• Journeying on the Red Spice Road

27 McKillop St
Melbourne 3000
03 9603 1601

Red Spice Road seems this is the place to be for a big group dinner.  We clambered onto the high stools at the end of a long table, alongside other office workers eating with their colleagues. Having compulsorily (there were too many of us for a la carte) chosen the banquet, the waitress efficiently circled the table asking each guest for their drink order and dietary requirements.

When this restaurant first opened, I went there for a work lunch.  My second time at this modern Asian eatery was not until last night.   Now firstly I must apologise for the lack of photos.  The lighting was too dim for others to notice my face red from wine, but equally too dim to capture pictures of the food – so you will have to use your imagination to depict the mouth-watering dishes described in text.

The first flavours to hit my tongue and hunger-grumbling tummy, was a betel leaf with pomelo, peanuts, coconut, mint and chilli.  This was incredibly flavoursome with the tang of the pomelo hitting hard against the betel leaf and chilli.  After this mouthful, my stomach’s grumble became a growl.

The main course was a selection of dishes, which others shared and those with dietary requirements had to themselves.  I began with a sweet eggplant and tofu stir-fry.  The eggplant soaked up the oil and thick sauce (which may have been black bean), so that its texture was soft on the centre and slightly fried on the edges.  This was heavily flavoured with fresh red chillies and was delicious – though admittedly oil and sugar central.

To cut through the oil of the eggplant was a fresh salad with watercress, cucumber, carrot strips, cherry tomatoes and flat-topped, long-stemmed mushrooms.  The dressing was tangy, but the vegetables tasted earthy, as if they had not been washed properly.

Whilst the others ate pork belly, I was served corn fritters.  I am usually not a fan of corn fritters, but these were different to any other.  They were done like kofte in big rounds, fried till golden and then served in a sweet sauce that they called ‘tamarind caramel’.  They were delicious on the first bite, but too sweet by the third.  If you order this dish, make sure you have something else on which to nibble between mouthfuls.

There was also an eggplant yellow curry that was part of the standard banquet (I guess even meat-eaters want veggies in a standard meal).  It was creamy and flavoursome with lots of coconut and lemongrass.  The apple eggplant soaked up the flavours of the curry as did the pumpkin, tomatoes, and baby corn.

Of course rice was to accompany.  And of course, I could not help but over eat and struggle to stand by the end of the meal.

Red Spice Road describes its food as South-East Asian and unique.  The food is flavoursome and the setting vibrant and modern.  Somehow the formality of the staff and modern décor make the shared tables sociable, rather than casual, and the food fine, rather than fast.

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