Admiral Cheng-Ho

325 Johnston St, Abbotsford 3067
Date visited: 29th September 2014

Admiral Cheng-Ho.  I am just tickled by the name of this specialty coffee cafe, named after the the eunuch mariner-explorer during the early Ming Dynasty.  It brings me back to the (not so) good ol' days studying history at school.  

Admiral Cheng-Ho serves up fair trade teas and single estate coffees and is sister to Monk Bodhi Dharma in Balaclava.  From the outside, it looks like a darkened, old antique furniture store - I would have never guessed it housed a kooky roastery.  The interior was tiny and there were a few single tables and a larger communal table.  

Admiral Cheng-Ho takes its coffees very seriously.  No wonder, they have six grinders, filter coffees, as well as house range teas and organic milk chai lattes and hot chocolate.

The coffees smelt so amazing in the making.  AS had a Latte, no complaints here!

I was lured by their filter coffees - they offer brews from El Salvador, Panama and Ethiopia, starting from $8 to a whopping $25 per cup.  I decided upon the Ethiopia - Nekisse Ruby N2 for $15, which was described as limited liquid gold with notes of blueberries and passionfruit. 

My brew came in a large glass - it appeared so mysterious and magical, the steam swirling up innocuously.  I even made a video of it on Instagram - hey, sometimes we need some cheap thrills!

Ethiopia - Nekisse Ruby N2
This was seriously one of the best filter coffees I've ever had.  It was just stunning - full of complex flavours, vibrant, with notes of berries.  Sigh.  

Admiral Cheng-Ho offers a short all day vegetarian breakfast menu, so please don't expect a plate of bacon and eggs.  Vegan and gluten-free options are also available.

Our food took a little while to arrive.  AS saw someone with a sandwich and decided she wanted to have one as well.  I didn't taste it, but think there was pumpkin, feta, beetroot and avocado inside.

I went for the Umami Mushrooms.  Loved the mound of fat, juicy slow roasted king oyster, oyster and swiss brown mushrooms with the sprightly shitake on top.  The goats cheese was a bit chalky and crumbly, didn't give the dish a savoury punch that it needed, and the thyme and red chilli oil wasn't really detectable as well.  Unfortunately, the house made pumpkin, spinach and sun dried tomato polenta bread was also slightly dry and stodgy, and there just wasn't enough sauce to pull things together, overall lacked that whack of flavour. 

Umami mushrooms

MerlinFan of course chose the dish that inspired me to come here, the Northside Quinoa Pancakes.  

Northside quinoa pancakes
This was a rather lovely dish.  The quinoa mini pancakes were light and fluffy with crisp edges, and had a sweet, coconuty flavour to them.  They were served with raw vanilla cream, two slices of candied orange (loved it!), pear and a sprinkling of Lotus Solkiln Geisha (Ninety Plus Estate) coffee soil.  The syrupy butterscotch sauce came in an oriental spoon so that you could drench your pancakes to your heart's content.

Overall, I think Admiral Cheng-Ho excels in what it does best - coffee.  If you're a dead set meat-lover, you may find yourself a little limited with what's on offer food wise, but it's definitely worth the visit for a most satisfying caffeine fix.

Admiral Cheng-Ho on Urbanspoon

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