Category Archives : Cafe

Grain Asian, Hong Kong Cafe in Box Hill Round 2 {Melbourne Review}


I previously wrote about Grain Asian in the Box Hill Central shopping centre. Not much has changed rather than the updated funky dining room with vintage Chinese theme and a very minor price increase on some of the menu items.

For those who haven’t read my old post about Grain Asian, it is a Hong Kong style cafe that serves the typical drinks associated with Hong Kong cafes: Hong Kong tea and coffee, lemon tea, soy milk and their all-day dishes which include fried rice, noodles, Hong Kong style roast meats (duck, char siu, crispy pork belly, soy sauce chickens), won tons and yong tau fu.


(Tables outside in the food court area)

Be warned that most of the staff speak very little or no English at all (when I try to order something complicated, I usually flag one of the guys there whom I know speaks English well) so you will need to be pointing to the Chinese version of the menu. If I’m there with lots of people, I always make sure that they repeat the menu back to me.


(Newly-ish renovated dining room)

I will concentrate on their breakfast menu in this post as I wrote about their all-day menu in my last post. Grain Asian has ‘breakfast sets’ – usually a selection of congee with a breakfast dim sum side dish.


(Dried shrimp rice vermicelli rolls – around $5.XX)

My favourite breakfast dish at Grain Asian is their freshly made rice noodle rolls with fillings of choice. This is only available during breakfast hours (until 10:30am everyday except Sunday 11:00am) – they call this ‘vermicelli rolls’ even though there is nothing vermicelli like about it. The filling choices include prawns, shrimp (dried shrimps), beef, barbecued pork (char siu), vegetarian, and more.

Pictured above are dried shrimp vermicelli rolls as a result of ordering a vegetarian vermicelli rolls (!) But they were delicious nonetheless. Luckily, I’m not a vegetarian.


(Combination congee – $5)

Their congees are alright. To be perfectly honest, it’s nothing like the beautiful, thick congee with quality meats that you get in Hong Kong. They even tasted burnt a couple of times. But as they work really well as a part of the set breakfast, I always end up ordering them. In fact, if you really want congee, Mr Kitchen up a bit does better congee (though still not great.)

My favourite congee is the combination congee which has fish cake strips, tiny beef meat balls, preserved squid and peanuts. This is also known as sampan congee. I am going to guess that it’s the Chinese sailor’s version of  pantry dishes like pasta alla puttanesca. Their pork and century egg congee seriously could do with more eggs.


(Braised beef brisket $5)

One of the highlights I mentioned in the previous post was the beef brisket noodles. I am happy to say that they do a side dish version of this for $5. So I have been getting this as an additional side. I never finish it all at the same time, of course, but the leftover makes a great take away to have with rice and greens for lunch later. It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

instagram-grain-asian(See my Instagram feed)

A few other things that I have ordered and enjoyed: sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf (lo mai gai), barbecued pork buns, Spam & egg sandwich (Mini’s favourite), iced Ovaltine, corned beef and egg sandwich and their whole fish dishes which gives you a whole fish with rice and soup for $13. Ridiculously cheap feed!

As I’ve visited a few times, my Instagram feed has a bigger collection of photos from there.

Grain Asian (in Box Hill Central)
Address: Cnr Main & Market Streets, Box Hill VIC 3128 (opposite to Platform 3 cafe)
Phone: 03 9899 6533
Getting there by Public Transport: Train to Box Hill Station (Belgrave/Lilydale line). The cafe is in the same building as the train station.

Grain Asian Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Prospect Espresso, Camberwell {Melbourne Review}

Prospect Burger at Prospect espresso

Prospect Espresso. I’m surprised we haven’t tried this lovely place considering it’s pretty close to home but ventured into it one day we did after I had a blood test at Melbourne Path nearby. Mum and Mini were there with me. We got there at around 11ish on a weekend and the place was bustling. We had to wait a few minutes for the table but luckily not too long.

Flat White at Prospect Espresso

(Flat White – $4)

We ordered drinks – a flat white for me, a babycino for Mini and an orange juice for Mum. Coffee was great and Mini was terribly happy with her babycino ($?) I have been back a few times to get takeaway coffee including an iced coffee since and I have to say the coffee is consistently great. The orange juice ($6) was not so great but it was in the middle of Summer so I personally would say Mum had it coming for ordering fresh orange juice in Summer. Who does that? Repeat after me: citrus is a Winter thing. If you’re eating oranges in Summer, they are either months old or came from the US. Don’t do it. Same with apples.

Babycino at Prospect Espresso

(Babycino for Mini – $?)

Smoked Trout Salad with Peas, Zucchini, Snow Pea Shoots

(Smoked trout, zucchini, peas and snow peas salad – $16?)

Because we have all eaten breakfast, we settled on the lunch menu. I ordered the smoked trout salad with zucchini strips, fresh peas, snow pea shoots and ($16?) and it was the most darling of salads. The leaves and peas were so fresh they were beautifully sweet and really complimented the smoked trout and the quite rich crème fraîche(?) sauce. I really thoroughly enjoyed it. We were sitting in this gorgeous cafe with lots of sunlight shining through and it was the kind of salad that made you happy it’s Summer (too bad it’s Autumn now – not that I don’t love Melbourne in Autum, I just love Summer more.)

