182-184 Whitehorse Road
Balwyn, VIC 3103
For the longest time, good brunch in the outer Eastern Suburbs was synonymous with Snow Pony. Whenever someone said they were going out for brunch, there was pretty much no need to ask them where they were going, as the answer was either obvious, or probably not worth hearing. Slowly but surely however, cafes have been popping up (like colourful toadstools!) closer to my ‘hood, and all of a sudden, brunch was no longer synonymous with getting up at 8am on a Sunday.
One of the newest brunch-y additions to the Eastern suburbs is White Mojo – the second branch of the CBD original, which has been dubbed as real life click-bait. I’m a big fan of the interior – a bright, minimalistic place that nevertheless manages to feel family friendly, thanks to little touches like the honeycomb-patterned walls, and the French bulldog mural splashed brightly opposite the entrance. The staff looked adorable in their uniform of white shirts and leather aprons.
Ben Luo, one of the co-owners, takes great pride in his cafe. Having worked previously at the much more traditional Snow Pony, Ben is keen to keep ahead of the current trends. That means breads from Rustica, tailor-made coffee blends (made from two processing methods – fully natural and wet-hulled), and of course, the ubiquitous matcha latte.
I had my usual Skinny Flat White ($4), and whilst I’m not usually a fan of light roasts, I would definitely make an exception for these beans. Clean and fruity, but not overly acidic, this was a refreshing brew that still carried a rich robustness. Chris on the other hand had the Hot Chocolate ($4.5). Made using chocolate from Mork, this was a wonderfully sweet and creamy drink.
I had my heart set on the Chilli Prawn And Chorizo ($22), and it turned out to be an absolute beauty of a dish. The prawns took centre stage; the sous-vide process had rendered them pearly and translucent, whilst infusing them with spices. They were accompanied by slices of chorizo, and the most meltingly tender grilled scallops. This dish does pack a little heat, especially if you choose to eat the fresh chillies, but not to worry – the white beans in yoghurt sauce will fix you right up. This was an indulgent but elegant brunch that wouldn’t look out of place at the dinner table (once you get rid of the toast), but it is quite a light serve so save this for when you plan on having dessert.
Equally as good (and as un-brunch-like) was the Salmon Tartare ($21). This was possibly the best salmon tartare I’ve ever had. The sashimi-grade fish was plump and fresh, mixed with spicy mayo and creamy dollops of miso avocado puree. The micro herbs and sweet dehydrated onion slivers gave it some zing. Scoop it up with the bagel crisps, and you have yourself a scrumptious brunch that’s healthy to boot!
I’d also like to take a moment to wax lyrical about the 63 degree egg served with the tartare. Made famous by Cumulus Inc, these eggs are slowly and gently cooked in a 63 degree water bath, and the result is a homogenously ooey-gooey egg. For those of you who think poaching is as good as it gets, you need to try these.
And as promised, dessert came in the form of the Eton Mess ($16.5). From the bed of organic strawberry yoghurt grew a garden of feathery meringue shards, fresh berries, freeze-dried fruits, and flower petals, with a few daubs of coconut gel for a hint of that robust nuttiness. This is a breakfast dessert that ticks all the sugary boxes, without any accompanying guilt.
In a part of Melbourne where the brunch scene has only recently begun to bud, White Mojo tears in like a hurricane. Its offerings are imaginative and beautiful, with flavours to match. It is on the pricey side, but it’s worth it for the quality of food and service you’re getting.
Rating: 15/20 – pray for mojo.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of White Mojo.