Skip to main content

First Taste - Box Hill, Melbourne

First Taste on Urbanspoon

Claypot cooking is a tradition arising out of cool evenings and the intent for capturing all the goodness and flavours of carefully chosen ingredients to be combined in a one serve dish. The outcome of such dishes, whether as double-boiled herbal soups, rice-based vegetable cuts and meat slices or as noodle creations, is often aromatic. At First Taste, one gets personalised servings, the feel of home cooking and the chatter of an informal community all gathered to enjoy such a common penchant for this style of cuisine. Originating from China, the dishes are as safe and reliable for young kids and elderly nannas. As with Oriental dishes, there are lots of cutting, assembling of the ingredients and consideration for the balance of sensations (sour, sweet, savoury and salty) for each dish created. Shallots, garlic, ginger and bits of red-black Cantonese sausage are often used for garnishing, together with various sauces, ranging from XO to oyster.

Suan and Elaine had accompanied me to Box Hill in the greater Melbourne area one afternoon for a drop by at the First Taste outlet. The chain has other branches in Footscray and Springvale in Victoria, and I had recalled how I had been also introduced to the Hurstville outlet in southern Sydney by Tom and Nae. The Box Hill entrance is unassuming, but promised and delivered much variety and choice in different kinds of claypot combinations. Visualise black skinned chickens (silkies), black fungus, smooth tofu sheets, quail, scallops and prawns. Whether you view such things as acquired tastes, or as an adventure not far from home, is up to you.

The cooked white rice at the bottom of each claypot can be burnt. The other caution is to be ready for really hot servings placed in front of you. Do we consume the little bits of meat found hidden amongst the rice pile or floating in the soup? Use discretion, depending on the type of meat and whether you reckon the taste from such meats has already been transferred to the soup or rice. It can be fun, digging through your order, to find delights, mysteries and that item you have seen Mum cooked before.

My Caucasian friends vouch for black pepper diced beef sitting on claypot rice, especially during the rainy weather that we have been having. Whatever they choose, do not steer them to the durian flavoured soup as it is definitely an acquired taste! Then there is the risk of chicken feet herbal soup, complete with skin intact but supposedly providing some nutrition benefits for those already convinced of the beneficial effects of this dish. My weakness is stewed pork claypot, on the fatty side but tasty and irresistible! I enjoyed the food choices in front of me and was so engrossed in conversation with both Suan and Elaine that I totally forgot to take pictures.

I could be mistaken, but I reckon there is another First Taste outlet at Campsie in NSW. I recommend you try their fare on a cool night and you do not have to spend much to transport yourself to an authentic Chinese experience. Claypots can also be obtained for your home at most Asian groceries, usually at the back shelves. Clay is a porous material and such cooking is not confined to Asia, but also practised in different styles in Morroco, Spain and Italy.
My impressions of First Taste at Box Hill in the Melbourne region are:

Atmosphere: Crowded and noisy

Location: Near to suburban rail station, always something interesting outside as well

Taste: Varying and wide choice, flavours depends on what you actually have and experienced before.

People Engagement: As a matter of fact, I reckon the staff are asked to churn customer turnover.

Service: Quick and no time for conversation with customers. Best to point to menu pictures even if you speak Mandarin or Cantonese.

Best Time to Visit: Avoid lunch and dinner time slots.

Fav Dish Experienced: Wolfberry double boiled with other herbs, good for eyesight!

Would I Return?: Yes, for what I see as comfort food.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Chung Ling Alumni Association Petaling Jaya Klang Valley

Telephone Contact:  +603 7957 0318

85 Degrees Bakery Cafe Hurstville NSW

There are several outlets of this bakery cafe for several years now in Australia.  Did they coem from the USA?

Each franchised outlet is in a busy area, often in suburbs so-called by a diverse Asian demographic.   The one in Hurstville is rather roomy and lots of baked stuff on its shelves.   The base of Sydney operations is in Chester Hill, a suburb south-west of the Sydney city centre.


Some of the cake creations would be viewed as rather leaning on the East Asian dimension  - Strawberry Angel (with chocolate base and top) and Mango Cheese ( with yoghurt).   However, to counter this perspective, there are also Death by Chocolate, US Cheesecake, Coffee Brulee and Blueberry Marble options.    


The pastries are definitely filled with ingredients more suited to perhaps Anime loving fans and non-mainstream cultures - for example, garlic, pork, tuna, green tea, red bean, shallots, pork floss, coconut, Hokkaido butter cream and Boroh or pineapple buns.   Sung seems to be a variation emphasised…

Penang - Lor Mee

Lor mee is another of those street foods that are not commonly available in Western societies, but are easily found in southern China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The dish is iconic of the Teochew Province in China and has been mainly brought to equatorial climes by immigrants over the last few centuries. It combines snippets of ingredients in a thick savoury sauce. Above, the lor mee with roast pork and sliced hard boiled egg accompaniments at the Fong Sheng Cafe, along Lorong Selamat in Georgetown, Penang - the place was introduced by May Wah and Henry Quah.







The cafe harks back to the seventies or eighties - and maybe earlier - what caught my eye were (above) freshly blended fruit and/or vegetable juices and (below) metal and plastic contraptions of the food trade.
















Hot and cold drinks are easily on offer from the cafe (above and below) at very reasonable prices.







Another version of the dish (below) taken whilst Bob Lee was enjoying them in another cafe or coffee shop in Georgetown…