Dahon Tea Lounge


Dahon Tea Lounge, Shop 5, 111 Cecil St, South Melbourne. Phone: 9696 5704

Other business having necessitated a visit to St Kilda Rd, it’s a satisfying to stop in South Melbourne on the way home and finally get around to a visit to Dahon Tea Lounge.

It’s here I’ll renew my sometimes rocky relationship with Filipino food.

The place is done out in a comfy yet quite sleek cafe style.

Things start very well.

A single skewer of BBQ pork ($2) is just right – tender meat, smoky flavour and an easily acceptable level of oiliness.

The delight and pleasure in the ability to order a dish containing okra mean I pay scant attention to the rest of the menu options, ordering instead pinakbet with rice ($9.20), the former described as “Filipino vegetable stew with okra, bitter melon, snake beans, pumpkin and eggplant”.

Reflecting on my meal as I write, I figure there’s only really two viable scenarios here.

One is that this is a typical, average, good or even excellent version of this Filipino staple and that fundamentally this is a dish not for me.

The other is that it is simply awful.

I am thoroughly underwhelmed.

There seems to be little impact by way of garlic, ginger, onion or shrimp paste.

And there seems to be little or no overall harmony in my meal – just a bunch of vegetables carelessly slapped together.

There is very little of the okra that triggered my order.

If this were to be served in a vegetarian cafe, it would be ridiculed.

The most abiding presence is a nasty bitterness – caused not only, I suspect, by the bitter melon but also by the undercooked eggplant.

I can go with the flow of slightly cooked beans and even pumpkin – but undercooked eggplant?

I subsequently look at a lot of photos, read a lot of recipes and even watch an interesting cooking video, and realise that, yes, what I have been served very much resembles a real-deal pinakbet.

Filipino food and me – seems like we could do with some sort of mediation. Or a mutual pledge to stay well clear of each other.

Or maybe next time I simply need to order one of the good-looking Dahon baguettes.

Or anything else on the menu.

Dahon Tea Lounge on Urbanspoon

13 thoughts on “Dahon Tea Lounge

  1. Oh no… Oh Kenny, I feel like you have wronged a Filipino person in a past life. It seems like you and Filipino food are just cursed forever!

    Maybe you can do a cookup when you get Adrian’s cookbook and see if you can come to some sort of understanding. 😉


  2. I hear you. I’ve been lucky enough to visit most countries in south east Asia and the food in the Philippines is quite ordinary. Apart from a scant few dishes (chicken adobo, lechon) I didn’t particularly get into it. 

    Compared to nearby Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and China, the Phil’s seemed to miss out on the big whacks of flavour that I associate with the region’s cooking. No chilli and very little spice = quite dull food.  


  3. Kenny, I know you had a bit of a clanger with the chicken and chips there, but I reckon try the Filo dishes from Chadz Chickenhaus. You can get like two choices with rice and I reckon you could quiz the ladies on what’s what, and find something yummy. It certainly all looks very fresh and appealing.


  4. My cousins and i tried Dahon last night after i read your blog (we’re filipino here in melbourne). You’re right, wouldn’t blame you if you felt “disconnected”. I had the palabok (vermicelli noodles) but it was not near anything my mom used to make. It’s lacking the crunch from crushed pork cracklings too. The halo-halo & taho desserts were not how we remembered them too but it’s good, wouldn’t mind eating it again. I suggest you try the “Lutong Bahay” in footscray market foodcourt. The lady who owns it and cooks is from Bohol island. That is closer to homecooked meals. But there is no “nice” restaurant atmosphere in footscray though lol. So maybe have it as takeaway goodluck! Or you can come to our house, me n my cousins love cooking lol (bunch of bored single girls). But our aunts are way better though.


  5. Hi ,

    There is a new Filipino restaurant in the west. (St.Albans). It’s called, ” Lasang Pinoy.”
    I love the food there.
    I hope one day you can do a review for that restaurant also, and maybe you will like filipino food again 🙂


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