Ramadhan is here again and I’ve put together a little post about food! I’d like to wish all my Muslim readers and friends a blessed Ramadhan and may Allah provide you with the sustenance to strengthen your iman and rejuvenate your soul. 🙂
For the past month, I’ve revisited some halal restaurants around the Melbourne CBD in a hunt for some of the best food to satisfy my Singaporean Malay appetite.
To my dear Muslim brothers and sisters who come to Melbourne and find yourselves asking, “Where can we get halal food?”, this post is specially dedicated to you.
Just four years ago, I remember asking that same question the first time I set foot in Melbourne. The scarcity of halal food in Western countries may be a typical misconception among Muslim travellers, but you’ll be surprised by the choices available as you walk down the city lanes.
Searching for a halal place to eat at can be a challenge if you’re new to the city. If you come from Southeast Asia, you would probably expect halal logos to be visibly displayed on the signboards, but that isn’t necessarily the case here.
Furthermore, the unfamiliar practice of serving alcohol in a halal food restaurant may instil doubts in some Muslims, although you must remember that more often than not, these businesses cater to the majority.
These are just some out of many other available halal food you can find around the CBD (and the rest of Melbourne for that matter). Enjoy!
Bali Bagus on Franklin
Situated just a block away from the prominent Queen Victoria Market is this Indonesian restaurant which serves traditional Balinese and Javanese dishes. You will be welcomed by the fragrant aroma of Indonesian spices as you step into the quaint and casual place.
Bali Bagus offers a large menu, and the food is prepared fresh as you order it. Some of their chef’s choices include the Sautéed Chilli Prawns, Fried Fish with Bali sauce, and Fried Chicken with butter. Their tenderised Iga (ribs) and Ayam Penyet (pounded chicken) served with a choice of original or spicy sambal are a must-try.
I frequent here a lot since it’s pretty close to where I live and my friends and I agree that the consistent quality of the food and great service is worth the price. It’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed.
85 Franklin Street, Melbourne
Price: $8-$15 (Cash only)
Open: Monday-Sunday 11am-9pm
Rumour has it that a certain part of the CBD would take you back to the olden days in Singapore. Named after a famous coffee shop along Killiney Road in Singapore, Killiney Kopitiam offers food which reminds me of what I usually have back home. The ambience is reminiscent of antique coffee houses found in Singapore, furnished with wooden chairs and round marble tables.
Although the food may not be as on point as the ones I’ve had in Singapore – it’s impossible to beat the old vendors with tens of years of experience – I think their menu has enough variety to satiate your cravings for traditional kopitiam (food court) food.
Killiney’s Marketing Manager, Julie Fong says their top sellers are their Hainanese Chicken Rice, Singapore Chilli Crabs, Black Pepper Crab, Laksa, Mee Rebus and Hokkien Noodle. If you miss having a plate of kaya (coconut jam) toast or a tangy bowl of Rojak, Killiney Kopitiam is where you’ll find some of my home country’s signature dishes.
108 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Open: Monday-Saturday 11am-10pm
“Our Roti Canai is the most popular,” a waiter claims, and I can’t find any reason to doubt that. Dubbed one of the top budget restaurants in Melbourne by The Guardian in 2013, you’ll wonder how they managed to keep their prices reasonably low with the quality of food they serve.
For $5.50, you can get a plate of their Roti Canai with curry and dhal on the side, among other Roti varieties they have; both savoury and sweet. I must add that the Roti Canai (also known as Roti Prata in Singapore) and curry is the most authentic I’ve had in Melbourne; crispy yet fluffy at the same time. It’s no surprise that they’re always packed during lunch and dinner.
I was told that their customers’ favourites include their Mee Goreng (fried Hokkien Noodle), lamb curry, Ayam Berempah (stir-fried chicken with whole spices) and Satay. The service is efficient and commendable, and it has to be my top pick on the list.
366 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Open: Monday-Sunday (Lunch) 1130am-230pm, (Dinner) 530pm-930pm
Closes 1030pm (Friday & Saturday)
Hop on a tram towards Melbourne University and drop off at the last stop. You will find this place just minutes away from the tram stop, and on the same street you’ll find KFC (which also serves halal chicken, by the way).
It’s a little way out of the CBD, but I had to include this on my list because this is arguably the place for some of the best Nasi Lemak you’ll find in Melbourne. Their unique appeal? Having three different types of sambal to suit your taste. You can stick to the traditional spicy sambal or switch it to the sweet and sour Kelantan sambal if you can’t handle the spiciness or try the zesty Kerabu sambal with shrimp and lime leaf – they all go well with the rice either way.
You can choose to dine in the boxy yet cozy space or get a takeaway. If you’re short of time, you can also place orders through their website and they’ll have it prepared as you make your way down.
115 Grattan Street, Carlton
Open: Monday-Friday 11am-10pm, Saturday & Sunday 12nn-10pm
This restaurant is a hard one to miss if you walk down Swanston Street. Lined up along other Asian restaurants, Nelayan Indonesian restaurant serves quick bain-marie food on top of some cooked-to-order menu items. It’s your best deal for a filling (and reasonably priced) meal if you’re around Melbourne Central.
For $6, you’ll get rice with a choice of 1 side or add another $3 for an additional side. They have some of the best tenderised beef Rendang (simmered beef in coconut milk), which is one of the main sides available daily.
They switch up the buffet spread every day, ranging from Ayam Masak Lemak (spicy chicken cooked with coconut milk or cream), to Sweet & Sour Fish, and my personal favourite, Sambal Goreng (stir-fried vegetable side dish containing fermented soy bean products). The space might be a little too small to accommodate the crowd during lunchtime so you might opt to get takeaways with no extra charge.
265 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Open: Monday-Sunday 11am-9pm
PappaRich probably has the most extensive range of menu items you can get. From bread, to noodles, rice, and desserts among plenty of other dishes, you’ll have a tough time choosing what to put in your tummy.
Chicken rice? Briyani rice? Kuay Teow Noodles? They have dishes that will appeal to the different ethnicities that make up the South East Asian population. For the amount you’re served, I find the price quite reasonable.
The place is usually crowded throughout the day, which could affect the quality of their service every now and then with waiters attending to more than a table at a time. Don’t get too mad if you’re not immediately served your complimentary jug of water.
Ordering food at PappaRich is self-service, where you’re supposed to write your orders down on a slip of paper and press the buzzer on your table before being attended. Heading here is your best bet to find something that will appeal to everyone.
QV Building, QV Square, 11, Melbourne
Open: Monday-Thursday & Sunday 1030am-11pm
Friday & Saturday 1030am-1230am
There are of course other halal restaurants worth checking out in the CBD, like Blok M on Little Lonsdale, Zam Zam on Lonsdale (just next to Mamak), Biryani House on King Street and Chilli India at Melbourne central.
If you have the time, you may want to venture to the outskirts of the city by taking a 20-minute tram ride to Lygon Street or Sydney Road where you’ll find yourself in Melbourne’s Middle-Eastern bloc. There doesn’t seem to be any lack of halal food around Melbourne now, does there?
This post was originally published on my old blog, www.theopenscrapbook.wordpress.com.