Although all intentions are usually there to do good by the body and earth and strive to eat more vegetable based meals…I'm honestly not hard wired to crave vegetables. Whilst I certainly do love them, if I'm making food at home or when I'm out, I'm still gravitating towards a meaty protein and cooing over a nice little bit of lamb or a delightfully fatty nibble of pork. I blame the Asian in me.
So I'm kind of loving that more and more vegetarian places, and not just vegetarian places, but really tasty vegetarian places are opening up and making the decision to have veggies, not really a decision at all.
Marwin Shaw, the guy who brought us the much loved Monk Bodhi Dharma, finally opened up shop a little bit closer to town (and me), with Admiral Cheng-Ho.
Located in that awkward corner of Johnston Street in Abbotsford, which is still yet to find it's stride when it comes to food (although be ready, I'm sure it's just around the corner now), word gets around fast, and within two weeks of opening, the weekend crowd is pumping.
In summer the little cafe is hot. Hot, hot and hot! Sticky thighs and sweat moustaches ensued, especially with that many people in such a wee little space. With more wintery weather creeping up on us though, I will have to admit that I'm now very tempted when I see the light on as my bus goes by the cafe in the morning, to maybe show up at work a little later and treat myself.
With a mix of breakfast basics, and interesting twists (and a few fun names in there), the menu read simply but delightfully.
Whilst I was very keen on the house made organic hazelnut milk, the price tag made me think twice, $9 for a chai latte made with it! So instead I just opted for my usual soy chai which was beautifully spicy. I love the big mug you get as well, certainly lasts a little while! I will certainly be planning to pop by and try the hazelnut milk one of these days though, after all $9 isn't so bad... right?
Whilst I was sorely tempted by the Banoffee Pie on the menu, I still cannot convince myself to go fully sweet in the morning, and so found myself with the namesake, 'The Admiral'.
An elegantly presented serve of zucchini fritters on sauteed kale with seasonal vegetables with tangy beetroot relish and basil cashew cream. So much goodness all in one plate, I was amazed they were still getting asparagus this big, this fresh and this green at this time of year! The fritters were a nice texture, and well seasoned and honestly, the vegans are seriously onto something with that cashew cream. So smooth and creamy, with a nice tang of sweetness from the beetroot. Yum!
Brad got the umami mushrooms with slow roasted king oyster, shitake & swiss brown mushrooms on a house made pumpkin, spinach & sun dried tomato polenta bread with goats cheese, thyme and red chilli oil. Although they had run out of the polenta bread, so we just got some regular bread.
It looked to be a relatively modest serve, but it was quite rich in flavour, with the creamy chunks of goat cheese and a rich creamy sauce. It was a lovely umami kick indeed, although Brad left wishing it had an egg on it, just for a bit of protein and to make it a little more filling for him. But y'know boys.
I personally left feeling great, quite light and clean, happily skipping down the street as a cool breeze decided to blow through.
So although I may question the choice of footwear on the hipster staff (clear, sparkly jelly sandals…didn't those go out of style 20 years ago?), I don't question the goodness of the food.
And who knows, maybe the Admiral is leading the charge to bring a little more hip and cool to this sleepy corner of Johnston street…watch this space!
Admiral Cheng Ho
325 Johnson Street
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