Get us in your inbox

Search
A shot of chef Koichi Minamishima behind the counter preparing f
Photograph: Graham Denholm

The 60 best restaurants in Melbourne

Too many restaurants, not enough time. Cut the fat with our guide to the best restaurants Melbourne has to offer

Written by Jade SolomonContributor
Rushani Epa
Advertising

Never in the history of dining out have we appreciated the privilege of being able to eat wherever we choose (whenever we want) as much as we do now. But the pressure of trying to choose a good restaurant – combined with our collective inability to remember where we used to like to dine – can result in the experience feeling more burdensome than joyful. That's where we come in.

Stop endlessly scrolling, and commit to making your way through Time Out’s list of the best restaurants in the state right now. Our always-hungry local experts and editors have curated 2022's most delicious and divine, innovative and imaginative, comforting and familiar, memorable and magical dining experiences right here at your fingertips. 

Because we could all use a little ‘precedented’ in our lives right now, this list includes old favourites, culinary institutions and Melbourne icons. And because we are now so well equipped to deal with the ‘unprecedented’, you will also find some new, exciting and unexpected additions, too.

We have expanded our list to incorporate all of Victoria, to acknowledge and respect the chefs and restaurants doing extraordinary things in our regional towns. And because weekend road trips are high on the agenda for 2022 – look out for some of our favourite food experiences worth travelling for.

Get out, and get eating! You have a lot to get through! 

April 2022: To give the industry a bit of well-deserved breathing room while they clean out the cobwebs and resolve any teething problems, Time Out has halted giving venues star ratings. However, we are continuing to write honest, independent and candid reviews.

RECOMMENDED: Start working your way through our guides to Melbourne's best cafés and 50 best bars. Bon appétit! 

The best restaurants in Melbourne

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Fitzroy

Like Siba the Standard Poodle who was recently named Best in Show at the esteemed Westminster dog show, Poodle Bar & Bistro has jumped the final hurdle and landed in first place in Time Out’s best restaurants list for 2022. The art-deco inspired interior is the perfect backdrop for an array of retro-revolutionised dishes such as the Poodle Prawn Cocktail and Devilled Morton Bay Bug Salad, that will leave you wondering whether you were born in the wrong decade.

Why number one? Because at Poodle in Fitzroy, there really is something special for everyone. Grab a snack and a late night drink at the public bar, impress your date with delectable morsels in the moody bistro, enjoy Sunday afternoon spritzes in the courtyard with the gals, or rally the troops for a decadent, caviar-included, bottomless brunch. Its unassuming exterior is part of its unexpected allure.

Poodle is fancy but fun. Kitsch but cool. A bloody good time and an unfaultable meal. It's the kind of restaurant that is sure to make you feel happy with your decision to get off the couch. Do not miss this one in 2022.

Jade Solomon
  • Restaurants
  • Richmond

Thi Le's modern Australian-Vietnamese food refuses to be pigeonholed (deep-fried cube of cheese custard infused with Vegemite, anyone?), but it's always toe-curlingly delicious. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Melbourne

The only reason this OG Melbourne institution has given up top spot on this list, is because we know it doesn’t need first place on this, or any other list, to continue its reign as a city- wide favourite. Flower Drum is rooted in enough history to step aside and make space for some young guns to forge their path through the upper echelons of the Melbourne food scene.

Jade Solomon
  • Restaurants
  • Richmond

Melbourne’s best sushi. It’s a big call. But after encountering Minamishima, it’s one we’re prepared to make. And it’s right here, hiding shyly on a quiet, mostly residential street in Richmond.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Ripponlea

Attica has angelically floated up this list, because as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder. After a few years away, we have a reinvigorated appreciation for Attica as a pillar of innovation and authenticity. It’s a restaurant doing incredible things with the best produce and ingredients Australia has to offer.

Attica is not just a meal. It is an all-consuming, sensory experience, that deserves a spot in our top 5, because over the last two years, Attica has demonstrated to us all what it means to be adaptable and ambitious qualities we could all use a little more of. Only Mr Ben Shewry himself could execute ideas so brilliant and varied during a pandemic. From Attica Summer Camp setting up shop in the Yarra Valley (with its iconic dessert trolley), to pivoting to affordable family meals during lockdown, including lasagnes and souvlaki packs as part of Attica at Home - all while continuing in the background to develop and perfect his degustation menu, ready to welcome back fortunate diners post lockdown.

A banner at the top of Attica’s website provides an unexpected (but much needed) pep-talk, which includes, ‘Stay grateful for the small things.’ Attica is no small thing, but more than ever, we sure are grateful for its humble and unmatched presence in our hometown.

Jade Solomon
  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

It’s a bold move to debut on this list within the top 10. But bold, defined as ‘not hesitating in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff’, is just what Gimlet is. In the midst of a pandemic, when the hospitality industry was hit harder than most, the opening of the doors at Gimlet was without hesitation, despite the threat of empty city streets and worn-down Melbournians.

Gimlet at Cavendish House was an institution before it even began service. With an iconic 1920s building as a foundation, an Acme & Co renovation, and Andrew McConnell at the helm, it would almost be hard to get it wrong. And they certainly do not. Everything about Gimlet is oh so right.

Gimlet brings us a taste of old-world, European nostalgia that we haven’t been able to access in two-too-many years now. With a wood-fired oven taking centre stage in the kitchen, a smoky, heady aroma of grilled meat and seafood permeates the air. Enjoy a Cavendish House Martini with 1⁄2 doz oysters – with an unexpected but unbelievable seaweed butter and rye – to start, and soak up the elegance, the glamour and the decadence that is Gimlet. Whichever protein you choose, and all are excellent choices, don’t skip the French Fries or the wood-roasted Jerusalem artichoke, sunflower and pecorino on the side, and do yourself a favour, leave room for dessert. Not only a good excuse to stay around a little longer, but the brown sugar meringue, with preserved summer berries and Jersey milk gelato, will linger sweetly on your tongue, and in your mind, long after you’ve licked the plate clean (but please don’t actually lick the plate – this is not that kind of place).

Jade Solomon
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Bistros
  • Brunswick East
  • price 2 of 4

There was a time when Brunswick East threatened to throw itself into a positive feedback loop of mince and suds. Wouldn’t have sucked. Alas, it’s now more likely to be a loop of polished neighbourhood wine bars—probably the better outcome—skippered by Hannah Green’s pick-of-the-litter Etta.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Prahran

There are 6 seats at the chirashi bar at Uminono. It is only open for two lunch sittings, 5 days of the week. There are roughly 5 million people who live in Melbourne. That means during any given week, you have approximately a 0.000012% chance of snagging one of those coveted seats. Given the statistics, we almost kept this one an in-house secret, but our altruistic nature, and deep love of sharing the best of the best with you, got the better of us.

