We’ve been in Melbourne for a little over two weeks. In that time we’ve pretty much lived on Asian food. Korean fried chicken, Japanese ramen and Chinese dumplings to name but a few. To be honest, it’s so bloody good, I see no reason for this to change!
I’ve not been to Asia yet but I’m sure the food here is much more authentic than we get at home. My other half lived and worked in South Korea for just over a year and he’s especially loving the Korean food. The variety is much wider, and the taste apparently more authentic than we’ve found in the UK and he’s delighted to see things he’s not had since he was in Seoul.
So far we’ve eaten at some amazing places and so, without further ado, here are my initial top picks for Asian food in Melbourne…
Hataka Gensuke for Ramen
Just on the edge of Melbourne’s China town you’ll find Hataka Gensuke. How will you know you’re there? Look for the queue. And then join it. They’ll bring out menu cards for you to order with, this speeds the process along. Service is fast, loud and hectic. Just go with it and enjoy the ride.
There are four ramen dishes to choose from and you can customise everything from the noodle texture to the level of flavour in your broth. Between the three of us we tried the Signature Tonkotsu, the Black Tonkotsu and the God Fire (spice level 2 of 4) – I would not recommend going above level 2 unless you’re a complete chilli fiend, I love spice and it blew my head off!
In Chinatown you’ll see lots of places advertising ramen and I’m sure there are some really great options out there but now, Hataka Gensuke has my heart. I’ve eaten a lot of ramen in my time but these guys are something else. The flavour of the broth is just incredible and those eggs… I was literally rendered speechless. That’s saying something.
We went to Hakata Gensuke here: 168 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000 but they also have a place here: 4/860 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122
Shandong Mama Mini for Pan-fried Dumplings
Juicy Bao for Steamed Bao & Dumplings
Again, between three of us we shared three dishes. This place was really great value for money as we were not expecting the portion sizes we got! We ordered the Signature Pork Xiao Steamed Bao, the Steamed Chicken and Prawn Dumplings and the Pork and Prawn Wonton in Peanut, Chilli and Spice Sauce.
The pork and prawn wonton in the sauce were delicious! We were pretty much scrabbling over who got the last one – resorting to scissor paper stone to make the decision (I didn’t win). I really enjoyed the steamed bao with pork xiao too. It’s something I’ve had before but the bao were less sticky and doughy than I’ve had in other places. Massive thumbs up!
Find them here: 178 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Oriental Spoon for Ddoekbokki
We headed out on Saturday for a cheap lunch at a place we’d seen advertising $9 bibimbap. Actually when we got there, they said the offer was ‘coming soon’ despite having the posters on the walls. Hmm… annoying. With our hearts set on Korean food we carried on walking down the road and came across a large and busy restaurant Oriental Spoon. Peering through the windows, the food looked great so we headed in.
The decision was taken out of our hands when we saw the food being eaten by the middle aged Korean couple on the next table. We ordered exactly what they had. The bubbling bowl of stew at the back of the photo is Pork and Kimchi Jjigae (뒤지김치찌개). I’ve made this at home but the flavours in this bowl were something else. Deliciously spicy and warming.
The large platter in the middle is Ddoekbokki (떡볶이) and this is what I want to talk to you about! It’s something I’ve only eaten once at Saranghae in Nottingham but I loved it then. It’s a dish made of rice and fish cakes coated in a sweet spicy chilli sauce with spring onions. This one was not as spicy as the one in Nottingham but I loved it, especially with scoops of sticky rice which soaked up the sauce. If you ever see this dish on a menu, definitely get it. Totally different to anything I’ve tried before.
Find them here: 254 La Trobe Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Do you know any other great places in Melbourne for Asian food? I’ve just scratched the tip of the iceberg and would love to hear your suggestions.