Category Archives: Chai

Rice Workshop, Raw Trader

Rice Workshop
238 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 3 9650 6663
Rice Workshop on Urbanspoon

rice workshop

Sometimes all I’m after is a quick no-frills tasty meal that is easy on the wallet and super satisfying. Rice Workshop is one such place where the food ticks all those boxes for me.

The concept is simple: choose your staple of rice or noodles, add on the seasoned meat and toppings (ontama egg for me), and if that’s not enough, pick from a selection of deep fried goodies to complete the experience.

beefbowl
Regular kimchi beef $8.50, add ontama egg

My comfort meal at Rick Workshop is the kimchi beef bowl with an added soft-boiled egg. The thin slices of fatty beef are marinated in a sweet soy with slight hints of maple. Paired with slightly spicy vinegary kimchi, it’s a sucker of a combination that gets to me each time. An ooey-gooey egg is cracked over the ricebowl and coats everything with a gelatinous slurpy egg blanket, yum!

Complimentary sides of pickled ginger or radish are available and I always pile my bowl high with the radish. The piquant crunch is irresistible!

A simple soft serve of matcha or black sesame is available for those needing to round up the meal with something sweet.

Raw Trader
10 Sutherland Street
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 4 7869 2008
Raw Trader on Urbanspoon

raw trader

For myself, I was hankering for a healthier sweet treat after gobbling up my meal. I crossed a couple blocks to Raw Trader, a healthy café situated near Short Stop Donuts that offers raw, unprocessed, vegan dishes. I indulged in a chai “cheesecake” and enjoyed the fragrant hints of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. The texture of the cake was creamily smooth and made for a wonderful guilt-free way to finish up my day in the city.

chai cheesecake
Chai cheesecake $10

Tummy satisfaction doesn’t always need to be in the form of a fancy degustation. I find that simple pleasures of delicious fuss-free food warms the soul. What’s your go-to meal for a quick soothing?

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Filed under Asian, CBD, Chai, Japanese, Korean, Raw, Sweets

Ora Cafe

Ora Café
156 Pakington Street
Kew
Vic 3101
+61 3 9855 2002
Ora Cafe on Urbanspoon

ora

Fakebooo invited me along to brunch with his colleagues one day. Since we used to work together and we were all in the same industry, I decided to crawl out of my well and do some socialising. The venue was Ora, which both Fakebooo and I last visited at least 2 years ago (on separate occasions). I remembered that the brunch fare was excellent and Fakebooo enjoyed it too, commending the coffee.

coffee
Piccolo latte $3.80

Ora occupies a small space and patrons spill over onto the pavement to dine along the narrow strip. Fortunately for us, we managed to get a table inside and avoided the initial fat raindrops, followed by warm dense humidity. The menu is small but unique with interesting dishes incorporated from Asian flavours, such as sesame prawn toast and spiced tiffin eggs. The coffee is from a roaster I’ve not come across: Maker, and that morning, Fakebooo and I enjoyed our piccolo lattes made from Ethiopia “Konga”, a single origin which boasted notes of blueberry, florals and peach. The blueberry was indeed prominent on the first taste, which mellowed softly into the summer sweetness of the stone fruit.

chai, hotchoc
(Top) Mork hot chocolate $4
(Bottom) Chai $4

Roen, Jac and Jean carpooled to get to the café and as soon as they arrived they swiftly ordered their drinks. Hot chocolate for Jean, a chai latte for Jac and a citrus fizzy for Roen. They too settled quickly on their food choices and once our order was placed we got cracking with our exchange of gossip and ranting. The kitchen service did take a little while but our conversations had us killing time anyway.

eggs n baconprawn toast
(Right) 2 scrambled eggs on sourdough $9, add The Melbourne Pantry bacon $5
(Left) prawn toast – sesame, avocado whip, lime, egg $20

Roen and Jean customised their breakfasts with a simple eggs and bacon on toast, with Roen getting his egg poached and Jean opting for scrambled. Jac had the prawn toasts which, I assume, Ora borrowed the idea from the popular yumcha dish. Unlike the petite dim sum version, Jac’s dish came as a thick sandwich. While I thought the combination of poached egg, avocado mousse and prawn toast a little odd, Jac apparently didn’t find any fault and devoured it without complaint.

salmonbeetroot
(Left) Salmon gravlax – lime, beetroot, cucumber, rye $17, add poached egg $3
(Right) Beetroot on toast – goats curd, beetroot crisp, torn egg $17

Fakebooo’s brunch of rye bread, house-cured salmon with added poached egg was delicate and a perfect dish for summer. I couldn’t go past the combination of beetroot with goats cheese and the beetroot chips were a wonderful way to add texture to the dish.

