I’ve realised recently that I don’t write anywhere near enough about my current hometown Melbourne! So I thought it was high time that I started sharing with you some of my regular haunts and local info, so you can make the most out of your visit to Melbourne. Today I’m sharing some of my favourite places to eat in Melbourne’s inner city. There is a really strong Asian flavour to this list as that’s my favourite style of food!
Hutong Dumpling Bar – These are some of the best dumplings in Melbourne in my opinion (having never been to China!). Their speciality is xiao long bao, lovely steamed pork dumplings with broth inside – absolutely delicious. They have a wide range of other dumplings and dim sum also (their wontons in chilli oil are another favourite of mine). The menu doesn’t stop there (although I have been there many a time and only had dumplings!), there’s also a good range of stir-fried and hotpot dishes. If you’re keen to try their food, make sure you do make a booking as they are usually full (particularly on weekends).
China Red – Another dumpling place that’s tucked away in one of the shopping arcades off Chinatown in the CBD, and owned by the same people that own Hutong, so you know the dumplings are going to be just as good. It’s a little easier to get in here, so it’s always a good second options if Hutong is booked out. One thing that’s really novel is the ordering system. Rather than having a traditional waiter, you instead place your order via a touchscreen mounted on the wall next to each table. Drinks and food come out really quickly, and there’s a huge range of food that’s all reasonably priced.
Hofbrauhaus – This is a really fun night out in the CBD, with giant steins of beer and huge hearty servings of German cuisine. There’s always a floor show with German dancing and live music (including crowd participation!), and the atmosphere is great – you almost feel like you could be in a beer hall in Germany. They also have on their drinks list a metre of schnapps, which comes out in a wooden paddle with many shots of schnapps in all different flavours. They’ll even customise the flavours for you if you want (we’re quite partial to ordering the whole metre as cloudy apple – it’s delicious!). You’ll need to book up to a couple of weeks in advance to dine here, it’s a very popular place. There is also a small bar attached as well, where you can go just to have a few steins and a freshly baked pretzel or a small meal.
G2 Korean BBQ – Located in the heart of the city on Elizabeth St, G2 serves Korean BBQ with all of the accompaniments. I’ve only been here once and it was my first time trying Korean BBQ, but I really enjoyed the meal here. We selected a mixed banquet with both pork belly and beef, which was delicious. The meat is cooked over coal burners rather than the gas jets that they have in some places, which gave a really lovely smoky flavour to the meat. Another upside was that the wait staff came and cooked the BBQ at our table for us – perfect for us Korean BBQ novices!
Gyoza Douraku and Gyoza Gyoza – Serving Japanese tapas style food, Gyoza Douraku is located on Bourke St in the CBD, while its newly opened sister restaurant Gyoza Gyoza is found in Chinatown. As indicated by the name these guys have a huge range of different flavours of gyoza (Japanese dumplings), all delicious. They also have a large range of other Japanese cuisine – I haven’t had a bad dish there yet. The wait staff are friendly and attentive, and always happy to recommend you a sake from their extensive list to suit your taste.
Chiangmai Thai Cuisine – Located on Lygon St in Carlton, this is one of my favourite Thai places to eat. They have a good range on their menu with a Northern Thai flavour, and the food is consistently good. If you like your food Thai spicy, make sure you tell them “pet pet” when you order, as they do make the food generally a bit more on the mild side to suit western tastes. They have changed ownership recently, but we have eaten there since and the food was just as good. Another bonus, they also have a Thai massage place upstairs above the restaurant!
Vietnam Noodle House – This is one of my regular weekend cheap eats. I can’t say I’ve tried a massive amount of the menu, as I always tend to go here to specifically eat a huge steaming bowl of pho. For the uninitiated, pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, made from broth filled with slippery rice noodles, thinly sliced meat, and garnished the way you like with your own selection of fresh herbs, chilli and seasonings – perfect comfort food on a cold Melbourne day. The service and atmosphere here aren’t fantastic, but it’s super cheap and the pho is consistently tasty.
Red Pepper – If you’re after an Indian fix in the top end of Melbourne’s CBD, give this place a try. The restaurant itself isn’t super glamorous, but the curries are delicious, and there’s also a really good range for vegetarians. Even though I’m not vegetarian myself, I often find myself ordering the Paneer Kadhai Masala which is really good!
Riva – This is my weekend breakfast go-to place. Tucked away in the Causeway (a laneway just off the Bourke St Mall), it has great food at reasonable prices. They do a great super cheesy omelette, and Ash is rather partial to their eggs benedict. They also have some really delicious burgers for lunch.
Fonda – For some delicious modern Mexican food, head to Fonda at the top end of Flinders Lane. They have an awesome array of Mexican classics with a twist, as well as an extensive drink menu complete with cocktail jugs and a huge range of tequilas. The tortillas there are pressed fresh every day, and the hot sauce there is excellent! They only do booking for large groups, so I ‘d recommend to get there for an early dinner if you don’t want to queue.
Where are some of your favourite places to eat in Melbourne?