Le Miel Et La Lune, Carlton

During this period of social distancing, I will be reviewing restaurants I visited way back when but who are still doing pickup and/or delivery during this time. Please support them by ordering whatever you can from them – whether it’s food, merch or fresh produce – to help them stay afloat in these difficult times.

Where: Le Miel Et La Lune, 330 Cardigan Street Carlton 

What: Japanese breakfast, my favourite type of breakfast 

Who: Whitest Chilli Fiend, Editor Extraordinaire, 

Bloat score: 0 – Living the dream

I’d visited tranquil cornerside Carlton café Le Miel Et La Lune for the first time years ago and loved it, promising myself that it’d become a regular stop on my brunch circuit, but then before I knew it four years had passed and I hadn’t been back! Such is life in Melbourne. I rectified this by visiting late last year and then early this year again.

Courtesy of its Korean chef Jung Eun Chae, Le Miel Et La Lune specialises in Korean and Japanese breakfasts and lunches, placing them in my favourite category of brunch alongside Ima Project Café, Cibi and Taiyo Sun. When I visited with Whitest Chilli Fiend – who hasn’t appeared on WFYB since this review of Pezzo in late 2017 – it was a cool summer’s day and the waitstaff had opened up each and every one of their big bay windows, which led to a refreshing breeze washing over us every few minutes. It was the first day of my Christmas break and I was in seventh heaven – I live for summer days where the temperature doesn’t surpass 20 degrees.

I ordered an ice oat milk latte and it was sublime (don’t expect a more in-depth examination of coffee from me), courtesy of the Proud Mary beans that Le Miel Et La Lune use.

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Whitest Chilli Fiend, a non-coffee drinker, ordered a hot chocolate and enjoyed it.

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I fully leaned into the Japanese breakfast bent of Le Miel Et La Lune and ordered the ochazuke off the all-day lunch menu. Ochazuke features steamed rice with a variety of ingredients – in this case, dried salmon, spring onion and pickled radish – steeped in green tea.

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If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you’ll remember it from Calia, the only other place in Melbourne where I’ve seen this homestyle dish. Le Miel Et La Lune provided me with a pot of green tea, which I used to periodically fill my dish with. I’m obsessed with this deceptively simple yet hugely heartwarming dish – it’s said to be eaten as a snack or when Japanese people have leftover rice they need to use, attesting to the lightness of this dish. Everyone’s favourite website Bon Appetit has a recipe for a vegetarian ochazuke if anyone wants to try their hand at making it.

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Meanwhile, Whitest Chilli Fiend leaned into the non-Japanese section of the menu and ordered the sweet corn fritters with bacon, crushed avocado, sour cream and a tomato relish. What arrived was a generous stack of all the aforementioned ingredients heaped on top of one another with a flourish of tomato relish surrounding it. She enjoyed it, but struggled with the sheer quantity of corn fritters and would’ve preferred sliced avocado on the side rather than smashed avocado for some textural contrast.

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I had such a good time at Le Miel Et La Lune, I visited a month later with Editor Extraordinaire. This time, I had my eyes on the pork tonkatsu with a red cabbage salad, rice, furikake and kimchi, but decided at the last minute to switch to something more bloat-friendly – the poke bowl with cured salmon, edamame and a wonderfully savoury roasted sesame and soy sauce.

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This was as fresh and light as you’d expect – it’s no wonder I escaped with zero bloats.

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I was feeling a bit under the weather – back in the heyday when feeling sick didn’t bring with it the paranoia of having contracted a serious virus – and had ordered a housemade ice honey, lemon and ginger tea alongside. It was refreshing and a salve for my sore throat (even with the ice).

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The perennially virtuous Editor Extraordinaire shamed me with his far more successful attempts at meat-free eating by ordering the kimchi bibimbap with a medley of vegetables, from zucchini and eggplant to sautéed cauliflower, kale and kimchi. He wasn’t even tempted by the option to add Korean spicy barbecue pork for $5! What a martyr. He loved the balanced flavours in his bowl and the way the slightly runny egg coated his grains of rice in a pleasing creaminess, but a particular highlight for him was the roasted cauliflower.

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Le Miel Et La Lune is a delightful little café with the best of both worlds – perfect coffee and even better food. If it were my local, I’d be visiting every second day but if you, like me, don’t live within walking distance to it, there are many ways you can still support it in this difficult time – detailed below.

Le Miel Et La Lune is usually open from Monday to Friday 7am to 4pm and on Saturday from 8am to 4pm. Right now, Le Miel Et La Lune is closed for dining in, but is open from 8am to 2.30pm for takeaway, including curbside pick-up if you call them in advance, and delivery via UberEats. Many of the dishes above, such as the sweet corn fritters and the kimchi bibimbap, are available on the takeaway menu.

Author: Sonia Nair

Sonia Nair is a Melbourne-based food writer who persists with her love of everything deep fried and spicy, despite being diagnosed with a histamine intolerance and lactose intolerance after incorrectly thinking she was fructose-intolerant for several years.

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