Monday, August 07, 2006

Zam Zam - Indian City

Venue : Zam Zam Cafe Restaurant 1
Cuisine : Indian
Address : 364 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000
Tel number : (03) 9606 0109

Ever since I started cycling to work a fortnight ago (so-so-sooo co-co-coolllldddd, so-so-sooo co-co-colllldddd), all I do is think about FOOD. What's for morning tea, what am I going to have for lunch, what will I be having for dinner and what more in between.

Anyway, armed with this frame of mind, choosing what to eat is the primary activity of the day. Despite the presence of many, many excellent and reasonably priced lunch places of various ethnicities all around my place of employment, I repeatedly find myself gravitating towards Zam Zam in my quasi random wanderings at lunch hour, and given that it is not the closest Indian place (ok, at best marginal), this is saying a lot.

Indian food. I love it.

It's easy to miss this place. The shop front is quite inconspicuous. I usually just tell those interested that it is in between the two JB Hifi entrances on Lonsdale St.

On entry, the first thing one notices is the pungent aroma of spices. I dont notice it anymore but it's there. Pleasant? I'm not sure. I do remember that on my first visit there, I thought that it was quite strong but I guess such experiences are all very subjective.

The decor is far from flashy, probably opting for functionality over form. You have your formica tables and non-descript chairs. What more do you need?

Admittedly, it is lacking a little in the ambience department. It is on the darkish side and the positioning of the fridge and various boxes of drinks etc. do not help. I dont recall any music being played but that could be me tuning out. But the bottom line is that the food is tasty and reasonably cheap (especially for Indian). The food is served on stainless steel compartmentalised plates, likewise the water from stainless steel cups.

I've had the murtabak before which was pretty good. The roti casing was firm and not soggy (firm is good). The filling had just the right spicyness though I suspect they could have been more generous when stuffing this (with the filling). It's hard to describe the complex flavours which come from the many spices used but I assure you, it's salivatory to say the least. That first mouthful, the explosion of flavours. It's phantasmagorical. I can also recommend the biryani rice. It was really yummy as well. But generally, I prefer the roti to the rice. I'm salivating as I write this.

The lamb? Sorry, I dont eat lamb but I understand the goat curry is pretty good. I dont remember if I do or do not eat goat. Take note that they dont have any beef nor pork dishes, in case you have a preference for that.

The curries I've had have all been very tasty especially the butter chicken, which is part of my regular order. What I usually get is the roti (x 2) with the butter chicken and some dhal. This costs me $7.50 but I've been charged $7, $7.20 and $7.70 before. I'm uncertain if there is any correlation with how much I flirt with the pretty Indian lady who sometimes man the counter. The other dishes are all roughly around that price. Unrelated bit of info - I understand the owner is from Penang or so he tells me.

Turnover seems reasonably brisk and the service was pretty quick. The serves dont always appear overly generous but I've always had difficulty finishing what I get. Maybe my eyes are bigger than my stomach. Regarding bookings, I'm not sure if it is neccessary or if they do take any at all but I guess there is no harm in trying, if you think you need to that is.

Anyway, in case it wasnt clear, I do recommend this place. It's had my patronage on a regular basis for many months now.

In case you need any reinforcement as to why you should be eating more Indian food, this New Scientist article here might help.

Here is to brainy food.
BTW, the food is halal for the religiously inclined.

ps photos to come. Check in later in the week, maybe.

1 Apparently ZamZam is a well near Mecca. More info at Wikipedia. Now you cant say you dont learn anything new from this blog.


Liz & baby Joel said...


2 questions:

Is there room for a pram in this place or is it a bit too crowded at lunch times for that? Or, is there an outdoor space?

Secondly - where are we going for lunch on Friday!?!?! ZamZam sounds great but pram could be an issue!

Would there be enough room at Piadina's Slow Food perhaps???


Chai said...

A1. Not sure. I've never really paid attention to that aspect of dining. There is no outdoor space. With Piadana, as Ukelele pointed out, there are only 2 benches inside, the rest is outdoors. So would be dependent on weather.

A2. I'll email u, in case some whacko out there intends to stake the place out (no, of course not you, gentle reader).

Rebekka said...

How can you not remember whether you eat goat or not? Is it possible to forget that??

And Liz, I heartily recommend putting baby Joel in a sling when going out for lunch and thus not having problems with prams. These ones are the stuff I reckon cause they don't have anything to adjust (the ones you have to tie up or adjust buckles etc I reckon are too hard to get on by yourself)

Ok, try 2 at creating a link...

Link to sling

Rebekka said...

Arrgh, that still didn't work

Chai said...

Not sure what you tried but this should work.

Regd goat meat, I think I've eaten it many many years ago and remember not liking it, but that memory could be made up. I'm not sure anymore. My life is becoming like a Philip K Dick story.

Susanne said...

Mmm, that review made my hungry!

Andrew said...

Zam Zam is fantastic. A little oasis in the middle of the bustling city.

Reasonably priced and very authentic (read: tasty) dishes and friendly staff. I love it.

Chai said...

Havent been there for a while. Missing it even more now as I work in the culinary desert that is South Melbourne.

Anonymous said...

Crappiest food I have ever had in Melbourne.Food is not valuable and its expensive.Do not think about the crowd.They do not know anything.Most of the indian students go to the restuarant.Sometimes they harrase the students to pay extra money.

Viagra Online said...

I have never tasted Indian food, but I have heard good commentaries about it. It's a shame that find this restaurant is a kind of difficult. Buy Viagra Viagra

Anonymous said...

Worst, Oily and dirty restaurant.
Expensive and nothing in the restaurant.Do not waste your money and health.