Fellow food snobs, I have a confession to make. I am not originally from Melbourne.
I grew up in the “city” (country town) of Darwin, living there ’til the ripe old age of 17, after which point I decided to seek greener pastures. I am frequently asked why I have never reviewed any Darwin restaurants; surely the answer is obvious – there is simply nothing to write about.
Ok, sorry, I will stop hating on my hometown now. There is, in fact, one restaurant worth writing about, which I am sure to visit every time I head north.
Hanuman’s Thai-fusion menu is hardly noteworthy in the context of the Melbourne food scene, however in the Darwin playing field it is one of a kind.
I am always sure to order their signature dish, Hanuman oysters ($19.50).
Steamed in clay dish, the oysters were perfectly cooked, with bold, punchy elements of lemongrass and ginger singing through.
Red curry of duck ($27.50)
Fork-tender roast duck meat, lychees and pineapple swam were surrounded by a rich, fragrant gravy.
Thai crispy whole fish (medium, $28.50)
This is what I come to Hanuman for. There’s just something great about deep-fried, bone-in fish: it’s always crisp on the outside, with juicy, soft flesh underneath. Hanuman’s hot, sweet and sour chilli sauce is all it needs. Unfortunately, on this particular occasion the sauce was a little tamarind-heavy, rather than its usual, balanced self. Hopefully it was just a once-off.
Kang kong greens ($16.50)
I have declared my love of kang kong (water spinach) on this blog on a few occasions. I was quite satisfied with Hanuman’s version, which was lightly stir fried with garlic and dotted with pleasant bursts of salty, umami-rich soy beans.
Baby bok choi ($15.50)
The steamed baby bok choi was tasty enough, although I did think the serving size was a bit measly. I don’t often question restaurant pricing but $15.50 was a bit rich for what it was.
Dessert tasting plate ($32)
We shared a dessert plate between the four of us, which consisted of a choice of any three desserts on the menu.
The ‘black rice brulee’ was essentially two classic dishes put in the same bowl: black sticky rice pudding and creme brulee. It was quite a good combination.
The chocolate water chestnut cake was interesting: it was moist, but had a sort of watery quality to it. It wasn’t a bad thing, but it was noticeably different in texture to a regular butter-and-egg-heavy mud cake.
Nutty, aromatic Sri Lankan love cake completed the platter.
A little pricey for the quality of food, but that’s just what you get in Darwin. I have noticed over the last few visits that portions are getting smaller; I hope they don’t go too far and lose business as a result. Hanuman is by far Darwin’s best offering and I would hate to see it go.Hanuman 93 Mitchell Street Darwin, NT