Pancake dessert house - OK, it must serve pancakes and desserts!
Hmm, not entirely.
Oh, I see - steak and chips! Spaghetti too. OK, it serves straight Aussie food then!
Hmm, not quite!
Pancake Dessert House is a frenetic Hong Kong-style eatery that serves Hong Kong-style Western food along with a voluminous pan-Asian menu. The "winter special" of baked spaghetti caught the eyes of Mum and me in the city one day and we decided to take a punt on this crazy combo.
Spaghetti with smoked salmon with pepper in creamy sauce, $12
Sometimes there's a lot of lip curling and suspicious poking of food that goes on when we're eating somewhere that's not Vietnamese or Italian. The kids were suss of Pancake Dessert House, sure they were going to be forced to eat some experimental (for us) fish-stuffed vegetable thingy, until they got the baked spaghetti. Watching their faces was like seeing someone find a vintage Chanel dress among a mangled pile at Camberwell Market. This was really crazy - oiled spaghetti topped with a thick, condensed-soup style sauce with mushroom and chunks of smoky salmon. It was tasty though!
Chicken fillet with tomato and Portuguese sauces, $11.80
Similarly, the baked rice arrived as fried rice topped with a juicy chicken thigh and covered in a bubbling layer of our choices of tomato and "Portuguese" sauce. The tomato tasted just like Heinz Big Red soup (which I file in my shameful secret love food stash, along with frozen spicy wedges and taco kits) while the Portuguese was actually quite yummy, creamy with a hint of curry.
Stir-fry round bean with mince chicken on rice, $9.30
This variation on the classic pork dish had minced chicken with well-fried green beans. Serious wok hei was going on - the smoky, charred "breath of the wok" taste that is so sought after. This was a great dish - I'm very keen to try their other wok-fried dishes, as it's rare to find such proper, big-flame flavour here in Melbourne.
Back entrance on Little Bourke Street
I did some research and found out that Hong Kong actually has a Western-style canon of food. British colonisation between 1864 and 1997 has infused Hong Kong's cuisine with Western flavours, and touches of other European nations have also been absorbed into the island's food culture. Some particular favourites are Hong Kong-style toast (deep fried and served with melting pats of butter) and scrambled eggs, as experienced by Thang of Cabramatta's Noodlies.
"Pappa Fish and Chips" - from PappaRich, a chain in Malaysia.
Having Western food as interpreted by another culture when you're a Westerner yourself is fraught with difficulty. I know Bryan (originally of Singapore) finds it harder to have anything "Asian-esque" here as it never quite hits the mark of what's back home. I guess you have to ignore that voice in your head which jumps up and down saying "But! But! That's not how you make pasta/noodles/chilli crab!", close your eyes and judge a dish on taste alone...and with that guideline, Dessert House was great.
teenagefoodie, originally from HK, rates Dessert House too for authentic HK food.
Pancake Dessert House
Mid City Arcade, 200 Bourke Street
Phone: 9663 1400
Hours: Lunch and dinner 7 days
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