Matti Fallon is the second chef to take up residency at the Broadsheet Kitchen at Saint Crispin, an incubator for up-and-coming chefs and restaurateurs to test out their dream restaurant concept. Fallon grew up in Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula and says that some of his fondest childhood memories come from trips to the local Chinese restaurant for dinner as a family.
Years later, he draws on this nostalgia for modern takes on old-school dishes such as Moreton Bay bug fried rice, sweet and sour lamb ribs, deep-fried chicken skin with lemon gel and XO clams with spring onion pancakes. Here are five of the spots he finds inspiration.
Ling Wah, Frankston South
“This is the place that has all the nostalgia for my family and I,” says Fallon. “It’s the place I’ve been going for 25 years … and it’s been open since the ’80s. It’s our go-to for a birthday party or Mother’s Day catch-up. The bright red and gold fit-out is super retro. The service is old-school, and there are white tablecloths and lazy Susans for days. The food is Cantonese, it hasn’t changed a bit since the first day I went there. We do the banquet which is only 34 bucks. I love the lemon chicken. You can BYO wine, too. For me, it’s second to none.”
428 Nepean Highway, Frankston South
(03) 9781 5101
Dainty Sichuan, South Yarra
“A lot of the joints I love do Cantonese food, but this was my first intro to proper Sichuan food and it’s still my all-time favourite. I used to work [nearby] at now-closed Touché Hombre Eléctrica, and I’d pop out on breaks or before work just for the kung pao chicken and the mapo tofu. It's one of those places [where] you never forget your first visit and the food is incredible, they do a killer Chongqing-style hotpot. Some dishes are super spicy but they’re still well-balanced. Get the cumin lamb and the Mouth Watering Chicken. So good.”
176 Toorak Road, South Yarra
(03) 9078 1686
China Bar, CBD
“This is where I’d go when I was a young skate rat and was always hanging out in the city, so it holds a special place in my heart. Now, though, I go there on solo missions for lunch to get away. The food here is from all over – China, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. They have a few venues but I’ve always gone to Russell Street, I love the glowing light board with all the old photos of dishes on it. I always order the Hainanese chicken and rice. It comes with this fiery chilli sauce they make in-house, and the chicken is super silky. And it’s pretty cheap, it’s like 13 bucks.”
235 Russell Street, Melbourne
(03) 9639 1633
Supper Inn, CBD
“This is a late-night BYO haven for hospo workers. It’s open until 2.30 in the morning, has this giant, straight-up Cantonese menu and the raddest tacky retro fit-out going. Fake wood panelling and mission brown as far as the eye can see. It speaks to my love of these old restaurants that don’t change with trends or do fashionable food. You might have to line up for a bit in the stairwell, but it’s worth it. A great place after knocking off work. Just grab some wine and share heaps of dishes. Get the Pacific oysters with soy and the roasted suckling pig – the skin is crispy as all hell.”
15 Celestial Avenue, Melbourne
(03) 9663 4759
Lau’s Family Kitchen, St Kilda
“The scaled-up version of authentic crossed with not-so-authentic. The food is Cantonese, but it’s heaps more modern than the others. In winter, you can get these amazing prawn and pork dumplings in chicken broth, but I really love this spot in the summer. Go to the beach, then the Prince for a few drinks, then Lau’s for chilli king prawns, sweet and sour pork, and bean curd with minced pork. It’s next level.”
4 Acland Street, St Kilda
03 8598 9880
Make a booking at the Broadsheet Kitchen here, or below.