Ora turned out to be just as good as I’d remembered. Portions while not gargantuan, are not stingy either and the food reflects a well-thought blend of ingredients and flavours.

 

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Filed under Brunch, Chai, Coffee, Kew

Mr Hendricks

Mr Hendricks
469 Whitehorse Road
Balwyn
Vic 3103
+61 3 9830 7579
Mr Hendricks Cafe on Urbanspoon
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It’s great having a dog. The kitchen floor never needs cleaning and table scraps don’t go to waste. Oh, it also gives me an excuse to have doggy brunch dates. I had a lovely catch up with Ashley at Industry Beans last year with The Sausage meeting Chai and recently, Daisy and I arranged for brunch so that The Sausage could finally get to meet Cupcake.

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With few options down Daisy’s burbs, we decided to check out a relatively newcomer in the brunch scene. Mr Hendricks looks smallish from the entrance but extends into a brilliant spacious dog-friendly courtyard.

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(Left) Chai latte $4 (Right) Magic $3.50

While poodle and dachshund sniffed each other out, Daisy’s partner, Ricky, had coffee and Daisy had a soy chai latte.The beans are by Padre and Ricky thought it was a pretty good cuppa. Prana chai is used, with whole spices and tea leaves steeped to infuse into a spicy nutty milky tea. I had a simple orange juice.

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House toasted granola with strawberry and rhubarb compote and vanilla yoghurt $12.50

The Angmoh had the only breakfasty dish amongst us. The granola came with 2 mounds of yoghurt and rhubarb compote. The toppings, while generous, were excessive and caused the entire dish to be too gluggy.

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Breakfast cassolet with confit duck, Toulouse sausage, persillade, ham hock and fried eggs $21

Ricky had a slight kitchen mishap in his dish of confit duck cassolet. A few bites into his dish had him discovering a blond hair. A waitress niftily swept up his dish, apologized profusely and had the kitchen prepare a fresh one. Despite the accident, the dish was excellent, rich in flavour and protein heavy from the legumes, sausage and duck.

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Crispy eggs with smoked ham hock, sweet potato puree, fennel, radish, walnuts, sourdough toast $18

Daisy has a soft spot for sweet potato and ordered crumbed poached eggs on sweet potato puree. The poached eggs spilled their yolks onto the orange mash, and with the tender flavourful pork hock, made a beautiful brunch item. IMG_9368
Tempura soft shell crab burger with fennel, radish, cabbage, avocado, kewpie $16.50

I went for the softshell crab burger. The minimal use of kewpie mayo was well-appreciated on my part and the thinly sliced cabbage and fennel helped cut through the richness of the crab.

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Brioche French toast with vanilla poached pears, caramel sauce, double cream $14.50

Dining with Daisy meant that we could indulge in a sweet dish. We shared the brioche French toast, which appeared as a slab of buttery eggy bread, drenched in caramel sauce and topped with sweet poached pears. I loved the texture of the bread but found the overall dish way to sweet. Daisy, however, thought it was just right. She certainly has a sweet tooth! As we ate, the dogs carried on with their canine shenanigans, sniffing about and batting puppy eyes for a drop of food. I came prepared with milky chew bones and that kept them entertained for a while.

Brunch was a lovely affair with both humans and canine counterparts enjoying every minute of it. I wish more cafes will have dog-friendly spaces that are not just limited to tables on pavements.

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Filed under Balwyn, Brunch, Chai, Coffee

Little Big Sugar Salt

Little Big Sugar Salt
385 Victoria Street
Abbotsford
Vic 3067
+61 3 9427 8818
Little Big Sugar Salt - LBSS Cafe on Urbanspoon

LBSS

Smack in the middle of Victoria Road, Richmond, is the very last place you’d imagine to find Little Big Sugar Salt (LBSS). This café is way too hipster and offers way too many options for the straightforward “I-only-want-this-and-want-it-now” Asian-food-loving crowd. Craving for pho? There’s I Love Pho 264. In the mood for roast duck on rice, well there’s Pacific House. Step foot into LBSS and wait, you have to ask yourself if you’re really hungry and if you want something savoury or sweet. And I can imagine looking at the drinks menu makes these instant-gratification types want to chug migraine pills for the impending vertigo.

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I for one, love all of it. Because there are times where I don’t know what I want (uh huh, that does happen) and there are times where I’m after some jazzed up fancy caffeine (coffee with home-made almond milk) or super healthy hot chocolate (made of dates, almond milk and cocoa). And best of all, I can slowly take my time to make up my mind and enjoy all of it in the cosy living room interior of LBSS.

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Chai latte $4.5

The morning I was there, I was comfortably tucked into a little nook, typing away as I sipped on my milky chai. It could use more spice but with no one within arm’s length nudging for more elbow room and a calm air of silence around me, I was content.

