In our latest edition of Local Knowledge from Melbourne, Australia, Kenneth Meow shares his insider tips to experiencing the Victorian capital. Kenneth is a Hong Kong-born Australian who is impossible to describe in a nutshell. He’s a restaurant owner, community volunteer, philanthropist, strategic advisor, social media consultant, and coffee lover. Phew.
We first ‘met’ Kenneth online, in the wonderful world that is Twitter, after he kindly began sharing Melbourne tips with us soon after we arrived in the city.
Kenneth’s handle, by the way, is @eMeow on Twitter, where he is known for always saying sweet things about people, and celebrating his adopted city and its cafés, restaurants, events, and people. And for putting cat’s ears and whiskers at the end of his tweets. We quickly became Twitter pals and had to meet.
We met Kenneth in the flesh at Port Melbourne at his fantastic Malaysian restaurant, Omah’s, where — in between tucking into plates of tasty soft shell crab, authentic chicken satay, sublime salted egg mud crab, melt-in-your-mouth beef rendang, and, um, a few bottles of wine — we did this interview.
The fact that we were licking our fingers a lot and Kenneth was continually clinking our glasses and saying cheers explains the brevity of this short and sweet interview.
Local Knowledge — Kenneth Meow from Melbourne
Q. What do you most love about what you do?
A. Everyday I get to travel around Melbourne, as well as Victoria, looking at people’s ideas and helping them to execute them. I love all the different people that I encounter — everybody from Olympians to firemen. I love meeting new people of all ages, and sharing thoughts and ideas with them.
Q. Why should people come to Melbourne?
Q. Three words to describe Melbourne?
A. Cultured, innovative, and addicted to coffee.
Q. Three ways to describe the people?
A. Adventurous, easygoing, and friendly.
Q. Top recommendations for visitors to Melbourne?
Q. Best souvenir from Melbourne?
A. A Keep Cup — it’s a take-away container for coffee to use instead of a paper cup. It’s washable, so it’s environmentally friendly, and it was made in Melbourne and designed by a local. It’s sold in coffee shops. (You can also buy them online here.)
Q. Must-do Melbourne eating experiences?
A. Go to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival; go to Victoria Street, Richmond to eat Asian food and soak up the atmosphere (my favourite place is Co Do for Vietnamese food — the MSG levels are lower there!); and eat in St Kilda, where there’s everything from traditional Greek and Italian to new Asian places like Golden Fields and Lau’s Family Kitchen.
Q. Your favourite spots for a drink in Melbourne?
A. Have a piccolo* anywhere in the sunshine, sip a local wine at a cellar door on the Mornington Peninsula, and drink Victorian wines at one of our jazz festivals, such as the jazz and blues festival at Eltham, a unique suburb of Melbourne, which has a wonderful bluestone church.
Q. An essential thing to know before coming to Melbourne?
A. In the summer, you’ll need to bring a jacket, and in the winter, you’ll still need to have short sleeves — because in summer it can be cold and rainy and in winter it can be warm. Melbourne is famous for its four seasons in one day, so it’s best to wear layered clothes.
Q. Most important phrases to learn?
A. “Do you wanna go for coffee?” and “Why don’t we go for a chat and bite?”
Q. Any other advice?
A. Don’t worry about your Australian money — our notes here are washable. And smile in Melbourne and you’ll get a smile back.
* a ‘piccolo’, also called a piccolo latte, is like the Spanish cafè cortado, an espresso cut with milk, like a mini latte.