MELBOURNE | One of my favourite Melbourne restaurants is Sunda, so as you can imagine I’ve been eagerly anticipating co-owners Khanh Nguyen (also the head chef) and Adipoetra Halim’s new restaurant, ARU.
The restaurant opened two weeks ago, after a year of delays… because 2020. And TLDR, it lives up to they hype and is already a contender for one of the openings of 2021.
The concept is similar to Sunda, in that the food is influenced by the flavours of South East Asia and Australian native ingredients, but ARU is a restaurant that forges its own path. There are more Vietnamese and Chinese influences on the menu here, and fire and fermentation play a bit part. Grab a seat at the bar and open kitchen if you can, and watch the kitchen team work their magic on the showpiece wood fired hearth.
The menu is surprisingly sizeable, and has enough on there that you’ll want to be making a return visit to try some different things, trying hard not to reorder favourites from your first visit.
It’s hard to pick highlights from what I enjoyed, but if I really had to its probably these three. Spiced wagyu tongue with Vietnamese sate, and pepper leaf. Dry aged duck with quandong, black cabbage, and bamboo. Sugarloaf cabbage, enoki mushroom, and pepperberry (black truffles optional).
Really though, the food at ARU is all very good. The flavours are bold, fun, and exciting, and the service is top notch – professional and knowledgeable, with genuine pride and excitement about what’s going on here. Definitely one to add to your list.
268 Little Collins Street
Tue – Sat: 12:00pm to 3:00pm; 5:30pm to 10:00pm