Uminono found an unexpected but welcoming home inside St Edmonds Café in Prahran, a little over a year ago, and has expeditiously cemented its niche position as a major (albeit tiny) player in Melbourne’s food scene.

Chirashi translates literally from Japanese to mean “scattered.” And that is exactly the opposite of how you will feel after a blissful and tranquil afternoon spent eating chirashi at Uminono. Luckily there are only three things on the menu, otherwise it would simply be too hard to choose. The three chirashi bowls on offer include expected ingredients of the highest quality, with a few unexpected additions, think roasted cashews, spring onion oil and lime zest.

While we don’t generally advocate for take-out when you can dine-out, given the extremely limited seats at Uminono, and the exceptional quality of their take-home food, if you can’t secure a booking in the near future, treat yourself with one of their deluxe, beautiful sushi boxes (but be sure to order well in advance).

Jade Solomon
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Northcote

It fronts like Dennis Denuto’s lacklustre office in The Castle, but step through the dodgy blinds and sheisty gold lettering of this one-time legal office and things get decidedly more a la mode. You’ll see a lot of that sleight of hand at work at Gray and Gray, the fascinating brainchild of Boris Portnoy (All Are Welcome Bakery) and winemaker Mitch Sokolin that entered the cocoon a shabby law firm and left a stunning Georgian and Russian wine bar, the likes of which Melbourne has long wanted for. 

  • Restaurants
  • Armadale

Fine dining and comfort food aren’t usually synonymous with each other, but here we are at Amaru, a venue that will leave you thinking otherwise. There’s no smoke and mirrors to be seen here at Amaru, just pure ingenuity coupled with good intentions. If this marks the renaissance of comfort food, we’re here to fully embrace it.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Carlton

On Lygon Street's kingdom of carbs and cheese comes the Japanese-ish, French-ish Kazuki's from Daylesford. There are two ways to tackle Kazuki’s, starting at the five course option for $130 and heading northwards to the seven course menu for $160. Our advice: go the five course menu, if only to commandeer the four snacks as the first course, which could include Goolwa pipis on the shell, a profiterole filled with parfait and Davidson plum jam, grilled duck hearts, or whipped cod roe on a nori crisp.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

To adopt its new Australian vernacular, Vue de Monde has more history than you can poke a stick at. The turn-of-the-century Carlton restaurant that announced Westmeadows wunderkind Shannon Bennett to the world now has executive chef Hugh Allen at the helm and the result? A creative and cheeky take on all things Australiana.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Melbourne

Much like the other new-comer at number 6 on this list, this new joint had all the right ingredients to become a Melbourne icon before it opened its doors a historic CBD building, an epic renovation, an emphasis on open-fire cooking, and a true legend at the wheel. However the end result here is on about the opposite side of the restaurant-style spectrum you can get think neon, bright lights, high energy, TikTok reels being made left-right-and- centre, and rotating NFTs. With the Lucas Group behind this joint, and Daniel Wilson running the kitchen, even the chaotic riot of colour and charisma is not enough to steal the spotlight from the food.

A sensory overload of sake, sounds and sashimi with a side of people watching, Yakimono is the kind of restaurant that reminds you how lucky we are to have legends like Chris Lucas continually developing and expanding the Melbourne hospitality industry.  

Jade Solomon
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Birregurra
  • price 3 of 4

It takes a full day to dine at Brae. A meal at Victoria’s most highly decorated fine-dining institution fits a micro holiday into the hours needed to get out to the gently sloping paddocks of Birregurra (an easy two-hour drive from Melbourne), dine in rural splendour at an appropriately relaxed pace at Dan Hunter’s famous farmhouse restaurant and return home. You will be enveloped in a style of hospitality so convivial and assured that five hours will fly by while you exist in a state of suspended bliss. 

  • Restaurants
  • Beaconsfield
  • price 3 of 4

Taking the easy road is not part of the Bertoncello family values. Blayne and Chayse, the brothers behind ambitious no-bullshit farm-to-table fine-diner O.My have overcome fire, a pandemic and a relocation in the last 12 months without skipping a beat or compromising any of their exacting standards. 

Advertising

Two words which have become synonymous with Melbourne dining could be sufficient for this review. Chris. Lucas. But alas, we can’t help but share a few more of our thoughts on this instant Melbourne place-to-be-seen.

Helping to coerce hesitant Melbournians back to the CBD is Grill Americano, situated at 112 Flinders Lane. Snagging a seat here is the kind of thing you will boast to your co-workers about on a Monday morning. And it truly is boast-worthy. From the curved marble bar, exquisite wine list, to the scooped-straight-from-the-bowl tiramisu.

From Gimlets to Americanos, cocktail-inspired-restaurant-names seem to be having a moment right now, and boy are we here for it.

This royal-blue hued, brand-spanking-new restaurant, will leave you feeling tickled pink. This one is worth remembering how to get dressed-up for.

Jade Solomon
  • Restaurants
  • Coldstream
  • price 3 of 4

Winery dining is a bit of a ‘thing’ right now. Matt Stone and Jo Barrett may have left the kitchen at Oakridge, but executive chef Aaron Brodie continues on the venue's ethos of developing seasonal dishes with ingredients sourced directly from Oakridge's kitchen garden. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

Walking down Hardware Lane means running the gauntlet of cheek-by-jowl waiters trying to entice potential diners into their venues with proffered 15-page illustrated menus. But not all venues rely on their front-of-house to charm the masses on the hoof, and restaurants like Hardware Club prove this with one-page menus full of straight-up Italian-inspired hits.

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Because after living through a global pandemic, we make our own rules now. We know we are only supposed to include one restaurant per spot on this list, but when you live in a city with just so much good food, you have to make a couple of exceptions here and there.

Rounding out our top 20 this year, we have Shane Delia’s sister restaurants, Maha and Maha East. Like an older, responsible sister, Maha continues to show up just the way you want her to, providing comfort in the form of Whipped Hummus, Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder, and Smoked Aged Rice, like an upgraded version of a familiar and warming home-cooked meal.

But Maha East, her sassy, independent younger sister, who doesn’t like being told what to do, is bringing a taste of the Middle East to Chapel Street, in a carefree, fun and fresh way. But because older sisters always know best, Maha East follows stride just where she should, like also offering an exceptional Vegan Soufra set menu.

