Victoria is often considered the food bowl of Australia, Melbourne its dining capital. The beauty of the city lies in its culinary diversity, which embraces a variety of world cuisines. Add in homegrown chefs eager to experiment, great produce and customers open to new ideas, and you have a gastronomic revolution in the making.
Here are a few dishes that offer some insight into the city’s culinary offerings.
Queen Victoria Market is the go-to market for local food,
and a great place for a cheap snack and coffee. One of these popular street
finds is shop no 95 in the deli hall, the Borek stall.
Börek is a filled pastry that has its origin in Turkey and is a popular Middle Eastern dish, usually has a thin phyllo crust folded around a cheesy stuffing. The stall, run by three women, makes their böreks fresh, pan fried with three versions: cheese, spinach and parsley; spicy lamb veggies; and spicy potato and vegetables. The spicy lamb is a hot favourite—fried and not too doughy bread, little oil, and meat that’s high on spices and herbs.
Details: Shop 95, Queen Victoria Market. Open on Tuesday, and Thursday to Sunday.
The toasted sandwich is an essential part of Aussie cuisine, a simple go-to snack of melted cheese and crisp bread. The humble snack finds focus at Toasta & Co, who started out a food truck before moving to a permanent café. They serve up 12 types of toasties (and two with vegan cheese), made with organic sourdough that’s brushed with butter (or duck fat), and stuffed with a double layer of cheese. Try the signature three-cheese blend or their mac ’n cheese versions: Mack, oozing with cheese and caramelised onions, and Mack Daddy, beefed up with the addition of pulled pork and BBQ sauce. If adventurous, add in a fried egg, truffle oil, basil pesto, or pickles to the toasta.
Details: Adderley Street, West Melbourne. Open all week.
In Melbourne’s Chinatown, it is possible to find a taste of
Rice Workshop started as a DIY Japanese rice bar and is now offers take-away rice and noodle bowls with toppings. There is beef rice, chicken rice, udon, ramen and curry bowls to choose from. Standout dishes are the Original Beef with Egg curry bowl—a hearty stew of beef and onions with a broth of herbs and spices, served with rice and egg; Ontama—a salmon rice bowl with egg; and Chicken Karaage rice bowl with battered chicken strips and spicy mayo. Vegetarians can feast on veg pancake udon bowl and grilled tofu steak rice bowl. The ingredients are fresh and the servings enough to constitute a meal.
Details: Little Bourke St, Melbourne. Rice Workshop has 12 outlets across Australia.
Also Read: Eating Through Japan-One Meal at a Time
Fancy a croissant made with mathematical precision in a
temperature-controlled glass lab? Brother-sister team Kate and Cameron Reid of
Lune Croissanterie are here to help.
Each croissant takes three days to perfect. It is laminated, egg washed, proofed and baked at specific temperatures with the dough well-rested between each step. The best offering is the plain version, buttery, flakey, and golden. The twice-baked almond croissant (Croissant aux Amandes) has an almond frangipane and a healthy garnishing of flaked almonds. For a savoury twist, there’s one with shaved ham, Swiss Gruyere and seeded mustard.
Tip: the croissants sell out quickly so go early.
Details: Rose St, Fitzroy. Open all days, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are open for take away only.
Brunswick-boy Johnny Di Francesco won the World Pizza Championships in Parma in 2014 for his Pizza Margherita. Today, this world-famous pizza, and other Italian specials, can be found at his 400 Gradi restaurants. The name refers to the temperature at which a thin-base traditional Neapolitan pizza is cooked (for 90 seconds) in a wood-fired oven.
The Margherita Verace has a thin base slathered with a heavy layer of tomato sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, dotted with fior di latte cheese (a semi soft and fresh cheese made using the same process that is used for a Mozzarella), basil and extra virgin olive oil. It’s not just delicious, it adheres to the guidelines of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, who are the world authority on traditional Neapolitan pizza.
Details: Loacted at Brunswick, Essendon, Crown Plaza, and Eastland.
Pearl on the Ocean Floor
Chef Shaun Quade is an artist who uses local ingredients as
paints and serves his artwork as part of a degustation menu. Take the Pearl on
the Ocean Floor, for example. The signature dish at his restaurant Lûmé made
headlines for being a MasterChef Australia season 9 elimination task, with 150
The dish is meant to mimic an ocean floor. The pearl—a salty and creamy miso and pine nut ice cream in a white chocolate shell is placed on sand (toasted black rice and green tea powder). Other elements include raw mussels, samphire and saltbush, mussel foam, and gochujang. It’s a mixed bag of flavours: cold, salty, foamy, with a bit of tartness and spice.
Details: Coventry Street, South Melbourne. Lûmé offers only two set menu options to choose from.
Featured Image: Shutterstock.com
Donburi image courtesy Joanna Lobo.
Other images courtesy respective restaurants.
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