Melbourne's Best International Cuisine Locations on a Budget

Megan is a Brand Ambassador for The Student Housing Company and a third year international student at the University of Melbourne. She is currently pursuing a degree in commerce majoring in Accounting and Finance. She is a Filipino Chinese who hails from Singapore and has lived in Hong Kong and China too. A fun and driven individual, she knows how to work hard and play harder. She #livesforthegram and is a meme lord. If you see her around campus, don’t forget to say hi!

TSHC Brand Ambassador, Megan
TSHC Brand Ambassador, Megan

 

Missing home? Or simply hungry for a taste of food from your home country? I’m here to help. As an international student, being in a foreign country alone can be daunting. Not only are the comforts of home gone, you won’t be able to savour a family home-cooked meal or head to your regular food establishment in your home country.

I remember my first few months in Melbourne and having to get accustomed to the food here. Surprisingly it wasn’t hard to adjust to what Melbourne had to offer. I learnt that Melbourne is a multicultural city that was home to people from all over the world. So it was only natural that Melbourne’s food-offerings were very diverse. Food from every continent and city could be found!

There is also a large, growing population of international students here in Melbourne which means more international food options just around the corner. This has definitely made my stay in Melbourne feel more like home. Here are my top recommendations for international cuisines and I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I have!

Japanese – Sushi Hotaru

Midcity Arcade, 118/200 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000
sushihotaru
Sushi Hotaru packed with customers and sky-high sushi plates

 

Menu Favourite: Flamed Salmon Nigiri

Feeling Adventurous? Try this: Unagi Nigiri (Eel Sushi)

Love sushi trains? Check out Sushi Hotaru for a wide range of sushi for very affordable prices! Besides sushi, they also offer other Japanese food such as Udon and Ramen. Sushi Hotaru is very popular, so I suggest you head over when they are just about to open or during non-peak periods to avoid the long waiting time. Another thing to watch out for are their regular seasonal promotions. This winter, there were lucky draws held if you dined in on weekdays. Visit Sushi Hotaru and without knowing it, your sushi plates will be stacking high!

Check out their menu here.

Korean- Gukbab

535 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000

bibimbap
Local Korean favourites like Bimbimbap and Korean fried chicken

 

Menu Favourite: Kimchi Chigae

Feeling Adventurous? Try this: Naeng Myeon (Cold Noodles)

Looking for all the Korean essentials? Look no more, Gukbab is your place. Menu items include Bimbimbap, Japchae, Korean fried chicken, and many more! Warm yourself up this winter with a hot bowl of Kimchi Chigae (Kimchi Stew) with some Corn Cheese. In summer, you can look forward to their Naeng Myeon (Cold Noodles). If you are eating with a group of friends, I suggest ordering the Budae Chigae (Army Stew) to share. Prices range from $10 to $25 per person, depending on what you order. One thing is for sure, you’ll keep wanting more!

Check out their menu here.

Malaysian/ Singaporean – KL Bunga Raya

34 Errol St, North Melbourne VIC 3051

Curry
Dish from KL Bunga Raya

 

Menu Favourite: Chicken Curry Laska

Feeling Adventurous? Try this: Rat’s Tail Claypot Noodles

KL Bunga Raya is my go-to whenever I’m missing food from back home in Singapore. The staff are friendly and the food is delicious! They have everything from wok-fried noodles to chicken rice. The restaurant also offers weekday lunch specials for only $10! This includes a main dish and a drink. My personal favourites are the Chicken Curry Laksa and Teh Ping (Iced milk tea). If you happen to be a member of the Malaysian society or Singaporean Society at Melbourne University, you are also entitled to a 10% discount off non-promotional menu items.

Check out their menu here.

American- Huxtaburger

357 Collins St, (Access via Fulham Place off Flinders Lane), Melbourne VIC 3000

huxtaburger
The Huxtaburger with fries

 

Menu Favourite: Cheesus double-patty burger

Feeling Adventurous? Try this: Denise (it has Jalapeños!)

I cannot express my love for Huxtaburger enough! I still remember the night I had my first Huxtabuger. Needless to say, it was divine! There are 7 other branches here in Melbourne besides the branch in the CBD. Some of which are located at places like Prahran and Collingwood. Huxtaburger is also available on Deliveroo if you are a fan of ordering-in. The menu has a range of items including Vegetable burgers and chicken burgers, which tastes equally as good! My personal favourite would be the Cheesus Burger. Double grass-fed beef patty, double cheese, cheesy mayo, mustard, tomato sauce and pickles. YUM!

Check out their menu here.

Indian – Mughal

7 Jeffcott St, West Melbourne VIC 3003

halal
Delicious Indian food!

 

Menu Favourite: Butter Chicken Feeling Adventurous?

