Zam Zam

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.

I eat too much.


  1. Pradeep Rajkumar
    May 6, 2011

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

    1. threehanns78
      August 6, 2012

      i don’t normally comment on every post but i had to with this one. one reason is i just read your post on curry king in Richmond and 2nd reason is that i cant believe people just slap food on trays like that. a bit of coriander or contrast to the dish is needed. it surprises me how lil eateries like can last.

      1. libishski
        August 9, 2012

        They last because they offer simple, cheap food for homesick international students and ex-pats (and us locals!) to enjoy. While presentation does make a huge difference, at the end of the day I’m not fussed as long as the food tastes good.

    2. threehanns78
      August 6, 2012

      never been here, but i totally agree. “the very very hungry” is just a metaphor right?

      1. libishski
        August 9, 2012

        I’m feeling it literally at the moment, though…

  2. Tony Ganesh
    December 7, 2012

    Been with my office colleagues expected South Indian food but check out my experience as a foodie.Traditional South Indian Food with a Mass feel in flavors and cooked with colors & Canola oil.Rich and Heavy meal. Carbs and Red meat are the main features.A specialized place for South Ind but with loaded with masala and unlimited flavored rice with limitations with heavy price tag. This is a different version of Indian food. Its for the fans who love loads of rice and spices not bothering about the price.The products are a mix of all North Indian and South Indian Spices.People who are used to this kind of food can return back and believe this the real Indian version food. For example- Roti and Butter Chicken, I did not feel the spices I felt the colors with Roti overcooked with more of Canola oil. .This is the place for Traditional stereotypical food lovers who stick with masala and oil made for Indian origins and people from all countries assume the food and rushing office goers in the city who needs an option for Indian food and who got their minds registered as Indian food enjoy the food.But not for the real food lovers who are exposed to Asian, French, Italian, Salads and Diet food.


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