Fashion is synonymous with art and creativity. One of the trends slowly infiltrating stores is laser cutting – a recent form of fashion innovation where specialty lasers are used to accurately ‘cut’ unique patterns and intricate designs into a variety of fabrics. With its durability and hardness – laser cut leather is a favourite, softening the overall look with delicate patterns and pleats. The end result is a cleaner cut and a higher quality of finish compared to the traditional blade method.

Designers such as Marchesa have produced immaculate laser- cut pieces that resemble art-work with an incredible depth of detail. As laser cutting becomes increasingly mainstream, I have spotted affordable laser cut shell tops and skirts appearing in stores.

May Cheeky Chewies – Asian Inspired Cafe

Cheeky Chewies is of two worlds. One side appeals to the Aussie larrikin: chicken wings, burgers and parmas. The other side,  journeys to the east. Brother and sister team, open a cafe where east meets West. Funnily enough, Cheeky Chewies’ choice of location is far West – in Laverton, where mentions of Nasi Lemak might draw puzzled looks. Admittedly, the only time I’ve visited Laverton was to eat jam doughnuts and to fix a broken phone screen at a questionable ‘electronics’ stall. A quick scan of the unassuming street – draws my eye to a singular Thai restaurant and funnily enough a Korean grocer? No doubt, locals have welcomed Cheeky Chewies with open arms. 

A conversation with the owner, reveals a Malaysian heritage. Unsurprising, when you taste the authenticity of the Nasi Lemak and the Laksa. Traditionally, you’d eat these dishes in a dirty hawker stall. In Malaysia, it’s  hot, slightly stinky and you question whether salmonella is the ‘special ingredient’. But you don’t care, because it’s tasty and unrefined. At Cheeky Chewies, you’re eating at a typical cafe setup: hanging succulents, bright pops of yellow and a play area for the kiddies.

At Cheeky Chewies, the Nasi Lemak hones on traditional flavours – succulent chicken rendang, punchy sambal and crispy anchovies.  The Omelette is Thai-inspired, filled with pork mince. A tad on the dry side, with a spicy kick. The laksa is served in a cute teapot, warmed by candlelight. The vermicelli and yellow rice noodles, waiting for the warm embrace of laksa broth. The broth arrives in a river of yellow, spicy and creamy, balanced and fragrant. YASSS, somewhere I can get a good laksa besides Laksa King!

Parma and chips.. no thanks. The strength of Cheeky Chewies lies in the Asian flavours. Let’s hope they focus on their strengths, because I’m a Mamak freak.

I’m a Mamak Freak – Nasi Lemak w/ Coconut rice, Chicken rendang Anchovies, Cucumber

Aug House of Hoi An – Taste of Central Vietnam

Enter Ms Vy’s House of Hoi An for a taste of Central Vietnam. Is it a blink and you’ll miss it hole-in-the-wall? Definitely not. At night, the psychedelic glow, lights up Windsor. The vibrant mural of a river scene, with glowing lanterns, lures diners inside. On a freezing winter’s night, it radiates warmth. Don’t make me go back outside!

Ms Vy is the Jamie Oliver of Vietnam – with three restaurants, a cooking school and books to her name. A venture to the southside of Melbourne, further expands the Taste of Vietnam empire. Hoi An  is part of Central Vietnam – the former port city is a cultural melting point. The trade of spices and other commodities, shapes the food of the region, making it spicier than its Northern and Southern counterparts. Being half Vietnamese, the food I’ve grown up with heralds from Southern Vietnam (Saigon specifically – where my parents were born).  Banh Xeo, beef pho, Vietnamese curry – is the food you typically associate with the cuisine. I’d thought I had tried every Vietnamese dish, but House of Hoi An has a few surprises. 

Starters commence with crispy fried wontons, topped with a fresh crab salad. Next, Banh Uot Thit Nuong, a dish that Dad throws together at home with his own variation. You might’ve noticed that the Vietnamese love rolling things – either in veggies, vermicelli or in this case rice paper. Fragrant BBQ pork cooked on skewers, is served on a wooden board with your ‘rolling’ accompaniments. Both dishes are banging.

Onto the heavier mains – this is where the spice of the region shines through. The stuffed squid is a signature for House of Hoi An. I was particularly keen , as this was a Vietnamese dish that I’ve never encountered. The squid is  juicy and ‘stuffed’ with minced pork. On its own, the peppery notes can be overpowering. This one is for sharing. The sauteed prawns are presented in a coconut. Lift off the lid to reveal the aroma of coconut and plump prawns, sauteed in a curry sauce.  Again, the saltiness can be  a tad overpowering. Dessert was a major thumbs up. Frozen banana is smothered in coconut three-ways, in a refreshing palate cleanser.

House of Hoi An goes beyond standard spring rolls and bowls of pho. It introduces Melbournians to Central Vietnamese cuisine – a lesser known region of Vietnam known for spice and heat.

Ten One Ate & Giant Marshmallow Hot Chocolates

Ten One Ate is two-faced. Not in the nasty sense, but in the sense that the menu can be clearly segregated. One side, is health driven, focusing on organic, sustainable produce. The other side, screams ADHD, with hyperactive, sugar laden dishes.  It seems most people, are attracted to the butt cheek expanding options. Who can blame them? The Steak Sandwich is a masculine choice, with Angus Scotch steak, sandwiched with creamy avocado and cheese. Accompanied with crispy chips, a more pungent cheese eg. gruyere would’ve made this even better. Not complaining though, this was darn tasty. Ordering salt & pepper calamari is high risk. It’s a stock standard dish found at EVERY family restaurant. Ten One Ate’s version is refined, with scatterings of organic baby corn, amongst other hipster approved greens.  If only all salt & pepper calamari dishes, were this good!

Onto the intriguing hot chocolates. The giant marshmallows arrive, toasted, as a delicious floatation device. We asked the owner where can we purchase giant Marshmallows? He replies jokingly ‘ I’ld have to kill you, if I told you’. Let’s just say it starts with a C ;). The slight bitterness of Matcha, provides a differential tasting point. The White Chocolate sits in the background. The slowly disintegrating marshmallow, further enhances the sweetness. Without which, the hot chocolate is quite mild. We prefer our hot drinks intense and thick – but each to their own?

Ten One Ate elevates the North West, replacing the Bricklayer’s Arm, as a new dining destination. Look to the floor and you’ll notice an underground private dining room. Look to your belly and you’ll notice a satisfying bulge. Go forth and make some food babies!

Salt & Pepper Calamari w/ Organic Baby Corn, Quinoa, Broccoli, Salsa verde, Pomegranate, Lime vinegar dressing

Steak Sandwich & Chips  – Angus scotch steak, Roast peppers, Cheese, Avocado, Onions, Lettuce, Aioli

Ten One Ate is two-faced. Not in the nasty sense, but in the sense that the menu can be clearly segregated. One side, is health driven, focusing on organic, sustainable produce. The othe