While researching places to eat in Melbourne, I came across Purple Peanuts Cafe which serves tasty and healthy Japanese food at affordable prices. As luck would have it, we found that Purple Peanuts Cafe was actually located just around the corner from where we were staying, and so it was the first place we hit after arriving in Melbourne.
Don’t be scared by quirky decor, which includes a giant stuffed octopus perched on top of the drinks cabinet. Line up at the counter and choose from the selection brown-rice sushi rolls and salads in the window, or pick something from the brown paper menu stuck on the walls behind the counter. Some of the hot dishes include this beef curry soba, which is definitely a winter warmer dish that arrives steaming hot in a bowl. The beef curry smells amazing and there’s a nice sprinkling of fried shallots on top.
It was hard to decide what to get from all the options, but I choose the prawn salad which includes organic soba noodles with prawns, tofu, shredded nori, avocado with a creamy chilli sesame dressing. It’s a deliciously fresh noodle salad with crunchy prawns and a spicy kick from the dressing.
I have slight food envy when I see Charm’s chicken burger, which is not the typical one you’d find at a local burger joint but one that is Japanese in style. It has a piece of juicy flame grilled marinated chicken stuck between Turkish bread with a miso maple sauce. She offers me a bite and it’s amazing with the teriyaki-style marinade on the chicken and the sweet sauce. I saw lots of people ordering this and I can see why it’s a popular dish with the patrons!
The onigiri rice ball salad is an interesting pick-and-mix dish of sorts. You choose either a vegie or tuna onigiri and also a combination of the home made salads available in the counter window. I was expecting an ordinary onigiri – a triangle of rice with seaweed wrapped around it, but the tuna onigiri actually comes toasted on the outside so that the rice is crisp and held together without the seaweed. We pick up to 3 salads – a Japanese potato salad, a bean and carrot salad and a brown rice salad – and it actually turns out to be quite a healthy and substantial lunch. The salads are so fresh and delicious and I can’t help but keep picking at them.
We didn’t get to try the desserts in the refrigerated cabinet but there were some interesting mochi and green tea based desserts in there. Next time I’m in Melbourne, I won’t hesitate to come back here for a cheap and tasty feed, and also to try out their Japanese desserts!
Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe
620 Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph +61 3 9620 9548
Open Monday to Saturday, 10am – 8.30pm