All too often, Malaysian cuisine is overshadowed by its regional neighbours in India, Thailand and Vietnam. But not for much longer — talented duo Aline Viravouth and Marcel Nantharath (Nasi Lemak House in Carlton) are aiming to put contemporary Malaysian street food on the map with their latest venue, Merah.
Launching on October 17, their new eatery will offer an abundance of fresh and spicy Malaysian flavours across its contemporary menu. Merah, which means red in Malay, is a tribute to the colour of chilli sambal — a traditional street food condiment. "Just as sambal brings together a variety of ingredients to create something memorable, so too does our restaurant," explains Viravouth.
Diners can expect Malaysian classics like chilli crab, beef rendang and a nasi lemak of coconut rice, crispy anchovies, peanuts, achar, egg and sambal. In addition, there'll also be Melbourne twists on a few classics, plus a substantial vegan offering — think java jungle curry laksa with a plant-based broth and green soba noodles, and vegan barbecue sliders with grilled mushrooms and sambal. To wash it all down, patrons will find a selection of local craft beers, organic wines and creative mocktails.
Each dish will be made from scratch daily using locally sourced produce, including the sambal, a family recipe of Viravouth's that has been passed down through four generations. And, you'll also be able to take a jar of the house-made side home with you. "We always have people asking to buy it at Nasi Lemak House, so I'm excited to see it in jars and ready for customers to take home," Vivavouth enthuses.
Decor-wise, the 30-seat eatery is simple and relaxed, but with personality. Traditional rattan and plywood textures feature throughout, while speckled walls and occasional splashes of pink, grey and banana-leaf green catch the eye.
Merah is located at 238 High Street, Northcote and will be open for lunch Friday to Sunday, and dinner Tuesday to Sunday. Visit their website for further details.