CBD Eats: Supercharger and Raw Trader

The Emporium kind of terrifies me. I have been in there three times now – once to check it out, and twice to eat at Supercharger. Each time I have been in, I feel disoriented and unable to find my way out. One of the times I was there, the alarms went off and I was worried I would not be able to get out (particularly with the lack of panicked people running for the door. Seriously, what is going on people? Alarms mean GET OUT!!). Regardless of the fear I feel from the Emporium experience, I find myself returning, simply because I know I can get a filling and nutritious vegan lunch at a reasonable price.

The deal is this: a whole array of vegan options that you can piece together to make your perfect bowl (and side bowls). It’s canteen-style ordering which makes it simple for them as well as gives you time to co-ordinate your meal (trust me, you’ll need it with all the options!) This style of eating really appeals to my love of bits and pieces, mix and match, fresh and cooked, texture extravaganzas and wanting to have it all.

supercharger
So you can choose a base with 4-6 items. Of course I had to try one thing from each section, so went with the base + 6 option. Here I have a ‘base’ of steamed quinoa and fresh baby spinach, a ‘smash’ of green pea and avocado with coconut oil and mint, a ‘raw’ of shredded beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger with apple cider vinegar (I know, I CHOSE beetroot – WHAAAAT?), a ‘ferment’ of red cabbage and caraway kraut, a ‘simmer’ of mild eggplant and potato curry with tomato ginger and lime leaf, a ‘protein’ of fresh tofu in tom yum broth and finally a ‘sauce’ of fresh tomato and chili salsa with red onion and coriander. All that for a very reasonable $14. And look at all that colour, heck yessss! Don’t you feel good just looking at it?

Supercharger also have a bunch of delicious looking smoothies, juices and raw desserts that I would love to give a try, however my dining companion and I had earlier visited Raw Trader and felt we could not face any more sweets.

Raw Trader is a tiny cafe tucked away in a little CBD street. It has a huge array of raw cakes, slices, balls and more, as well as coffee, tea and smoothies. It’s kind of overwhelming seeing the display of pretty treats, they look almost too good to eat and near impossible to choose.

rawtrader1
We took a painstakingly long time to pick two desserts to share. This is the cappuccino cake. It had a lovely creamy texture, and I love the white layer like froth on top of a capp. I would have liked a stronger coffee flavour, as I found it a bit mild, with the rich nuttiness and coconut flavour coming through more prominently.

rawtrader2
A small dense piece of lemon slice – I actually preferred this one, as the zestiness of the lemon really shone through. I guess the trouble with raw desserts becoming so popular is that they have to be pretty special to impress me now. I would like to go back and try some of the other desserts that took my fancy like ice creams and mousses, as I feel that there is definitely potential, but I just wasn’t blown away with the options that I chose. Regardless, Raw Trader is a great place to meet a mate for a coffee and cake if you’re in the CBD area.

Supercharger
Level 3, Emporium
287 Lonsdale st, Melbourne
Sun – Thurs – 11am – 7pm
Fri – Sat – 11am – 9pm
Raw Trader
10 Sutherland st, Melbourne
Mon – CLOSED
Tues – Thurs – 7.30am – 8.30pm
Fri – 7.30am – 10pm
Sat – 10am – 10pm
Sun – 10am – 4pm

Pizza and Gelato

This is the week. After experiencing some technical issues that led me to believe I’d lost a whole bunch of photos, and the subsequent joy of finding said photos, I’m doing it! I’m getting rid of the backlog!

And first on the list, a trip to Eat Pizza in the city.

I’m not sure just how long Eat Pizza have had inner city locations – there is one in North Melbourne and one in the CBD – but I do recall believing that they were only in Footscray and Maribyrnong. Now looking at their website, I’m not even sure the Maribyrnong one still exists.

Regardless of when they arrived, they are definitely there.

While Eat Pizza are not an exclusively vegan or even vegetarian pizza shop, they do offer vegan cheese, ham and salami at an extra cost. We headed in to the Flinders St location to check it out one evening on our way to a gig in the city.

eatpizzaWe went with a classic vegetarian with pineapple, vegan cheese and vegan salami (and a sprinkle of chili flakes). The first thing I noticed was how generous Eat Pizza are with their toppings! Every single slice had a large circle of vegan salami and there was plenty of cheese. The base was beautifully soft and doughy, and overall, the pizza was excellent.

A slight structural issue – as the salami took up almost the whole slice, and everything else was stacked on top of that, we had a few problems with topping sliding every which way. And personal choice – I would have chucked a bit more tomato on the base, and a bit more chili on top – but that’s just me.

I’m pretty psyched to have another vegan pizza option so close by, though it doesn’t seem like they do delivery which means you have to put in a bit of effort to get your pizza.

On another occasion, the bear and I went for a bit walk around the city, out to Carlton, Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond. It’s only natural that we would need an ice cream pitstop during this adventure.

Luckily, Casa Del Gelato was there to service our needs. Casa Del Gelato has been selling gelato from their Lygon st location since 1980 – holy moly! They have a huge range of vegan sorbets, but also a selection of six or so soya gelatos, which include creamy flavours like chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio and coffee.

casadelgelatoThe bear ended up going for some dairy flavours, while I matched the bacio and coffee flavours. What can I say? I love ice cream, and I especially love being able to choose flavours that aren’t usually on offer (read: something other than sorbet). Creamy and delicious. I don’t care if it’s winter, ice cream rules! Thank you Casa Del Gelato, I love you!

Eat Pizza
1c/557 Flinders St, Melbourne
(See website for Nth Melbourne, Footscray and Glenroy locations)
Mon – Thurs – 10.30am – 10.30pm
Fri – 10.30am – 11.30pm
Sat – 12pm – 11.30pm
Sun – 12pm – 10.30pm

Casa Del Gelato
163 Lygon St, Carlton
Open 7 days, 12pm – 12am

Banquet at Gong De Lin

A while back, Veganopoulous posted about a banquet lunch at Gong De Lin which she had bought through an online deal on Scoopon. After noting the array of food, I promptly went online and bought one for myself too. Nothing like a vegan bargain!

The voucher sat in my inbox for months, until this weekend when I finally realised I only had a matter of days left to use it. So the bear and I took ourselves out to dinner last night so as not to let it go to waste.

Prior to Veganopoulous posting about Gong De Lin, I had never heard of the place. They’ve only been around for a year or so, and they are somewhat easy to miss – on the third floor of a building on Swanston Street, up near QV. I had a quick look on Urbanspoon before we went and noted quite a few reviews detailing rude, angry staff and food being reheated in the microwave. This perhaps set my expectations a little lower than usual, however we were pleasantly surprised. The friendly waitress seated us in a booth by the window and brought us some corn soup very promptly. I love getting to sit by the window, especially at such a height where you can look out onto the streets below.

ImageExcuse the crappy camera photos please.

The corn soup was pretty standard, similar to one we had in Box Hill last week – I kind of like it, while finding the texture very odd at the same time. It was certainly nice to sip on something warm after coming in from the cold.

The waitress was very attentive, and offered us a choice of jasmine tea or soft drink (as they were out of plum juice), as well as a choice between spicy chicken or mushrooms for our main. I was so stoked about being given the choice, and ordered the chicken without skipping a beat. She also brought some dipping sauces for our dumplings much to the bear’s delight – just try and keep his paws away from a jar of chilli oil!

ImageNext up – spring rolls. As Veganopoulous said, spring rolls are spring rolls! They were enjoyable and not too oily, accompanied by a chilli dipping sauce. The bear was too busy smothering his in a concoction he had made in his own bowl to notice this sauce until the end.

ImageThe dumplings came out at about the same time as the spring rolls. The skin looked quite thick and I feared it might be cardboard-y, but they were softer than I had expected. I always like it when dumplings, buns or spring rolls are filled with mixtures that have identifiable bits in them. These had little chunks of tofu among lots of greens. I enjoyed them.

ImageNext up a bean sprout salad. This was a little soggy, but I liked the juiciness to break up the entrees – it was quite a palate cleanser!

ImageThis was bear’s dish of the night – sweet and sour pork. I am constantly amazed by the different textures that mock-meat takes on these days – it really is fascinating. Just last week we had some vegan prawns at Vegie Hut (which I hated – too prawny would you believe?!) The sauce was really thick and the flavour spot on. We were given a bowl of rice each to accompany the mains.

ImageThe other main was the spicy chicken. The sauce itself was not overly spicy, but there were chillis scattered throughout the dish which certainly packed a punch. This dish also had water chestnuts (which I haven’t had in SO long!) and peanuts. I liked the stringy texture of the mock chicken.

ImageFinally, dessert. I’m not going to lie – I didn’t enjoy this. Little flavourless balls of dough in some sugar water. Neither of us finished it. By that point we were pretty full anyway, so it was no big loss.

So Gong De Lin is now on the radar – I’ll remember it if I’m looking for a sure-fire vegan Chinese option in the CBD. It was a good deal – $39 for the two of us for all that food, however I did not get a chance to browse the menu to see what the standard prices are. Maybe we’ll just have to come back and find out!

Gong De Lin
Level 3, 264 Swanston St Melbourne
Open 7 Days – 10am – 10pm