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We are proud to have Big Esso in the Square as they bring Indigenous food and culture back to the banks of Birrarung (Yarra). This River was once an eel breeding ground; where shark, dolphin and stingrays could be found.
This place was a main source of food, hunting, cooking, and ceremony. By sharing food in this place, we hope to bring these stories back to the forefront of our culinary conversations.
’Big Esso’ is an expression in the Torres Strait. It’s a slang term that means ‘the biggest thank you.’ This is what you say when you really want to express your gratitude. When combined, ‘Mabu Mabu & Big Esso’ is what you would say before kicking-off a celebration like no other.
Big Esso is a place to meet friends and strangers. Their mission has always been to make Indigenous foods accessible to a wide audience. You don’t have to have a degustation menu (but they will feed you if you ask). It’s a place anyone can go to and try something uniquely Australian for under $20.
All of their tables are communal, so grab a seat and have a yarn with the people either side of you, listen to their ‘Island Radio’ featuring blak musicians and Australian classics, and order a drink from a list of Indigenous owned businesses, social enterprise brewers, and amazing distillers using Indigenous ingredients.
Expect to find a menu that is full of incredible Indigenous flavours, as well as sustainably caught seafood. They’re bringing to Melbourne the relaxed, very casual dining of Australia’s tropical north. Dig into a bucket of king prawns with crisp native succulents along with a cold beer, and lather them with their house made hot sauces (pineapple hot sauce, green tomato hot sauce, organic sriracha).
You’ll also find traditional Torres Strait dishes like Namas (coconut cured ocean fish), along with tropical painted crayfish. They’re excited to introduce their take on chilli crab – an incredible share plate of blue swimmers in a hot pepperberry sauce with karkalla and Neptune’s beard (seaweed).
Big Esso will also feature amazing vegan dishes. Nornie is on a mission to make yams sexy again. Expect to find spiced kasavas and purple yams, as well as Torres Strait vegan dishes like Sop Sop.