Melbourne is a food haven where you can practically get any type of food from any corner of the world. Trip Advisor and Zomato are two well known websites to refer to if you need any suggestions as to where to have a nice meal.
And I tell you, Melbourne’s coffee prepared by trained baristas is the best in the world. I think it has something to do with the “fresh” milk. I would only order Cappuccino in Melbourne because it is a standard practice that they sprinkle chocolate on it and thus I do not need to add sugar to my coffee. Below are some photos of cappuccinos prepared by Melbourne’s baristas with freaking nice coffee art:
Before you proceed any further, I have to warn you that there are non-halal food photos here. Therefore, if you are a Muslim, you may want to take a miss on this article.
Among the well known restaurants in Melbourne Central Business District that you must try are Chin Chin (125 Flinders Lane) and Taxi Kitchen (Level 1, Transport Hotel, Federation Square).
CHIN CHIN – Flinders Lane
This is one restaurant you must try while you are in Melbourne. Once again, if you hate to wait in a queue like me, it’s best to go around 11.30am before the lunch crowd. Generally, Chin Chin does not accept reservations. However, if there are minimum 10 people in your party, you can make a reservation but must go with their “banquet” that cost AUD69 per pax but they will keep feeding you until your stomachs explode!
If you go to Chin Chin’s website, you may have the impression that they serve Thai food; however, this is not really the case as they serve Fusion food with a heavy Thai influence. Must try at Chin Chin are their King Fish Sashimi, Caramelised Pork Belly, Crispy Duck, Salmon in Banana Leaf and their curries/rendangs.
Taxi Kitchen (Level 1, Transport Hotel, Federation Square).
This is an award winning restaurant and I tell you, their service is second to none.
I really love Taxi Kitchen which is located on the 1st floor which overlooks the city (Southbank and Flinders St). The service at Taxi Kitchen is fantastic and more importantly the food is really good. They serve fusion food and as such our taste buds will have a good time when you order several dishes and share them with your loved ones.
You will be surprised that Taxi Kitchen staff are well aware that Asians love to share their food; and may even ask who in your party are sharing the food so that they can place the cutlery and plate accordingly; and the dish that is to be shared comes automatically with a separate serving spoon and fork.
Besides the two well known restaurants mentioned above, here are my other favorite restaurants in Melbourne:
Shark Fin Inn (50 Little Bourke)
If you would like to have Live Lobster with Spring Onion and Ginger Noodles, the place to go to is Shark Fin Inn. I have tried Lobster with Noodles at many Chinese restaurants around Melbourne but I find Shark Fin Inn’s the best. You can ask for extra noodles (but of course you will be charged for it) and even extra “gravy” and they would happily entertain your request.
As for their other dishes, most of them suit my palate and I have nothing to complain about. The service at Shark Fin Inn is generally pretty good.
Most of the time when I celebrate my children’s birthday or when we are in Melbourne during Chinese New Year, we’ll have our dinner at Shark Fins Inn and order their lobster.
Ants Bistro (7 Corrs Lane)
This is another favorite Chinese Restaurant of mine. They serve “simple” yet delicious Chinese Food. What you must try at Ants Bistro is their Scrambled Egg White with scallops and Clay Pot Baramundi. The restaurant is owned by two brothers and I have come to know one of the brothers and his wife pretty well. So much so, they will entertain me whenever I request for something not on their menu, like Macau Crab Porridge (however, this needs to be ordered a few days in advance).
I am happy with Ants Bistro’s service whenever I go there, even though sometimes I may need to wait for more than half an hour or so before my food is served, and I can tell you the wait is worth while (especially if you order the scrambled egg white and clay pot fish).
Secret Kitchen – Corner of Little Bourke Street and Exhibition Street
This restaurant was formerly known as China Bar where they have now engaged award winning chefs from mainland China. Most of the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown basically serve Hong Kong style cooking (that is why you will find that the Lobster Ginger and Spring Onion Noodle in London Chinatown tastes similar to the ones in Melbourne Chinatown).
