Askal is about bringing unadultered Filipino food to Melbourne. Here, co-owner and chef John River (co-owner Kariton Sorbetes, ex-Amaru, Sunda, Lume) aims to showcase a diverse range of dishes from the archipelagic nation.

The offering is approachable and refined, but doesn’t stray too far from the flavours you’d find in the Philippines. To start, find doughnut topped and filled with oxtail kare-kare (a thick stew with peanut sauce) and rock oysters with aged pinakurat (Filipino vinegar) and green chilli relish. Move on to small plates of ocean trout kinilaw (a raw fish dish often compared to ceviche) with guava aguachile, radish and fried taro; and sizzling pork jowl and abalone sisig (typically made with pork and chicken liver).

Among the larger plates, standouts might include a young hen lechon (a spit-roasted meal) and coal-roasted swordfish. There are also considered vegan and vegetarian options including earthy piaparan (a coconut milk-braised dish) made with mushrooms. And here, you’re encouraged to eat with your hands. Dessert might be Tanduay rum caramel leche flan and a canele version of pan de coco (a sweet bun with coconut filling).

Askal is set in the former Shakespeare Hotel; co-founder Michael Mabuti (also behind Toddy Shop, Kariton Sorbetes) oversaw the fit out. Exposed brick walls are softened by curtains in deep red, gold and navy – a nod to the Filipino flag. The venue is cast in a warm glow thanks to capiz (windowpane oyster) shell chandeliers.

The name Askal is portmanteau of “asong kalye”, a Tagalog word meaning “street dog” and a mascot of Filipino resilience, resourcefulness and adaptability that resonates particularly with the diaspora.

Contact Details

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Updated: April 30th, 2024

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