Every single blog I read is doing one of these, and because I love lists and hate missing out, I’m going to do one too!
Best Weekday Lunch Spot: Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe
|Tsuke Don ($10.9)|
The Tsuke Don was one of the favourite lunches I’ve had this year. Zesty, light, yet filling, it’s a must for all those who love Japanese, and could probably convert most who don’t. For the people who want something heavier, Purple Peanuts also serves a range of traditional Japanese rice and noodle dishes, as well as sushi rolls.
Best Brunch: Axil Coffee Roasters
|Breakfast Burrito ($16)|
Their baked eggs made my day brighter. But the breakfast burrito turned the wattage up so high that my eyeballs shrivelled. Not a very appealing image I know, but the breakfast burrito was pretty amazing. Hearty yet balanced, you don’t feel bad about eating what’s essentially 3 scrambled eggs and a whole chorizo at breakfast. The fact that Axil is near Swinburne University, and big enough not to need a booking, is a plus.
Best Romantic Dinner: Aspro Ble
|Slow Roasted Lamb ($22)|
Cozy and dimly lit with its own guitarist, Aspro Ble is the perfect place to take your date without breaking the bank. Gaze into each other’s eyes as you soak up the Mediterranean atmosphere with a glass of wine or two. Make sure you order the slow cooked lamb, though there are plenty of options on the menu for those who want something lighter.
Best Fast Food: Gami’s Chicken and Beer
|Original Chicken ($12 for 10 pieces)|
KFC is all well and good, just make sure you’re getting Korean Fried Chicken, not the Colonels. I guarantee you, after trying the fried chicken at Gami, you won’t want it from anywhere else. And if the chicken here is Harry Potter, then beer would be its faithful sidekick, Ron Weasley. Bring enough people and you can even order a 4L keg of beer.
Best Noodle Dish: Laksa King
|Combination Laksa ($9.2)|
I’m acquaintances with laksa on a good day; Chris has never even met laksa, and it usually takes an average of 3 tries for him to decide if he likes a dish or not. Yet we both loved Laksa King to pieces on our first visit. Laksa is what this spot is all about, even if it does offer other traditional Malaysian dishes. A perfect balance of creamy and spicy, you won’t find a finer laksa in Melbourne. Also a special mention to the ramen at DonToo, which only just missed out on getting the top spot.
Best Dumplings: Auntie’s Dumplings
|Shanghai Fried Noodles ($8.3)/Boiled Pork Dumplings ($8 for 15)|
The younger sister of the now defunct Bob’s Kitchen in Glen Waverley, Auntie’s Dumplings serves up the most delicious rendition of the humble dumpling I’ve ever had. I’d even go as far as to say that they’re better than what mum makes, and that’s a big call. And on those off-days where you don’t feel like dumplings, you can count on almost any other dish on the menu to fill your tummy and leave a smile on your face.
Best Dessert: Maedaya
|Maedaya Panna Cotta ($4.5)|
If it weren’t for the recommendations of other bloggers, I would never have picked soy milk panna cotta off any menu – it just sounds so bland and boring. But I’m glad that I took a chance and ordered it, because this is by far the most surprising (in a good way) dessert of the year. Looking non-too-different from tofu, this silky smooth panna cotta is just begging to be slowly sucked off the spoon. But I can guarantee that there’s no way you’ll be able to resist scoffing it down after the first bite.
Best Newcomer: Chin Chin
|Kingfish Sashimi ($14)|
Chin Chin is the restaurant that needs no introduction. I went there for lunch with expectations hyped to the roof, and it delivered an accessible and delicious meal with some bold twists on traditional Asian cooking. There’s no need for me to say more; everyone else has already said it.
Best Value: Al Alamy
|Foull Medammes Platter ($7)|
Hidden away in Coburg, Al Alamy is an Arabic grocer-slash-bakery. Here you can get the Foull Medammes Platter, which consists of a bowl of mashed and spiced beans that doubles as a dip, a generous plate of pickles, and two enormous flatbreads. And the best part? All of the above will leave you with enough change from a tenner to grab yourself a couple of pieces of their very excellent baklava.
What are your favourite eats of 2011?