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Scorcher reviews: Geelong! Here are his highlights

I have a confession to make: I grossly underestimated Geelong.

Previously, when I’d conjure up an image of Geelong, the things that would spring to mind were jellyfish at Eastern Beach, mayors with mohawks and street violence.

But that’s highly unfair of me. That’s just my ignorance fully on display. But I saw the light on a recent trip to G-Town and now I’m a convert. Never did I expect to find so many fantastic restaurants and bars all within a 1km radius; Geelong central, I have now discovered, is the perfect place for a progressive dinner day-trip.

Take a trundle down Little Malop Street, an inner-city pedestrianised strip just a short walk from the station, and you’ll find an array eateries, wine bars and cocktail establishments that wouldn’t feel out of place in trendy Fitzroy. In fact, Little Malop Street is Geelong’s answer to Flinders Lane.

The newest addition to Geelong’s burgeoning dining scene is Sumi, an intimate Asian BBQ restaurant that has echoes of the yakitori joints of Japan.

‘Sumi’ means ‘charcoal’ in Japanese and sumi is definitely is king at Sumi.

“We use the finest charcoal we can get our hands on to use with the hibachi grill,” co-owner Alex Pan tells me as I’m perched at the bar.

“It has a huge effect on the flavour.”

While the name and look is Japanese, and there’s a decent selection of sake on offer, Sumi isn’t in a monogamous relationship with Japanese cuisine; the menu puts itself about all over South East Asia. There are flavours and tastes from Thailand to China to Malaysia and even the US.

The concise menu is divided into three sections – starters, skewered, share – a triptych of items that can be thrown on the barbie. Let’s face it: who doesn’t get immense pleasure from chucking stuff on the barbie?

The mushroom and pork dumplings are a must. Instead of the pork being housed in a gelatinous flour skin, it’s delivered between two circles of grilled mushroom and the result is a smoky, juicy nuclear reactor that erupts in your gob.

On the skewered list are dishes like dainty whole quail with corn, grapes and charred leek; baby squid with chilli miso and ink; king prawns with coriander and garlic chives and chicken meatballs with egg yolk and spring onion.

Bigger items include pork ribs with black bean sauce, chicken Maryland with fried okra and half chicken with yuzu yogurt.

If you’re keen to do foodie’s day trip to G-Town, I’ve got an itinerary that will make your head fall off. Take the train from the city – it’s is cheap and quick – and the Little Malop dining precinct is stumbling distance from the station.

Geelong, I need to apologise to you. I had you all wrong. It’s so pleasing to see the bayside city has traded Molotov cocktails for swish cocktail bars.

Scorcher’s ‘your head will fall off’ tour of Geelong:

  • Meet your mates and start with a cocktail at 18th Amendment (82A Little Malop St), an award-winning speakeasy bar hidden behind an mysterious black door. Try the Boardwalk Empire cocktail.
  • Head across the pedestrianised street for snacks Sober Ramen (85 Little Malop St). Order the mushrooms. They’re incredible. Trust me.
  • Then go for dinner at Sumi (47 Gheringhap St) and have yourself a barbecue feast. (Alternatively, try South American diner Alma, 93-95 Ryrie St).
  •  You might be feeling a little full at this stage but save room for dessert at Armageddon Cakes (64 Malop Street), a fantastic, vintage coffee and cake shop.
  • Finish the night relaxing with a drink in hand at Geelong Cellar Door (97-99 Little Malop St), a stylish wine bar that stocks a vast array of wines produced within the Greater Geelong wine region.

Happy eating.

Check out what Scorcher has been up to on Instagram — @markjdavidson

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