Try this: Lassi (Yohgurt drink)

Like spice? Mughals will definitely spice it up for you! Mughal offers a wide range of Indian food like Naan, Butter Chicken and Daal (vegetable curry). It only costs less than $15 to dine at Mughal. Not only is their food affordable and tasty, they are a great place to go to for late-night suppers. It can be tough finding food establishments open after 7pm, but Mughal is one of the few exceptions. So the next time you are feeling hungry for some flavorful, spice-rich dishes, head over to Mughal!

Chinese- Dragon Hot Pot

213 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000

noodles
A build-your-own-bowl of Noodles in Ma La spicy beef broth

 

Menu Favourite: Enoki mushrooms

Feeling Adventurous? Try this: Beef Tripe

Conveniently located in the Melbourne CBD, Dragon Hotpot offers hotpot-style food. You will get to select the kinds of food you would like to put into your own bowl of noodles and it is charged by weight. On average, it costs $15 per person. If you aren’t a fan of spice, remember to select the no chilli option for your soup broth. No bowl of noodle is exactly the same as the other, which is what makes it so fun! The creamy beef broth combined with your choice of meat, veggies and noodles will be sure to satisfy your stomach. Dragon Hot Pot is also open 24 hours! As you can imagine, this place is really popular, so expect a short wait to grab a seat. I recommend going during non-peak periods just to avoid queuing for too long.

Italian – Universal Restaurant

Address: 139/141 Lygon St, Carlton VIC 3053

parma
The famously large parma at Universal

 

Menu Favourite: Paul’s Special

Feeling Adventurous? Try this: Chicken Schnitzel with mushroom sauce

The famous Universal located along Lygon street cooks up some of the best pasta and pizzas. Universal also goes a step further and offers menu items such as chicken schnitzel and oysters, and all at a very affordable price! I usually order Paul’s Special pasta which is a tomato-based pasta with bacon, chili, garlic and rose sauce. Do take note of the portion options, if you’re not that big of an eater, you can always order a smaller portion at a cheaper price. Universal is famous for their chicken schnitzel with mushroom sauce, so be sure to try that out too!

Check out their menu here.

Indonesian – Kaki Lima

Building 80, RMIT/1 Stewart St, Melbourne VIC 3000

kaki-lima
Sumptuous rice bowls served from Kaki Lima

 

Menu Favourite: Grilled fish Rica-Rica

Feeling Adventurous? Try this: Crazy Rice

Kaki Lima specialises in Indonesian food and features some of the classic Indonesian food, like Rendang, and Indonesian street food. The menu is short and sweet, leaving you with eight different options of rice-bowls. Since the meals are all in one bowl, it is a great to-go food or if you want to grab a quick bite. My personal favourite is the Grilled Fish Rica-Rica. The mix of tangy spice and the smooth texture of the fish goes extremely well together! Kaki Lima is also very affordable, with each rice bowl ranging from $6.90 to $ 10.90. Check out their menu here.

Australian – Grain Store

517 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000

grain-store

Menu Favourite: Chocolate chip cookies

Feeling Adventurous? Try this: Potato Gnocchi and Zucchini flower

The Grain Store is one great example of Melbourne’s Café and Coffee culture, and it is my all-time-favourite café to visit! They have everything you could want. All sorts of coffee brewed by their in-house barista, a menu full of scrumptious breakfast and lunch items, and pastries! Everything I have ordered at the Grain Store so far has been delicious and I can’t wait for you to try it out. I highly recommend ordering a platter of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies served with a cold glass of milk to end off your meal. Cookies never tasted so divine. Do watch out for their breakfast and lunch crowds too, they are very popular!

Check out their menu here.

Vietnamese – Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam

241 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Pho
Steaming hot bowl of beef Pho

 

Menu Favourite: Beef Pho Feeling Adventurous?

Try this: Beef tripe Pho

Are you ready Pho this? Last but not least, we have Mekong which is located conveniently along Swanston street and Bourke Street. The shop is always crowded and bustling, so you know the food has got to be good! From the food to the cramped space, the whole dining experience will make you feel like you are in Vietnam. My personal favourite is the Beef Pho, which is a Noodle-soup served with beef slices, beef balls and beef tripe (you can always add or remove items from your Pho). Served with fresh bean sprouts, basil leaves and lime, you couldn’t possibly go wrong with a nice hot bowl of Pho.

 

If you’re feeling tired of eating out all the time, why not try your hand at cooking up your favourite dishes. Here are some grocers which carry international products and produce. They are also conveniently located in the city!

Hometown Asian Super market: 2/422-440 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

KT Mart: 600 Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Curry Corner: 188 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Tokyo Hometown: 41/45 A’Beckett St, Melbourne VIC 3000

 

As you can see, Melbourne has so much good food to offer! This is only the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more to experience. So even though you may be missing food from home, it may not be that bad after all! International students here in Melbourne are spoilt for choice and won’t ever have to worry about running out of places to dine at. I can’t express enough how amazing the international cuisine selection is here in Melbourne, so I guess you will just have to try it for yourself!

Want more suggestions of eateries or just to chat about food? Feel free to connect with me on social media!

Instagram: @megaortega

Facebook: Megan Ortega