Rice Paper Scissors Location: 19 Liverpool Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9663 9890 Rice Paper Scissors is one of those venues that manages to hit all the right notes. Each of its CBD and Fitzroy locations are intimate, personable venues; the cocktails are as cheekily-named as they are imaginative; and, most importantly, each item on the menu is lip-smackingly spot on. At roughly $12-$15 per share plate, dining at this gem is an absolute bargain. Most diners opt for the $59 feast option, which gives 5 stellar dishes to be shared between two people, however we’ve often found that 3-4 dishes (depending on hunger levels) suffices. Must-orders here for us include the twice-cooked sticky pork belly with sticky tamarind caramel sauce and the tapioca-dusted crispy barramundi with green apple slaw.
St Hotel Location: 54 Fitzroy St, St Kilda VIC Contact: 03 9534 2944 http://www.sthotel.com.au/ On every Sunday, St Hotel lays out a thai banquet to help soak up the excesses of Saturday night. We sauntered down to have a taste.
Red Spice Road Location: QV Centre, 37 Artemis Lane, CBD, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Contact: 03 8660 6300 My love for weddings is equally matched by my love of a good challenge. So, when I was tasked by C with the honor of organising her Hens party and corresponding dinner celebrations, naturally I was absolutely ecstatic. C, being the lovely lady that she is, gave me considerable freedom in scoping out restaurant venues for the night, with the only conditions being that: a) the place would be able to deliver a fantastic night in a ‘pretty’ setting; b) the venue wasn’t so noisy that the girls would be able to have a proper chat; and c) the per-head charge would fall within a reasonable price range.
I am constantly astounded by the quality and diversity of food that is offered in Melbourne. Having recently returned from travelling and working overseas (where I had the pleasure of dining at quite a few Michelin-starred restaurants), I can comfortably say that Melbourne offers some of the best restaurants and cafes in the world, which, believe it or not, I much preferred over their Michelin-starred counterparts. This past month I have been very ‘busy’ re-acquainting my palette with Melbourne food. Here are a few favourites that I’d happily eat at (over and over) again: Hinoki Japanese Pantry Location: 279 Smith Street, Fitzroy, VIC 0065 Contact: 03 9417 4531 Fonda Mexican Location: 248 Swan Street, Richmond, VIC 3121 Contact: 03 9429 0085 Jinda Thai Location: 7 Ferguson St, Abbotsford, VIC 3067 Contact: 03 9419 5899
Easy Tiger Location: 96 Smith Street, Collingwood VIC 3066 Contact: 03 9417 2373 Dinner at Easy Tiger was an absolute delight; in general, flavours were well balanced with a good mix of sweet and sour, spicy and that wonderful fragrant hit that comes with Thai food. The betel leaf and son in law eggs were predictably delicious (though expect that sticky, sweet sauce from the betel to trickle down your hand), as was the ‘street food’ soft shell crab, which came nestled on a bed of lightly spicy sriracha. As for the mains, the soy roasted duck salad was to die for, with the sweetness of the watermelon slices cutting through the richness of the duck. The only low point was the tom yum style fish curry, with the base far too watered down and lacking in depth and heat.
Betel leaf, tea smoked scallop, fresh coconut, peanuts & fried shallots ($6 ea)
Yong Green Food Location: 421 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC Contact: 03 9417 3338 Yong’s is your one stop shop for all things vegetarian: raw, vegan, gluten free – you name it, they’ve got it. The crowd rolls in and out fast, so stake your claim early or come during the quieter hours to ensure you grab a spot at one of the tables before things get a little too hectic.
Thai green curry ($18)
The Thai green curry was quite enjoyable – my organic tempeh came immersed in a light, not too creamy house-made Thai green curry paste characterised by quite an amped up level of spiciness. I must admit that I am not one to usually order tempeh (it is one of those tastes that takes a little getting used to), but I quite liked the pairing. All of this married well with a bowl of biodynamic brown rice with just enough outer crunchiness to add some texture.
