Eating in Melbourne is fun! The popular Melbourne restaurants are booked weeks in advance especially for Friday and Saturday night dining so unless you want to eat at 6 pm which we had to on a couple of occasions make sure you book well ahead.
Yes, there are some fabulous Michelin starred restaurants but you can’t keep going to these every night of the week. I found that many of the Asian inspired restaurants that are part of Melbourne’s dining scene add a sense of fun…the atmosphere is busy and buzzing and they offer small dishes that can be shared which means you can taste a lot more of the menu!
With popular restaurants such as Mr Miyagi, Hawkers Hall, Shanghai Sally and Tokyo Tina within a couple of blocks, Windsor is the place to head to for a fun dinner! The only catch is that you have to be prepared to queue or eat early!
Hawkers Hall is the latest addition to the block! Since its opening in mid November, it has been very popular, so much so that on the Monday night we went, we had to wait just under an hour for a table! Thankfully there are many watering holes in the street! Leave your name and number and the restaurant will ring you when your table is ready.
The name says it all….the dishes are from the hawkers huts of Singapore and Malaysia. Whilst you’re choosing one of the extensive range of beers on tap or a cocktail, nibble on some beer food….ninja style fried chicken popcorn disappeared in a second as did the curried potato cakes.
The satay are delicious! The peanut sauce moreish. We also had the roti canai with eggplant sambal and curry sauce. It’s hard to choose what to eat from the extensive menu. No 605, the Penang duck curry with peanuts and eggplant was so good that we should have ordered two dishes for the three of us!
There’s also noodle dishes, rice dishes, curries, stir fry dishes, salads and greens. You’ll be tempted with the dishes from the coconut bbq pit. I can recommend No 501, the Otak Otak, a delicious salmon cooked in banana leaf with Indian curry and coconut. Another that I will definitely order again.
Deserts are surprisingly good…the banana roti with kaya jam was delicious, the sticky red date pudding with coconut caramel had a hint of spice that took it to another level. Our choice was made easier chatting to the girls at the next table who had tried all the desserts! They picked the two we ordered as the best as well as the milo dinosaur sundae with chocolate biscuit which we didn’t try. Yet another reason to go back!
It’s a fun night out, the food is great and unless you try all 32 beers or all the cocktails, it won’t break the bank! You already know what we’ll have on our next visit.
Mr Miyagi is another restaurant in this part of Chapel St that I love going to.
From the nibbles of blow torched endamame with shiso salt to go with a cocktail going by the name of ‘Charlie does Tokyo’ to the pumpkin toast dessert, everything we ate was delicious. The one dish that you shouldn’t miss is the fabulous nori taco. It sounds simple on the menu….grilled salmon belly, sushi rice, spicy cabbage and japanese mayo in a nori taco shell but the taste is so sublime there has to be a secret ingredient!
The menu had changed from our last visit a few months ago but thankfully Mr Miyagi knows better than to take the nori taco off the menu!
Green tea soba noodle salad with konbu salmon was new to me and one that I will have again. The tasty sesame dressing brilliantly tied together the salmon, noodles, endamame beans and crispy vegetables. Yum!
We love, love, loved the tuna tataki pizza…rare seared tuna on spiced flatbread with yuzu caesar cream, tomatoes and jalapenos. Another that I know we will order again and again.
The 5 spice slow roasted duck with pickled beetroot and mustard miso in a grilled roti is always delicious too!
I haven’t even mentioned the fabulous fresh sashimi that you can eat here, the sushi sandwich or the famous sticks.
In South Yarra, Chapel St changes into Church St and here you will find Kong, another restaurant from the Lucas Group that own ChinChin, Baby Pizza and Hawkers Hut.
The formula is similar….a great atmosphere and fabulous food. Kong is all about the Korean BBQ.
I loved the wood roasted ora king salmon with crispy skin, seaweed salad and kimchi and the Tobanjan sweet potato noodles with chicken wood roasted eggplant and coriander. There’s a takeaway menu if you’re feeling lazy and if you live within 2.5kms, delivery is available.
If you’re looking for a restaurant in the city, you’ll find plenty of options in Flinders Lane. We’ve eaten at Kappo, Cumulus, Coda and Movida in nearby Hosier Lane but for a fun casual meal try Supernormal.
We first went to Supernormal when chef Andrew McConnell opened it as a pop up restaurant next to his well known restaurant Cutler and Co in Gertrude Street. It has evolved into an even bigger and better restaurant.
Arrive early so you can have one of their fabulous cocktails at the bar and put your name down for a table.
Don’t miss the dumplings! The prawn and chicken parcels with a chilli and vinegar sauce were delicious. As was the New England lobster roll. The duck bao twice cooked duck leg shredded and popped into a bao bun with vinegar and plum sauce had us wanting to order more. There’s larger dishes as well….slow cooked szechuan lamb with spring onion pancake and coriander paste was more than enough for three of us
What can I say about Chin Chin that hasn’t already been said. The leader of the pack…the restaurant that started the Asian inspired, shared plate, no booking regime!
Lunch or dinner there is always a queue here. Play smart…arrive early or after the crowd.
The hardest decision is what to eat….crunchy school prawns with nahm pork pla gapi is a favourite. Salt and pepper squid with nuoc cham is popular. I always choose the steamed spanner crab dish and the chicken salad with green mango, chilli and coconut dressing for lunch. The crispy skinned duck pickled cucumber and ginger salad with sesame salt is hard to go past.
All delicious! Go with friends so you can choose a selection of the dishes and share them. Walk off lunch or dinner by wandering down Hosier Lane and checking out some of the street art Melbourne is known for.
Hiding at the bottom of Duckboard Place, just off Flinders Lane is this fabulous modern Indian restaurant. It’s not just a restaurant. You can also enjoy some of the best cocktails in town at their bar, Thali, whilst grazing on a few plates of Indian inspired tapas in a more casual atmosphere.
The Tonka lassi…a heavenly mixture of Rum, mango, yoghurt and pistachio topped with honey is a great way to start! From the tapas menu, the pani puri is a winner. Spicey potato, mung beans, date and tamarind chutney fill a crispy pastry shell over which aromatic water is poured.
The soft shelled crab pakora with pickled cucumber, lemon, chilli and mint, the smoked salmon betal leaf, the tuna tartare on a rice papadum and gin cure kingfish with tempered yoghurt and beets are other fabulous dishes.
Then there are the larger dishes …the lamb curry is delicious, the corn fed chicken from the tandoor moreish and don’t forget the fried cauliflower with garam marsala salt and fenugreek and yoghurt.