However, since the chef at Secret Kitchen is from mainland China, you can expect their style of cooking to be different for the same dish that you get at say, Shark Fins Inn. For example, I once ordered the Lobster Ginger Spring Onion Noodle at Secret Kitchen and there was hardly any “gravy” and the taste was different from other restaurants BUT it still tasted pretty good.
The food and service at Secret Kitchen is generally good and what I like is that their tables are well spaced apart unlike most of the restaurants in Melbourne CBD. However, their Managers are not that friendly or willing to go the distance to make you happy unlike Shark Fins Inn’ Managers (Kelvin and Angus).
I have been to Secret Kitchen more than 3 times for dinner and each time I spent more than AUD600 (8 pax) but the Manager there refused to waive the corkage charges!!! Once I had to pay AUD30 per bottle for corkage charges when I took my award winning cognac, Gautier XO Gold & Blue, for dinner at Secret Kitchen. The amount, AUD30, is negligible compared to the overall bill but it is small things like this (i.e. waiving corkage charges) that make me really happy, hahaha.
What you must try at Secret Kitchen is their Dim Sum which is unlike the Hong Kong Dim Sum we get around Chinatown Melbourne.
Hardware Societe – Hardware Lane
This is my favorite cafe in Melbourne CBD. They do not accept reservations, as such, the best time you go is between 11.20am and 12.00pm on weekdays. If you go after 12pm, you may end up waiting up to half an hour for a table. And the reason why I recommend the time mentioned above is because they start serving lunch at 11.30am and therefore you get to try their lunch menu also where they have daily specials. I would advise you not to visit Hardware Societe on weekends because the queue is freaking long. FYI, they only serve breakfast and lunch.
Must try dishes at Hardware Societe are their Baked Eggs, Twice Cooked Pork Belly (please note that they may have another pork belly item on the menu), Duck and lunch specials. And if you like Hot Chocolate, you must try Hardware Societe’s Hot Chocolate.
The Meat & Wine Co – Southbank Melbourne
This is the place to go for really good barbeque spare ribs. And if you have a Citibank credit card, you are entitled to a FREE bottle of Australian wine 🙂
Top Of The Bay Williamstown – The Best Fish and Chips in Melbourne
This is the place my family and I would go to if we want fish and chips in Melbourne. Besides the fish and chips, you get a spectacular view of Melbourne City. I have taken many of my relatives/friends from Malaysia to Top Of The Bay and all of them agree that it’s even better than the one in Freemantle, Perth.
It would be more convenient to drive to Top Of The Bay Williamstown from Melbourne CBD where the car ride will take about 20 minutes.
I would recommend that you simply order fish of the day and if you wish to, you can add calamari or prawns.
Blue Chillies Malaysian Restaurant (182 Brunswick St, Fitzroy)
If you miss Malaysian food, this is the restaurant to go to in Melbourne. My favorite dish here is the thrice cooked duck where the skin is really crispy and goes really well with the sweet sauce. You may have to go two or three trips to be able to enjoy all the delicious dishes they offer.
Fomo Thai Restaurant – Bourke Street Melbourne CBD
I have tried a few Thai restaurants in Melbourne and I must say many of them serve really delicious red duck curry. However, my favourite Thai restaurant is FOMO Thai where everything I have tried there so far tasted really good. You must try their roast pork belly and papaya salad. And their Tub Tim Grob (water chestnut dessert) is actually pretty good. Reservation is recommended.
N2 Extreme Gelato – Sutherland Street Melbourne CBD
If you love ice cream, you must try N2 while you are in Melbourne CBD. They change the flavours every week and my favourites are The Red Velvet and Creme Brulee. Their gelatos are made on the spot using liquid nitrogen and you can view it as they are made.
Nshry (129A Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park)
I really love Nshry. Besides the delicious food there, the view is also fantastic. Nothing beats having a wonderful lunch overlooking the blue calm sea water.
You may need a car to get to Nshry from Melbourne CBD. Depending on the traffic (Melbourne has got damn lots of traffic lights), it may take you 15 to 20 minutes.
Nshry has won an award for their burger and they have several types. I highly recommend their corn fritters.
Thanks for checking out this article. I will periodically update this article with more restaurants if I think they are worth while.