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FOOD & DRINK

Where to Shop Like a Local In and Around Box Hill

Thousands of vinyl records, plants, gifts, organic groceries, authentic ramen and more awaits in the eastern suburbs.
By Leisha Kapor
October 25, 2019
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Where to Shop Like a Local In and Around Box Hill

Thousands of vinyl records, plants, gifts, organic groceries, authentic ramen and more awaits in the eastern suburbs.
By Leisha Kapor
October 25, 2019
  shares

WHERE TO SHOP LIKE A LOCAL IN AND AROUND BOX HILL

in partnership with

Thousands of vinyl records, plants, gifts, organic groceries, authentic ramen and more awaits in the eastern suburbs.

From the Box Hill Community Arts Centre and the art collection inside the historic town hall, to the bustling market and the annual Chinese New Year Festival, Box Hill has its share of suburban charm. As you may know first-hand, residents here are spoiled for choice when it comes to authentic noodles, hot pot and dumplings; a large percentage of the population has Chinese heritage, contributing to a community filled with family-run eateries and businesses and some of the best Asian food in Melbourne.

We've teamed up with American Express to sift through the numerous independent local traders providing Box Hill and surrounds with the restaurants, cafes and shops that make the eastern suburbs so great. Strive to shop small, with these nine local businesses that will welcome you and your American Express Card like you're part of the family.

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    Wattle Park Green Grocer

    Vegan? Gluten free? Intolerant of basically everything? Wattle Park Green Grocer has your back. As well as all the fruit and veg you’d expect to see at your local supermarket, Wattle Park specialises in take-home meals (including gluten free and low FODMAP options), organic produce boxes and gourmet food hampers. You’ll find vegan dips and pestos, fair trade coffee and chocolate from local producers, organic Australian sauces and condiments, a big selection of mueslis and a room dedicated to bulk-buy wholefoods like nuts, seeds, dry fruit, legumes and hard-to-find flours. BYO containers and reusable shopping and produce bags.

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    It should come as no surprise that one of the cafes pioneering multicultural breakfast fare is right in the heart of Box Hill. The Penny Drop hits that sweet spot between minimalism and warmth, with high ceilings and pastel pink tones throughout. But what about the menu? There are all-day starters, like tempura baby corn and an oyster omelette. Specialties like soft-shell crab eggs benedict sit alongside the usual breakfast fare. If brekkie isn’t your thing, the lunch and dinner selection is available all day, too, and covers everything from hemp seed poke to gnocchi carbonara. We could say just as much about the drinks list, which spans DC Specialty Coffee, freak shakes, Numi Organic teas, wine, beer, cider and cocktails.

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    Acorn Nursery

    We probably don’t need to tell the locals about this one, as Acorn Nursery is a bit of an institution in the eastern suburbs. It’s been around since 1985, and is now a go-to plant and garden centre complete with a gift shop and cafe. Alongside everything you need to make your garden pop (including seedlings, soil and fertilisers, tools, pots, garden furniture and ornaments), the gift shop has such a wide range that it’s possible to knock off your entire Christmas shopping list in one go. There’s clothing, homewares, jewellery, bags, lotions, raw honey, toys, books, candles and gift cards to top it off. Celebrate your purchases with a cuppa or a glass of wine at The Oaks Cafe.

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    Katori

    Premium dining isn’t just for the inner city, and this is proven by the former Nobu and Saké chefs in the kitchen at Katóri in Box Hill. The Japanese yakiniku restaurant combines traditional methods, seasonal Australian ingredients and the creativity and skill of the chefs to great success. High quality wagyu beef, seafood from local fishmongers, and seasonal veggies are cooked on a charcoal barbecue — in the kitchen or by you at your own personal grill, built into the tables — and served alongside a selection of signature dishes, sushi, sashimi and salads. There are also delicate and creative desserts, cocktails, Japanese whisky, wine, sake and tea, all in a dark and luxurious dining room.

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    Second Wife

    Sleek and beautiful in its fitout, Second Wife cafe is the second venture for owners Semir Elamazi and Reiji Honour, which has inspired the name — and also means the pair already know what they are doing. You’ll find touches on the menu inspired by both Elamazi’s Middle Eastern background, and Honour’s Japanese heritage. There’s a focus on healthy, vibrant dishes, and everything is halal. For breakfast, try the okonomiyaki or Moroccan eggs, or for lunch, get around a bowl made your way — select a base, some toppings, a sauce and a protein.

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    You’d be forgiven for assuming your best bet for vinyl records was somewhere in Fitzroy or St Kilda, where live music venues have been heavily influencing Melbourne’s music scene for decades. Stay with us when we tell you to get out of the inner city and give Discrepancy Records in Mont Albert North a shot. The store stocks more than 15,000 LPs, and the team is happy to order in anything you can’t find. Sure, there’s an online shop, but that can’t replace the fun of flicking through dozens of record sleeves in person to find your next cheeky purchase. You’ll also find a growing range of art, turntables, equipment and accessories that will help you on your journey towards an epic vinyl collection.

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    Ichi Ramen

    Melbourne’s eastern suburbs aren’t short of ramen joints, so you shouldn’t take this recommendation lightly. The recipes at Ichi Ramen come courtesy of Rikisai Miyajima, who runs the Osaka Ramen School in Japan. These warming dishes come from a family recipe that has then been perfected over 25 years of experimentation. You can’t go past the signature tonkotsu or chicken broth ramen, or there’s a bunch of specialty ramens that are customisable, including a heap of seafood options like blue swimmer crab, king prawns, clams and oysters. Not in the mood for soup? The menu is complete with dry sauce ramen, Japanese curry rice and udon dishes, massive servings of katsu, sharing plates and bento boxes.

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    Wallies Lollies

    After chowing down on the salty and spicy flavours of Box Hill’s many eateries, sweet cravings can be seen to with a trip to Wallies Lollies. Within the shop’s purple walls you’ll find every sweet imaginable, enough to make you the most popular aunt at the Christmas lunch. Fulfil your gothic dreams of an all-liquorice lolly jar, or take your commitment to a colour scheme to the next level — this place has a huge selection of confectionary sorted by colour. Wallies Lollies also has party supplies of the non-edible variety and everything needed to become a cake decorator worthy of the Australian Women’s Weekly birthday cake book.

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    Family-run Box Hill eatery Shaanxi-Style Restaurant is an argument for not judging a book by its cover. Behind an unassuming facade almost stereotypical of a suburban Australian Chinese joint, the authentic northwestern Chinese food draws in so many customers the family had to expand the original dining room into the space next door. As the name suggests, the food here all originates in the Shaanxi province in northwest China, where strong flavours of garlic, salt and onion are common. Try regional specialties like roujiamo (flatbread meat sandwiches), biang biang noodles and paomo, which is a lamb soup popular in the province’s capital, Xi’an.

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Love where you live and shop small to support the local stores that make Melbourne so great. To learn about American Express and the Shop Small initiative, visit here. Then, head this way to find more must-visit spots around the eastern suburbs.

Images: Tracey Ah-lee.

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