GFeekakes
Glutenfreekakes – millet, sweet potato + currant cakes with cashew cream, chilli jam, wilted kale and eggs $17

I did have to deliberate when it came to choosing what I wanted to eat. EVERYTHING appealed, from the acai granola, to the berry pancakes, and the rainbow veg salad and even to the calorie-bursting, artery-clogging monster of a triple decker croque monsieur. In the end, I stuck with the glutenfreekakes and didn’t look back.

It was excellent. The vegetable fritters, made with sweet potato and millet were packed with natural sweetness and spiced up with fennel and anise. Hidden amongst the grated veg were currants that gave bursts of berry and tang. The wilted kale provided a splendid colour contrast, together with the spill of molten yellow yolk. Binding all of it together was a cashew puree, splendidly thick and creamy.

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I’m going to have to head back to LBSS and slowly work my way through their menu, both drinks and food. And one day, I promise, I will tackle the Dr. Ron Swanson.

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Filed under Abbotsford, Brunch, Chai

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie and Grind

Two Little Pigs Charcuterie and Grind
146 Sydney Road
Brunswick
Vic 3056
+61 3 9939 4042
Two Little Pigs Charcuterie and Grind on Urbanspoon

TLP

Fakebooo, Ashley and I arranged a triple date over brunch at Two Little Pigs on a fine Saturday. Situated in hipster Brunswick, the café is marked by a nondescript doorway. Don’t let the small space fool you, for beyond the narrow interior with hanging meats and sausages lies a very cosy courtyard which comfortably housed our party of 6.

lattepiccolo and chai
(Left) Latte $3.80
(Right Top) Chai latte $4
(Right bottom) Piccolo latte $3.80

A variety of hot drinks were ordered across the table. The house blend coffee was rather strong and harsh and kinda reminded me of traditional Italian-style espressos. It did round off gently into soft praline notes. The chai smelt and tasted strongly off cinnamon.

bubble and squeak
Bubble & Squeak – poached free range eggs, tomato chutney, chicpea fritter of braised beef, caramelised onion, truffle oil and corn kernels $16.50

The menu is exciting and all of us took a while contemplating our choices. For the cholesterol-wary, there are healthy options of porridge, granola or fruit bread. And in case anyone not pork-inclined enters (maybe they don’t get the significance of the café’s name), there are other non-oink items to choose from. Ashley herself had such a dish, (she did get the name of the café, in case you were wondering). Her bubble and squeak was delicious and comforting, drawing mmms of approval with every mouthful. I avoided it like the plaque though; it contained corn.

ham and pea
Pea & ham – crisp roasted pork belly, poached free range eggs, green pea veloute served with sourdough toast $16.50

Fakebooobooo and I settled for the dish of ham and peas. The pea puree was stunningly moss green and provided a colourful and sweet contrast against the rich pork. Every bite of the pork crackle was like a symphony of crescendo staccatoed-quavers.

waldorf
Pork belly waldorf – roast pork belly, celery, royal gala, granny smith, walnuts, egg yolk mayo, preserved lemon $16.90

Fakeboooo chose a Waldorf salad. It wasn’t the healthiest of salads but boy was it the tastiest. The mayo was rich in the taste of yolk and thinned down by a hint of tangy vinegar. The vegetables were fresh and crisp and the pork tender and unctuous.

big breakfastfries
(Left) Two little pigs – free range eggs, thick cut bacon, san jose chorizo, duck fat mushrooms, spinach, hashed potatoes, apple chutney $19.50
(Right) Duck fat fries – parmesan and tarragon mustard aioli $7.50

The boys (Fakebooo and FBB don’t count) went predictable with a big breakfast. For those wondering why the café is called 2 Little Pigs and not 3 Little Pigs, this is the reason why. That 3rd little piggy sacrificed itself for this very dish to provide a humongous platter of bacon and chorizo. Fear not, it did not die alone nor in vain, for all that meat was accompanied by a mount of mushies, spinach and hash. Brad honoured its sacrifice by devouring every bit of it and leaving his plate sparkling clean. The Angmoh was defeated by its enormity and after Fakebooo chastised him for not finishing up the bacon he helped himself to the leftovers which almost made his eyes pop.

doughcakes
Nutella doughcakes with strawberry butterscotch ice cream $13.50

We also shared duck fat fries tossed with grated parmaggiano and oregano and a dessert of Nutella doughcakes. These pancakes were indeed doughy but were extremely fluffy with a crumpet-like texture. They were filled with Nutella and served with a berry ice cream and petite cinnamon sugar balls.

There are many places that I write about in this blog and return to, but you know a place is a true gem when a return visit is mandatory. Two Little Pigs is such a place; with its enormous selection of succulent pork-based dishes and a few non-porcine delights as well, there is a lot of potential to explore new territory in repeat visits and I for one shall be back sooner rather than later.

