I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but in Melbourne, Asian Fusion is all the rage at the moment. There’s a new fusion restaurant popping up every week. Some are so popular that you could be waiting a few hours to get a table.
Down the Windsor end, just near the entrance of Chapel Street from the Princes Highway, you’ll find a little restaurant all on it’s lonesome, an underrated Asian Fusion restaurant called Susie Wongs.
Unlike most other Asian fusion restaurants, which focus heavily on one Asian country’s cuisine, Susie Wong’s lets you explore all of Southeast Asia in one place. Taking you to Thailand with Thai-spiced Pork and Sour Pineapple, Cambodia with Crispy Cambodian Chicken Wings and Sriracha Honey, and to Vietnam with Vietnamese Coconut Chicken Salad and Tamarind Nuoc Cham.
The decor draws inspiration from the original Susie Wong – a fictional prostitute from the book The World of Susie Wong. Dark timber, dimly lit and big red lanterns covering the roof. Classy yet mysterious.
To begin the night in the appropriate manner, keeping it classy and mysterious, I order the Oriental Espresso Martini. With three different types of alcohol, espresso, condensed milk and dark chocolate, it made for a very decadent drink. If you’re not careful could get you very drunk.
I tend to go just a little crazy and order a lot when it’s Asian food, and tonight was no exception.
I wanted to kick the night off with a bang, a flavour explosion, something to really get the taste buds going. King prawns with chilli, coriander and Nahm Jim was the perfect way to do just that. Fresh succulent juicy prawns, coated in Nahm Jim, this dish packed a lot of flavours for its little size. Slight sweetness, just a touch of saltiness, and a little hint of heat. Everything Southeast Asia is about was in this dish.
When I saw they had a Banh Mi with house-made brioche, filled with soft shell crab and yuzu mayo, there was no way I was leaving without trying this dish. A soft buttery bun filled with pickled vegetables, which adds a touch of freshness, and overflowing with soft shell crab made for one very satisfying bite. The star of the dish was, of course, the crab — so fresh and crispy.
Wrapping anything in a lettuce leaf Is a genius idea! It gives the whole dish a fresh crunch. Pair that with some fresh rockling, pickled Nahm Jim, and a bunch of fresh herbs and you’ve got a dish that is full of flavour, freshness, and spiciness. This dish was the most well-balanced dish of the night.
Ba La Lot – I’m going to let you all in on a little secret here. I only ordered this dish because I liked saying the name. It also helped that there was a salted pineapple dipping sauce.
I didn’t know what to expect when I ordered this dish, and when it hit the table all I could think of was those Greek vine leaves (dolmades). The meat mixture was filled with all kinds of herbs and took the texture of a meatball yet still remained super juicy. The salted pineapple sauce was more on the sweet side but still made for a great companion.
I would have to be crazy to go to a South-east Asian restaurant and not order dumplings.
Oxtail dumplings, with Shichimi Pepper with Oxtail and Sarsaparilla Jus. The oxtail melted in your mouth the instant you took a bite. You would never catch me sipping on a glass of sarsaparilla, when I was younger I used to say it tasted like cockroaches (don’t ask me where I got that from), but as I’ve matured I can see the advantages of using it in dishes to add that aniseed salty flavour.
My opinion? There’s nothing Wong with Susie Wongs.