My first thought when I walk into Merah is that I’m in the wrong place. Opened by the Nasi Lemak House duo in October, it looks more like a secret Gorman headquarters than a Malaysian restaurant – salmon archways, organic wooden tables and a colour-blocked banquette.
My second thought is how “inner north” it is. Organic and biodynamic wines sit alongside traditional teh tarik and vegans are welcome, if not encouraged. Translucent tapioca parcels in chilli soy are stretched with mushroom, cabbage and bamboo stuffing and spoon-worthy plum sauce accompanies buttery curry puffs.
My third thought is FOMO Thai. I miss out on jackfruit curry (unavailable) and spicy crab (pre-order only), but seafood is a stellar substitute: pipis pungent with shrimp and kaffir lime and a lightly fried barramundi fillet soaking up tamarind sauce. Nasi lemak, thick roti canai and beef rendang are there for traditionalists.
- Related: Sash Japanese Pizza holds its own with the cool Windsor crowd
- Related: BKK: swapping sassy Vietnamese flavours for street food-style Thai
- Related: Shopping Spree: an afternoon in Northcote
My final thought at Merah is that I’m ready for dessert. But, there isn’t any. Will anyone judge me for ordering the fried chicken with sambal mayo instead.
Best for: Eating out with vegetarian mates and not compromising on big flavours.
- 238 High St, Northcote
- 9489 3121