The city of my dreams. I’ve always loved Melbourne so much, and watching all my friends from Brunei move there one by one, it felt like I was the only one left behind.
It’s a city bustling with fashion, culture, food, and most of all, life. Every turn of the corner is another feast for your sensations. I have so, so much love for Melbourne and the vibrance of its multicultural inhabitants. Let’s start with the food, because… Let’s be honest – if you know me at all, that’s pretty much all I care about!
Every meal in Melbourne is a masterpiece. Forget the days of plain old oats for breakfast, or grabbing a cuppa. Teas range from exotic fruity flavors to matcha lattes galore. Hot chocolates are elaborately decorated, or completely deconstructed for you to piece together yourself (because hey, who wants something made for them when you can make it yourself? Oh wait…). I’ll just make a few shout-outs to a few of my favorite places!
Little Rogue, which is a quaint café tucked away in an alleyway you’d never really think to walk down unless you know this café was there. They make the most bomb matcha lattés, and I’d recommend getting the iced one, even in the coldest of weathers.
Matcha Mylkbar (do you see a recurring theme here?) makes super bomb iced matcha lattés too. Literally one of biggest regrets is not managing to make it there the second time because it’s a couple of tram rides away from the city centre, but you could totally do it all in a day if you were planning on hitting up St Kilda beach the same day! They do matcha-flavored everything. It is the place of all my wettest matcha dreams (sorry, not sorry for the vivid imagery).
I’m not the hugest bagel fan, but Manchester Press does a pretty darn good bagel considering they had to please someone who is convinced that bagels are just fancy rock-hard donut. They’re tucked away in a cute alleyway as well (another recurring theme in Melbourne), and you have to queue up during meal times because there aren’t that many seats and well, there are a lot of people! Manchester Press does a great job of getting through all the traffic without actually chasing any customers to leave, and also props to the locals for being considerate enough to eat and go without hogging the seats.
D.O.C. Pizza wins my heart every time. The first time I went there, they had a squid ink pasta which just had me practically in tears. I also had a cheese board as a starter, and it served three different types of cheeses, but you don’t get to choose. I love cheese like there’s no tomorrow, but I’m definitely more of a soft cheese kinda gal, so the hard ones for starters didn’t give me anything to write home about. Ironically, I didn’t order any pizza even though ‘pizza’ is literally in the title of the place, but hey, still had a fantastic time dining at this place. Service was pretty slow when we were sitting outside, but the place is swamped, so it’s not too surprising that it gets difficult to get someone’s attention. Everyone working there is Italian as well, so feels as authentic as it gets! Grazie, for the wonderful meals!
Red Spice is another winner winner chicken dinner. I relied on my friend to do all the ordering here because everything on the menu was a little too exotic for me to actually understand what on earth I was ordering. The pork belly is to die for, oh my goodness, my salivary glands get going with just the thought of it! The pork belly is garnished with hot mint and coated with chilli caramel (and I’m not even a caramel fan!) and black vinegar. This dish is a must-try if you’re ever passing by QV in Melbourne for food.
The last restaurant I want to give a shout-out to is Bornga Korean BBQ (KBBQ). It is so beautifully presented, and the service is impeccable with their Korean waitresses tending to your every need and cooking every piece of meat for you. Don’t be like me and pre-empt what they’re going to cook because if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably screw it up… – so just sit back and let the experts do the work! I love that the menu even has a ‘KBBQ for dummies’ section (not explicitly labeled that, obviously) that shows you how to eat KBBQ; it’s endearing! You can order any meat and vegetable and it gets cooked on this stove in front of you (sort of like Teppanyaki but with less flamboyance), and we had a jap chae and pork bone stew on the side as well. Needless to say, I was pretty stuffed when I left the restaurant, but so, so happy!
I didn’t do too much dessert-hunting when I was there, to be honest. I love dessert, and I usually have a whole separate stomach for it, but ice cream ain’t really my thing and ice cream is Melbourne’s thang. There was some great froyo, and I really enjoyed N2’s gelato, but I didn’t get a chance to go back this year.
