Visit Greater Melbourne’s Asian mecca Springvale
The World Loves Melbourne was honoured to be invited on a media tour of Springvale with celebrity chef and media identity Elizabeth Chong.
It was if all the nations of the world were together in Springvale, with such a rich cultural diversity, and of course stunning diverse cuisines. Quite simply there are amazing shops here that deliver produce you can't get anywhere else. And it's top notch!
Springvale is a vibrant and multicultural city located just 23 km south-east of Melbourne’s CBD, is a significant destination for lovers of Asian cuisine, with over one third of it’s 300 businesses being restaurants, cafes, and fresh food and grocery stores.
Fifty of those are restaurants and cafes, which serve up thousands of diverse dishes seven days per week with origins in Vietnam, Cambodia, Uyghur, Thailand, and China.
City of Greater Dandenong Mayor Cr Sean O’Reilly said the area’s diverse population and exceptional Asian food offering typifies multicultural Australia. “In 1970, the Commonwealth Government opened the Enterprise Migrant Hostel in Springvale to cater for the short-term housing needs of the flood of migrants, many from South East Asia, who arrived in the area during the 1970s and 1980s. “Their culture and traditions are poignantly reflected in the cuisine and culture of Springvale today,” Mayor O’Reilly said.
Springvale’s 20,200 permanent residents and visitors from around Victoria regularly flock to the labyrinth of arcades, laneways and shopping precincts dotted along Springvale Road and the lesser known but more diverse Buckingham Avenue.
Central Springvale highlights include My Cambodia restaurant on Buckingham Avenue, where mother and son duo Karl Lim and Say Keav Liv have been serving up traditional Cambodian cuisine since 2010. Our tour imbibed this unique restaurant for what called only be called a "feast"!
Chef Say Keav Liv has an amazing story. Pictured here with Elizabeth Chong she spoke of how the family came to Australia in 1983 as refugees from Cambodia where Say cooked for hundreds of fellow prisoners in a Khmer Rouge-run prison camp. She had grown up in the food-loving Cambodian province of Battambang, steeped in Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine. My Cambodia serves traditional Cambodian food, with a touch of influence from neighbouring countries including Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and China. Nestled on Springvale’s Buckingham Avenue, the small but buzzing restaurant has a large menu of over 100 dishes include lemongrass and chicken soup, crab fried rice, larb chicken, their signature beef cubes, and the traditional bitter sadal salad.
Since arriving in Australia Say has spent her time in the kitchen from early morning serving breakfast to late at night virtually every day! What a legend!
In Springvale Central Shopping Centre, stock up your freezer with Yum Cha items, noodles, and seafood at Frozen Smart... The World Loves Melbourne hasn't seen so much variety in a store; what isn't here?
Or buy glazed Peking duck and pork, cut to order at Golden Lake Cake and Roast. So good!
Other specialities from Golden Lake include spicy pork and chicken sheets (Asian jerky), sweet pork floss (dried and shredded with a cotton candy texture), and pan-fried anchovies with peanuts.
If you like Vietnamese banh mi stuffed with Asian herbs, salad and meats visit Bun Bun Bakery on Springvale Road – a must try is the pork meatball filling, unique to Bun Bun. The World Loves Melbourne felt this was some of the best banh mi we've ever had, with top class filling, crispy baguette and something special going on with the Vietnamese butter.
Traditional Vietnamese bread rolls generously filled with a mix of salad (sliced carrot and cucumber), Asian style herbs (coriander and spring onion) and a choice of sliced crispy roast pork, lemon grass sliced chicken, or pork meatballs - unique to Bun Bun. Add BBQ sauce, mayo and fresh chilli to your liking. The service is fast and the food is fresh.
After eating your fill, head to Milan Tea House on Buckingham Avenue and experience an authentic tea ceremony with owner Wendy Wong. Using a variety of leaves - often decades old - Wendy will explain traditional brewing methods and highlight the health benefits of tea. Milan Tea House specialises in different types of high quality teas from Asia, some decades old.
The Tea House provides a peaceful and relaxing place for people to hold a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, hosted by owner Mrs Wendy Wong which includes learning about the origins of tea and the traditional techniques of brewing and pouring it, or simply enjoying it. Wendy explained the health benefits of tea. The World Loves Melbourne learned that Jasmine Tea was a tea developed for reading poetry in the garden to your lover! Our time at Milan Tea House felt so chilled, it was like time stopped. We could do with more of this!
Springvale also boasts a range of other speciality shops and businesses including Quang Minh Chinese Medicine; this store has successfully been treating customers for over 10 years, practising the old way of medicine. The doctor in the store is a registered Chinese Medical Practitioner, offering an initial consultation and then based on your ailment, will mix up appropriate dried herbs and spices. You can also purchase pre-packaged herbs acupuncture and cupping services are also available. We were fascinated as the doctor went to a selection of draws to source medicines for various ailments.
We also stopped by at Tommy’s Hairdresser which has daily queues out the door, and the famous jewellers – many of which sell rings with just the band and claw setting, so customers can bring their own precious stone to set. Springvale is also home to the annual Lunar New Year Festival. Over 70,000 people are expected to flock to Buckingham Avenue to celebrate Springvale’s diverse Asian culture, and experience key attractions including a hawker food market, rides, firecrackers, and traditional Chinese Lion Dancers on Sunday 7 February 2016.
Springvale hosts year-round guided walking tours which explore specialty shops, alternative medicinal practices, cultural traditions, and the history of the area. The Sensational Springvale Cultural Tour is a great introduction to all that Springvale has to offer. To book, or enquire about a private group tour for eight or more people, visit the City of Greater Dandenong www.greaterdandenong.com/tours
The name ‘Springvale’ is said to be derived from the permanent natural springs in the area, which provided water supplies for stock and travellers en route between Melbourne and Dandenong.
Thanks to Greater City of Dandenong, Elizabeth Chong and Kate & Co for the tour! Springvale is a must visit for Melbourne foodies.