While we are here Mr Delia, on behalf of all Melbournians, we owe you an enormous collective thanks for your ingenuity in bringing us Providoor during lockdown. A taste of some of our favourite Melbourne restaurants at home really got us through some of our darkest days. Cheers to you Shane.

Jade Solomon
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick

Koreans have a word for food that’s consumed with alcohol – anju – and while a lot of the anju we see here in Melbourne are things like sticky soy garlic-glazed fried chicken wings or thin strips of beef sizzling away on a Korean barbecue, tiny Brunswick eatery Chae is here to highlight a different side to Korean cuisine. 

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

It’s the roti with Vegemite curry, OK? This Punch Lane spot is renowned for making the most spectacular play for the hearts of Melbourne with a crazy-brave combination of buttery deconstructed roti and a curry sauce with a Vegemite-umami backbone.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Beechworth
  • price 3 of 4

Provenance has been operating from the gold rush-era Bank of Australasia since 2009 and has inspired many a Melburnian to make the three-and-a-half hour journey to Beechworth, in the High Country. Although you might eat one of the animals from our coat of arms on your visit, the flavours will remind you a little bit of Europe and a lot of Japan – and will be distinctly the signature of chef and co-owner Michael Ryan and the Australia he has built for himself. And trust us, it is bloody brilliant. 

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

The word ‘gama’ holds a lot of meaning when you say it to a Sri Lankan. It translates to ‘village’ and invokes images of hard-working aunties putting together a spread of umpteen curries and sides for a small family lunch. It’s the ultimate form of hospitality that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. This is what South Indian-Sri Lankan eatery Indu sets out to represent in its new digs in the old bones of Collins Quarter.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

There’s a section of Little Bourke Street known to some as ‘Adventure Town’ for its abundance of camping shops. You’ve been there lots it’s that shadowy, raked strip of toe shoe spruikers and spondonicle peddlers just west of Elizabeth Street. It’s also pound for pound one of the best places to eat in the CBD. 

Maybe you know it as the site of Shanghai Street’s first outpost. Possibly for OG third-wave coffee hovel Brother Baba Budan. Perhaps you frequent the Danish Consulate’s secret smørrebrød dispensary, Denmark House. It’s a busy beat, and while there might be no denser concentration of carabiners in the southern hemisphere, the best adventures in these parts are fairly and squarely culinary. If you’ve had some luck in life, you might just know this moody Melbourne snapshot for Tipo 00: one of the finest pasta bars you could ever hope to spend your time in.

“It’s not like it used to be,” says our waiter wistfully as she scans an animated dunch crowd, pointing to the fact the 40-seater is only three-quarters full at 3.45pm on this cold Monday and not spilling out the door as per. It is, of course, fully booked at dinner for weeks to come, but “the tourists just aren’t here anymore”, meaning there are a couple of unoccupied seats under Tipo’s powder blue ceiling for the first time in a long time. That’s good news for you, and just between us, dunchtime might just be the best time to eat here. 

There’s a sort of post-lunch-rush afterglow in the air that is very attractive: the floor team taking turns resting a minute with their staff meals up the back; the amber glow of the spotlit pass fending off the waning winter light outside; the kitchen crew sharing a quiet gag as they calmly prep for the evening surge. It’s all of the warmth and invitation built into the term ‘pasta bar’, but with a guard-down, backstage sincerity that is almost Disney-esque. 

Possibly you’re here for a quick bowl and a glass of wine at the handsome marble bar. Good for you, you’re not alone. There’s plenty by the glass on Tipo’s 80/20 Italian/local list, and the sharp team will be delighted to pour you something that speaks to you and your spaghetti. If you can afford the time, though, take it easy and consult the starters. Sliced whisper-thin under the centrepiece copper lamps, the locally sourced salumi is led by a stunning chilli-and-fennel lonza that piles on warm bread and disappears shortly thereafter. The charred calamari, cut into rough triangles like offcuts from a paper bunting, is also flawless, a fresh bed of celery and farro offering earthy support. And if the stracciatella is anything like that plated next door at Tipo’s sister restaurant, Osteria Ilaria, you’re in for something unforgettable again. But we shan’t be filling up on starters at the restaurant named and famed for its pasta flour. Not again.

Today’s staff meal happens to be the special: a pine mushroom, cocoa pappardelle, and it is simply unignorable as it leaves the pass en route to the team. Sliced like tinned peaches, the fleshy mushrooms yield to a buttery sauce that combines with pine nut cream in undergirding the leather-brown straps of pasta. Crisped ears of saltbush add a lick of green and a herbaceous lift to a categorically autumnal arrangement a deep, meat-free must-have if it’s on. 

Duck gnocchi and rabbit tagliatelle push things into the depths of winter, but the casarecce, an inspired reimagining of the humble carbonara, should be adduced as proof of God and served to the condemned on the eve of execution. Candied guanciale is coated by a smoked yolk that disappears through the crevasses of the dense casarecce when punctured, a vibrant nettle base offsetting some of the richness a richness that outriches its progenitor, would you believe, rendered richer still for the occasional pillow of sultry parmesan cream and the salt from our cascading tears of ecstasy. 

Welcome is the knowledge that every dessert is available by the half portion, and if you’ve come this far, you might as well see what the “Tipomisú” is all about. With a reputation that precedes it, the cleverly built house spin on the time-honoured classic will likely push you, glutton, to your upper limits, thanks to the addition of salted caramel. But it is well worth it, the good news being that, at that point, the classy rhubarb and honey panna cotta will almost play like a gelatinous digestif though there is plenty of amari available to that end.

That Tipo 00 is one of the country’s best carb bars is not new news. That it continues to excite over half a decade on, though, is cause for celebration. It really does it all for any combination of people (save for coeliacs, sorry), at any time, for any purpose, in any outfit. And if you’re ducking in for a quick feed (there are always a few seats reserved for walk-ins), it doesn’t even have to be expensive. Tipo 00 is the kind of restaurant you want to show off to visitors, the kind of place that makes you proud to call Melbourne home. Proof, above all, that the greatest adventures in Adventure Town needn’t be taken in toe shoes.       

