About a month before I was due to leave Melbourne for Sydney, I saw the Sydney instagrammers on my feed go a little nutty over the newly opened Biang Biang. Apparently, no one could get enough of their Xi’an-styled wide noodles, and the burger-like pastry of rougamo. Unsurprisingly, Biang Biang has been on my to-eat list since day one, but it’s only now that I’ve finally managed to drop in to see just what the fuss is about.
I’ve always thought it was a shame that Australia isn’t on board with the Michelin Star system. As great as our hat system works, it just doesn’t quite have the punch and prestige of saying that a restaurant has three Michelin Stars. In addition, it also makes it hard to compare our restaurants to those overseas, and I’m often left wondering how our hatted restaurants truly compare on the global scale. With that said though, Melbourne has picked up its share of Michelin-starred restaurants in the last couple of years; first Tim Ho Wan, and now the same fellas have decided to bring Hawker Chan across the ocean as well.
Although I went to Monash University (and technically I’m still there, just off-campus), I don’t know much at all about the Clayton area. Because as it turns out, they don’t teach pharmacy at the main Clayton campus; rather, we’re relegated to a small block of land in Parkville. So it was with some surprise that I found out, on my way to MODU for dinner, that Clayton actually boasts a huge Asian population, with an emphasis on Chinese students.
Remember when the signs for Tim Ho Wan first popped up on Bourke Street? The excitement for a Melbourne branch of the cheapest Michelin-Starred restaurant in the world was palpable, and everyone eagerly awaited the promised opening in August 2015. Well as we all know, August came and went, and it wasn’t until March of the following year that the restaurant opened with great fanfare, and the lines formed immediately. Tim Ho Wan has come a long way since its beginnings as a grungy 20-seater hole-in-the-wall dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong. The Melbourne branch is slick, bright, and literally 6 times the size. The wait is anywhere between 20 and 90 minutes on a usual night, but if you rock up on Sunday like we did, you can expect a seat straight away.
There’s a place about 5 minutes up the road from my house called Vegie Bowl. It’s slightly off Springvale Road, only accessible via the service road to the side. For the longest time I paid absolutely no attention to it, despite going past it 5 days a week for the last 10 or so years. Mum always thought it was some kind of garden shop, probably due to the word ‘vegie’, and the fact that there’s an actual garden shop next door. We both eventually realised that Vegie Bowl was an Asian-styled vegetarian restaurant that enjoys a good reputation with the locals, and mum urged me to go try it out – not that she needed to! Situated in a repurposed family home, Vegie bowl is divided up into comfortable little nooks and crannies, and just generally feels a lot more zen compared to the standard rowdiness of a Chinese restaurant.