I hope everyone is having a great start to the year. I spent my first week in Melbourne for my cousin’s big Italian wedding and spending time with family. I also managed to discover a few new vegan friendly places and had some amazing eats.
After Marco and I got off the plane in Melbourne we decided to head to Chapel Street, South Yarra. I really wasn’t happy with his funky pink tie that he intended wearing to the wedding. I really wanted him to find something new. But before we could find a new tie I needed to eat. It was lunch time and I was so hungry. The last place I expected to find a delicious vegan friendly place was in this shopping district. However, I came across Spudbar and was really impressed by their healthy take on the humble potato.
I ordered the Chickpea, Pumpkin and Lentil Dahl Spud. This had a legume and pumpkin curry, shredded cabbage, kasundi, carrot and hummus (instead of cucumber yoghurt) over half regular and half sweet potato. It was wholesome, delicious and made mama and baby feel really satisfied.
Later that evening we decided to visit the Vietnamese restaurant Quan 88 at St Kilda. We have been going to this family restaurant for years. My uncle was one of their loyal customers at their Richmond location, but when they did the big move to St Kilda he ended up helping them with their operations. So it was nice to see him and have some good quality Vietnamese.
For entree I ordered the Beancurd & Vegetable Soup which was really flavoursome. For main I order the Vegetarian Curry Hotpot, which had fried soft tofu, eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli bok choy and onions in a light curry sauce, with a side of jasmine rice. I don’t order hotpot usually because I find it quite disappointing, but this one was really good and so filling that even in my pregnant hungry state I couldn’t finish it.
A couple of days later we were taken to a part of Melbourne that I’ve never been to before. Another uncle took us to East St Kilda, where many trendy cafes have popped up in recent times. He took us to one of his favourites Las Chicas. This place prides it’s self on serving local, fresh and sustainable wholesome foods, which is exactly what we found when we stepped in. I really loved their menu which had helpful symbols showing which dishes were vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free.
I ordered Vik’s Vegan Wrap, which had broccoli, organic silken tofu, mixed mushrooms, lettuce, red onions, vegan mayo, sundried tomato hummus, avocado and tomato & coriander salsa, wrapped in a toasted tortilla, with a decaf bonsoy flat white. This wrap was packed full of flavour and lots of healthy goodies. I usually don’t like silken tofu but it was cooked perfectly and the condiments in the wrap also complemented the other ingredients.
Marco had to go back go Brisbane, so the next day my cousins took me out to lunch in Brunswick East. They wanted to take me somewhere with vegan options and organic food for me and gluten free and dairy free options for them. One of my cousins has a few intolerances due to IBS, so she is always on the look out for cafes and restaurants that cater for her needs, which is why I love eating out with her while I’m in Melbourne. East Elevation have a range of creative vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes on their menu. They use seasonal and local produce, as well as organic vegetables. They decor is also beautiful, making you feel like your in a garden courtyard (with aircon).
I ordered the Roasted Eggplant with Tahini, which was served over a pumpkin puree and topped with green beans, moghrabish (Lebanese couscous dish), watercress and toasted pumpkin seeds. This was probably one of the most creative and delicious vegan mains I’ve ever had. I’m now wishing I didn’t live two states away to go back for more.
I had a free day after that so I decided to have a shopping day in the city. My Nonna was very worried about me walking around by myself incase I could fall, so she accompanied me. Funnily enough, she is the one with the walking stick that nearly fell on me in the tram on the way there. When it came time to eat we looked around the lane ways for something I could eat and that didn’t serve pasta. Nonna doesn’t like ordering pasta out, since she can make it better. After no luck of finding a place in the couple of lanes we went down we ended up at Chinatown. I am not a big fan of chinese food, but I do love noodles and dumplings. So when we past Shanghai Street Dumplings, Wontons and Noodle and I saw homemade dumplings and vegetarian dishes so I thought it was a good idea.
I ordered the Vegetable Stir fry Noodles, which had shiitake mushrooms, fungus and boy choy. I really missed noodles so I really enjoyed this dish. My Nonna considers noodles as pasta so she preferred to have a meat dumplings. I ordered her the Panfried Beef Dumplings. I didn’t realise until I saw her struggling to cut her dumpling in half that she was really out of her element. So although I felt at home in an authentic dumpling house, perhaps it wasn’t the best place to bring my 75 year old Nonna.
On my last day I decided to take myself out for an early breakfast before hitting the Melbourne Museum. I searched the net for some vegan friendly cafes in the area and came across Cafe Lua at Carlton. I wasn’t able to access the menu, but the website said they offered vegan and vegetarian options and where gluten free specialists. I was expecting to see a menu with heaps of vegan options but unfortunately I couldn’t see any when I was given the menu at the cafe. However the waitress was really helpful and told me about a couple of dishes that could be altered to be vegan.
I ordered the Smashed Avocado, which was served on sourdough. It was meant to be served with cherry tomatoes and basil but mine came out with chickpeas, which I didn’t mind since I need the extra protein. I also ordered a serve of Roasted Field Mushrooms and the House Smoothie, which had mango, strawberry, almond milk & basil. Everything tasted great, but I was probably expecting too much from this little cafe.
My last meal before I left was at Milkwood in Brunswick East. I have been here before with my cousins and being tight on time we decided to come back again. My cousin with the allergies loves this place as they really do cater well for those with allergies as well as vegans.
This time I ordered the daily special which was Soba Noodles with Panfried Tofu, Eggplant, Mango and a Chilli Vinaigrette and Lemon Ice Tea. On such a hot day this dish was so refreshing and exactly what I needed.
As happy as I am to be back in my own bed, I am a little sad that this is my last trip for a while. I’m not sure when I will travel with the baby but looking forward to sharing with her all my favourite eats when I return to Melbourne.