Vandana’s serves some of the best Indian food at just the right price. The food is beautiful in taste and appearance. The color and presentation are what you would expect to get in the bustling streets of New Delhi. The curries are smooth and complex without overwhelming your taste buds. The famous butter chicken is a safe bet here; for the vegetarians, the Aloo Mutter is definitely a must-try – think creamy potatoes and green peas. The waiters attend quickly to your every need, and the food is served fast in beautiful golden dishes and woven baskets. Soft, warm lights and soothing background music create a charming atmosphere, without getting in the way of conversation.
Vandana’s, 2/676 Centre Rd, Bentleigh East, VIC, Australia +61 3 9570 5343
If rich oriental flavors and soft buttery meats are your cup of tea, then look no further than the paradise that is Paradai Thai. The modern presentation is notably consistent, from the preparation of food to the decor and the bulbs that hang down from the ceiling on thick wires. The barbecued pork is soft and juicy and served with a subtly sweet bowl of sticky rice. In the Chef’s Specials section, you’ll find the delectable Lamb Curry. With its intricate and unique combination of crispy shallots, chunky potatoes, and lamb, it’s a must-try. Combine it with either the perfectly chewy roti bread or sticky rice for the perfect meal.
Paradai Thai, 75 Koornang Rd, Carnegie, VIC, Australia +61 3 9572 1206
This small, hidden gem might just be your new favorite dumpling and noodle restaurant. It is the quintessential Chinese restaurant, serving the Chinese staples. The fried dumplings are wrapped with a crispy, golden casing that maintains the perfect balance between crunchy and chewy, while the inside oozes a hot rich soup from the meaty filling of your choice. The noodles are oily but tasty, with a good blend of healthy greens, vegetables, and mushrooms. Favorite Dumpling & Noodle serves generous portions, and although basic, the dishes offer a deliciously cheap option for those days when you don’t want to think too much about what to eat.
Amid the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s city is the Little Ramen Bar, a little escape to Japan that serves hot and giant portions of ramen. If you want to experience authentic Japanese food, the Little Ramen Bar’s ramen and gyoza are some of the best you can find without actually going to Japan. The ramen comes with the option to Godzilla it (Little Ramen Bar’s version of upsizing), which will be sure to fill you up for the rest of the evening. The miso soup is tangy and light, but the most valued player is definitely the slightly runny egg yolk. The plum sake is also definitely a winner and worth going for. The restaurant nails the authentic Japanese experience, from waiting in line to the quaint and tightly packed room. Located somewhat inconspicuously, Little Ramen Bar will leave you with a fairly accurate idea of what Japan is like.
Little Ramen Bar, 5/346 Little Bourke St, CBD, VIC, Australia +61 3 9670 5558
For the ultra-hungry with slim, student wallets, The Taste of Pho is a good bet in all the right ways. The portions are surprisingly generous for all three sizes, and none will break the bank. While the pho is great – with hot and piquant soup, succulent meats, and lots of soft noodles –, perhaps the unsung heroes are really the rice paper rolls and chicken spring rolls. The large rice paper rolls have a hint of mint to balance the warm flavors of hoisin sauce. The chicken spring rolls are surprisingly appetizing for the level of simplicity. Finally, a big plus at The Taste of Pho, apart from its cheap and large meals, is the choice. You can choose your sizes, what meats you would like, and the sauce for most meals – a godsend for picky eaters.
The Taste of Pho, 478 Centre Rd, Bentleigh, VIC, Australia +61 3 9996 0221