Sunday, June 04, 2023

Shimbashi Soba II

May 18, 2023


Our second visit to Shimbashi was much like the first: we wanted something easy and local for dinner after work, and we even ordered exactly the same dishes. With that lovely meal fresh in my mind, I volunteered to cycle over and grab some of Shimbashi's lunch offerings for us the next day. While it's still possible to eat in a la carte, daytime Shimbashi opens up a small display cabinet by the door with grab-and-go options, mostly sushi rolls and a few bento.

The vegan sushi and tofu bento ($13) captured all of the meat-free options that day. Samples of the tempura zucchini avocado, spicy tofu, and spicy soy sushi were present, along with an assortment of tender vegetables and soft, comforting potato salad. I ordered the zucchini-avo and spicy tofu sushi as full hand-rolls ($4.50 each) to round out a meal for two. All these dishes were lightly chilled and satisfying, with the varied flavours and textures of gently-tended vegetables and judicious spices - I barely even used the soy sauce tubes that I'd packed into the paper bag, and could happily have skipped them entirely.


You can read about our last visit to Shimbashi here.

344 Rathdowne St, Carlton North 
8060 6595 

Accessibility: Shimbashi has a flat entry. Furniture is a mixture of high benches and regular height tables, all with hard wooden backs and densely packed. I ordered and paid for my takeaway at a high counter.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Gomi Ramen

May 14, 2023


Gomi Ramen opened up the top of Sydney Road in early 2022 and I somehow noticed that they were promising a wide range of vegan options - Cindy put it on her list and then it took us over a year to actually stop by and check it out. They've taken up the space that Beatbox Kitchen ran their burger joint out of for a while - it's long and skinny and a lot of the seating is at the kitchen bar. There's a nice vibe though - it was quiet enough that we could talk comfortably even when it was relatively busy and the staff are brisk but friendly.

Nearly half of the menu is vegan - Cindy decided to build her dinner from the small plates, while I was in the mood for some sort of noodle soup situation. 

Gomi do their own house-made soft drinks - Cindy had a mandarin soda ($7), which was sweet and light. Food-wise, she started off with the a serve of the gyoza ($8.50), which are filled with mushrooms, farro koji and garlic, served with a spicy ponzu sauce. Hard to go wrong with a fried dumpling, but these really hit the mark - crispy and delicious. 

She followed these up with eggplant karaage ($9), served on a split pea sauce and garnished with some fresh herbs. More delicious crispiness here, coating beautifully tender eggplant. The split pea sauce was really tasty - the only downside was Cindy's inability to mop up every last skerrick with her chopsticks. 


I ordered the cauliflower tantamen ($19.80), a rich Sichuan-spiced noodle soup, filled with a cauliflower mince, gochujang, sesame paste, and rayu. The broth has a mushroom and almond base, but the key to it all is the Sichuan hit, especially on a chilly autumn night - I loved every mouthful and left full and warmed.

Gomi is a really excellent addition to Brunswick's dinner scene - I'm definitely keen to go back and try more of the vegan ramen options. Glad we finally got there. 

Gomi Ramen
692 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
9191 0008

Accessibility: There's a small step on entry and then a relatively wide, flat path through. Most of the seating is high stools at the bar, but there are some regular tables too. We ordered and paid for everything via the QR Code system. We didn't visit the toilets.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Vola Foods

May 13, 2023


Vola Foods is not the most eye-catching business on Ovens St. Queues for the Ovens Street Bakery stretch along the footpath any time they're open, and ONA Coffee's split-level seating puts all their customers on display. But Michael was observant enough on one of his bakery runs to notice signs saying Vola Foods and A Taste of Africa on what looked like a parking lot. 

The Vola Foods team have been gradually building up a cheery, welcoming outdoor set-up: starting with a shipping-container kitchen and outdoor barbecue, extending to picnic tables, which now have a roof over them and gas heaters on standby, and evidence of future plans for a bar. The menu is Cameroonian, with vegan options clearly marked. We halved two plates for lunch, aiming to try as many dishes as we could.

I started on the beans with puff puff ($15.50, pictured left) and was so enamoured that I asked myself if I even wanted to share. The beans were flavoured with warm and complex spices, while the puff puff were slightly sweet and fried like doughnuts. It's an excellent, contained meal for one and an instant comfort food.

