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FOOD & DRINK

Five Melbourne Eateries for When You Want to Show How 'In the Know' You Are

These buzzing spots are guaranteed to impress.
By Concrete Playground
July 31, 2019
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Five Melbourne Eateries for When You Want to Show How 'In the Know' You Are

These buzzing spots are guaranteed to impress.
By Concrete Playground
July 31, 2019
  shares

FIVE MELBOURNE EATERIES FOR WHEN YOU WANT TO SHOW HOW 'IN THE KNOW' YOU ARE

These buzzing spots are guaranteed to impress.

Serious food lovers are spoiled for choice in Melbourne, but sometimes it's hard to see the wood for the trees with so many great options on the table. There's also the problem of everybody else knowing about them, which means looking down the barrel of hour-long (or more) waits to get a seat. And then there's the hole in your wallet some of the city's top bites will burn.

Don't despair though, as there are plenty of 'secret' eating spots for those in the know. We've tracked down five of our favourites that are guaranteed to impress — especially any new mates visiting the city for the weekend.

These eateries still might be busy and buzzing (it's a big city after all) but each has retained an element of the underground and a focus on innovative, creative deliciousness. And the best part is that none will completely break the bank.

  • 5

    Sunda is great for many reasons. Not only is it serving up impressive Southeast Asian fare, it’s doing so in a stunning space — and it won People’s Choice for Best New Restaurant in Concrete Playground’s 2018 Best of Awards. Tucked behind Chinatown, Sunda marries the flavours of Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam with native Australian ingredients. Designed by award-winning architect firm Kerstin Thompson, Sunda is tastefully minimal, founded on a neutral palette of concrete and light timbers — allowing the true focus to fall on the food, whose vibrant colours beautifully contrast against the interiors. Food highlights include the roti with Vegemite curry (trust us) and the wagyu rendang pie. Those with dietary requirements will be happy to know that there are menus for coeliacs and vegetarians, too.

    Images: Kate Shanasy

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  • 4

    There’s a lot going on at Leonardo’s Pizza Palace. Literally. Even on a Sunday night at eight o’clock, it’s packed. DJs play laidback tracks, and waitstaff carry pizza and pasta to various nooks and crannies, navigating around punters waving glasses of spritzes.

    Run by the team responsible for southside favourites Leonard’s House of Love and the just-closed Ramblr, the sprawling Carlton restaurant is serving up woodfired, charred and blistered, pizzas. The version getting a lot of airtime is topped with Chinese bolognese — taken from Ramblr’s menu — piled atop the dough alongside white sauce, fior di latte and chopped scallions. It’s full of umami richness.

    There’s a good range of Italian and local wines, both by the glass and the bottle, four beers on tap (choose Leonardo’s Bath Tub Brew and say it quickly four times) and a small selection of bottles and cans.

    Image: Kate Shanasy

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  • 3

    The duo behind Melbourne’s sake brand Toji Sake has brought a new taste of Japan to Richmond. Founders Shar and Yuta Kobayashi have joined forces with Chef Dan Chan (Cumulus UpSupernormal Canteen), who recently completed a stint at Hong Kong’s highly lauded yakitori restaurant Yardbird, to open Eazy Peazy.

    Here, you’ll find yakitori made with all the chicken parts — thigh, oyster, heart, breast — as well as leek, okra and baby onions covered in miso. Other snacks include the likes of duck gyoza with shiso and salted plum, kingfish sashimi with smoked daikon, smoked beef tartare and short ribs with chimichurri.

    Behind the restaurant’s long concrete bar, you’ll, of course, find a few Toji Sake concoctions. If you want to go all out with drinks and booze, order the feed me menu ($60) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and you can also add on bottomless sake, prosecco, tap beer and house wine for an extra $39 a head.

    Image: Carly Ravenhall

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  • 2

    If you’ve ventured down Collingwood’s Wellington Street lately, you probably would have been intrigued by a certain eye-catching corner building, decked out with a bold black and white façade.

    Chotto Motto the suburb’s lively Japanese haunt. And, here, the humble gyoza reigns supreme — specifically crisp-based Hamamatsu-style dumplings that are served as a group, flipped upside down. Grab a ten- or 20-piece feed, in flavours like spicy kimchi miso pork, free-range chicken and coriander, or the vegan-friendly nasu dengaku eggplant.

    As well as furikake-seasoned fries, taco-style wagyu teriyaki roll-ups and a tidy range of katsu sandwiches, the restaurant has a vending machine stocked with a hefty range of imported craft beers. There’s soft serve to finish, too, with a new flavour rotating each month.

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  • 1

    With its self-described “no rules approach” to American barbecue, Dexter had a lot to prove. But few can deny that the Preston restaurant has it nailed, especially when it comes to those signature hot meat doughnuts — the brisket-filled, deep-fried batter balls, dusted with sugar and paprika are a cult favourite.

    Needless to say, these set the scene for the rest of the menu, which is filled with interesting dishes. The short rib comes with a caramel glaze, the mash is crafted with bone marrow and there’s an inspired Korean beef tartare, with nashi, sesame and wild plum syrup. Choose one of the loaded barbecue trays or opt for a brioche bun with pickles and your choice of meat — the range includes crisp fried chicken, pulled pork and a Southern-style tofu.

    What’s more, the drinks list holds its own, with a crafty selection of largely local beers and wines, and a clever lineup of cocktails that hero big, boozy flavours. Just wait until you try the popcorn bourbon-infused number they call the Netflix & Chill.

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Top image: Sunda by Kate Shanasy

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