Really Really Cheap Eats

31 May 2013

Last month, The Age released their annual The Age Good Food Under $30 (formerly known as the Cheap Eats Guide). To be included in this so-called tight arse guide for foodies, one must be able to get a decent meal for under $30 (not including drinks). For most university students, $30 is nowhere near cheap. Therefore, for the true cheapskates, here are five places to get a feed and a drink for less than a tenner.

1. Nhu Lan

116 Hopkins Street, Footscray

Craving a sandwich? Forget Subway; go to Footscray for a sandwich that’s half the price and twice as nice. Hopkins Street is full of Vietnamese bakeries that sell meat-filled baguettes (bánh mi, pronounced as ‘ban-mee’), but the only one worth bothering with is Nhu Lan. Most rolls, including the classic mixed ham roll, sell for $4. For a complete sub-$10 feast, grab a roll, a Vietnamese iced coffee and a small tray of Vietnamese sweets.

2. Melissa’s Cakes

118 Smith Street, Collingwood

Fancy yourself as a gym junkie? Stuff those expensive pre-workout supplements and make like Popeye by tucking into Melbourne’s nicest spanakopita (Greek spinach pie, $5) at Melissa’s. Ignore the cakes on offer and head straight for the grand prize, a wonderful cornucopia of flaky pastry, feta cheese, and lots and lots of spinach! The cheese and pastry will have negated all the health benefits the spinach may have given you, so you may as well order a cup of sweetened Greek coffee with your leftover change.

3. Rose Garden BBQ

435 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

Rose Garden’s top 10 best-selling dishes, as listed on the menu, are excellent–and they’re all less than $10. Every time I walk past, there’s a massive line of students waiting for a taste of food that’s as good as what’s served back home. Once you finally get a table, pour yourself a cup of complimentary tea and tuck into whatever dish takes your fancy, whether it be the shredded duck and preserved vegetable fried rice ($9.80), or the crispy chicken ribs on rice ($9).

4. Half Moon Café

13 Victoria Street, Coburg

Ever had falafel made with fava beans instead of the usual chickpeas? If you haven’t, you had better tram up to Half Moon Café for some Egyptian-style falafels. $7.50 will get you a Half Moon Wrap: a vegetarian’s wet dream that’s filled with the tastiest falafels, lettuce, rocket, tabouli, hummus, yoghurt, tahini, black olives and pickles. To wash it all down, use your change to buy yourself a can of Coke.

5. Ramen Ya

Shop G25, GPO, 350 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Most ramen are $10, with a choice of tonkotsu (pork), shoyu (chicken and soy), or miso base. Then select your topping; for a classic ramen experience, go for the tonkotsu charshu (pork broth topped with marinated sliced pork) option. The milky white broth gets its scrumptious flavour from pork bones boiled for several hours, while the charshu melts in your mouth like butter. Thirsty? Water is provided free for diners.

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