Admiral Cheng Ho was an explorer and diplomat (and eunuch) appointed by the Emperor of China to set off on a series of naval expeditions during the Ming Dynasty.

When he reached foreign lands the Admiral offered gifts, such as China’s finest teas. Now Marwin Shaw, owner of Balaclava’s Monk Bodhi Dharma, serves up top fair-trade teas to northsiders along with seasonal, single estate coffee at his newly opened and appropriately named establishment in Abbotsford, Admiral Cheng Ho.

The impressive coffee counter operates six simultaneous grinders filled with different single-origin beans, which currently includes the ultra-premium Panama Ninety Plus Lotus Sokiln which goes for $20 a cup. For your more every-day coffee, you can grab a cup of something filtered or a cold brew of the other five types on offer.

Staying true to the devoted clientele that trek to Balaclava for their Monk fix, Shaw has carried over signature dishes and created notable new ones such as the zucchini fritters – sautéed kale with seasonal vegetables with a tangy beetroot relish and basil cashew cream. And for those that love dessert for breakfast, the raw banoffee pie makes for an indulgent yet almost guilt-free meal.

The fit out and furnishings are handmade by Shaw from salvaged timbers and recycled materials. The interior is a patch-worked nod to the cultural corners of Melbourne, the south wall features coloured planks of timber with a beach shack feel, the east wall has a white minimalist look, and the west wall features a rustic exposed brick. “It’s the small intrinsic attention to detail that people appreciate,” says Shaw.

Admiral Cheng Ho
325 Johnston Street, Abbotsford
(03) 9534 7250

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