Mabu Mabu – Big Esso, Federation Square, Melbourne.

Some international cuisines may be a primary or at least a secondary attraction to a destination – France, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia – don’t you think of the wonderful food you will have if you were to travel to these places? While it is estimated only 26% of people who have never visited associate Australia with good food and wine, for those who have visited, Australia is ranked as number two out of the top 15 gastronomic nations. Australia has a fantastic food scene that is mostly derived from migrant cultures and yet there seems to be few Indigenous restaurants in Australia. Mabu Mabu – The Big Esso- is one restaurant celebrating Indigenous foods with creativity.

I have been looking around for an Indigenous restaurant for a few months now and finding there are not many around. I was in Melbourne for just one day as I had been on a cruise which disembarked there and my flight was not until later in the evening. I found Mabu Mabu – The Big Esso – was opened and thought this would be the perfect day to visit as I could take my time enjoying the food – There was one problem I didn’t think about, as mentioned I had just come off a cruise – do you know how much one eats on a cruise!

Jim Barry Riesling – AU$14 per glass.

We start with a glass of Jim Barry Riesling, a drop that hails from the Clare Valley in South Australia. It is really crisp and smooth. I know we are all mostly Sauvignon Blanc drinkers these days, but I have been returning to Rieslings and Chardonnays recently and enjoying the change.

Saltbush and pepperberry fried crocodile, smoked oyster aioli – AU$26

I really don’t want to answer the question what does crocodile taste like? With the typical answer a cross between chicken and fish but seriously, it does! The texture is firm yet tender and flakes like fish with a milder sweeter flavour than chicken. The pepperberry crumb coating is not overly spicy nor is there a strong oyster flavour in the aioli. Combined they are a hit with me!

Emu liver pate, hibiscus pickle, spiced ero (bellfruit), fried damper – AU$26

I couldn’t stop marvelling over the colour of the emu pâté. I am familiar with pâté having a pink to brown to grey colouring, but this was a greenish-blue, just like the colour of an emu’s neck and head or an emu’s egg. The accompaniments, hibiscus pickle and spiced ero, were interesting flavours. The hibiscus pickle had a light tomato-ish flavour, while the spiced ero a hint of onion.

Wild boar, tea grass, pig’s blood, warrigal greens, labneh – AU$43

The wild boar was so tasty and not dry like some shredded roast meats can be. The labneh, with it’s mild sour and salty flavour, made me want to just wrap this up kebab style.

This is where I felt bad. We could seriously not finish the food – and since we were on a flight in a few hours, we couldn’t ask for a takeaway container – I would have loved having the leftovers for dinner!

Do yo think Indigenous food should be more celebrated? Are there any Australian Indigenous restaurants in your region you suggest I should try? Have you tried crocodile, emu or wild boar?

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Sherry says:

    wow the colour of that emu pate is a bit offputting:) Never tasted crocodile but I must try it some day. Yes i agree about Riesling, not that i drink anymore but it’s nice to change it up! cheers sherry

  2. I haven’t heard of this restaurant but it looks great! What did the emu liver pate taste like? Was it strong or mild like a chicken liver pate? 🙂

    1. Stronger than a chicken liver paté and slightly more grainy. LOL.

  3. Hyfee says:

    Kangaroo pizza at The Rocks… yum!

  4. MaryLuz says:

    This was interesting to read. I’ve never tried indigenous food before but would definitely try it next time.

    The fried crocodile 😳 that’s quite exotic…. I’ll still try it 🤣

  5. Hyfee says:


  6. Merryn Galluccio says:

    I would love to dine here as Mabu Mabu has certainly become reknown as a good native restaurant. What a divine way to offer crocodile, which I do adore with its light and fresh flavour. Saltbush reminds me of journeying through the Hay plains and I smiled when it became a popular condiment. I had boar sausage on a pizza in Darwin last year and found the flavour stronger than beef but quite unique. Thanks for sharing your dining experience.

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