Golden chips at Prospect Espresso

(Thick cut chips – served with the Prospect Burger – $20.5)

Mum ordered the Prospect Burger ($20.5) which is their Angus burger with bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce and pickle on a brioche(!) bun served with thick-cut chips. Mum finds Australian food size completely overwhelming so while I was palming off some of my lovely salad to Mini in an attempt to train her in eating salad (she does, yay!) I got to try a bit of the burger. It was delicious. The meat was juicy and everything was put together well. No complaints whatsoever. The chips were also well made and they were served with mild aioli and I am always a sucker for adding oily sauces onto deep fried things for extra calories.

It was a very pleasant lunch in a small, cozy cafe. The food was well made and thought out and the coffee was great. The high-ish price tag is common within the area and obviously a favourite with the locals. While there wasn’t a kid’s menu, they were quite accomodating with having Mini and the service was decent. But I really love the food and coffee. Will definitely be back.

Did you know I have the Spatula, Spoon and Saturday Facebook Page running? Please take a look!

Prospect Espresso [ Website ]
Address: 2A Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell VIC 3124
Phone: (03) 9882 7359
Hours: Monday – Friday 7am – 4pm, Saturday – Sunday 8am – 4.30pm
Public Transport: Camberwell Train Station (260m), Tram 72 (10m), Tram 70 & 75 (400m)

Prospect Espresso on Urbanspoon

Top Paddock, Richmond {Melbourne Review}

Soft shell mudcrab with salad and lime mayonnaise in brioche bun at Top Paddock

We had a fairly bad experience with Top Paddock previously when we got there one weekend. It was quite busy, we were ignored by the waitstaff for quite a while (literally ignored, not ‘please wait’ just plain straight walking past back and forth without paying us any attention) and once we were seated, the venue was incredibly noisy due to it having lots and LOTS of bare walls with no noise absorber whatsoever. So we basically decided to walk out at the time as Josh is fairly sensitive to bad acoustics (it gives him a terrible headache.) But I was quite determined to eat there because I have heard so many good things about this place and bad acoustics doesn’t bother me as much. So I needed a new tactic – I needed a brunch date who wasn’t Josh and I needed to be there on a week day.

Top Paddock Cafe, Richmond, Melbourne

The opportunity presented itself when Mum was in town and we were on our way to Australian Open to see Roger Federer playing the second round against Simone Bolleli. Sure, Top Paddock isn’t exactly walking distance to Rod Laver Arena but it mattered not because I wanted to eat at Top Paddock, damn it. Luckily this time, we found parking easily (unlike last time when we had to pay exorbitant parking for a meal we didn’t eat – yeah still grumpy about that) and we were greeted nicely by the waitstaff and were seated in a nice sunny spot. A much better start this time. The venue itself is actually quite spacious and gorgeously fitted out – but yes the acoustics when busy really were absolutely atrocious (my friend pointed out, when I told her about this that I am old, I am. I admit it.)


(Flat white – $3.80)

We were in a bit of a rush for the tennis but service was quite prompt and we didn’t have to wait long for coffee and food. We peruse the menu (and obviously I wanted to order everything but it was breakfast and we could only eat so much.) Mum decided to order the soft shell crab (first picture – Queensland soft shell mud crab & salad with lime mayonnaise on a brioche bun – $21) because I may have suggested that it’s one of their more popular dishes. Okay, I wanted to try it. It was really quite good. It was the meatiest, juiciest, best soft shell crab I ever had and the salad, mayo and the bun all complimented each really nicely.The only complaint about it is that the soft shell crab itself was overly salted.

Snapper with chilli-fried egg, avocado, tomato, lime and corn tortilla at Top Paddock Cafe

(Local snapper with chilli-fried egg, avocado, tomato, lime and corn tortilla -$19.50)

I decided on the snapper and while it was the prettier dish of the two and was quite good, I found this dish to be a bit scattered. There was nothing to tie all the ingredients together but the ingredients were definitely of good quality and I did enjoy the dish although I wouldn’t recommend it. The same complaint as the soft shell crab applied, the snapper pieces were over-salted. Whoever on the seafood duty that day must have been fairly heavy handed. The coffee was fantastic though.

So despite a fault start, and a few things that weren’t quite right, we enjoyed having a nice coffee and brunch in a lovely space on that sunny day. The food focused itself on really good ingredients and the prices reflect that. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and sample a few more dishes there in the future.

