually we would get one or the other, but for the benefit of demonstration Alissa and I ordered two items each from their small snack selection - Stuffed Crab Claws and Spring Rolls. Both are fairly standard examples of the dishes that are probably frozen bulk buys quickly fried up for sale. Which is not to say we didn't enjoy them; the Crab meat (and probably filler) is sweet and deliciously tender, though having been in the food warmer lacks the crispness that it would have hot and fresh out of a fryer. The spring rolls are also tasty, but again suffer from a lack of crispness.

Being the noodle fiend that I am, I decided that the Dry Noodles with Roast Chicken was the way to go. The noodles were fairly standard for this type of dish, with the roast chicken being quite juicy in spite of being a piece of breast meat. The addition of some greenery helped make the dish have the semblance of healthiness and I enjoyed it for what it is and is something of a regular order for me. You're not going to be mistaking this for the handmade noodles of Kitchen Inn anytime soon, however when you're looking at paying around $6 (including a 50c dine in surcharge you can simply avoid by ordering it to go) you can't really complain.

For a point of difference, Alissa went with their Chicken Rice with Barbecue Chicken. Interestingly enough, G'Fun don't serve any pork dishes and thus make their char siu out of chicken. I've never quite understood why they do this since they make a beef curry and teriyaki fish, however I'd have to assume they must get some kind of amazing deal on bulk chicken due to the amount of food they sell during peak times, or they have religious views that preclude dining on swine. Their signage refers to their chicken rice as 'famous', and while this might be justified by G'Fun being renowned for being cheap, its definitely not the best chicken rice I've had. Chicken rice made the legit Hainanese way has a stronger, fattier flavour to the rice and a characteristic oiliness. This chicken rice is probably healthier, and has enough of the chicken flavour in the rice to be tasty by itself without any sauce. The char siu style chicken actually tastes fairly similar to real char siu, with a nice sweetness and the blackened edges signs of that smokey barbecue touch. As with the noodles, this is not going to be replacing your favourite chicken rice stall anytime soon but for $5 ($4.50 takeaway) its almost absurdly cheap.

The Verdict: Good
Okay, so its not the most exciting place to eat, but it fulfills the same role as Taka's Kitchen does for Japanese food by providing tasty Chinese at highly affordable rock bottom prices. This is not the kind of thing that is worth driving long distances for, but if you're living in the Melville area and are looking for a bargain you could do a lot worse than G'Fun Cafe. A word of warning though; Alissa and I have repeatedly made the mistake of driving to G'Fun for a weekend dinner only to find the place closed; they only do a lunch service on Saturdays and Sundays, and their opening hours are always a little off-kilter around public holidays.

G'Fun Cafe on Urbanspoon


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  3. I like this blog specially this cafe signs. When Someone think to open his business he should thing about good digital signage. This thing is more important. Because by this people will attract on something.