Not everyone can cook like Rosheen Kaul, the head chef at Brunswick East restaurant Etta, but we can eat like her. The James Beard award-winning author of Chinese-ish, who worked at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner by Heston, is one of the Aussie food scene’s most respected and talented chefs. Here she shares some of her favourite spots around town for lunch on the go, special occasions and where to find “perfectly savoury, sour and spicy” noodles.

What’s your go-to for a quick takeaway?
The skewers from Yingzi Fried Chuan are 10 out of 10. They’re really affordable and the tastiest in Melbourne. There’s nothing better than unwrapping a foil package of dainty meat and vegetable skewers dusted liberally in cumin, chilli and white pepper and topped with sliced spring onion in your car and having your car smell like cumin for days after.

How about lunch on the go?
I love the sushi from Hinoki Japanese Pantry on Smith Street, particularly the engawa [flounder] which I like to bring back to work and blowtorch to melty goodness. Or a delicious pork and fennel sausage roll from Falco is always a treat.

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And for a drink and snacks?
Bar Bellamy. Where else can you get a devilled egg and a perfect Aviation at 12.30am?

Where do you go for a special occasion?
There’s nowhere more appropriate than Gimlet for an occasion. The ceremony of the service, pitch-perfect cocktails, that Lyonnaise salad and the sensational desserts.

Where do you go if you’re looking for inspiration?
I head to Footscray and Box Hill to buy hard-to-find tropical fruit, vegetables and herbs. I really like Bun Cha Co Dao in Footscray – they serve most of their dishes with shrimp paste and pickled garlic, and lots of more unusual and incredibly flavoursome noodle soups with snails or lots of herbs or fermented fish broth. The flavour profiles are quite unfamiliar to me, so I like to just work my way through the menu. The bun cha [Vietnamese meatballs] is Hanoi-style and cooked over charcoal. Worth the visit for that alone.

For comfort food?
Tom yum noodles at Dodee Paidang. They’re perfectly savoury, sour and spicy, and depending on how devilish you’re feeling you can order up to level-seven spice – but don’t. My chilli tolerance is quite high and level two already causes me some discomfort. I usually get the combination noodles which come with sliced pork loaf, peppery pork mince, fish balls and extra tender spare ribs. My sister got me onto the fresh thin rice noodles, perfect with the piles of chopped gailan and crispy wonton skin.

Where can you find your favourite dessert or sweet treat?
Kariton Sorbetes or Machi Machi! It’s hard to choose which flavour at Kariton I love the most, but the chrysanthemum and white peach iced tea sorbet is it for me at the moment.

Where do you go for a big meal?
Colourful Yunnan – the one in Hawthorn particularly – is a big hit with my family. Yunnan is bordered by Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, resulting in a strong Southeast Asian influence on the cuisine. The traditional ethnic groups there forage a huge variety of dried mushrooms in the summer and cook with aromatics like makrut lime, vanilla and galangal. The age-old traditions of making Yunnan ham and a cheese not dissimilar to haloumi make this a fascinating and incredibly delicious cuisine. The portion sizes [at Colourful Yunnan] are quite large, so it’s the more the merrier to try a range of dishes. And a big jug of fresh lime juice or rice wine is a refreshing touch. It’s all been hits and no misses.

What’s good for a first date?
Apollo Inn or Caretakers Cottage. Lots of dimly lit nooks and corners, snacks and perfect drink offerings.

What if you’re going out with your parents?
Pacific Seafood BBQ House in Richmond. I talk about it all the time because it’s just the best. The off-menu dried scallop and egg white fried rice is just textbook and the roast meat is truly excellent. Pork belly with crispy skin that shatters like glass, plump soy chicken with spring onion and ginger sauce and the roast duck.

What’s your go-to hangover food?
Not gonna lie, I can’t really eat when I’m hungover and can usually only keep down a Macca’s coke. But, a hectic Korean spread from Seven Star Pocha with spicy stir-fried baby octopus and cheese on a sizzling hot plate; potato pancake; spicy seafood champong or army stew; and seaweed fried rice will fix all ailments. Also, they have raw marinated crab!

Rosheen Kaul shows culture on a plate