Monk Bodhi Dharma

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Bringing a sense of soul into your brunch experience

Hidden behind Woolworths on Carlisle street in Balaclava, in a shed-like reformed bakehouse in a carpark lies Monk Bodhi Dharma, one of the most wholesome and spectacular vegetarian cafes in our food-crazed city. For those of you (all of you) who are wondering where name originates from, Monk Bodhi Dharma is (you're right) named after a Indian monk named Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma is known to be the father of Zen Buddhism, and for introducing the practice to China back in the 5th-6th century.

A trusty, all-time local favourite of mine, being a resident of the Glen Eira neighbourhood, I have been frequenting Monk Bodhi Dharma for quite some time now. And I never seem to get sick of it; if you're a regular you'll understand, and if you're a newbie, you will come to understand.

Rustic brick walls line the cosy small sized cafe, where brunch enthusiasts sit at communal tables, and the fresh aromas of speciality house-roasted coffee beans linger in the air. As you've guessed, Monk Bodhi Dharma is well known for its coffee (and healing tea) collection. It boasts a coffee menu that is separate from its compact (but heavenly) food menu, making it the best morning stop to fuel your day. And you can even buy their beans right off the shelf! The cafe's warm atmosphere and the care they put into preparing each dish makes one only come back for more.

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Staying true to its Buddhism inspired concept, the food menu is cruelty free, and vegetarian. You will not even find eggs on the menu, but Monk Bodhi Dharma does delicious dishes that will make you wonder why you were even craving eggs in the first place.

I don't even know where to begin, as I have over the years enjoyed all the items on their permanent menu (they also have a changing specials board that will impress). The Avo (they do it exceptionally well), Hungry Jimbo (polenta bread with vegemite, avo, goats cheese/almond feta and roast tomatoes) and Avignon Apple Pancakes (which comes with raw cinnamon ice cream) are like comfort food to me and can instantaneously brighten up my day.

This morning I had the Umami Mushrooms: roasted king oyster, shiitake, oyster and swiss brown mushrooms on a house-made pumpkin polenta bread- that is served with (the perfect amount of) goats cheese, thyme and red chile oil.

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And my friend had the White Bean Bruschetta which consists of white bean and goats cheese, dried tomatoes, radish, rocket and pesto oil.

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Both dishes were deliciously satisfying and hit all the right spots, and my friend who had never been to this hidden gem was raving about it to others all day. Having a sensitive stomach, as well as liking to know where the food I put into my mouth comes from, I trust Monk Bodhi Dharma to feed me (and my soul) with their gluten free options, and with their cruelty free policy.

Check out their all day breakfast menu here.

Not only do they do breakfast/brunch/lunch, but hold monthly degustation dinners.

The next degustation dinner is on the 23rd of October at 6.30pm, in the form of an 11 course tasting menu that features both cooked and raw delights. Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free and NGO (no garlic or onion), these dinners are but a dream to mindful eaters like I am.

At $100 pp, it is a great deal for an 11 course meal. I recommend booking early to avoid missing out, head over to Monk Bodhi Dharma's website to register.

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Monk Bodhi Dharma  Rear 202 Carlisle Street, Balaclava VIC 3183 Tel: 03 9534 7250 Website: www.monkbodhidharma.com.au Instagram: @monkbodhidharma