By CASEY NEILL
“ONE might as well be in South East Asia.”
Foodie Elizabeth Chong couldn’t speak highly enough on Springvale as she led a walking tour of food businesses in its heart on Friday 9 October.
“Springvale was one of the first to really showcase Asian food in such a diverse way,” she said.
“I had a cooking school way back in 1961 and I needed to buy some really specialised ingredients and foods that I couldn’t get anywhere else.
“I was rather inspired by Springvale in those early days.”
Elizabeth said the arcades that today house cuisine from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and China were then just starting to take shape.
“It was mainly old Springvale Road, and I used to go to the Nanyang supermarket,” she said.
“I think they’ve still got a pretty strong following. They had a butcher’s shop in there as well.
“That would be the oldest supermarket here I think.”
The Chinese-born cook has introduced other cuisines to her cooking schools during its 54 years.
“I got to really know Vietnamese cuisine here in Springvale,” she said.
“This couldn’t be more authentic because they don’t know how to do it any other way.
“It’s a testament to that if we warmly welcome and support migrants and refugees, we can create a vibrant community that works.
“It just adds the richness and the colour to Melbourne. Where would we be without our migrants?”
Milan Tea House was the first stop on the tour. Owner Wendy Wong demonstrated how to properly brew tea and its health benefits.
At Quang Minh Chinese Medicine, Elizabeth said her mother regularly took her and her siblings to a herbalist.
Bun Bun Bakery cooks baguettes on-site and fills them with fresh-tasting ingredients – including a chilli kick.
The same family has run Golden Lake Cake and Roast for the past 20 years, which is known for freshly roasted duck.
“I cannot go past this shop without buying turkey,” Elizabeth said.
The tour passed Tommy’s Hairdressing, jewellery shops, green grocers and “the smelly fish arcade”, where Angie pointed out prawns she usually payed $25-plus per kilo for priced at $14.99.
Frozen Smart stocks dumplings of all kinds ready for the steamer basket.
The day finished at family restaurant My Cambodia, which serves traditional Cambodian food with influence from neighbouring countries.