This Northcote mum and pop Indonesian restaurant is a hidden cheap eats gem
High profile restaurants in the 3070 postcode like Merricote, ESP and Camus pull the dining crowds to Northcote, but there are still hidden cheap eats like Indonesian restaurant Yuni’s Kitchen if you know where to look. It's hidden behind Northcote Uniting Church, so you’ll have to follow your nose and look for a bright red door to find the restaurant, but good things await urban explorers.
Run by husband-and-wife team Yuni and Matthew Kenwrick, Yuni’s Kitchen takes up a high-ceilinged space in the church complex and is sporting some serious cafeteria vibes. Don't fancy sitting inside with the noise and delicious smells of the open kitchen? Find a spot outside next to the church.
The food skews Javanese in a nod to Yuni’s Yogyakarta upbringing. Start your meal with a classic Javanese afternoon snack, the tempeh mendoan – deep-fried slabs of homemade tempeh coated in a garlicky batter with a touch of coriander. Dip them in sweet soy sauce and homemade sambal and you’ve got an umami bomb with a chilli kick to whet your appetite to a keen edge.
Or dive straight in and order the nasi campur ayam, which literally translates to chicken mixed rice. It's traditionally eaten on special occasions so no surprises it’s a banquet on a plate: fragrant yellow coconut rice in the middle surrounded by Javanese classics like a chicken Maryland, tempeh mendoan, urap (steamed vegetable salad with shredded coconut), pickles, perkedel (potato croquette) and a chicken satay. They nail each element here but if we had to call favourites it would have to be the chicken, brushed with sweet soy sauce and an aromatic spice mix that ensures a sticky charred skin when the meat comes off the grill.
The bebek Bali is another highlight. A slight divergence from the Javanese-centric menu, this is a duck curry served with green beans and cherry tomatoes to lighten up the coconut-based curry. The duck meat has taken on the signature Indonesian aromatics of coriander, turmeric and galangal, and comes with fragrant coconut rice.
Many Indonesian restaurants in Melbourne serve food out of bain maries, which is fair enough when your main offerings are dishes like rendang or slow curries that are near impossible to cook to order. But it's refreshing to go to one where the food is prepared fresh.
Yuni and her husband Matthew run the restaurant by themselves most days, with Matthew handling service and Yuni in the kitchen, so expect a longer wait on busy periods. Most dishes will set you back around $15-$20, but the generous servings make it a worthwhile investment – the nasi campur can easily feed two if you go hard on the snacks before your mains.
|Venue name:||Yuni's Kitchen|
249-251 High St
|Opening hours:||Wed-Sat noon-3pm, 6-10pm; Sun noon-3pm, 6-9pm|