It’s been clear – to us anyway – that Highpoint has for a few years now offered better food than other shopping centres, or at least those in the west or north-west of Melbourne.
This hasn’t made it a food destination for us.
But it has meant that if we’re thereabouts anyway, we’re happy to eat – even if that has meant either chowing down at this dumpling place or this Mexican establishment.
But now it seems Highpoint has stepped it up to another level with the opening of new food court area.
Could be Highpoint has actually become a foodie destination.
Think I’m kidding?
I’m not – even though I know there’s a heap of people who will snort derisively at such a suggestion.
The new food precinct is on the lower level and situated alongside JB Hi-Fi.
The food area is big and spacious.
And, frankly, it looks gorgeous.
There’s lots of space between the tables at the various outlets – and the tables and chairs are heavy on wood and combine well with the non-glary lighting.
There’s a lot of exposed beams and other structural stuff when you look up and a lot of concrete – but the overall effect is one of style rather than industrial overkill.
I really do dig it.
Some of the food outlets are familiar – Dumplings Plus from elsewhere in Highpoint, Roti Road from Footscray.
I presumed that only the Korean chicken place Nene Chicken (“1100 outlets all over South Korea”) would be using dispensable cutlery and containers, as it is the only outlet of a real fast-food variety.
But as you’ll see through Pete’s comment below, that is not the case.
That means all here is about reusable bowls, plates, chopsticks and implements.
Applause – especially after my rant about gross wastage at Highpoint of several years ago.
Joining Nene Chicken, Roti Road and Dumplings Plus is Tina’s Noodle Kitchen – and this is where things get REALLY interesting …
It joins sibling branches in Box Hill and Preston and is under the auspices of the Dainty Sichuan crew.
The menu on the Highpoint branch features dishes that I would never have expected to see featured at a shopping centre anywhere in Australia …
In addition to the above pictured snacky things from the start of the menu, also to be had are such outings as tender pork liver in stock soup, lamb tripes, beer duck with konjac cake (with bones), chilli blood curd combination, spicy pork chitterlings, pork kidney flower with pickles, duck web with pickled chilli and many more.
Wow – how about that?
Is it brave and/or crazy?
Or really smart?
Remember, this is a shopping centre … but maybe it’s all of the above.
But for my mid-week visit I do not feel so adventurous so head for Ajisen Ramen, which joins two branches in the CBD.
The menu is way more than mere ramen – I find it hard to restrain myself to a light lunch when contemplating such a long list of snacks/entrees, noodles, donburi, bentos and lunch sets.
But I nevertheless settle on toroniku ramen ($12) with grilled pork cheek, egg, vegetables.
It’s as good a ramen as could be expected – here or anywhere else.
The broth has deep miso flavour and the meat is gorgeously charry in flavour, though quite fatty.
It’s beaut and the price right.
Melbourne’s western suburbs are growing so fast that whole new suburbs and communities are going up in places where there are no old neighbourhoods for restaurants and cafes to colonise.
Of necessity this means any dine-out food will be found only in shopping centres.
But I’ve long worried that the brutal rent regimes involved mitigate against good food – not just food worth eating, at a pinch, but food worth travelling for.
So this is quite something, I think.
I mean, there’s now Roti Road in Footscray central AND Highpoint … I’m a bit stunned, actually.
The new food space at Highpoint has one outlet still to open – Saigon Square.