 Time Out Awards

2011Best Casual Dining Restaurant

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

By all reports it’s been a tough few years in the Melbourne restaurant industry. A slow winter, thinning crowds and increasing competition have taken the wind out of plenty of sails. But then you front up at 6.30pm on a Tuesday to a restaurant that opened in the dark distant past (2013, to be exact), where tables are packed with glossy young things on what feels like the world’s biggest Tinder date, and realise you’ve found an exception to the rule. Welcome to the alternate reality of Tonka, where chef Adam D’Sylva and partners have conclusively proven Indian food was ready for its fine dining close-up.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

Ishizuka's menu specialises in Japanese kaiseki. It’s also a rabbit hole, both quasi-literally (the ordeal of finding it through a nondescript door, along an arcade, down a level via a keypad and elevator and through another nondescript door, can feel a little daunting, which is probably the point) and figuratively, thanks to chef Tomotaka Ishizuka performing the food equivalent of needlepoint.

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Did ‘fusion’ really ever leave? Was it merely masquerading as ‘new-style’ all along? And when it’s this delicious, does it even matter? These are the hard-hitting questions you must ponder at Victor Liong’s time-honoured, pan-Asian institution Lee Ho Fook, as you meander through a set menu (only) of hatted small plates on the CBD’s graf-scrawled, Tourism Victoria-core Duckboard Place. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Turkish
  • Balaclava

This is a kitchen bringing the kind of modern Turkish food you’d find in Istanbul’s vigorous restaurant scene to Balaclava with a program of pickling, preserving, fermenting and hanging (yoghurt, that is). It’s fresh, pretty, textured and refined. 

  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy

At 107 Cambridge St, Collingwood, exists a place of worship for all things plant-based, and all things delicious. Smith + Daughters’ new home is a flagship establishment for the modern day, meat-free movement, making its way through Melbourne.

But the fact that this place is 100% vegan, is not even the most thrilling thing about it. It is the flavour of each dish, the electric atmosphere of each of the dining areas, the fabulous fit out, and the incredible variety of experiences on offer from Apertivo to A La Carte, the Set Menu to the Chef’s Table, which are all really something to write home about. With her new set up in Collingwood, Shannon Martinez cements herself as a force to be reckoned with in the competitive Melbourne dining scene, and we should all (not just those with specific dietary requirements) be grateful for her vision, her hard work, and her contribution to our hospitality industry.

Jade Solomon
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Yarraville
  • price 2 of 4

Navi is a fine dining den of distinction, where cork tiles line the ceiling, moody hues rule the walls, and a mere 25 seats dot the narrow shopfront floor and the bar overlooking the cooking action.  Navi is a chef’s-own temple, down to the a la mode pottery Hills threw himself, the soundtrack of “I'm playing what I goddamn like” and the snackage sent in to soften diners up as they acclimatise to the evening ahead (line honours go to raw wallaby and pickled flowers in its cured egg wrapping).

  • Restaurants
  • South Yarra
  • price 1 of 4

Can you think of a name less appropriate for a Sichuan restaurant? Punch in the Mouth, or Kick in the Nuts Sichuan might be more apt for this South Yarra treasure, where the chilli is hot and the Sichuan pepper is tinglingly, numbingly fresh. And while none of the food is what you’d call dainty, it’s certainly way up there with the best Sichuan we’ve ever had the pleasure of burning our mouths on.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Melbourne

What we have here is not so humble as an osteria. Sure, it has an underlying rustic Italian brief, exemplified by the chargrilled whole octopus brutishly splayed over a sauce made of the fiery Calabrian spreadable salami, `nduja. Despite its aims to be everything but a pasta bar, Ilaria's signature has become a plate of paccheri (thick tubes of pasta) strewn with nubs of Crystal Bay prawn meat, grounded in tomato and sorrel purees and anointed with the heady cologne of prawn oil.

  • Restaurants
  • South Yarra
  • price 2 of 4

Scott Pickett has built his reputation on a jazz-riff approach to Michelin classicism, but here he’s favouring the visceral attractions of smoke, flame and char. The elemental approach to cooking goes hand in hand with the strictly a la carte menu and a pragmatic wine list that will please both the haves and the have-yachts.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

Under the stewardship of the Grossi family, this Bourke Street Italiano staple still shines. The grand Mural Room is one of Melbourne’s last bastions of lavish European dining charm where the lighting is set to dim, and the mood set upon arrival by the proffering of a handbag stool. 

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Melbourne

At Miznon, Mediterranean street food finds a humble home on Hardware Lane. With Miznon magic sprinkled across cities from Tel Aviv to Paris, Vienna to New York, us Melbournians should consider ourselves lucky that Israeli legend Eyal Shani chose us to host a Miznon outpost on this side of the world.

Come for the pita - one can’t go past the Egg-No-Steak for a vegetarian option, or the Intimate Wagyu Stew for a carnivorous celebration - but stay for the sides. Go for the Baby Cauliflower Flower (not a typo), not just for the ‘gram, but for the melt in your mouth, heavily olive-oiled goodness that is a fire-roasted whole cauliflower. The bag of green beans which is somehow (with loads of lemon, garlic and olive oil), transformed into a mouth-watering acidic explosion of freshness. And the bag of golden meat. Bag. Of. Golden. Meat. We can all agree that requires no further explanation.

Miznon is vibrant, and it’s fun. It is interesting and interactive. But more than anything, Miznon is just damn delicious.

Jade Solomon
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Carlton
  • price 1 of 4

If we were to tell you we know where the best noodles in Melbourne are, you’d most likely be expecting a ramen or laksa place, not an offbeat joint specialising in the food of the southwestern Chinese city Chongqing.

Chongqing is famous for two things – hotpot and noodles. The noodles came to attention in Melbourne last year when Chinese dating game show If You Are the One host Meng Fei opened Mr Meng Chongqing Gourmet in Elizabeth Street. Now we have Hi Chong Qing, housed in an unassuming shopfront between RMIT and Lygon Street, obscured by road works on every side and easily missed if you’re not looking for it. Trust us: you should be looking for it and its short-but-sweet menu of five noodle dishes.

Hi Chong Qing is the first venture from restaurateur Kevin Houng, who spent some time in Chongqing learning the art of making a good bowl of noodles from a master who has been honing his craft for 26 years. Fresh and springy wheat flour noodles, a mouth-numbing broth due to the inclusion of Sichuan peppercorns, and toppings ranging from intestines to pork feet are features of a traditional bowl of Chongqing noodles, but Houng has swapped out the spiciness for a more subtle level of heat and the offal with more conventional meat cuts.

Kevin says they are considered a breakfast staple in Chongqing but Hi Chong Qing instead serves up a standard fare of coffee and pastries such as Danishes and croissants in the mornings. This draws a steady enough crowd, but 11am is when the real fun begins and the noodles start being wheeled out. Prices start from $10.80 and go up to $15.80, and for a few extra dollars, you can add a fried egg or additional meat to your bowl.

