Peking Duck, roasted pork and crackling, Kung Pao chicken, fish balls, deep fried quail or Vietnamese noodle soup, you name it, I love Asian food.
Any foodie will tell you there are several ‘Chinatown’ hot spots in Melbourne – but few places top the culturally diverse suburb of Springvale on the south eastern side.
Driving through the main shopping precinct can be a bit daunting, with each sign appearing to replicate the next, but there’s a secret weapon which will help you navigate these bustling streets – tour guide Tammie Yong.
When she’s not jet-setting around the world as a long haul flight attendant, or caring for her three children, Tammie takes tours as part of the Greater Dandenong Council’s Sensational Springvale tour.
Arriving in Australia at the age of three after her family escaped war-torn Vietnam, Tammie spent 20 years living in Springvale – and her love of the food, and the people behind the delis, restaurants, markets and tea shops are what bring her back.
Her passion is infectious and we’re soon part of the bustling atmosphere – scouring AKK supermarket which is laden with fresh Asian greens such as bok choy, gai Ian, watercress and chrysanthemum leaves, along with delicacies of fresh quail eggs, pickled lotus roots and dried shitake mushroom.
Next stop is Golden Lake Cakes and Roast where roasted duck (with heads still in tact) adorn the window, swinging alongside roast chickens and sides of succulent bbq pork with perfect crackling.
The bubble tea took us by surprise – a sweet tea beverage created in Taiwan in the 80s. Popular flavours include lychee, peach, pineapple, banana, coconut and kiwi. We were treated to apple and green tea with tapioca balls – a refreshing sweet combination perfectly balanced by the tapioca.
To top it off is a visit to Tan Lac Vien restaurant, a fusion of Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, where we feasted on pipis and Chinese donut, spring rolls, calamari and deep fried quail with Chinese tea.
Back out on the streets of Springvale, laden with Asian gourmet food treats, I turn to Tammie and express my delight at the places we’ve visited – but she’s not surprised “everyone is taken by what they see” she says “some people make plans to come back the next day .. or for some it might be a few weeks – but they do come back because of the diversity and quality of the food – it’s simply the best.”
She’s not wrong there.