Lots of other great dishes awaited me in my share of the Vegan Box ($23.50). Generous portions of coconut rice with beans and jollof rice were covered with a thick and tangy tomato stew, and surrounded by more fried starches: cassava, akra and plantain. Michael warned me off the chilli sauce, and bought a jar of it to take home for himself.

Vola Foods is distinct from anything else we've eaten before, much less anything we've eaten in Brunswick. We're excited that it's close to home and we'll have many more chances to familiarise ourselves with its flavours.


Vola Foods
30 Ovens St, Brunswick
0478 697 257

Accessibility: The premises is based on gravel so while generally flat is a bit uneven. Furniture is densely packed regular height picnic tables and backless benches (see photo above). We ordered and paid at a waist-height counter and received food to our table. We didn't visit the toilets.

Sunday, May 14, 2023


April 25, 2023


I've had my eye on Croixssant's social media for quite some time, because it's connected to Staple. It was a handy breakfast stopover recently on our way out west! As the name suggests, Croixssant specialises in layered, buttery pastry. Everything is vegetarian, many things are vegan, and coeliacs would be advised to steer clear of the whole operation. (Correction 04/06/2023: I learned that the smoked salmon is real, so not quite everything is vegetarian. Read the labels carefully and, if in doubt, check with the staff!)


I had the appetite for two courses, so I started savoury with a vegan bacon and cheese croissant ($9.50). All the right flavours were there but the texture was let down by the reheating process, which I can only assume was a microwave.


Michael and I both fared better on our sweet courses. My strawberry cheesecake cruffin ($8.50, containing dairy) had the right ratios of soft, chewy and crisp; dusted liberally with sugar and filled with a subtle, real strawberry flavour. Michael's ANZAC-themed apple crumble croll danish ($9.50, vegan) exploded with crunchy oats on every bite, and he was very impressed with the vegan pastry.


Croixssant rotate their flavours regularly and they have a great diversity - from spinach-ricotta to spicy satay, red velvet and klepon. As we sat and observed their morning business, it was clear that Croixssant has the loyalty of locals seeking a coffee and a morning treat, and doesn't depend solely on the interest of roaming veg*ns like us.

Croixssant has also won fans at Mamma Knows West.

185 Mt Alexander Rd, Flemington

Accessibility: There are two steps up on entry and clear flat access to the low counter, where we ordered and paid. Furniture is regular height and medium-spaced with backed benches and backless stools (see last photo), and our food was brought to our table. We didn't visit the toilets.

Thursday, May 11, 2023


April 15, 2023


We were in the mood for an autumn walk with breakfast at the end of it and decided that Two:Bob cafe was the right distance and menu to aim for. It's nestled within the cute shopping strip on Queens Parade in an old bank building. We've failed to really pay any attention to it for the decade it's been there! I just had an old bookmarked blog review from Fitzroyalty to recommend it. 

That's on us, because the menu is very appealing and has clear dietary markings - lots of vegetarian and gluten-free options, while vegans will be weighing up the avo toast and the roast vegetable winter salad. Porridge comes with pecan crumble, the mushroom toast looks fancy, there are multiple rich eggy dishes, and there's a breakfast plate for those who want a bit of everything.


After a little "hmmpf!" about the inconveniently stacked toast, Michael was won over by the Two:Bob take on avocado toast ($21.50) - the smashed peas, spicy chickpeas and house-made chilli jam added lots of flavour.

I had to try out the waffles (pictured top, $21.50). They had that all-white-flour-and-sugar cakiness to them, and the plate as a whole hit all my sweet-breakfast criteria: a bit of crispness to the waffles, a bit of crunch (roast almonds), lots of juicy fruit (blueberry compote and poached pear), and a spoonful of something creamy (lemon mascarpone).


The Two:Bob staff were great and even on a day of showers, the natural light filtering into the cafe was gorgeous. As the weather cools our Saturday mornings are more often spent on the couch with rage, but it's worth getting up and out for a breakfast this good.

Two:Bob received long-ago positive reviews on Accidental Encounters, Fitzroyalty and Eat & Be Merry.

270 Queens Parade, Fitzroy North
9482 5444

Accessibility: There's a step up on entry. Furniture is medium-crowded, a mixture of low and high tables, backless stools, backed chairs and benches with a wide clear way from the entry to the counter. We ordered at our table, paid at a low counter and didn't visit the toilets.