Shop 5/111 Cecil Street
South Melbourne VIC 3205
+61 3 9696 5704
It seems like Melbourne in February has been been hotter than those photos of Kate Moss and Rhianna. Not that I was here for most of last week to experience the heat in person (vicariously through Facebook and Twitter is enough for me, thanks). Nevertheless, I could still remember the day Daisy and I went to the Swiss Festival a couple of weekends ago in sweltering heat. The sun’s wrath may have deterred a lot of patrons from attending but we soldiered on and left with a can of Choclo, waffles with strawberries and chocolate, a raclette and an interview with a journo from a German online magazine (you can pretend to understand German while gawking at our faces here). After we had enough of the sun, we decided to grab some food at Dahon Gourmet Tea Lounge, a Filipino restaurant-slash-tea lounge in South Melbourne.
Now I don’t much about Filipino food – okay, I lie. I know NOTHING. Serves me right for not buying Adrian’s book, hey (Adrian, I promise I’ll buy it soon!). But I do know that Dahon has been popular with the Melbourne blogosphere for quite some time now so it was only right that I suss it out that weekend. It was pretty quiet when we arrived, which meant that our teas arrived at our table only a few minutes after I placed our order at the counter.
While Daisy went for the citrus tea, I chose the apple tea ($5.20 each). Our teas were a godsend on such a hot day – and the fact that they both tasted delicious didn’t hurt either!
But back to the skewers. Because we ordered a pork roll, we decided to go all chicken with the skewers. There were two kinds of chicken skewers, the chicken adobo and the chicken inasal. I didn’t know what the difference between the two were so we ordered both. While they were both very good, I decided that I liked the tanginess of the inasal better than the abodo, which was sweeter.
Then came our BBQ pork roll ($8.70), split in half for sharing. The roll, which I thought looked a bit like a Vietnamese pork roll, might not have looked imposing but it was filling. It tasted delicious too – the pork pieces were coated in a lovely, sweet marinade and I loved how it tasted against the buttered bread.
At this point, the place started filling up with Filipino customers – probably looking for a post-church meal. We had ordered our dessert along with our roll and skewers but it still hadn’t arrived, even after we had long-finished our savouries. I got up to ask the girl at the counter if our halo halo was on the way and she replied in the affirmative.
It did take them another 15 minutes or so but finally, our halo halo ($7.80) arrived. The pretty-looking structure, which made me think of that Cat Empire song, was made out of shaved ice and reminded me of the Malaysian es kacang.
It tasted just as good too. Our version contained a medley of nata de coco, palm seeds, jackfruit, coconut, mangoes and jellies. Delicious.
Our last dessert (which we ordered at the spur of the moment) was the Sans Rival cashew meringue cake ($3-something). It was stickier than the meringues I grew up with and obviously nuttier (a good thing!). I did find it a bit on a sweet side though.
Dahon is a much-welcomed addition to South Melbourne’s brunch scene. There’s only so many times I can drink lattes and eat eggs before I get over it so I’m glad that there is a place I can enjoy a post-market pork baguette and tea in. I’m not sure if Dahon’s food is super-authentic, however I reckon the massive influx of Filipino patrons is testament to Dahon’s food being on the awesome side.