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Filed under Brunch, Brunswick, Chai, Coffee

Mart 130 Cafe

Mart 130 Cafe
107A Canterbury Road
Middle Park
Vic 3206
+61 3 9690 8831
Mart 130 on Urbanspoon

mart

It’s not often I crave for a proper breakfast on a weekday morning. My usual wakeup meal is a green smoothie or a steaming bowl of honeyed cinnamon porridge. I found myself wanting something crunchy one Friday morning and after taking The Sausage for his morning off-lead run at Albert Park, I headed towards Mart 130, the famous tram stop café, with The Sausage still in tow.

granolabreakfast
Crunchy granola topped with poached or fresh fruit and house made vanilla yoghurt $11.90

Well-known for their corn fritters, there’s also a decent variety of egg dishes and sweet breakfasts. I had only one thing on my mind that morning and wouldn’t settle for anything else. My granola came wonderfully crunchy with toasted oats, sunflowers and pepitas. The poached fruit of prunes, berries and pear added a delicious sweetness, counteracted by tangy rhubarb. All of this was bound together with creamy vanilla yoghurt and made it a healthy delectable breakfast.

chai
House brewed Chai Late with soy milk and honey $5

I nursed on my ginger-spiced chai latte as commuters from tramline 96 hopped on and off. Breakfast at Mart 130 was a pleasant affair with amicable warm service and makes a great option for a quick morning bite.

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Filed under Brunch, Chai, Middle Park

Patch

Patch
32 Bendigo Street
Richmond
Vic 3121
+61 3 9029 0328
Patch on Urbanspoon

patch

Food fads come and go and they all claim to incorporate healthy eating, promote weight loss and boost natural euphoria. The paleo way of life revolves around the consumption of wild animals and plants and avoids foods that man couldn’t properly digest during the Paleolithic times. This means plenty of vegetables, fruit and meat and no dairy, grain or highly processed foods. The paleo diet is often referred to as the “caveman diet”.

The Melbournian brunch scene is so competitive these days that there are cafes option to suit the many varied dietary needs of the Melbournian masses. There’s gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, raw and with Patch Café, there’s paleo.

drinks
(Top) Anushka soy chai $4
(Bottom) Piccolo latte $3.80

Housed in the refurbished Channel Nine building, Patch Café occupies a small but long strip of space. There are minimal indoor seats and maximum outdoor dining is achieved along the corridor, with heaters and warm throws to keep patrons comfortable. Inside, a cute tiled roof hangs over the kitchen, reminding me of the biscuit house from Hansel and Gretel.

After a 40 minute wait on a Saturday morning, The Angmoh and I myself were fortunate to score a table inside. As we warmed ourselves up with drinks, Anushka soy chai latte for myself and a Code Black piccolo latte for him, we checked out the menu. Most of the menu is paleo, although there are non-paleo options for those who like their bread the way it is or simply can’t do without dairy.

roofsweet potato fritters
Poached eggs with sourdough $10
Add avocado $4
Add sweet potato fritter $4

The Angmoh couldn’t decide on what to have and so constructed his brekkie with poached eggs and smashed avocado on toast, with a side of sweet potato fritters. The Angmoh, being a “food dob” (opposite of food snob) thought he was getting potato fritters that had been sweetened. Oh deary me…

baked eggspaleo bread
(Left) Baked eggs – tomato, chipotle and chorizo $15
(Right) Paleo bread (by Patch)

Back to the food, his dish was well-executed in each element and I really liked his sweet potato fritters. The 2 of us are believers of “1 slice of bread per egg” and thought the lone slice could use a partner. I was in the mood for something comforting that wintry morning and settled for baked eggs. Patch café does a fantastic version with the eggs retaining a gooey yolk that slicked onto the rich tangy sugo. Once again, the single piece of sourdough was just inadequate to mop up all that sauce. Curious about the paleo bread, I ordered a serve. The paleo version uses almond and tapioca flour and cider vinegar and had a dense and far from chewy texture, almost tasting like an unsweetened cake. I liked it.

acai cheesecake
Raw acai berry cheesecake (by A2G)

I made away with a raw acai cheesecake to savour for afternoon tea and while it lacked the smoothness of real cream cheese, tasted pretty close to the real deal. The berries certainly provided great flavour.

I support the idea of eating less processed foods and having a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. However, I do love my carbs and can’t say no to biting into chewy sourdough, twirling a fork of pesto-coated spaghetti or drizzling gravy all over fragrant Jasmine rice. I suppose it does boil down to discipline and moderation and Patch provides delicious options for those on a tight caveman diet.

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Filed under Brunch, Chai, Coffee, Paleo, Richmond