In the heart of Melbourne’s CBD is Chinatown. It dates back to the gold rush days of the 1850s and is one of the oldest continuous Chinese settlements in the Western world. Most the action takes place in Little Bourke Street, but explore the surrounding laneways for some of the best restaurants anywhere in the world. There are far too many to list, but here are a few that deserve a special mention: take on cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), prawn toast and custard tarts during yum cha at Shark Fin Inn (50 Little Bourke Street); slurp down the best xiao long bao (soup dumplings) in the city at HuTong Dumpling Bar (14–16 Market Lane); or fuel up after a long night on the town with Cantonese dishes – suckling pig, XO pippies, hotpots – at the no-frills Supper Inn (15 Celestial Avenue), where chefs are known to go in after their shift for congee and Tsingtao.
Lamb sizzling over charcoal, plates of creamy taramasalata served with fresh pita, and baklava stacked with honey and nuts are just some of the delicacies you’ll find in the Greek precinct on Lonsdale Street. Get a fix of saganaki, slow-roasted lamb souvlaki and Greek salad at the smart, café-style Kalamaki Greek Street Food (389 Lonsdale Street). Grab a table or get in the take-out queue at Stalactites (177–183 Lonsdale Street), where hungry Melburnians have been noshing on chicken giros, homemade cabbage rolls and platters of oven-baked lamb and hot chips since 1978. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so it doesn’t matter when you’re feeling hungry.
With its supermarkets brimming with exotic herbs and vegetables, butchers’ windows hung with ducks and buzzing atmosphere, Richmond’s Victoria Street can feel a little like another country just 10 minutes from the CBD. This well-known Vietnamese community is brimming with cheap and cheerful spots for enjoying pho (beef noodle soup), banh mi (pork and pate rolls) and bun cha (grilled pork and noodle salad). Try I Love Pho (264 Victoria Street, Richmond) and Co Do (196 Victoria Street, Richmond).
Other great spots for international flavours, include Carlton’s Little Italy, where a plate of pasta at D.O.C Espresso (326 Lygon Street, Carlton) never disappoints, and Brunswick where you’ll find a thriving Lebanese and Middle Eastern community. The spinach and cheese triangles and sausage pizza with haloumi, tomato and traditional Turkish beef sausage at A1 Bakery (643–645 Sydney Road, Brunswick) are super tasty and great value.