The big ticket spots are probably on your radar, but these hidden gems might have slipped by undetected. Lock in a visit for when you're in town.

Khao Man Gai

A new family-run Thai chicken rice shop has just opened on one of Melbourne’s most iconic foodie streets. Head to Khao Man Gai on Hardware Lane for an authentic South East Asian street food experience. Choose from eight super aromatic chicken rice dishes – either fried or steamed. Each one is lovingly served with fermented soybean sauce, chilli and broth. Don’t forget to add a Thai milk tea on the side for a sugar kick.

Ghost Donkey

Buried within Crown Casino is where you'll find the totally unique restaurant, Ghost Donkey. Feast on grilled hanger steak tacos, with sherry onions, coriander and black garlic. Must tries are the wild mushroom nachos and Sonoran hotdog. Wash it all down with delicious cocktails made with vibrant mezcal, agave and juicy pineapple served in kitschy cups.

A table set with Mexican dishes and a cocktail in a donkey mug.
Ghost Donkey

Sara Craft Ramen & Bar

Need to load up on ramen? This new noodle joint is offering big bowls of the good stuff with a twist. Head to Sara Craft Ramen & Bar to try a premium take on this humble dish. Order beautifully executed dishes topped with premium Wagyu, spicy pork or yuzu duck served in a hearty broth.

Martabak Pecenongan 78 & D'Bakmie

You’ll be hard pressed to find Indonesian martabak pancakes in Melbourne but this Carlton joint has you covered. Delightfully fluffy and made fresh with each order, Martabak Pecenongan 78 & D'Bakmie serves up the real deal. Filling options are aplenty with our picks being classics like peanut or chocolate and cheese. If you’re craving something savoury, opt for an authentic noodle dish, fish ball soup or spicy fried chicken skin.

The counter of a small restaurant
Martabak Pecenongan

Waku Waku  

Transport yourself to Japan’s snowy island of Hokkaido when you pay a visit to Waku Waku. It's the first spot in Melbourne serving the region’s famous soup curry dish – a warming aromatic broth with a charcoal-grilled chicken leg and chunky veggies. Go big and order sides like gyoza dumplings, tamagoyaki omelette and buttery scallops to complete your meal.  

Onsen Japanese

Visit Tokyo in Melbourne at this cosy hidden gem. Pop-in for a quick lunch at Onsen Japanese for its signature flavour-packed tonkotsu ramen and choose the spicy version if you like a good kick. Or try 'soupless' mazeman ramen, crispy karaage fried chicken, katsu curry and more authentic bites. 

Two people are sitting in a small ramen restaurant
Onsen Japanese

Samut

Seek out this neon-lit joint serving Cambodian street food to hungry passers-by. Samut is tucked away on Little La Trobe Street and offers up an authentic menu with hard-to-find dishes. Try papaya salad with salted crab, deep fried pork belly, spicy stir fried snails with lemongrass and more. They’re also slinging classic South East Asian drinks like iced Milos and sweet sala pink milk.

Khaosan Lane

Named after a popular street in Bangkok, new Thai bbq joint Khaosan Lane is the place to go for steaming seafood hot pots, sizzling cook-your-own meat and giant fruity cocktails served in jugs. Stretching down a hidden laneway and lined with rainbow-coloured string lights, the atmosphere is more South East Asia than it is Melbourne. Live music adds to the party vibes, too.

Two people cooking meat on a hot pot
Khaosan Lane

Sevenstar Pocha Chinatown

Sevenstar has opened its second venue in the heart of Chinatown (113 Little Bourke Street). True K-food heads will be thrilled to see heaping bowls of seafood stew, spam-loaded dishes and spicy chicken feet. Not so game? Fried chicken, Korean BBQ and fun soju slushies are on the menu, too.

Heartling

Melbourne's most exclusive dumpling restaurant has arrived. With space for just eight diners, you'll feel very special when you nab a seat at Heartling. The focus here is on 'slow' dining – a meditative food experience that allows you to savour every flavour. Choose the seafood or plant-based menu, then indulge in a series of hand-crafted, heart-shaped dumplings. Splurge on dessert, you won't be disappointed.

Different coloured dumplings on a black plate
Heartling

Cambodia's Kitchen

Russell Street newcomer Cambodia's Kitchen boasts the title of being the first Cambodian diner in the CBD. Wander in after work for hearty beef broth stew, served with melt-in-the-mouth brisket and chewy egg noodles. Or try the signature 'ka thiew' – a clear bone broth with rice noodles and tender pieces of pork. Planning a fun date night? The Cambodian-style hotpot is a no-brainer. Feast on juicy sliced beef, fish cakes, lush leafy greens, bean curd, enoki mushrooms and more for just $45 per couple!

More new places you might have missed

Paik's Noodle

Paik's Noodle

Straight out of Seoul, Paik's is famed for its delectable and comforting Korean noodle dishes.

One Plus Piece Melbourne Central

One Plus Piece Melbourne Central

Melbourne’s First anime-themed Asian fusion burger joint.

Fishpot

Fishpot

Serving up a specialty fish soup base alongside the finest selection of Wagyu and seafood.

Yum Sing House Restaurant & Karaoke Bar

Yum Sing House Restaurant & Karaoke Bar

Modern Asian dining and late-night karaoke with the hedonistic spirit of 1960s Hong Kong.

Last updated on Tue 20 Feb 2024

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