362-364 Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9606 0109
To get good Indian food in the city, I would normally walk up Bourke Street or tram it to Classic Curry on the corner of Elizabeth and Queensberry. It sounds like a bit of a hassle, but when the only nearby option is a three-hour old curry puff sitting in a bain marie at Curry Bowl, the trip is often worth it. I catch the bus home from Lonsdale St (hello, stalkers!) and for as long as I could remember, there’s never been any decent Indian food in the area. Thus, you can imagine how surprised I was when I found Zam Zam.
I swear, I’ve walked past this place 10 billion times on my way to my bus stop and into JB Hifi but I’ve never actually paid any attention to it. Until now.
Unlike the attention-seeking facade of Funky Curry on Bourke, Zam Zam is a modest sandwich cafe-turned Indian eatery that is very easy to miss. Apparently it’s an off-shoot of a Muslim-run family eatery in Singapore that’s been around for just over 100 years. This means that the Indian food here is not only halal (i.e. no pork) but influenced by Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine. Thus, you can order a lamb korma with a side of dhal as well as some murtabak, all washed down with teh tarik.
The two times I’ve been here, my meals have straight from the bain marie though I do believe that some dishes are made to order. A popular choice is the biryani set which comes with two meat dishes and one vegetable ($9.50). You could pick a combination of chickpeas, chilli chicken and minced lamb and pea curry…
… or fried tandoori chicken, dhal and chicken curry. A splashing of yoghurt is optional but if you’re anything like Aaron and likes to make things difficult, then they can dig up some hot pickles and chutney for you.
If you’re not a fan of biryani, $8.50 will get you some basmati rice, two meat dishes and one vegetarian dishes. Last time, I enjoyed some lamb korma, butter chicken and a side of dhal.
Yesterday, Adam and I were in a ‘roti mood’ so skipped the rice and went straight for the roti. Two freshly cooked roti and chicken vindaloo for Adam ($6.50) while I went vego and got some chickpeas instead ($6.00).
And you can’t walk out without washing it all down with a hot cup of teh tarik (pulled tea sweetened with condensed milk, $2.50).
Given that most of the food sits in a bain marie for hours, the food is nevertheless satisfying and filling. I would, however, advise those with weaker stomaches such as Adam to be careful. Having said that, Adam reckons that these two instances of tummy viruses will not deter him from coming back again. I wouldn’t say this joint is the Indian food equivalent of the Well of Zam Zam but the food is good enough for me to not go all the way to Bourke Street for Indian grub.