Thai green curry ($18)
One Thai Location: 346 Belmore Road, East Balwyn Contact: 03 9857 9186 A little while back, we received an invitation to review Menulog, an online take-away and food delivery service that features over 3,000 restaurants Australia-wide. The system is really easy to use – simply visit the website, type in your delivery postcode, and a list of restaurants that are affiliated with the site and can deliver to you will pop up quick smart. Add the dishes to your order, select the delivery time, pay the fee and voila – your meal will be over to you in a jiffy. Now, I know what you’re thinking – sounds like a pretty good option for hump day and a night in eh? Well, that’s exactly what we thought too. So when Wednesday popped around, we took the opportunity to order in and let the magic of home delivery take over. One sms later (telling us that our order had been received by the restaurant) and next thing you know it, the delivery girl is at our door.
FOMO Thai Location: 171 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Contact: 03 9650 7987 Located smack bang in the middle of the buzz of the CBD, FOMO Thai on Bourke Street is a modern Thai heaven, with a clean aesthetic and casual, cheap eats in tow. Wooden communal tables feature throughout, and then there’s that large open kitchen to the back, where you can spot your dishes being quickly whipped up.
The Piano Restaurant and Bar Location: 18 Bridge Rd, Richmond, VIC Contact: 03 9428 9385 The Piano Restaurant and Bar may be a relatively new entrant to the Bridge Road dining scene, however the modern Thai establishment has quickly gained a solid following among locals and that crispy duck is already indisputably a signature dish. The fit out is simple yet charming; dark wooden tables are lit by flickering, colourful candles, there are clean lines throughout and then there is, of course, that rich wooden piano sitting near the front window.
Melbourne Night Noodle Markets Location: Alexandra Gardens, Melbourne When: 18th – 30th of November, 2013 – Mon-Tue: 5-9pm; Wed: 5-10pm; Thu:-Fri 5-11pm; Sat:4-10pm; Sun: 4-9pm As part of The Age’s Good Food Month this year, for the next two weeks Alexandra Gardens has morphed into an extravagant hawker-style night noodle market. With over 25 food stalls and nightly entertainment, a number of Melbourne’s most loved Asian eateries such as Chin Chin, Longrain, Izakaya Den and Mamak have set up shop, including some new and upcoming restaurants. The full list of participating restaurants can be viewed here, and it’s definitely an event that is not to be missed.
Thaila Thai Location: 82 Lygon St, Brunswick East, VIC 3057 Contact: 03 9387 0659 One of Melbourne’s most loved eateries for home-style Thai cuisine, Thaila Thai offers simplicity, affordability and efficient service in an informal atmosphere that abandons pretence.
Middle Fish Address: 122-128 Berkeley St, Carlton, VIC 3053 Contact: 03 9348 1704 Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-5pm; Saturday-Sunday 10am-4pm I absolutely adore the fit out at Middle Fish and its hip brother, Mr. Nice Guy.
I really wanted to like Paradise Road. The cheerful Thai restaurant, nestled in the heart of Glen Waverley, is rather picturesque – artworks bearing buddhas and monks are spotted throughout the eatery, with large, bowl-shaped mellow lamps dangling from the ceiling.
Embodying the community and the spirit of the family unit in Asia, Red Spice Road is a fun and modern take on casual, street-inspired food, with an emphasis on sharing plates and humongous, make-friends-with-your-neighbour dining tables.
The upbeat hall, infamous for its outrageously long wine and cocktail list, is located up the spiralling staircase of Curtin House, and retains all the things that one likes about Asian restaurants
Walk through those heavy glass doors at Chin Chin’s and you instantly feel like you’ve been teleported to a modern version of the busy dining halls of Bangkok. Following Melbourne’s affinity for informal yet chic dining, Chin Chin offers a relaxed, no-bookings policy, which means you can stroll in at some of the ungodlier hours of the night and still snag a meal and a drink (at the Go Go Bar located below).