• Dukkah (South Kingsville)

For those that don’t know my blog, five stars equals: I loved this restaurant so much that I could eat here every week and still look forward to it every time, or the food and dining were so exceptional that I will remember this experience for years to come. A tough bar? Somehow, many Melbourne restaurants hit the spot.

An enjoyable meal is a partnership of art and science. Or is it a partnership between an intuitive chef and a friendly welcome? Whatever your outlook, Dukkah will have you satisfied.

Partners in business and romance, Veronica and Ramy Nasralla manage to balance liveliness with comfort, tradition with innovation, and taste with texture. Having opened in December 2018, Dukkah is already attracting a dedicated group of locals, and entertaining customers from all over Melbourne with their inspired menu and fun events.

We were invited to try their vegetarian offerings.

First, welcome to South Kingsville. Only a stone-throw from popular foodie suburbs of Yarraville and Footscray, it is a wonder it has not already taken off as a foodie destination. Parking is ample, it is close to public transport. And it is far enough away from the touristy prices of Williamstown.
If it’s entertainment you are craving, Dukkah also run events with live music, and happy hour on Wednesday nights.

Entering Dukkah, you immediately get the vibe. The music reminded me of the beach where I lived on the Red Sea – cool tunes with an uplifting, oriental vibe. The walls are modern and Melbourne with a Middle Eastern edge. The tables are made of decorated wood. Veronica, the owner, welcomed everyone as if she was inviting us into her home.

There is a wine list is of local favourites that can only be bought at the cellar door. Local and craft beer is on tap. The Aaron Aardvark Shiraz from Bendigo is the popular favourite. It was a very dark, cherry red. Its scent was of the ocean, clean and savoury. It was served slightly chilled and with balanced tannins, and a thyme finish. It was very drinkable. It held up well against the cheese cigars. Dukkah is proud to offer this wine straight from the vineyard, none of the wines are sold at the big merchants, making the list exclusive to their restaurant.

Craft beers are also on rotation, with favourites repeated based on local’s feedback.

In terms of the food, there are several dishes that were made exceptionally that I will be craving. We began with an assortment of vegetarian starters: cheese pastry cigars, dips, and wrapped vine leaves.
The three dips were vegetarian. The capsicum was the chef’s father’s recipe, passed down through the generations. It was fresh and light like it had been whipped. It had a hint of chilli and a touch of tang. This was Mark’s favourite. He also loved the Turkish bread that accompanied the dips, which he described as “perfectly toasted”.

My favourite was the beetroot dip. This was simple and the chef’s own recipe where he had perfectly balanced the tang of labna with the earthy sweetness of the beetroot. This was also light like it had been whipped.

The hummus was unique for its turmeric and lemon flavours. This one was not as smooth as they others. I enjoyed this taste combination.

Vegetarian dips

The cheese cigars were filled with halloumi, fetta and mozzarella. The pastry was light, crisp and buttery. What I enjoyed most about these was that the cheeses were perfectly mixed to give a soft texture with the right amount of salt.

Cheese cigars

Crispy pastry with soft cheese inside

The vine leaves were a highlight, so the rice and flavours would melt into your tongue as you bit them. There was no tomato but instead lemon and herbs. I loved the texture. I loved the flavours. I would make the thirty-minute drive across the Bridge just for a serve of these.

Vine leaves served warm for a melt in your mouth texture

For mains were shared the vegan version of the shawarma tagine, and the roasted eggplant chermoula.

A vegetarian/vegan feast at Dukkah!

The eggplant was halved and cooked until is was so soft, that it slid into your mouth like butter. This was creatively topped with Swiss chard, spinach, coriander, and tomato relish, that were equally soft but flavourful. This was served with cous cous.

Eggplant chermoula

The vegan shawarma was a tagine filled with rice seasoned lightly with salt, crisps of pita, vegan ‘chicken’ marinated to deliciousness, roasted slithered almonds and pomegranate seeds. Again, this excelled in balance: sweet and tangy pomegranate, salty ‘vegan chicken’, soft and fresh rice, crisp pita, honey and cinnamon. A garlic sauce topped it all off. Chili and a milder chili alioli were served on the side. We literally devoured this one, it was darn delicious.

Vegan Shawarma

Vegan Shawarma

There were two desserts. A traditional om ali. And a modern kanafa.

I loved eating om ali when I was living in Egypt. I was so excited to try this one. Not only was it the best I had tried in Melbourne, but the best ever. That is a big call from someone who travelled around Egypt a lot and made sure I ate my favourite dessert at every opportunity. Again, it was all in the balance. It was not too sweet. It was moist and buttery and creamy with coconut, just the right amount of plump moist sultanas, served hot and staying hot in its mini tagine. It really was perfection made into this dessert.

Om Ali
What a delicious mess!

The kanafa can be made vegan. It was picturesque with its stands of pastry, cream and rose petals. It was more tropical inspired with mango a little salt in the pastry, and a hint of rose. The pastry held a delightful crunch and this balanced the whipped cream.


Overall it was a fabulous meal with extremely friendly service. I will be raving about the vine leaves, vegan shawarma and om ali to anyone that will listen – and yes, I already have been. Mark has already requested if I can try to make him the capsicum dip (no I can’t, the recipe is a family secret). And yes, Dukkah gets five stars from me for I could eat here every week and still look forward to it every time.

23 Vernon Street
South Kingsville 3015
03 9399 3737

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday, 5:00pm to 10:00pm

Dukkah Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato