Be.K, 3/21 Edgewater Boulevard, Maribyrnong. Phone: 8596 4292
Be.K looks like the kind of cafe where you’ll get a good coffee and a decent breakfast.
Those are available, but as we discover – on a Saturday lunch visit for Bennie’s birthday – there’s much more going on here.
A glossy colour photo menu runs from ritzy breakfast dishes through to sangers, Korean fried chicken and on to luscious Asian desserts.
A simpler printed list has more breakfast items, a couple of burgers, ribs and tempura prawns.
The place is done out in simple cafe style and business is quite brisk – especially on the outside tables.
Notably, Be.K’s advertised opening hours are seven days a week – until 11.30pm.
Papaya salad with prawns is pricey at $20.90, but the quality is there.
The veg components are fresh and crunchy, the dressing tangy and the head-on prawns are a fresh-grilled delight.
Bennie enjoys his pulled pork burger, with chips and costing $17.90.
Served in a beetroot brioche bun, it’s generously stuffed with meat, slaw and pickled cucumber.
I’m surprised to hear him adjudge it a rather modest good, as – going by my taste – it’s definitely among the better versions we’ve had.
The chips are fine, but the chicken salt-style seasoning they’ve been daubed with is way too sweet for me.
Deb’s sanger is described as “Philly cheese steak sandwich” ($13.90) – fans of that American classic would no doubt be bemused.
But it work on its own terms, the thin-cut meat making it easy to eat and the onions and other veg, cut wok-style, are fine.
Of the four varieties of Korean fried chicken listed, we opt for the original.
We get five pieces in our half-chook serve ($16.50).
Oh boy, this is great stuff – simply terrific fried chicken, unoily, hot, perfectly cooked and moan-out-loud delicious.
Just as good are the accompanying house-made pickles of onion, celery and more.
A little sweet, not too sour and a whole heap of crunchy – excellent!
The birthday boy goes for it by ordering bingsu of the nutella banana variety.
His is the $10.90 small rendition; there are medium and large versions available.
He loves the refreshing base of shaved milk ice.
But, yes, he pours the side serve of condensed milk right over the top right from the get-go.
His dessert is the very epitome of richness restraint when compared with the Vietnamese coffee tiramisu ($8.90).
With its dark chocolate and crunchy granola (at first I thought it was pecans), this would puzzle tiramisu purists.
But we reckon it is sinfully, explosively awesome.
We’ve had a fine time that has been in no way diminished by a certain degree of distraction in the service department.
But we are a little bemused …
No fault in two of our initial choices being unavailable. If anything, that’s a good sign indicating brisk turnover – and it meant we end up ordering the fried chicken, and that turned out to be a very fine thing.
But my coffee is brought to a table covered – really covered – with chicken bones, empty receptacles and soiled serviettes.
My sincere question about the precise nature of the vegetables used in the wonderful pickles is met with stony-faced recalcitrance.
More broadly, despite there being what appears to be half a soccer team of staff scurrying around the place, we do find it difficult a few times to make eye contact or attract attention, even resorting to raised hands and waving arms before approaching the counter.