Dahon Gourmet Tea Lounge
Here’s another case of not visiting the places that are close to your home. I remember a lot of activity over the opening of this Filipino place about a year or so ago. But I guess what stopped me from visiting sooner is the fact that it’s a tea lounge. I mean… I don’t really drink teas! And in terms of understanding the angle that the establishment’s taking, I’m intrigued why a place selling freshly cooked Filipino food markets itself as a tea lounge.
But a few months ago, I stopped by here out of curiosity and got a takeaway BBQ Pork roll. I was kinda blown away, it was pretty delicious. While we were waiting for it, fakegf and I scanned the menu and it looked very different and unusual, so Dahon pushed itself up our wishlist very quickly. We paid a proper visit within a month.
Dahon is in the same complex in South Melbourne where Woolworths and Spotlight resides, and it’s really close to South Melbourne Market. There were lots of Filipinos dining at other tables… small families with prams and kids. So I think this place really provides a slice of home for them.
Slimdown Fusion – A herbal blend of pu-erh oolong, alfaalfa, nettle and fennel
Stressless Fusion – A blend of lime blossom, oats straw, chamomile, blue corn flowers and rose petal
4.1 per pot
Of course, we had to try what Dahon is good at… Teas! Fakegf’s slimdown tea is meant to help ‘increase metabolism’, she could taste the nettles and fennel. I can’t recognise the flavour of nettles as I’d never tasted it before, but I could detect pu-erh and the faint liquorice scent of fennel. My stressless tea, however, tasted mostly of just chamomile. It’s supposed to assist ‘stress management’. Ha ha!
Pinakbet with steamed rice 9.2
Filipino vegetable stew with okra, bitter melon, snake beans, pumpkin and eggplant
We then selected and shared a couple of unusual sounding mains. The pinkabet was a comforting home-style stew dish that’s eaten with rice. It was simple but nice, the seasonings reminded me of soy sauce and fish sauce. I also spied bottles of seasoned vinegar that other diners would sprinkle over their dishes, so colourful!
Pancit Palabok 11.8
Rice vermicelli noodles with prawn sauce topped with tofu, crushed pork crackling, smoked fish, fried garlic, spring onions and egg
Even more unusual was this dish. Bean vermicelli is cooked and served with a thick prawn sauce which I struggle at describing. The dish arrived all wobbly inside the plate. Both the sauce and noodles had an almost gelatinous texture.
The sauce was very different, and we honestly couldn’t identify and break it down into what its components were. The closest guess that I could hazard is a mix of dried prawn stock blended with tofu skins and cooked tomatoes…! We struggled a bit with the texture, it’s probably a dish that will only be comforting if you grew up eating it. From the look of the dish, it reminded me of a prawny, goopy version of Singaporean mee siam.
Sans Rival Cashew Meringue 3.2
Halo Halo Special 7.8
A shaved ice dessert with milk topped with jackfruit, banana, red beans, creamed corn, palm seed, gulaman, pinipig and leche flan
I’ve included a picture of Dahon’s cashew meringue, which I’d gobbled down with pleasure on two occasions previously. They’re homemade, and while on the sweet side, they’re quite addictive. I need to explore the other Filipino sweets that are on display.
Meanwhile, fakegf and I shared a shaved ice dessert, presumably pinoy-style. It felt like a variation of ice kacang in Singapore, but with all the ingredients on top rather than hidden below the ice. Some ingredients were similar, but the leche flan, rice flakes and taro mousse were new ingredients to us. It was fun to eat, again colourful and different… but I wished the ice shavings were finer.
With this meal, I have no point of comparison to gauge this place as I’m totally unfamiliar with Filipino food. But I think we enjoyed this meal as an introduction to the cuisine. As a non-Filipino, I wouldn’t have cravings for any of the dishes that we had today. But I know I definitely enjoyed the BBQ pork roll and cashew meringue I had in the past.
Watching the other Filipino diners, they seemed to order some of the grilled and skewer dishes along with the home-style dishes here. So maybe next time I’ll sample more of their rolls and grilled dishes.