In a departure from traditional meat-heavy versions, the ‘signature Chongqing noodles’ can be made in a vegetarian version if requested. The heady and restorative broth, whether veggo or reduced down from pork bones, is concocted from ten ingredients that include clearly discernible notes of garlic, ginger, coriander, spring onion, soy, chilli and, of course, Sichuan peppercorns. The well done fried egg that we add to the signature noodles absorbs the pungent aroma of the broth and is a textural delight. Don’t venture near these noodles with a white shirt, or without a serviette bib – these slurpable oily noodles are messy and they will stain.

The thin, slippery wheat flour noodles take centre stage in the ground pork and chickpea combination because this dish is traditionally served dry. Bound together by a fragrant marinade, the slightly sweet, deeply browned pork mince sauce is an explosion of umami and saltiness when eaten in a chopstick-pinched heap of chopped up spring onion, slivers of peanuts and smooth peeled chickpeas.

The taste-obliterating fire of traditional Sichuan and Chongqing food isn’t replicated in Hi Chong Qing’s noodles. Instead, the piquancy is subtler and the undertones of the meat sauces are more vinegary and reminiscent of ground red chillies. Hi Chong Qing customises the spiciness of its noodles upon request, but we bravely request the chilli-laden versions of our respective dishes. The heat gradually rising in our throats induces brow sweats and causes us to reach for our boxed soft drinks.

Hi Chong Qing offers three other varieties additional to the ones we try, each derived from cow – spicy beef noodles, spicy beef tendon noodles and medicinal Chinese herb beef noodles. Houng plans to supplement the menu with more side dishes in the near future, but he need not botherhis succinct menu is knocking it out of the park as it is. These contemporary versions of Chongqing noodles will help spread the faith: ramen’s days at the top of the noodle chain look like they could be numbered.

  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy
  • price 3 of 4

Update: We attended this venue in May 2017 and some details may have altered since then. 

In the PR world they’d call it a brand refresh. In the cosmetic enhancement world they’d call it a nip and a tuck. In the military world they’d say Cutler & Co has gone in for a surgical strike. Whatever the nomenclature, Andrew McConnell has given his major Gertrude Street address a thorough going-over after eight years, dusting away any cobwebs, polishing the nameplate… and in the process devising a canny way of getting back in the media again.

It’s an indictment of our modern age that restaurants now have the equivalent of dog years. An accelerated life cycle means eight years is boringly middle-aged - hence the A-Mac’s decision to call in designer du jour Iva Foschia, who has deployed green marble slabs with abandon; introduced semi-circular leather booths, and knocked windows into the back wall, giving new life to the difficult space at the rear. It looks a million bucks. The best bit: the bar, reprised from days of yore (or at least 2012-ish), which never totally fired, spatially speaking, now has all the necessary accoutrements to succeed, including being wrapped around the open kitchen and basking in its energy. Nor should the siren song of an aperitif bar be ignored – Champagne rests on ice and a Negroni is only a charming waiter away.

Melbourne, meet your new favourite snacking spot, where a seafood-centric bar menu offers breaded abalone with tonkatsu sauce sandwiched in the kind of high-GI white bread your doctor warned you about. There are oysters so screamingly fresh you wonder if the rest of the Melbourne restaurant world is being dudded, and Padron peppers flashed in sherry vinegar play their sinister game of Russian roulette.

It’s a remarkably easy place to while away a few hours – but it would be a mistake to ignore Cutler & Co’s marquee menu, on offer further into the mood-lit inner sanctum where the trademark elegance has been refashioned into… trademark elegance. Glistening rounds of duckfish interleaved with translucent pickled daikon and dabbed in fresh Tasmanian wasabi, draped over a hillock of crème fraîche and salmon roe would easily win the title of crudo of the year, if such a thing existed. The pigeon has emerged as the go-to dish in the early stages of the reinvention. The gamey meat is matched by the iron depths of chicken liver, the torched sweetness of fig and salty swatches of jamon.

A mushroom pithivier with aged Comté, salt-baked celeriac buckwheat pancakes (à la beef Wellington) has as much meaty grunt as a vegetarian dish could conceivably hope for. Suckling pig with toffee-thin crackling, playing it minimalist with little sweet-sour onions and a thyme-heavy potato cake, is another winner. It’s all been cunningly calculated to send diners into a tizz of menu indecision. Bless them for the new livery, but some things never change.

 Time Out Awards

2017Best Fine Dining Restaurant

View this year's Time Out Food Award winners

 

 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • European
  • Daylesford
  • price 4 of 4

If you decide to splash out on Daylesford's ultra fine diner, Lake House, we have two recommendations. Firstly, arrive early. Not that the gracious host won't seat you if you're late, or that anyone will lay the guilt on you for arriving on time. The staff here wear hospitality like a second skin, and you will feel comfortable and perfectly well cared for throughout your visit, no matter what time it is. You should arrive early so you can take a seat in the comfortable Cape Cod-style library bar and enjoy a drink – perhaps a glass of bubbles made especially for the restaurant, whose label sports the art of Allan Wolf-Tasker, husband of culinary tour de force Alla Wolf-Tasker and co-proprietor of Lake House. You should do this because it is pleasant to relax in the sun-drenched room drinking extremely good wine in a comfortable chair and imagine yourself to be Brooke Astor, or Gloria Vanderbilt, or some sort of fabulously rich and glamorous person. 

Our second recommendation is that you leave plenty of time. This is not a quick stop for lunch or a bite of dinner, it is a multi-hour masterclass in turning the best ingredients into even better meals. You will need at least three hours to fully experience a meal here, so don't plan anything for afterwards. 

And just what is it that takes all that time? Savouring the absolute finest things in life, that's what. The multi-course menu changes all the time, depending on what is in season and what nearby Dairy Flat Farm, owned by the Wolf-Taskers and part of the Lake House mini-empire, is growing at the time. Everything is fresh and treated with the utmost respect, with a vegetable-forward menu that heroes local produce but is the opposite of ascetic. Every course offers a meat and/or fish option in addition to a vegetarian dish. No matter what you choose you are guaranteed premium ingredients, cooked with precision and creativity. Alla Wolf-Tasker is Lake House's culinary director, and she ensures every dish sings with textural contrast and complementary flavours.

