Vanilla slice, banh mi and fried ice-cream: Adam Liaw and Poh Ling Yeow on seven Australian dishes worth travelling for

Australia does not have a single national dish. It’s more of a buffet that is statewide and includes coast-to-coast food, snacks, and dining experiences that are a reflection of the diverse history of the country of peoples, cultures, and languages.

In their latest show, Adam and Poh’s Great Australian Bites, two former MasterChef Australia contestants and cookbook authors, Adam Liaw and Poh Ling Yeow, took to the road for a few months, consuming their way through Australia’s restaurants, bain maries, and local bakeries. Here, they discuss the highlights of their journey.

1. AB From Blue and White Cafe | Adelaide, South Australia

Adam states: What the rest of Australia calls an HSP (halal snack pack), Adelaide calls an AB (don’t ask what it means. Please [editor’s note: we asked and regret we asked and regret it. Every Adelaidean will confirm that it came from the city decades before the HSP epidemic swept all over the country. I can certainly remember eating the snacks in Adelaide over 30 years ago.

The first AB is believed to have come directly from Blue and White on O’Connell Street. Ask the owner, Lorenzo, or his mother, Maria, to explain how they came up with the idea, and they’ll gladly assist. There’s a fierce local dispute between Blue and White and the adjacent Red and White (real name: North Adelaide Burger Bar) about which is the better choice. Try both and then make your own decision.

2. Slice of vanilla taken from The Loaf and Lounge | Camperdown, Victoria

Poh claims: The handmade puff pastry is perfectly caramelized (a huge steak from mine) and is sandwiched with custard that’s well-structured and soft. It’s then topped off with a sweet raspberry-scented frosting – a delightful surprise.

3. Dinner at Tali Wiru | Yulara, Northern Territory

Adam states: This fine-dining experience takes place outdoors under the desert skies as you enjoy watching the sunset on Uluru along with Kata Tjuta. The scenery is stunning. However, the food is equally spectacular, perfectly cooked, and enhanced with Indigenous ingredients from all over Australia.

4. Banh Mi from Miss Van’s Canberra, ACT

Poh explains: Everything sings with the utmost vitality and depth due to being constructed from scratch, and it’s perfectly balanced when assembled – which I believe is at the very least half of the process of creating a great sandwich.

5. Dinner or lunch in the Hogget Kitchen | Warragul, Victoria

Adam states: Chef Trevor Perkins offers a taste of the Gippsland region by sourcing all of his ingredients from local producers and farms. He employs the traditional methods of curing, picking, and preserving to produce dishes that are refined but not delicious.

6. Laksa of Chok’s Place | Darwin, Northern Territory

Poh claims: This laksa is an established dish that is a staple in Darwin because it’s rich, yet nevertheless delicious and deliciously layered with flavor. It’s clear the passion and commitment that is a result of a family-owned business.

7. Fried ice cream from Golden Crown | Ballarat, Victoria

Adam comments: I am an absolute fan of the regional Chinese Australian food. I am in love with it and have fond memories of it from the time I was a young child. It’s a unique cuisine and is as distinct as the Chinese food I used to eat at home, as it’s made from meat and three vegetables. Golden Crown has been open for over 40 years, and it’s the perfect place to make your Chinese Australian food dreams come to life.

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