The last few years have been the era of the French bistro and the New York-style steakhouse. Now, relief from all those terrines and T-bones comes from a crop of flavour-forward South-East Asian restaurants taking their cues from Thailand, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and China (or mashups of any of the above). They’re bright, bold and rock’n’roll – and we can’t get enough.
Image credit: Hey Chú
Hey Chú, Sydney, NSW1/8
Chef Cuong Nguyen from Marrickville’s Hello Auntie has transformed the first floor of a CBD pub into a Ho Chi Minh City laneway, serving red-hot mala chicken wings and crafty wines late into the night.
Image credit: Soot
Soot, Barangaroo, NSW2/8
This Barangaroo banger is sizzling up Korean barbecue with a harbourside sparkle. The meat has a minimum marbling score of seven and tastes best wrapped in a perilla leaf, ssam style.
Image credit: Thai Baan
Thai Baan, Melbourne, Vic3/8
The ceiling is adorned with colourful flags and the walls look like a carnival but the food is the liveliest part of all at this brand-new Bourke Street spot. The spicy boat noodles are a must.
Image credit: Kiin
Kiin, Adelaide, SA4/8
Ben Bertei (formerly of Brisbane’s Same Same and Longtime) has transplanted his sophisticated brand of Thai-inspired eats to Adelaide. The grilled kingfish collar with chilli jam and Thai basil has become an instant favourite.
Image credit: Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger, Adelaide, SA5/8
Malay and Indonesian flavours form the backbone of this Rundle Street melting pot, headed by Malaysian-born chef Benjamin Liew, though there are plenty of nods to the rest of Asia. The chilli roasted eggplant with sambal terasi and coconut is magic.
Image credit: Lucy Luu
Lucy Luu, Mount Hawthorn, WA6/8
Spicy Strawberry Margs, chilli salt-and-pepper corn ribs, sriracha prawn toasts – everything at this buzzy, neon-bright diner is a party, especially the bottomless brunch.
Image credit: Nonda
Nonda, Newstead, Qld7/8
This newcomer doesn’t play by any rules except “delicious”. Order the clam croquettes with shaoxing wine and bechamel, sashimi tacos and Chinese-spiced lamb ribs with labne.
Image credit: Miss Mi
Miss Mi, Perth, WA8/8
A lively eatery inside Novotel Perth Murray Street, Miss Mi is ostensibly pan-Asian but leans heavily into chef Alex De Leon’s Filipino heritage. Don’t leave without trying the Manila c Miss Mi lams with squid XO sauce.