Sunday, August 11, 2013

Orient East - Chef's Table Brekkie Smackdown

Location: 348 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9685 2900
Cuisine: Malaya, breakfast

Back in Melbourne and a good return to the foodie scene. H managed to secure us a table at Orient East's Chef's table 'brekkie smackdown'. Essentially, this involved the restaurant serving us a series of breakfast dishes and the people's favourite dish would make it onto the permanent menu.

The setup is clean and modern, with bold colours and little decorations that remind you of Asia.

The theme seemed to be taking a famous or traditional dish from various Asian countries, and modernising them into breakfast dishes. And so that made up our seven course breakfast.

Jian Bing crepe, eggs, pork floss, crunchy Chinese donut, hoisin sauce
First up is the jian bing. The waitress tells us that this dish is already on their menu, but they wanted us to try it. And it was definitely a hit. A nice modern play on the traditional Chinese crepe which is usually rolled up and filled with meat floss. The flavours balanced nicely, with the dry semi salty semi sweet meat floss, sweet hoisin, smooth creamy egg and fresh coriander on top of a thin crepe. Torn up Chinese donut completed the dish with a nice crunch.

roti telur rolled with egg, lup cheong, chilli and spring onion
Course #2 was a Malaysian dish. Thin roti filled with egg, Chinese sausage, chilli and spring onion and rolled up like a crepe. A good balance of sweet and savoury, and the roti was nice and springy. The only thing it was missing was some sauce to go with it, perhaps a sweet chilli or a sambal.

banh cuon pourover - pork, shrimp, mushroom, cucumber rice roll
Probably our least favourite dish. This was a play on a Vietnamese rice noodle roll. The filling was mostly mince, which was a little bland. The general idea was good, but it just lacked seasoning. 

62 degree egg Samapan Congee, Schnapper cheeks, Chinese doughnut, ginger, spring onion, seasoned crispy flakes
This next course was a Cantonese classic - sampan congee. A dish often found in Hong Kong cafes and 'cha chan tangs'. A generous bowl of congee with slices of snapper, ginger and spring onion and topped with a 62 degree egg. Served alongside the congee was a bowl of Chinese doughnut (you tiao) and what we nicknamed 'cereal' (mostly because it tasted a little like corn flakes). We found the congee a little bland so we asked for some soy sauce. The much needed soy really lifted the dish. A perfect winter breakfast.

Mod Nasi Lemak - cocnut rice, sardine sambal, crunchy sardine frame ikan bilis, achar and fried egg
Another play on a traditional Malaysian dish that worked really well. The coconut rice was sweet and aromatic. The sardines were surprisingly crunchy that you could eat the whole thing head to tail. The achar added a nice sour tang to the dish. By this point I was starting to get a little sick of the egg, but looking at this dish in isolation, the egg added a nice creamy texture to the dish. The one thing this lacked was a sambal sauce that could be served on the side.  

super-phat chunky pandan Kaya Toast with coddled eggs
Another hit with the table, and apparently with the other diners too, as later that afternoon, Orient East announced that this was the dish that made it to the permanent menu. And why not? Two thick slices of toast were smothered in creamy sweet kaya butter and grilled, then topped with (another) egg.

$15 a head for seven courses of delicious breakfast - well worth waking up early for!

Overall Impression: 9/10
Orient East on Urbanspoon

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