Most well known for their in-house roasted coffee, the little cafe haven in Balaclava, Monk Bodhi Dharma, has now extended their daytime dining hours and is now serving dinner too (on Fridays).

All vegan and mostly raw, the menu includes options like pad-thai with zucchini noodles, coriander, basil, avocado, lime, capsicum and nuts, shimeji mushrooms on cauliflower rice and raw falafel rolled in sesame served on hummus and tabouli. But it seems they also have quite a sweet tooth.

“Our specialty is definitely dessert,” say the boys in the kitchen. They describe the white chocolate cheesecake, which is actually made from coconut flesh and vanilla on a nut crumble base with a clear agave syrup and thick raspberry sauce, quashing any preconceptions of raw food as bland rabbit’s lunch.

“You don’t have to be a raw foodist to enjoy the food here,” the chefs explain. “An ideal diet is 80 per cent raw food and 20 per cent cooked – we eat cooked food too.”

The menu fits the ideal, with two cooked mains that echo Monk’s vegan lunch options. These include Caribbean jambalaya – a root vegetable and black eye pea stew with seared banana and coriander chutney and Tunisian tagine – pumpkin, chickpeas and root vegetables with African flatbread and a vegan sour cream made from cashew nuts.

The project was born of a simple desire to eat and live healthily, say the boys. Taking inspiration from Yong Green Food in Fitzroy, the creative menu was developed through trial and error, not to mention extensive reading. One of the most exciting things about raw and vegan food, they say, is creating flavours like cheese or cream using a combination of other ingredients and techniques.

Monk dinners are a welcome extension of the philosophy behind their food and coffee: to create healing and sustainable food from scratch.

Monk Bodhi Dharma is currently open for dinner on Fridays (from 6.30pm), with the hope of opening on other evenings in the near future.

monkbodhidharma.com.au