Monk Bodhi Dharma is a little cul de sac cafe named after the famous Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma. Legend has it that he not only brought Zen buddhism to Japan and China, he even spent some time teaching the Shao Lin monks martial arts in the legendary Eighteen Arhat Hands amongst other famous kung fu.
Another story had it that when he was initially rejected entrance into the Shao Lin monastery, he decided to meditate in a cave for 9 years to demonstrate his sincerity but kept falling asleep. In his annoyance, and to prevent sleep from taking over, he cut off his eyelids. As his eyelids landed onto the cave floor, tea plants sprang up! Tea is used as a stimulant to help keep practitioners of Zen Buddhism from falling asleep during meditation.
The namesake cafe on the other hand, is simpler and a lot less grumpy. Thank goodness!
Located in between the local Safeway and the parking lot, Monk Bodhi Dharma serves specialty coffees and teas and take themselves quite seriously on it.
The food is strict vegetarian bordering on vegan for certain dishes. So don’t expect a large serving of bacon and eggs here when you visit.
This was the first time I dined with Bryan alone and I have no idea why we don’t do it more often! It was fun, we laughed heaps and drank a lot of coffee! We did start rather early though (than usual), and decided to meet at 9.30am to avoid the crowds!
To start us off the day, Bryan had a flat white and I had a cafe latte ($3.80), both using the Monk Bodhi Dharma Zen blend. The tasting notes mentioned notes of figs, caramel and dark chocolate and I did my best to search for them on my palate, and failed. LOL!
The lady seated next to us was so amused by our photography and antics that she offered up her green tea blend for me to take a picture of as well!
The best thing about dining out with another food blogger is the shamelessness of taking pictures of everything!
I decided I’d try the Marlo Sweetcorn Ricotta Hotcakes ($15.50) with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, house made basil pesto and sour cream. So delicious and light!
I think these are the best corn fritters I’ve had so far (and I’ve had a fair few). This ranks quite highly in my search for perfection – corn fritters 😛
Bryan had the rather heavy and rich Umami Mushrooms ($18.50) – Slow-roasted king oyster, shiitake, oyster and enoki mushrooms on a housemade pumpkin, spinach and sundried polenta bread. Served with goat’s cheese, thyme and chilli oil.
Whilst I would normally opt for dishes with my beloved fungi, I couldn’t pass up the chance to try my corn fritters. Although Bryan and I did a swap half way through our dishes, I couldn’t help but request for my delicious corn fritters back! I felt the mushrooms were a little on the heavy side for the early morning!
Once our dishes were cleared away, Bryan and I ordered our second coffees for the day.
He had the Zen Blend again, but in a Magic ($3.80) and I had another latte using the single origin blend of El Salvador ($3.80).
As if that wasn’t enough, Bryan and I decided to share a pot of Chai Latté ($5.50), healing house brewed chai steamed with organic milk (or Bonsoy). Spices roasted and ground in-house and blended with honey.
It was indeed smooth, but wasn’t spicy enough for me!
As we walked out the doors, we were astounded to see a group of people starting to form a line to get into Monk Bodhi Dharma.
It’s definitely worth the visit!
Read Bryan’s version of the story here 🙂
Let’s Get Fat Together
*Disclaimer: All food ratings are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality at the time of visit
Food/ Cuisine: Vegetarian, Speciality Coffee & Tea
Dining Style: Cafe
Overall Food Rating (Based on the Dining style): 7.5/10
Restaurant ambiance: 6.75/10 (super cramp conditions)
Service/ Attitude: 8/10
Value for money: 7/10
Monday to Friday, 7am – 5pm
Saturday to Sunday, 8am – 5pm
Rear 202 Carlisle St
Balaclava VIC 3183
Tel: (03) 9534 7250
How to get there:
I am also questing for the perfect corn fritter – seems this one is worth a shot 🙂
It most definitely is!
eh, we should really go out once la. i keep talking about this but i never do anything about it.
fail fail fail fail.
WE SHOULD! But you’re in KL now 😛
The food looks great and just the place to take my in laws to if we’re ever in Melbourne together 🙂
Oh yes! Do they like vegetarian?
Aaaah how different our thoughts are! Awesome! I loved the chai while you found it not spicy enough! I didn’t really like the coffees though…
Which is great isn’t it? The whole point of blogging really.. to take into account all different aspects of eating and opinions 🙂
I like how this cafes different! They really have an asian influence with their food 🙂 Can’t wait to try it out ~
LOL… yeah… It’s pretty neat 🙂
i went there in the middle of the yr, and for lunch, they were mostly exotic sounding stews and curry like dishes.
as exciting as the descriptions sound, the dishes were kinda bla and overpriced for the bla-ness.
good to see they have other things now.
Oh really?? Must be the lunch menu! I would like to eat some of their curry dishes!
Those hotcakes look amazing!
They were yum yums!
luuurved the mushrooms here. Worth the wait outside! brrr
Mushrooms are good! But still think my corn fritters were better!
I love mushrooms so much but yeah, that dish looks a tad too rich to eat, especially first thing in the morning! Eek!
I’m glad you agree with me! Too early, too rich 🙂
I like the first photo; the flowers in the barrels and the girl with the berret. Very pretty.
That was very kind of your dining neighbour to offer you her tea to photograph:)
Aww you’re welcome!!! I know! Perks of being a noisy and fun food blogger 🙂
How lovely! Don’t know when I’ll be around Balaclava again but looking forward to giving that corn fritter a try :).
It is dee-lee-cious!
Oh dear heavens! I’m trying to be happy about the delicious fritters but that story at the beginning has horrified me! The eyelids! The chopped eyelids! *cries*
Chopped eyelids BEGONE!!! BEGONE FOUL EYELIDS! Now do you feel better? 😛
Yes. Yes I do. SPAM ATTACK!
SPAMMER! I wanna eat SPAM!
You’re weirdest 😛
boo hoo:( I have to wait till next year before I get to try those almost perfect corn fritters!!!
HAHA the woman sitting next to you is hilarious! 😀
Hey you get to feast on hawker food and crabs! No complaints!
I used to work in Balaclava but it’s a shame I wasn’t that into food and coffee back in the day. The food looks quite nice and the coffees too. It seems like quite an interesting blend of Asian & Western, especially the use of tea cups and things. 🙂 Good find!
Oooo… yeah cutlery, cups and plates get me all excited very easily 😛
I practice Zen in my life, and I am a vegetarian! Love to be a vegetarian!
Well done and I’m in awe 🙂 I couldn’t do it myself! (be vegetarian I mean)
I love this place! I should travel across town to visit it more often.
It’s soooo good! I live so near, but I hardly ever go either.. terrible I am!
Oh my god! Those corn fritters!!! Need to try!!!
It’s really really yummy!
OH MY!!! Those corn fritters look fantastic! I love my tea but right now all I can think of is it sprouting from chopped off eyelids…. 😛
Hee hee… don’t think about the eyelids!!
I do like this place, great vibe!! Your dishes look outstanding!! When I’ve been my meals have been so so (personally), but I can tell they do great work. Case in point your dishes!
I just really liked the corn fritters 🙂
I LOVE those mushrooms. I’ve had the corn fritters too, but the mushrooms are insane 😀
Do you work close by? I’m jealous!