LADYBOY DINING & BAR
MELBOURNE’S REAL SOUL arguably resides just as much in its popular inner suburbs as in the city. One area that has swiftly gained its own place alongside other well-known precincts is Richmond. The area has morphed into a continually evolving destination offering an eclectic range of bars, cafes and restaurants, and one venue which perfectly encapsulates the unique characteristics of this formerly working-class area is Ladyboy Dining & Bar.
Both the exterior and interior of Ladyboy are vibrantly colourful, and the street side windows open fully to allow diners the sensation of dining in a street café. Similarly, colourful and exotic paintings adorn the walls, with a large benevolent and well fed Buddha gazing down upon diners in one section of the restaurant, a giant crab overlooking another, and an array of brightly coloured parasols hang from the roof. At the rear of the restaurant is a leafy outside garden area, ideal for relaxed dining on a balmy summer evening, and over the kitchen is written the neon mantra “rock out with your wok out”, which gives a laid-back atmosphere.
Ladyboy’s menu is divided between smaller and larger dishes, with many lending themselves well to sharing; allowing diners to more fully experience the array of tastes on offer. Beers from Thailand and Laos feature alongside local brews, and the cocktail list is oriented toward fresh and citrus flavours, perfectly attuned to the robust flavours on offer. For many, a cold bottle of Thai Singha beer could prove to be the perfect companion for the tender salt and pepper squid with fresh herbs, chilli, sweet soy and ginger, while the soft shell crab sliders with apple slaw are definitely tempting enough to consider ordering a second serve. The popular Thai Ceviche, consists of house cured salmon, roe, green namjim and coconut foam, and another of the smaller dishes particularly well suited to a cold Thai beer chaser is the lamb ribs with a Mekhong and red curry glaze, with the succulent meat falling easily from the bone.
Diners are well advised though to take care not to fill up entirely on the smaller dishes, as the main courses at Ladyboy are well worth saving a little space for. One favourite is the Penang Curry, with a four-hour slow braised Great Southern Beef Rib, arriving in a spicy sauce with Thai eggplant and herbs, making a side of Roti almost mandatory to soak up the delicious sauce. Anyone familiar with Thai cuisine may find it hard to go past the Pad Thai with rice noodles, egg, Chinese chives, tofu, bean sprouts and cashews (which can be further enhanced by adding chicken or prawns), a steamed barramundi fillet is served with sweet soy, ginger, baby bok choy, Enoki mushrooms and herbs, and the twice cooked pork belly with chilli jam, bok choy, snow peas, broccolini and kaffir lime leaves is another dish providing a satisfyingly complex overlay of flavours. Side dishes are relatively simple, and consist of either Jasmine or coconut rice, and also Asian greens with garlic and oyster sauce. Coconut features prominently in the desserts on offer, with coconut ice-cream served with kaffir lime toffee, a coconut and pandan bombe Alaska, and the smoked coconut cheesecake with an Oreo crust and Persian fairy floss arrives in truly impressive style under a smoke-filled covering, which is only lifted away as it is brought to the table.
Ladyboy is a dining venue which provides a combination of highly enjoyable food and cocktails, cheerful staff and a colourful and relaxed dining environment. It also has a very appealing irreverence about it, which lends itself to ensuring diners enjoy their overall experience, whether they drop in for a cocktail or two with friends during the early evening happy hour, or prefer to stay a little longer to indulge in the fragrant dishes on offer. This is a venue which could never be accused of being boring or taking itself too seriously, and goes a long way toward explaining the ever-increasing popularity of Richmond as a destination for locals and visitors to Melbourne.
Ladyboy Dining & Bar, 394 Bridge Road, Richmond. 9421 3206. ladyboydining.com.au
■ LUCKY CHAN. Chinese. Lucky Chan offers guests authentic Cantonese cuisine, specialising in sustainably farmed live seafood, as well as offering the choice of à la carte. Signature dishes include the sauteed scallops and king prawns with imperial sauce, but you may also be tempted to choose a lobster or large crab from their live seafood tanks. Their wonderful food is beautifully complemented by an extensive list of quality Australian and Oriental wines.
The Riverside at Crown, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank. Lunch Mon–fri 11am–3pm, Sat–sun 11am–4pm, dinner Sun–thu 6pm–11pm, Fri–sat 6pm–12am. 9696 3966. luckychan.com.au
SAKÉ RESTAURANT & BAR MELBOURNE
HAMER HALL. Japanese. Saké serves a renowned mix of modern and classic dishes with a distinct local flavour. Flowing with the seasons the menu utilises the finestquality produce available. Located in the revitalised Hamer Hall at Arts Centre Melbourne and overlooking the breathtaking Yarra River and CBD, this venue is set over two levels including an outdoor dining area on the riverfront.
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Lunch Mon–sun 12pm–3pm, dinner Sun–wed 5pm–10pm, Thurs–sat 5pm–11pm. 8687 0775. sakerestaurant.com.au SOUTHGATE. Around The World. Discover a unique collection of riverside restaurants, cafes and bars at Southgate Melbourne, located along the banks of the Yarra River. With exceptional city skyline views, Southgate is a dining destination sure to impress. Find fantastic casual dining at Bluetrain, Bavarian favourites at Hophaus, Cantonese cuisine at Red Emperor, modern Italian at Tutto Benne, contemporary Australian at Pure South Dining and so much more.
Banks of the Yarra River, Melbourne. 9686 1000. southgatemelbourne.com.au
■ MUNICH BRAUHAUS. Bavarian. Munich Brauhaus is a traditional Bavarian bierhaus, where guests can dine, drink and party like Oktoberfest never ended. The state-of-theart waterfront venue seats over 900 people and is a bier lovers delight. Try the venue’s very own signature Munich Lager, as well as a series of exclusively imported Bavarian Biers, while the menu includes suckling pig, sourced locally from Riverlea and cooked over a charcoal spit.
45 South Wharf Promenade, South Wharf. Sun–thur 11.30am–late, Fri– Sat 11.30am–1am. 1300 686 424. munichbrauhaus.com