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Cuisine Scene: Melbourne's Best Kept Secret

Thursday 18 April 2013

Cuisine Scene: Melbourne's Best Kept Secret

You know that girl you see sometimes on your way to work? She’s always slowly strolling the sidewalk, yoga mat in hand, her perfect hair pulled back into a perfect little bun. You always imagine her sipping on a little LSD - Dandy Soy Latte, get your head out of the gutter - and as you look at your tattered and tired shoes, laces untied, the foam from your train station cappuccino is crusting on your fingers from the spill when you hit the gutter, you can’t help but wonder, ‘why can’t that be me?’

I’ll tell you why - because you have never been to Monk Bodhi Dharma. That’s where she gets her morning latte, I assure you.

Monk Bodhi Dharma is a little brick hideaway in Melbourne’s inner south serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner to those who desire their nourishment sans-guilt, but aren’t willing to compromise quality and of course taste. It is completely vegetarian, but don’t let hinder you carnivorous folk, there’s something for everyone here.

MBD - as all the cool kids call it - is the brainchild of Marwin Shaw, whose vision was to create a space where people felt welcome and nourished, and left with a full belly and a buzz from a great cup-a-joe. Guided by the ethos of Bodhidharma (a monk who was said to have established the branch of Zen Buddhism) he presents an ever-changing healthy menu that borrows from global cuisines. Everything here is approached from a sustainability perspective, no bottles or cans, and you can be assured everything that hits your plate is cruelty free and ethical. 

It seems the most popular dishes in the house on a bustling Saturday morning are: The Avo, with the obvious tossed with feta, chilli and lemon and served on quinoa sourdough, and the Avignon Apple Pancakes which are made from buckwheat and served with raw vanilla bean whipped cream and dehydrated apple chips.

But for those of you looking for a little more grunt in your hangover-healer this Saturday morning, opt for the Umami Mushrooms, a rather decadent mix of creamy king oyster, shitake and Swiss brown mushrooms on house-made pumpkin, spinach, sundried tomato and polenta bread, with a healthy dollop of vegan cashew sour cream on the side. It looks and tastes like a work of art, you will not be disappointed!  


Look for healing teas to get you regrouped and rebalanced, but if you’re in need of some serious warmth to wipe the winter blues, the Marlo Sweetcorn Hotcakes are a delight served with slow roasted cherry tomatoes, house-made pesto and cashew cream. Or the Bodhi Bircher with spices packing spices, pecan and almond chunks and a whopping great spoonful of organic yogurt on top!

Just incase you weren’t already grabbing your keys and running out the door, MBD is also a boutique micro roaster who roast all of their coffee in house, direct trade, seasonal and mostly single estate. These guys really aren’t kidding, they’re real artisans with enough coffee making apparatus to make a coffee nerd cashew cream his pants. This really is the place for the best cup-a-joe in the whole of Balaclava, and you can even get a bag of beans and give it a go at home if that’s what you’re in to.

After charming the masses with their all day breakfasts and lunches, MBD decided to take on the dinner crowds, opening on Friday night serving up a vegan and raw food menu (it’s in vogue) across two sessions, 6.30 and 8.30pm. The entire menu is gluten free as well as animal, egg and dairy free and you can expect some delights like the Pad Thai with organic zucchini noodles, coriander, basil, avocado, lime and activated nuts. Apparently the cannelloni will change your life too.

The boys in the kitchen will tell you that their specialty is definitely the dessert though, the White Chocolate Cheesecake has been crafted from coconut flesh and vanilla on a nut crumble base with clear agave and a thick raspberry sauce… I’m sold.

- Hannah Darling