With mandatory closures due to the pandemic, there’s no doubt that restaurants have been one of the most affected businesses in Melbourne. That rings especially true for Chinatown, with international travels halted and many residents having gone home.
However, things aren’t closed any longer – we have the freedom to go out and dine in, and that’s exactly what we did at Niübi: the newest kid on the Chinatown block.
Now, I’m a big fan of Chinatown. Who wouldn’t be? Affordable Asian food, genuine tastes, and great drinks. Niübi stays true to that: their menu presents authentic South-East Asian flavours, which they do that by importing spices directly from Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia – if that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is!
The result? Authentic, homey dishes that’ll have you coming back for more.
When it comes to the actual menu, you’ll have a variety of foods to choose from. We decided on the classics: chicken with rice; vegetarian spring rolls; prawn toast; pickled sides and hokkien noodles.
To drink, we had an Asahi beer and a watermelon yakult. The watermelon yakult surprised me the most: I’d never heard of it before, let alone had it! It was refreshing and sweet, presented in a very photogenic mason jar (Instagram opportunity…?). I was impressed!
Although we played it safe with food choices – Niübi is known for their seafood delights. On the affordable end of the scale is their flavourful Curry Fish Head, which we saw them serve to the tables behind us. If you’re interested in something more premium, they offer a Live Mud Crab Soup with Vermicelli, cooked fresh and set in a mouth-watering creamy soup.
Alongside the authentic nature of the food, what really stood out to me was the staff. They were warm and attentive, delivering food quickly and helping serve soup dishes. This friendliness elevated the mood, creating a relaxed atmosphere where we could feel comfortable enjoying our meals.
It’s also worth noting the setting. With bold red feature ceilings, spacious booths and organised wicker tables, Niübi is a comfortable, inviting venue where you could easily bring your friends and family for a meal.
Ultimately, we enjoyed our visit. With impeccable service, warm and authentic food, and a comfortable place to enjoy it – who wouldn’t?!
Daniela Koulikov is a freelance writer who loves movies, brunch and DIY kits. You can follow her at @danikoul.
Niübi is located at 11 Heffernan Lane. No need to book – simply head on over!