Aru Restaurant

This considered offering from chef Khanh Nguyen heroes cooking techniques from eras past and a surprising fusion of flavours.
Libby Curran
Published on December 13, 2021
Updated on August 21, 2023


The latest venture from the minds behind Sunda — including celebrated chef Khanh Nguyen — Aru is an elegant, 120-seat restaurant that draws culinary inspiration from those early days of trade between Indonesian seafarers and northern Australia. Named after the cluster of islands on the pre-colonial maritime route that connected this corner of the world, it's championing the flavours of Southeast Asia, Japan, China and native Australia.

Nguyen's kitchen looks to eras past to inform the techniques that guide the menu — from curing and fermentation; to smoking and cooking over flames. There's a wood-fired hearth, and even an onsite dry-ageing room, turning out the likes of cured pork and Viet-style duck sausage.

Kristoffer Paulsen

Here, a creatively-charged menu pushes familiar flavours into innovative new directions, backed by those ancient techniques. An Aussie barbecue staple is reborn as a duck snag sanga finished with leatherwood honey and peanut hoi sin ($18), and classic banh mi ingredients become the filling of a house-made pate en croute ($34). Snacks and small bites run to the likes of sate wagyu tongue ($24), smoked scallops with turmeric mayo ($15), and raw beef matched with macadamia and salted chilli ($30).

You'll find plates like barramundi with buttermilk dashi and desert Lime ($54), and a clay pot broken rice done with duck fat, sausage and egg yolk ($34). Clever desserts might include kaya and koji waffles ($24), and even a sourdough riff on the lamington finished with Vietnamese coffee ($24).

Ari Hatzis

Kristoffer Paulsen

Ari Hatzis

Images: Interiors by Ari Hatzis; food by Kristoffer Paulsen. Updated August 2022. 


Appears in:

The Best Restaurants in Melbourne for 2023


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