Australia is a land of immigrants, all of whom have put a bowl on the Australian dining table. The Greater Ipswich area is home to immigrants from many countries, each one bringing with them their national specialty dishes. We don’t need to travel to try the cuisine of other countries. It has come to us! Here are six world flavours on our doorstep.
Hikari Ramen Shop 39/1 Main St, Springfield Central Ph: 07 3470 5854
Ramen is one of Japan’s cultural experiences that has a cult following. It’s the ultimate ‘fast food’, considered a quick and easy, inexpensive meal that anyone can enjoy, no matter where you are in Japan. Yet it’s not fast to prepare, the broth being slow cooked over a couple of days.
The chefs of Hikari, meaning ‘light’, aim to spread love through their food. It’s a modern shop using traditional style and method, their 10-hour cooked tonkotsu pork bone broth made using all-natural flavours (no artificial additives or MSG). Hikari also make their own chashu pork, the perfect addition to your bowl of ramen.
Peak Thai 11/1 Main St, Springfield Central Ph: 07 3470 0369
Located in the heart of Orion Springfield Shopping Centre, the décor of this beautiful restaurant references the Yi Peng festival of Chiang Mai when thousands of beautifully coloured candlelit lanterns are released into the sky.
Whether you stop by for a lunch special or dinner with family and friends, you can sit inside under the lantern-like lights or outside with a view of Fountain Place. The large menu offers a range of authentic Thai favourites, from Tom Yum soup to Pad Thai, Softshell Crab curry and Choo Chee curry fish. Our Vegetable and cashew fried rice is beautifully presented in a half pineapple alongside Crispy pork belly stir fry. The restaurant is fully licensed.
Heisenberg Haus 164 Brisbane St, Ipswich Ph: 0421 775 417
If you’re looking for a place that celebrates Oktoberfest all year round, then head to Heisenberg Haus. Named after the TV show ‘Breaking Bad’, this family-owned restaurant in the Top of the Town precinct is well known for its well-priced authentic German meals. Famous for its Schweinshaxe (Pork knuckle) served with potato, gravy and sauerkraut which has beaten many hungry diners, you’ll also find other hearty German favourites on the menu such as kassler, schnitzel, wurst, pretzels, pork belly and cheesy spatzle.
Whether you’re there for date night or a special celebration, there are separate areas suitable for each purpose, either inside the exposed brick heritage building or alfresco in the leafy courtyard. Take your pick of eight German beers on tap, including the popular Löwenbräu, or wine, schnapps, spirits and cocktails with ‘Breaking Bad’ references. (Of course, the family’s coffee joint ‘Tighty Whities’ next door begs a mention as well!) One thing’s for sure, you’ll be treated to German hospitality and certainly won’t go hungry or thirsty!
Casa Mia Café Restaurant 43-47 Brisbane Rd, Newtown Ph: 07 3202 4766
With more than a touch of nostalgia, Casa Mia serves the Italian food that Australians have traditionally loved for decades: pizza with the lot, carbonara and marinara pasta and chicken or pork scaloppini.
Italian travel posters cement the retro image, as well as the stage where karaoke and cabaret provide regular entertainment for diners. The venue comprises two areas, seating 50 inside and 150 in the alfresco function area used for celebrations and weddings.
We dine on an entrée of Creamy Garlic prawns on rice and Pork Casa Mia for main, a house specialty of pork scaloppini pan fried in garlic smothered in a thick white wine and cream sauce topped with king prawns and crab meat. It’s served with chips and house salad.
Indian Mehfil 116 Brisbane St, Ipswich Ph: 07 03818683
Established in 2010, Indian Mehfil brings us the flavours of India in a heritage building. Based on the philosophy that ‘the guest is god’, there’s a sense of awe on entering the restaurant, the 4-metre ceilings towering above us, tables clad in linen and walls adorned by romantic Indian paintings.
Head Chef Pitamber Dutt presents us with the rich, buttery dishes of his North Indian Punjabi homeland in a banquet: Fish Methi Malai made creamy with ground cashews, aromatically flavoured with fenugreek and Indian spices, Saag (one of the most traditional dishes of the Punjab), Chicken Tikka Lababdar (one of Mughlai cuisine’s richest dishes), and Shabnam Methi Malai, a creamy mushroom and pea curry.
With traditional food and warm friendly service, there’s a sense that this very affordable restaurant could just as easily house grand celebrations as it could a casual family night out. Locals tell us that Indian Mehfil has become an essential part of their community due to their charitable work and celebrations.
La Mocha 31 Springfield Lakes Blvd., Springfield Lakes Ph:
While coffee lovers journey from afar for La Mocha’s famous coffee, their weekend Turkish breakfasts are fast becoming just as famous. Owner Erkan Senyucel shows off his Middle Eastern heritage in several dishes including two platters: the Istanbul Tower, two tiers of sweet and savoury delights, including sausages, pastirma (air-dried beef), sujuk (Turkish salami), grilled haloumi, scrambled eggs, sautéed mushrooms, and Turkish bread with a top tier of Belgium waffles, seasonal fruits, nutella ganache and ice cream; and the Turkish Platter, a smaller version of the tower’s savoury tier including freshly-made Turkish pide with labna, sujuk, haloumi, olives and feta cheese. It’s a feast that delights diners, the meat not too spicy, the points of difference leading us on an interesting cultural journey. On weekend mornings when the Middle Eastern (and vegan) breakfasts are on offer, the restaurant is packed, so be sure to book!