Street food, I love; Street food done well, what more can one ask for. This tasty soft shell crab souvlakakia has sent me into George’s Greek embrace. George Calombaris, everyone knows him as the chilly-hating, tweezers-loving judge on Masterchef Australia. In a nutshell, Gazi is all about putting tasty, casual, affordable Hellenic street food on a plate.
Gazi has replaced The Press Club at No. 2 Exhibition Street. Well, I haven’t been to the latter but who cares. The moment I stepped into the restaurant, my eyes can’t help but fixated upon the orange sheet of upturned terracotta pots that filled the ceiling, drawing attention away from the exposed un-rendered concrete walls. The high-back booth seating, black communal tables and metal chairs gave the place a rustic, laid-back and casual vibe.
What I love about this place, is the open kitchen, which reminded me about Penang Street Food. To me, the assembling of a dish is an art on its own. The sounds, the smells, and the sights of cooking can absolutely help one work up an appetite. The place was crowded and booking is essential, thanks to my dear friend, L we managed to secure a table for four at 1pm.
Service was unexpectedly quick. Before I could snap enough photos of the interior decor, food was already on the table. Time to dig in!!
Grains – $12.50
A healthy start to a great meal. The combination of freekeh, quinoa, barley, poppy seeds and pistachios offered a light crunchy texture. The yoghurt gave the dish a refreshing taste and lifted the otherwise boring grains to a whole new level. Simple yet with good flavour combination. The salads and grains dishes range between $9.50 to $12.50.
Wood Fire Spit Roasted Pork Belly - $32.00
Spit Roasted Pork Belly married with white beans, apple skordalia and walnut dressing. Skordalia is a traditional Greek sauce usually made from potato and flavoured with garlic, lemon juice and parsley. Hailing from Malaysia, roasted pork belly is a staple street food (we call it “Siu Bak” meaning roast pork). Just when I thought I knew how a roasted pork should taste like, this dish showed up. The moment I sank my teeth into that juicy, tender, well seasoned meat, I thought: “man, this is how a roast pork should taste like”. That crackling, three words – OH, MY, GOSH – amazing. Those ear splittingly crunch was just music to mah (my) ears. The apple skordalia on the other hand offered a nice contrasting balance to the slightly salty pork.
Soft Shell Crab Souvlakakia – $12.00
Souvlaki, the ultimate Greek street food. Gazi’s souvlakakia (meaning small souvlaki) however is an absolute winner. What they lack in size and tradition, they make up for in taste. That crispy fried soft shell crab with the right touch of mint, coriander, honey and mayonnaise; enveloped in a pillowy charred flatbread was smashing. If I have a bottomless stomach, I could easily use a second helping. The other souvlakakia variations (which we did not try), were duck, chicken and beef brisket, all three combos (except for crab) are served with fries wrapped inside.
Risogalo Jar – $14.50
One of the best desserts I’ve taste. Upon opening the mason jar, I kinda expected a theatrical smoke to uncover, which to my slight disappointment, did not happen. This jar contains layers of rice pudding, banana, smoked almonds and salted caramel. Not too sweet with smudges of airy milk chocolate throughout. It’s one of those desserts that you wish you could snatch the jar away from your friends and dig into it alone. Opps….
Pavlova – $12.50
I usually am not a fan of meringues because they are often disgustingly sweet. BUT, this, this is not any pavlova, this is George’s pavlova. The fun just got tuned up another notch. First, an interesting meringue dome, painted with dehydrated raspberry, smash it, and inside reveals a picture perfect scene of white chocolate sorbet and lemon curd, fresh meringue, musk sticks, and pomegranate seeds. The perfect ending to a great meal.
Needless to say, I am in love with this place. Given any day on any occasion, I am happy to revisit Gazi in a heartbeat. That chili-hating judge may be short but he sure is a smart bloke. Gazi is a perfect example of clever cooking, quick customer turnover and most importantly delectable food.
Address: 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC, 3000 (at the intersection between Flinders and Exhibition St_
A student who exchanged the unforgiving heat of Malaysia for the unpredictable skies in Melbourne. Been eating and biking my way mostly around Melbourne and Penang. Roaming Potato is dedicated to food and outdoor lovers that want to experience the most obscure places in town.