On our visit, we opted for the Fraser Island spanner crab served with Dairy Flat Farm's cucumbers, yoghurt and kimizu (egg and vinegar dressing) as a starter. The zing of the dressing and yoghurt provided flavour contrast with the spheres of creamy crab, while the cucumber added the necessary crunch. For the second course, we chose a Lake House standby: beef tartare, served with kimchi (made in-house during lockdown), radishes, cured egg yolk and the very modern addition of puffed beef tendon. Through the magic of gastronomy, the tendon is transformed into an airy, crisp cracker, the perfect vehicle for conveying slippery pearls of beautifully marbled beef into your mouth. 

Desserts are just as innovative (the ashed brie on French toast with candied walnuts and honey is a little slice of ooey, gooey, creamy heaven), but don't think you're finished just because you've had four courses of innovative delight. After dessert comes the 'sweet indulgences' course, one-bite housemade sweets that pair perfectly with the St Ali coffee or various teas on offer. On our visit we chose the housemade salted caramel, housemade mini 'Oreo' and housemade elderflower jelly, but there is absolutely nothing stopping you from trying everything on offer. And we're pretty sure that none of the eternally gracious staff would stop you from having seconds, either. So take your time. 

*Cassidy Knowlton dined as a guest of Daylesford Macedon Tourism

  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy
  • price 1 of 4

Update: We attended this venue in January 2018 and some details may have altered since then. 

The tiny bluestone building on the corner of Napier and Kerr Streets in Fitzroy has had a few businesses pass through over the years, mostly average cafés that couldn’t last long enough to warm the hearth. But now that wine and espresso bar Napier Quarter has moved in, we hope this charming spot has found its forever venue.

Inside, there’s only room for six tables and a couple of narrow benches. A big chalk board on the high brick wall lists the wines of the day, and pastries beckon from a case on the counter. White tiles, old wood panelling and black bistro furniture lit by large globes hanging low over the bar will make you feel like you're back in Paris. With lofty ceilings and huge windows, the space is bright and cosy; breezy yet comforting.

The calm and assured staff are comforting too, talking you through today's open wines and food specials with an easy smile. Start with a house made French lemonade, garnished simply with fresh mint and lemon and laced with vanilla bean and subtle aniseed. Get it spiked with gin if it's been a hard day. The teaspoon in the glass is an unnecessary accoutrement, but the reference to the self-mixed French bistro versions is almost literary in its extraneousness. Who needs France when you can have this in Fitzroy and the waiter is nice to you?

Daily sandwiches and roast specials (bird, beast or fish) alongside snacks and salads make meals of any size an easy proposition. A rainbow of heirloom tomatoes is mostly left alone to sing its summer aria, topped simply with a crumble of spicy chorizo. Half a roast chook swims in a rich liquor of confit garlic, preserved lemon, fresh rosemary and pan juices, its skin the colour of a holiday spent topless in the Sicilian sun. Pair it with a glass of white from southern Italy, itself all salty and smelling of sunny lemon peel.

Only a few bottles are opened every day, and rather than wade through the regions and grapes you might not know, the servers will simply ask what you like. The whites are described as either mineral, fruit or texture. It’s a disarmingly simple approach that takes all the stress out of ordering.The choices are few, the options are strong, and they’ll happily tell you the story behind it if you ask it.

Sitting out on this wide corner under a striped umbrella, a young couple with a baby enjoys a coffee, and a woman reads her book with a glass of wine, feet rested on the opposite chair. While Brunswick and Smith Streets get increasingly raucous and corporate, these in-between blocks and their unassuming little venues still hold the charm that makes Fitzroy world famous. It's almost enough to make the rent worth it.

 Time Out Awards

2019Best Casual Dining Restaurant

View this year's Time Out Food Award winners

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Ringwood East
  • price 1 of 4

Update: We attended this venue in November 2018 and some details may have altered since then. 

When a 20-seater restaurant in the heart of suburbia that only offers three dishes, with no bookings, no website and no advertising is never with an empty seat, you know it has to be good. Mr Lee’s Foods is well worth the trip to Ringwood if you’re a fan of pork; all dishes are derived from this glorious animal, offering a delicious insight into the economical traditions of Korean dining, utilising an unconscious, innately cultural nose-to-tail philosophy. Needless to say, this is a vegetarian no-go zone.

A house-made soondae (Korean blood sausage), steamed pork belly and dwaeji guk bap (pork soup with rice) are the only things on offer at Mr Lee’s. Soondae, for the uninitiated, is nothing like the European versions of dense, sweetly spiced and irony black pudding. Soondae may be a sausage made using the blood of the pig, but that is where the similarities end. The version served at Mr Lee’s is a South Korean variety where glass noodles act as the binding agent (unlike flour, rice or oats in Europe) for the garlic and ginger-spiked blood, steamed in its natural pig intestine casing. The result is a swollen, glossy, mild-flavoured, bouncy sausage that arrives sliced, alongside steamed slivers of liver and fatty intestine ready to be dipped in a roasted sesame salt or an umami bomb of salted, fermented baby shrimp.

For the less adventurous, fatty cuts of pork belly come simply steamed, still attached to its joyously gelatinous and fatty cap of skin. Dip these slices in the accompanying doenjang (soy bean paste) lifted with fragrant sesame oil, or enhance them with reeds of garlic chives and shavings of raw garlic. It may look confronting at first, but this interpretation will give you a real appreciation for the soft, wobbly, melting qualities that Asians prize pork belly for.

The dwaeji guk bap is available in three iterations; plain with sliced pork, with soondae and organ meat, or soondae, organ meat and steamed pork belly. Each guk bap comes in a hot stone bowl, a spa of milky white pork broth topped with spring onions, garlic chives, a knot of thin wheat noodles and your choice of meats. As part of the meal, you also receive a bowl of white rice, house-made radish kimchi and a mixture of fresh green chillies tossed through more of that salty doenjang. The broth itself is clean and mild despite it appearance, so salt, black pepper, ground perilla seeds and a chilli paste is on the table for you to customise the soup to your liking. The side dishes of kimchi and chillies not only add complexity to the guk bap if eaten with the soup, but also offer refreshing counterpoints to the richness of the meal when eaten between sips. Don’t hesitate to bring your empty bowls to the counter for a refill - it’s all part of the dining experience.

It may be intimidating to get on the Eastern Freeway and drive 45 minutes out of the city, only to dine at a mostly self-service, all-Korean restaurant specialising in offal, where English is the second language. Trust us, it is worth it. Venture outside of the city grid, prepare yourself to try something different and you’ll be rewarded with the perfect simplicity of Korean comfort food.

 Time Out Awards

2019Best Cheap Eat

View this year's Time Out Food Award winners

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

Update: We attended this venue in January 2016 and some details may have altered since then. 