Top Paddock Cafe [ Web Site ]
Address: 658 Church St., Richmond VIC 3121
Phone: 03 9429 4332
Hours: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, weekends & public holidays 8am – 4pm
Public Transport: Trams 78 & 79 (right out front), East Richmond Train Station (700m)

Top Paddock on Urbanspoon

Seven Seeds Roastery & Cafe, Carlton {Melbourne Review}

fried eggs with  n'duja sausage at seven seeds

First up, apologies in advance for the regression in photo quality. As you may remember that I refused to get an SLR, I have now actually altogether ditched my camera and have been taking photos exclusively with my phone camera for the past, well, two years. Anyway, I’m an amateur blogger. I try my best.

flat white coffee from Seven s

So, Seven Seeds. I could not believe it took me this long to get to get to this lovely coffee heaven (actually I could – I live in the Eastern suburbs and I don’t believe in crossing the river on the weekends – feels too much like going to work) but one fine day I did. It was close to Christmas and I had just picked up my mum who just arrived on a ridiculously early flight (I TOLD her not to fly this particular airline but does she listen? Oh no.)

The main purpose on the day was to look at a new road bike for me at a shop on Victoria St. so the criteria were a) somewhere near the bike shop; b) had to be opened by 8am due to our trip timing and c) goes without saying has to have good breakfast menu and good coffee.

Eggs Benedict from Seven Seeds

Eggs Benedict with prosciutto & rocket – $15.00

 Seven Seeds ticked all of those boxes and so we found ourselves running in through the rain – right after their opening time and were greeted in their lovely converted warehouse space by a smiling waiter and a mighty fine looking pastry case. We were shown to our table and while they had no high chair for Mini, the chairs were good enough. I’m glad she is finally big enough to sit on an adult chair or our lap without too much hassle. If you have a pram, the cafe is quite spacious and would be fairly pram friendly.

babycino from seven seeds

Best babycino ever

As usual, I order myself a flat white (house blend – generally not a big fan of single origin) and a babycino for Mini (yeah I raised one of those babycino kids – I’m allowed ONE.) Allow me to tell you right now, not all babycino are created equal and this one indeed made Mini squeal with delight. I suspect it was just the OTT foam and cocoa dusting. But a good babycino is a good babycino. My flat white was also excellent. I’m not a coffee connoisseur and only rate my coffee as ‘excellent’, ‘pretty good’, ‘decent’, ‘average’ and ‘awful’ and this one comes out as excellent. But don’t believe me about the coffee! Try, oh, any other Melbourne coffee blogs.

reuben sandwich from seven seeds

Toasted Reuben sandwich (pastrami, rye bread, cheese, sauerkraut) and a side of pickle – $13.00(?)

For our dishes Mum ordered the Eggs Benedict which she seemed to enjoy (forgot to ask her how she found it – I think she was too distracted playing with her only grandchild that she hadn’t seen in 6 months and really couldn’t care that much. Though she did mention how much Australian rocket leaves are better than the Thai ones.) Josh ordered the Reuben sandwich. He took a bite and sighed, ‘this is a good sandwich.’ He did find it small though but luckily…

fried eggs with  n'duja sausage at seven seeds

Fried eggs with  n’duja sausage on toasts – $16.00(?)

I ordered the fried eggs with n’duja sausage (the waiter approved of the choice – I always feel chuffed when I order something and the waiter thinks that my choice is awesome – surely this has gone into waiter’s training manual by now? ‘You should agree with the customer’s order choice even though it’s decaf soy latte’*) because, well, when was the last time you ordered fried eggs at a cafe? Although I wasn’t quite sure what n’duja sausage was (it sure wasn’t what I expected) – they had me at the word sausage. N’duja sausage, as it turned out, is a sort of spicy spreadable sausage with an intensely strong sour flavour (like salami but, you know, soft.) It was awesome. I was very impressed with my choice but only managed to put away half the food so Josh kindly finished the rest.

rice pudding at seven seeds

Vanilla rice pudding with toasted coconut, almond and mango – $13.00?

Part of the reason why I couldn’t finish my dish was this: the rice pudding. Dessert for breakfast. Love it. As there was no kid’s menu, we ordered what we thought she might like the most. This rice pudding was seriously good. The toasted coconut and almonds really added to the texture and made this dish a wonderful comforting summer food (it was served cold.) And mango? Who doesn’t love mango? Mini ate as much as she could (which wasn’t much – let’s face it – she was three and it wasn’t not chocolate)  and I stole a few lots spoonfuls and we still couldn’t finish it. We got the rest to take away in a disposable coffee cup and I ate it for lunch. It was a dish that kept on giving.

All in all, it was one of the better breakfast experiences we have had in Melbourne. Coffee was superior and the food fantastic. We really enjoyed the lovely setting and the space. It isn’t the most kid-friendly cafe but it is definitely good enough for a 3-year-old. We would definitely be back here again given half a chance. I just wish this was in our neighbourhood.

Seven Seeds Roastery & Cafe [ Website ]
Address: 114 Berkeley Street Carlton VIC 3053
Phone: (03) 9347 8664
Hours: Monday – Saturday 7am – 5pm, Sunday 8am – 5pm

Seven Seeds on Urbanspoon

* I recently went to the cafe near work where I normally get my coffee from with a colleague who was having an extremely bad, jittery day and she ordered a decaf soy latte. Our barista said, ‘do you know what we call that? We call it ‘why bothered?’

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