139 Swanston St
Gopals is a favourite that I’ve eaten at countless times, but have never blogged. It’s a loft situated up a flight of stairs on Swanston Street, offering relief from the daily hustle and bustle of the city. On our most recent visit, we found that the entire space has been redecorated with lovingly hand-decorated walls, new paintings, and even new furniture and light fixtures, giving the place a fresh new look.
|Vegetarian Lasagne ($7)|
If it’s there, Chris always has to get his vegetarian lasagne ($7). A generous slab of pasta is heaved onto the plate, and it tastes as good (?) as it looks – chewy cheesy top, and layers of slippery pasta sandwiching a mixture of vegetables, including mushroom, zucchini, and of course, eggplant. I think Chris summed this lasagne up perfectly – “you can almost forget that it has no meat in it, and once you remember, you don’t mind at all.”
|Bean Salad ($3.8)|
Not only is Gopals a prime spot to get a hearty vegetarian feed, but it also has plenty of lighter options too, such as a choice of 3 or 4 salads each day. On the night we visited, I chose the bean salad ($3.80), which is probably the most filling of all the salads they make. It’s fresh, it’s zesty, and there are at least 4 types of beans in this salad, along with an array of herbs and vegetables. I have noticed that the serving size tends to vary depending on who’s serving but at this price, I can’t complain!
There are also several meal deals available that cater to practically every appetite, and none of them more than 14 dollars. I think the most exciting thing about eating at Gopals is the daily-changing menu; you never know what’s going to be on offer, but you can always be sure that it’s tasty.
Rating: 13.5/20 – best vegetarian in town?
2) Om Vegetarian
Level 1, 28 Elizabeth Street
What do you do when Crossways is closed? Go to Om Vegetarian of course! The food is all you can eat, for $6.50 a person, but you have to pay extra if you want dessert. I’m going to have to admit right here that I don’t like Om nearly as much as Crossways but, it’s definitely not a bad substitute.
|Soya nuggets, Kidney Beans, Rice, Naan, Pickles ($6.5)|
The night we visited, the curries on offer were red kidney beans, and soya nuggets, served with fried rice, naan, and pickles. Admittedly the curries were a bit on the ordinary side, but they were definitely pleasant and something I would be happy to eat again. The naan was soft and warm, and a lovely lady walked around offering us more from a basket. And then there are the pickles. I don’t know if they’re meant to be that way but they were saltier than salt! Made me wish that I didn’t pick up a whole chunk and put it in my mouth. There’s a no refill policy on the pickles but I honestly doubt anyone minds.
Rating: 12/20 – open for dinner
3) Sushi Monger
17/ 309 Bourke St
When did sushi get expensive? What used to be a cheap snack in my early high school days has turned into a meal that costs almost as much as eating at a restaurant. Thankfully, so many years later, the prices at Sushi Monger remain the same - $5 for two rolls and miso, or $6.8 for three rolls and miso. There’s of course a decently sized range of noodles and rice but most people come here for the sushi deals.
|Teriyaki Chicken, Salmon, Spicy Tuna (3 rolls & miso for $6.5)|
Ok, I lied. The sushi here (salmon and cucumber, teriyaki chicken, spicy tuna) isn’t actually vegetarian, but there are plenty of vegetarian options on offer (avocado, tofu, egg, seaweed, and so forth). The sushi here is fantastically fresh (due to its high turnover rate) and flavoursome, and the rice is vinegared perfectly, something you don’t see often enough at sushi shops.
|Miso Soup (3 rolls & miso for $6.5)|
No that isn’t dishwater. It’s actually a lovely, cloudy bowl of miso that comes with every sushi combo. I’m a little disappointed that this version of miso doesn’t contain seaweed or tofu, but the flavour is nice, and more importantly, not too salty!
Everyone knows that when it comes to keeping fantastic places like this a secret, Melbournians are about as bad as that gossipy girl in year 8. So even though it’s in a small alleyway, the lines are out the door from 12pm every day. Combined with the smallness of the shop, takeaway is definitely the better option.
Rating: 14/20 – because everyone loves sushi