So let's all retire to the bar for a drink and reminisce about the days when Andrew McConnell opened Cutler & Co (2009!) and then when the Builders Arms a block away was McConnolised (2012!) with not only a fab bistro but the bijou and singular restaurant, Moon Under Water.

Marion is his fourth Gertrude gaff, and even though it’s right next door to Cutler and could be construed as its satellite bar, it would be criminally underselling the situation. One of the things the A-Mc does very well is create venues (Cumulus Inc and Cumulus Up spring immediately to mind) that are what you make them, and while Marion could be used as a pre-dinner pit-stop, it deserves more loving. Revert to the hip term bistronomy, if you must, which is another way of saying it has excellent food and wine values while trying really hard not to show how hard it’s trying.

It has some natural advantages over any competitors. For one thing, sharing the vast cellar of Cutler & Co means Marion can lay claim to being the best-stocked wine bar in the 'hood, but in reality there’s no need to venture beyond the shorter list purpose-built for Marion, stuffed with all kinds of vinous excitement by the glass peppered with retro-tastic prices such as Victoria’s 2014 Silent Way multi-regional Semillon blend at $9 or, at the other end of the spectrum, the funkadelic Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura chardonnay at $18.

The menu is on the wall, written in that unfussed, one or two ingredients cryptic style. So let’s translate. You can order a whole king prawn, split down the middle and sloshed in a puddle of cultured butter and shredded kombu. There’s kingfish crudo, but for a change of scenery in the raw fish department there’s also duckfish, fat pale pink wodges mingling with piped avocado and strips of lardo and pickled fennel. Another perfect meeting of pig and ocean arrives with the mussels and nduja, the spicy soft Calabrian salami added like a crumbly spice to the chilled bivalves and cucumber ribbons on a raft of toasted bread. Deeply flavoured, salty-chewy chargrilled strips of smoked ox tongue and mortadella get busy under a blizzard of horseradish with sweet chutney running interference, while "parmesan celery bottarga (cured fish roe)" is indeed those three with a dash of awesomeness in the form of parmesan custard.

There’s plenty more going on at Marion. The menu changes a lot (although the mussels and nduja have blessedly been hanging in from the start), which gives everyone the perfect excuse just to pop in and see what’s going down. Hypothetically speaking, of course, because really you don’t need an excuse.


This venue welcomes American Express

 

 

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy North
  • price 2 of 4

Update: We attended this venue in December 2019 and some details may have altered since then. 

It’s not hard in knock-off-loving Melbourne for a wine bar to shine on a Friday evening, as the work week eases into the rearview, or on a Saturday night, when limitless folly beckons ahead. But how many bars, much less ones tucked away on quiet residential streets, are also brimming at 3pm on a blustery Sunday afternoon, or on steamy Tuesday evenings with no rooftop or courtyard to speak of?

Fitzroy North’s Neighbourhood Wine is. Matt Denman, Simon Denman and chef Almay Jordaan’s genre-bending wine bar has solidified itself as a local drinking and dining institution. The trio also opened Lygon Street’s slick Old Palm Liquor in 2019, but it’s their original baby that has burrowed deep into the DNA of the inner north.

With heavy red curtains at half-wink and disco on the turntable, sessions stretch long in this low-lit cocoon from reality, famously fashioned from the plush remains of an illicit ‘80s gambling den. Kick off balmy evenings with frosty nips of Maidenii classic vermouth or branch out with Mac Forbes’ 2017 ‘Tasty Locals’ vermouth, which transitions from an oaky, musky aperitif to a fresh, tart sipper as ice and lemon fuse in.

Unlike the sprawling, ambitious wine list, the food at Neighbourhood is a compact, daily updated offering of pared-back, pan-European dishes that’s less about cheffing than arranging and enhancing lovely produce. Snacks sing, from pin-thin seed crackers crowned with sticky raisin jam and a silky ruffle of Tete de Moine cheese to smoky, crisp-fried artichokes covered in vegetable treacle and crushed macadamia, a combo tasting deliciously adjacent to satay. And while mini English muffins are a little dense, there are few ills a thick blanket of crème fraîche and plump salmon roe can’t nullify.

But back to the wine. Despite resembling an antiques shop, this is a place for forward-thinking drinking, with nearly the entire list denoted as skin contact, organic, biodynamic, minimal intervention, aged in amphora or a combination of the above. If these are new waters for you, put your trust in the knowledgeable bar staff, who’ll expertly gauge your appetite for adventure before navigating a list as compelling as it is extensive, encompassing both international big hitters like Radikon and exciting local players like Lucy Margaux, Patrick Sullivan and Memento Mori.

By the glass, you can acquaint yourself with domestic takes on savagnin, an ancient varietal first grown in Australia only ten years ago. This fairly recent transplant produces crisp, seafood-ready wines here, and an unfiltered version from the Fleurieu Peninsula’s Scintilla enters the palate quietly before bursting with an orchard’s’ worth of lemon. Or you could dial it up with Good Intentions 2018 skin-contact pinot gris from Mount Gambier – if you’re not afraid of a bone-dry pinot gris with a savoury backbone. Both make compelling partners for spring-on-a-plate dishes like kingfish crudo livened with saltbush chips and saline pops of roe, or slightly tacky ricotta gnocchi swimming in a fragrant tincture of Amalfi lemon-infused oil, broad beans and toasted pine nuts.

Places like Neighbourhood Wine, Gerald’s Bar and Carlton Wine Room epitomise inner-north privilege. Here, locals live within walking distance of journey-worthy destinations they can treat like a second home for impromptu weeknight jaunts (with the warmer service reserved for regulars to match). Within these pastel green and timber-clad walls, it doesn’t matter what the weather or day is, you can be assured that the light will be low, the tables full, and the conversation flowing as freely as the wine.

Entrecôte
  • Restaurants
  • Prahran
  • price 2 of 4

Pucker up for a Parisian party at Entrectes new digs in Prahran. A night out at Entrecte will have you feeling a lil’ bit fancy whether you’re seated at one of the outdoor tables (reminiscent of a Parisian sidewalk) - enjoying one of Entrectes signature Spritzers, or youre lounging in the sexy, moody brasserie - downing an Entrecte Martini, or sipping on ross in the courtyard.

Perhaps skip the Hors d ‘Oeuvres, but do not skip the bread. The bread is good. The butter is very good. The butter, lathered (in most peoples’ opinions but not ours, too thickly) on the bread, is very, very good. And the pièce de résistance the Steak Frites of course. Perfectly cooked, pasture-fed, Cape Grim Angus Porterhouse served with a Secret Herb Butter Sauce, and, of course, Frites.

