The Hakka are a people who are thought to have originated in Northern China. They aren't now associated with any particular part of China (although a lot seem to be concentrated around Shenzhen and Hong Kong) but without a province of their own have spread all over the world. A couple of people at work are of Hakka origin, including Chewy. There are a small number of Melbourne restaurants which specialise in Hakka cuisine so at Ms Counting her Calories suggestion we of course headed off to Great Eastern Hakka Restaurant to try Swedish style pizza?
For a pizza restaurant GEH looks pretty fancy. With a bright red colour scheme (a bit too bright for me), high backed leather chairs and pristine white table clothes, it's what I'd imagine an upmarket Swedish Café would look like, although that might be more my presumptions about Scandinavian preferences than reality. The service is friendly and efficient, and comment was made that one of the waitresses bore a resemblance to Alicia Silverstone.
Apparently the people who run GEH are of Hakka origin but lived for many years in Sweden where they ran a restaurant. We were already leaning towards trying the pizza over the Hakka dishes but my mind was made up when we saw the menu. While I only know a couple of Hakka dishes the Chinese side of the menu looked quite conservative and not that interesting. I was actually very curious about the style of pizza we would get. Different countries do their own variations of pizza and I don't much like the version most commonly available in Australia. With a thick base and often greasy, to me it's cheese on toast with too many things added on top rather than pizza. I can't comment on how closely GEH follows authentic Swedish style pizza, but it is good.
The seafood pizza came with a thin crispy base, not too much cheese, a touch of tomato paste only, topped with some nice pieces of calamari, a few mussels and prawns. Much better than most Melbourne pizza, not too filling and the emphasis on the ingredients rather than how much you can fit on the pizza for the price.
The Lulea - marinated beef and fefferoni (kind of like a mildly spicy chilli pepper) - was very similar in style. Good quality meat, not too many ingredients, flat crispy base. Again a very good pizza.
Given there were only two pizzas ordered between us we decided to also go for dessert. I went for the apple fritters which was a bit of a mistake. Not that they were bad apple fritters but I prefer my apple a little soft, whereas these were still quite firm.
While not on the menu the Daim cake was available as a special. This is apparently a Swedish style cake, with layers of chocolate, cream cheese and nuts to give an alternatively smooth and crunchy texture. The flavours were a little muted but basically nice, resulting in a pleasant rather than great but very nicely presented cake.
Nice pizza, extremely pleasant staff in a slightly formal atmosphere. Prices were reasonable and we all quite enjoyed ourselves. If I'd my way I'd change slightly a few things. The feel of the place doesn't quite work for me, a semi-formal pizza restaurant? I also like my pizza with a thin and crispy base but not as thin as GEH, with a slight chewiness as well. I'd probably add a few scallops to the seafood pizza and a bit less calamari too, with a few more fefferoni on the Lulea. That's being a bit picky though, as while it's not the best pizza I've had in Melbourne it's one of the better ones. I also quite liked the cabbage served on the side to have with your pizza. Kind of weird but sweet and a surprisingly good match.
Food - 7.5
Ambience - 7
Service - 8
Price - 7
319 Stephensons Road
Mount Waverley VIC 3149
Tel: (03) 9807 3388