Monday, July 30, 2012

Dessert Story, Melbourne CBD by Big Fil

It’s not that long ago it was hard to find an East Asian style dessert café in Melbourne. Now they seem to be popping up like sweetened mushrooms, maybe served with red bean or black sesame paste.

Looking for something to finish off with after visiting the Hawker Night Market we spotted Dessert Story at the end of the lane, the newest addition in Chinatown. On a cold winter’s night it looked bright, warm and inviting so making a decision on where we were heading next was quickly made.

On entering it was obvious that we were the only two gweilo in the café. The place was reasonably full as well, which surprised me a little because it was somewhere I’d have expected to be much busier later in the evening. Given the type of place – brightly lit, lots of red, Asian pop playing pretty loudly – I’d also expected a fairly young crowd but there were also a few older diners as well, maybe looking to revisit a food memory from home.

After a few minutes our menu arrived. To say a generous variety of desserts is offered is a definite understatement, with the menu going on for several pages. While the photos of the snow ice dishes looked very tempting and may well be the subject of further investigation we were both looking for something a bit smaller and simpler. Snooze's choice, a sago and coconut milk with mango, mine a tofu and peanut in sweet syrup.

In both taste and texture these differ significantly from more familiar western style desserts. The tofu is soft and silken, the syrup/soup sweet but slightly watery, and the peanuts soft. It’s not something necessarily to everyone’s fancy particularly if you haven’t grown up with it. To be honest it wasn’t quite to my taste either, as I wasn’t particularly fond of the peanuts or the soup/syrup. Unfortunately though, the dish which was my first preference and that I've had many times before had already been spotted and chosen by Snooze.

The sago and coconut has the slippery texture provided by the sago, the richness of the coconut milk and the flavour provided by the mango. It’s sweet, it’s comparatively light (well, compared to say chocolate mud cake or a similar cake) and it’s one of my comfort foods. I only got a taste, as it’s pretty rude even for me to double dip into someone else’s dessert, and while I would have preferred it pandan rather than mango flavoured something I’d always be happy to eat. To me, the better of the two desserts.

Two decent desserts served in a fairly interesting location and at a price that won’t break the bank. Service though was a bit of an issue. It’s not the number of staff, as there were more than enough to cope with the number of orders. It wasn’t the timeliness, as once we had ordered our food came fairly quickly. What was a bit annoying though was the way the staff stood behind the counter chatting and texting without seeming to be paying attention to the customers. It didn’t really slow service down but I certainly got the impression that they weren’t concerned about the customers.

Food – 6.5
Service – 5.5
Ambience – 7.5
Price – 7

195 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9650 7776

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