The only downside about this dining experience is the moment you have to leave, and walk to your Uber at the less favourable end of Greville Street, you are jarringly recoiled into the disappointing reality that you are not, in fact, in Paris.

Jade Solomon
Advertising
Tedesca Osteria
Tedesco Osteria

45. Tedesca Osteria

Speaking of restaurants worth hitting the road for, Tedesca Osteria on the Mornington Peninsula is a fixed-menu dining experience, that is an utter celebration of locally grown and sourced produce.

While the food is undoubtedly excellent, this farmhouse-fantasy is not as easy-going of an experience as it may seem from the outside. First, it is just so difficult to get a booking. We know this is part of its allure, but it can get tedious. Second, the place is a little less willing to cater to dietary requirements as you may expect. But perhaps this is to their credit; at least they are unapologetically committed to their menu being served as it was designed to be eaten.

In any event, the food is good enough to persist with your quest to book. Join as many of the waitlists as they will let you and keep your fingers crossed that they will call you with a last minute cancellation spot.

Jade Solomon
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Rising Embers if the home of Sichuan barbecue from the ever-expanding Dainty Sichuan empire. It’s all thanks to a ninja-like team of waiters who’ll step in quickly to save the day, or simply act as a personal chef if you feel like relinquishing the tongs to the professionals. You’d be brave or reckless to risk cooking a $128.80 platter of Kobe beef yourself, with more marbling than the Vatican, but the tradesman’s entrance to beefy good times is no slouch at a more wallet-friendly price of $16.80. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Richmond
  • price 2 of 4

Update: We attended this venue in September 2018 and some details may have altered since then. 

Not long ago, Bridge Road was the epicentre of discount fashion, but in recent times, retail’s had it tough and the strip has slowly transformed into a hill of tumbleweeds. Enter Jan Chi, one of the many independent hospitality businesses taking on the tough real estate to give Richmond a second chance at life. Jan Chi means ‘to feast’ in Korean, and there’s truth in advertising when the jewel of the menu is a 530 gram plate of braised Angus short rib.

Korean may be the flavour of the moment, but owners Steven Ryu (chef) and SJ Min (venue manager) aren’t jumping on the bandwagon - they’re dishing up flavours from home with their own personal twist. Ryu has made his way to Melbourne by way of New York, working the line at the revered Japanese restaurant MASA and revolutionary Momofuku Ssam before doing his time in Melbourne’s Lucy Lui and Spice Temple. Min is considered the MVP of the Lucas Group, holding the fort and her cool in an impressive six-year stint at the juggernaut known as Chin Chin before being part of the opening crew of Kisume - no easy feat. It makes sense, then, that the two are bringing together their traditional sensibilities with a laid-back, party attitude to this casual diner with very serious food.

We may have mentioned it earlier, but it’s worth restating: order the braised short rib. It will comfortably feed a group of four and will allow you to share a range of other dishes (which you’ll want to do). The soft, sticky short rib comes doused in a pear and apple infused soy sauce with a refreshing, crunchy salad made of the same fruits. You could dig in as is, but as the customised prints on the wall suggest, order a basket of crunchy ssam vegetables that feature a range of lettuces and sturdy, bitter greens to wrap up your meat for maximum enjoyment. Throw in a house made kimchi plate while you’re at it.

On the lighter side of the spectrum, fat slices of salmon come cured in premium soju on top of pickled cucumber, dotted with a sweet-spicy gochujang and brightened with a yuja (citrus) vinaigrette. Wild rice puffs and crumbles of freeze-dried mandarin add some welcome texture. And what’s Korean feasting without fried chicken? Jan Chi’s come in a serve of six pieces (wings and drumsticks), fried in an impossibly crisp batter that keeps its crunch long after it has been rolled in a sweet and spicy sauce aptly named ‘Yum Yum.’ More truth. The original flavour comes unadulterated and you also have the option of a sweet soy and garlic glaze. Thick, chewy, tubular rice cakes (tteokbokki) are fried before they’re married with a spicy gochujang sauce laced with shredded kale, crispy shallots and grated cheese, which sounds weird on paper, but is moreish in practice. Can’t decide what to order? There’s a $40 and $55 banquet option that gets you fed from each part of the menu.

A bar dominates the dark, neon-accented room, emphasising the way that Korean food and alcohol go hand in hand. Soju is the most common order here, with a variety ranging from 17-53 per cent alcohol. Cocktails get flourishes of Korean liquors or Asian ingredients, such as the Mojito smacked with peppery shiso, the Martini spiked with yuja syrup, or the Negroni which replaces gin with a smooth, 53 per cent, organic soju. It doesn’t have to be Friday night for this place to pack out, the younger members of the Korean community are already taking ownership of the tables, while the locals are lining up for take away.

Jan Chi is not like every other Korean restaurant. It marries traditional flavours with Australian dining sensibilities, where the act of eating and drinking serves as entertainment. You can see the cumulative effect of culture, fine dining and modern eateries as influences on Ryu and Min, but Jan Chi is a restaurant on their own terms, and it couldn’t feel fresher.

  • Restaurants
  • Abbotsford

Black and white family photos adorning the walls; kitsch covered tissue boxes lining each table; eclectic chairs and arguably out-of-place rustic style exposed brick walls; and pastel coloured crepe cakes being served at every table. A niche description which only a frequent visitor to Jinda Thai in Abbotsford could pick. For those of you who that didn’t mean anything to, do us, and yourselves a favour, and go check out this Thai food mecca as a matter of urgency.

Jinda Thai exists as a beacon of authentic, homely, and damn-delicious Thai cuisine. In fact, we are willing to call it, Melbourne’s best casual Thai food.

Jade Solomon
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Bistros
  • Fitzroy North
  • price 2 of 4

This smart pub diner (without the pub) is the baby of three industry lifers finally having a go of their own. They haven’t gone off-piste with the sum total of their experience, either. It’s been distilled into a place that speaks of their talents and experience. Black pudding and pear tarte Tatin, anyone?

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Melbourne

Dodee Paidang is a Sydney import from Somporn Phosri – the fourth store of the family. After winning the hearts and tongues of Thai locals in Sydney, he thought it was time to conquer Melbourne. Look out for the level ratings next to its tom yum noodles, every level denotes an added spoon of powdered chilli to the already hot and sour stock base. 

More of Melbourne's best restaurants

Advertising

Quandoo Melbourne Widget

Banner
Recommended

    More on cheap eats

      You may also like
        Advertising