This doesn’t really fall under the category of dessert but I am a total sucker for high tea. My mom and I went to Crowne for their high tea and it was just divine. For anyone out there who hasn’t tried high tea, it’s basically a 2- or 3- tiered system where you have some sweets at the top (like macarons), a mixture of sandwiches and savories in the middle, and more sweets at the bottom, with a side of scones, fresh whipped cream and jam. My mom knows how much of a sucker I am for these so we try out at least one high tea in every place we travel to if we can! I don’t make a very good case for it, but I swear it’s worth a try, and let me know what your thoughts are!
Markets are a totally different ball-game to the rest of the foods. My personal favorite is South Melbourne market, because oysters are life. But I know that’s not everyone’s thing and it can be a bit of an acquired taste but let me just ramble about oysters for awhile – they are so fresh and divine at this market. They sell for dirt cheap, and you can be certain that they’re basically just recently plunked from the sea specially for you. Doesn’t that just bring a tear to the eye? They’re so reasonably priced as well, selling about a dozen for AUD20 odd dollars, and you get a choice of anything from the salty variety to the creamier versions. There’s a long table set out so that you can enjoy these on the spot with your choice of tobasco, lemon, aoili, chilli, salt, pepper, etc.! They even have serviettes and toothpicks all ready for you! How considerate!
I love the vibes of the Night Market in Melbourne. It’s bustling with life and the entertainers there are great. It’s so family-friendly as well, and while seating and tables can be far and few between, it is still relatively well-heated and you can meander around while grabbing a bite. They have every cuisine imaginable at the Night Market, and everything from starters to desserts to drinks. I would bring quite a bit of cash along though, because food is on the pricey for the portions, but it’s absolutely great for dabbling with different cuisines without committing to a full meal.
*Photo used without knowledge or consent from participants i.e. my mother and aunt. Apologies in advance but this was too adorable and please still love me.
Things to do
Another really exciting thing about Melbourne is that there is always something to do, or something to see! I don’t think there is a dull day unless you make it one. There are sunny day activities, rainy day activities, and everything in between. Some of the places I visited were the aquarium, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne Museum, Flinders Station, Hosier Lane, Federation Square… just to name a few.
My highlights of Melbourne was having the absolute honor of witnessing Aladdin in Broadway. I felt like a child again, and so starstruck! Broadway is an experience I can’t even begin to describe. Just so much talent with singing, dancing, acting, simultaneously!? I can’t even fathom how much hard work, talent and most bizarrely, coordination that must take. Honestly, I have two left feet and half the time, I say out loud what I mean to type and vice versa because I am slightly retarded like that. I am just in awe of these people. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the actual performance because photography wasn’t allowed, but would highly recommend indulging a few dollars to watch a Broadway at least once in your lifetime! I was pretty disappointed that I missed out on another show called the Book of Mormon, but it’s on my checklist for the next time, and I hear it’s just rad.
I was lucky enough that NGV was showing Vincent Van Gogh’s work during the time that I was there, and while I am no any artistique expert, it was pretty exhilarating getting to witness the works of the legend himself.
Melbourne Museum has some mind-blowing exhibits. I explored it on my own while I was there so I was able to take my time and spend more time on things I was interested in and skip the ones I wasn’t (like there was one exhibit on CT scans and basic human anatomy and I was like nah fam). Absolutely loved the one on WWI and being the nerd I am, loved reading about the surgeries that they did to reconstruct veterans’ faces, as well as learning about the stories of families who had been through the tragedy of war. Melbourne Museum has some pretty breath-taking stuff, would highly recommend.
Transport is quick and easy. Get a metro AT card so that you can get cheaper fares and hop on and off the trams as you please. Personally, I really enjoy walking everywhere because I get a better appreciation of the wonders of the city, but it does get tiring by the end of the day, so trams and Ubers are there to save the day!
Just speaking of Ubers, it’s handy to have a connected phone, so I used Optus (you can get the sim card at any 7-11) and I hopped on the Daily plan that costs $2 for an obnoxious amount of data, texts and local calls that you will virtually never use up unless maybe you use it to watch Netflix or something!?
This post was long overdue, and I probably could have gone into the shopping malls and whatnot but they’re pretty like… large, and hard to miss on the main street. Sorry for the long hiatus, but it’s been a challenging year with medical school!
Melbourne definitely has a hold on my heart this year, but goodbye for now. You’ve been a treat.