When it comes to Melbourne’s food scene, one of the things that continues to surprise us, over and over again, is the sheer magnitude of the cultural influences that we find upon our plates. In a city where you can eat Vietnamese pho one day, Italian gnocchi the next, and squeeze in a Scandinavian breakfast, a Greek souva, and a couple of Mexican beers in the hours in between, it can be pretty easy to take our amazing world-influenced cuisine for granted.
We headed to Box Hill, home of some of Melbourne’s best Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese and Asian-inspired cuisine, to check out some incredible tiny eateries, delicious dumplings and market finds.
#1: Box Hill Central Market’s Butchers: Chicken Hearts, Duck Gizzards and Salted Egg Yolks?!
At the heart of Box Hill’s incredible food culture is Box Hill Central Market, which keeps a cacophony of fresh fish, meat, veggies, herbs, and other ingredients. One of the busiest markets in Australia, the market sees well over 1 million people pass through it on a yearly basis. While you’ll definitely find the usuals here, you’ll also find some amazing cuts of meat that would be deemed by most as adventurous. Want to make some authentic yakitori skewers? Load up your shopping basket with chicken hearts and gizzards, and get ready to grill up a storm!
#2: Chat Chinese Teas
If you’re a fan of a good brew and know your oolong from your chai, this teashop will have your tastebuds tingling. Chat specialises in imported teas and keeps an incredible selection, from everyday drinks to teas designed for prestigious ceremonies and gifts. The staff are some of the most knowledgeable we’ve come across, and are fantastic at talking tea novices through tea ceremonies, the importance of tea in Chinese culture, and the differences between one leaf and the next.
#3: Grain Asian Café’s Dumplings
At Grain Asian Café, you’ll never have ‘order regret’, because you’ll never order from a traditional menu. All of this street food café’s dishes are composed of freshly made items on display in their cabinet, which means you can make your own dumpling soup bowl by choosing how many dumplings or veggies you’d like added to the house broth. Want some for later? Simply pick a selection to go, and DIY your own soup. Just make sure you go for at least one of the prawn dumplings!
#4: Mushrooms, Asian Greens, Sugar Cane: Fruit & Veg Galore!
While we’ve already mentioned how much we love the butchery side of Box Hill Central Market, its fruit and vegetable offering also had us dreaming up some amazing Asian-fusion mushroom dishes - or maybe a sugar cane juice? You’ll find heaps of amazing greens like bok choy, pak choy, Chinese cabbage, as well as root veggies that you won’t find at your average grocer - all for bargain prices. Pick up a haul and cook your very own Taiwanese garlic greens, or a Japanese shitake, shimeji and enoki ‘shroom-fest.
#5: Sichuan Spice At Tina’s Kitchen
Tina’s Kitchen is part of the Dainty Sichuan family, who have a couple of CBD outlets that we’re sure all you ramen fanatics already know of. They serve up hot and sour soups, pepper beef skewers, spicy chicken and a host of other Sichuan treats. If you’re looking to dine in at Box Hill this is one of the most buzzing venues around, so pull up a chair, place an order, and make like you’re at a late-night venue on a Sichuan backstreet.
#6: Super-Fresh Handmade Ramen
There aren’t many places where you’ll find ramen that’s made before your very eyes, but at RaRamen if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their in house ramen master at work, you’ll get to see just how those delicious noodles come to life! As well as freshly made ramen, you’ll find pork and chive dumplings, tasty soups, and traditional teas.
#7: Prawn & Melon Wonton Dumplings
When it comes to wonton, we've tasted quite a few flavour combos in our time, so we were pleasantly surprised when Kitchen Republic presented us with a platter of prawn and melon dumplings rather than the usual pork and veggie parcels. Surely these are some of the best dumplings in Box Hill?!
Keen to have your own Box Hill experience? Take the train to Box Hill from Melbourne CBD to Lilydale or Belgrave for an awesome Asian fusion food adventure!