Pavlov's Duck (Invited)

Monday, June 05, 2017 Sharon Halim 0 Comments

Pavlov's Duck is a unique Sri Lankan brunch place in the heart of Fitzroy! I've never tried Sri Lankan food, so this brunch take in Sri Lankan cuisine was definitely an interesting experience for me! Pavlov Duck means... nothing apparently. They are trying to be different by having a name that doesn't mean anything. And they have lots of ducks. I think the best way to describe the decor is eclectic. A heavy wooden touch.  But then, there's a red tricycle by the door. They place coconut sugar in a coconut shell-ish container.

The restaurant is quite spacious, with a separate corner dedicated to making hoppers (super thin crepes) and kottu (a chopped roti dish). The restaurant changes their menu around 3 times a year to reflect seasonal produce, but the spices used on the dishes here are all imported from Sri Lanka. Most of the menu is vegetarian friendly so it's perfect for vegetarians. They also do special dinners from time to time to test out new menu! There's a dinner event around early June where you can get $2 hoppers! 

I began with a cococa smoothy and I love it. I was expecting the smoothy to be colder, because thats's how smoothies goes, but it is not, which means less ice and more bangs! I can definitely feel the thick chocolate. I love it. I had the tumeric latte quite late at the end. It is not the best, I think. That's what I don't like about spicy food. I'm not sure if it is actually not that good, or if my palate are ruined.

Lankan Frenchy. Croissant, chili fried potatoes, Asian tabouli, fish & potato fritter and poached egg. They try to maintain the pure Sri Lankan as possible and shy away from the overkilled fusion style. And they made something amazing out of it. Lankan Frenchy is more like 2 dishes in 1. The croissant, and the fritter. The fritter was good, but the croissant was amazing. I think that's the best croissant I ever had. I mean, Noisette by itself is already good, but with everything inside, it just shines. This is the perfect example of the saying: there is a thin line between mad and genius. Reading the description, a Sri Lankan reinvention of croissant, forgive me, but I thought this was madness. But when I bit it, it immediately crossed the mad/genius line. Only a genius is mad enough to even try it, but it is definitely worth it. This truly is funky fusion cuisine at it's peak. The presentation was almost like this surreal experience of looking at a visual representation of Melbourne - the cultural melting point between East and West. The glossy croissant, the fragrant tabouli and the scrumptious, spice laden fish and potato fritter has truly amped up the poached egg staple of brunch dishes! Although all of the elements work together perfectly, I particularly loved the combination of the delicious croissant with the fish-potato fitter and the soft fried potatoes. It truly is no wonder how this popular dish had brought so many diners to come back for more!

Traditional Hopper with Chicken Curry (vegetarian option available)
Thin Sri Lankan style crepes (called hoppers) that is filled with sambal, dahl and  onions. The spices of the onions were a little bit too 'flowery' fragrant for me so I didn't enjoy that little bit. It's also served with your choice of curry and the chicken curry we had, was unlike other curries I've had before. Not having tried Sri Lankan cuisine before, I loved this foreign combination of spices!

Kottu (vegetarian option availale).Chopped roti with vegetables, eggs, spices and crab.
The fiery sister of pad thai that's amped up with more intense flavours and spices. I initially thought that the roti was flat skinny noodles like pad thai before I double checked the menu! I like the extra savouriness and almost, butteriness that came from the chopped roti! Crack the crab's claws, what's there to complaint? The thing about Indonesian food, and the Kottu by extension, is that there are so many things involved. I was told that at least 17 ingredients were combined into the Kottu. First of all, that's a logistical nightmare. If that's not enough, they import some of their ingredients from Sri Lanka. Though the combination taste good, it is quite hard to separate and deconstruct the dishes. It was simply flavourful. I can definitely taste the browning, which was done perfectly. The best way to describe the texture is like a crisp salad, and the fried onions add the crunchy element. Though it is somewhat oily, the spring onion keeps it fresh. It has a creamy smooth hint, like an omelette.

Lychee Panna Cotta with coconut and pandan sorbet, mint, apple, dehydrated white chocolate mousse, pistachio crumb and milk crumble. The dessert was presented to us in a pretty glass with a white chocolate disc sealing the top and the apple wood smoke that's contained within it. The moment you crack the white chocolate, the aroma of the strong apple cider just permeates the table! It also seeps into the flavours of the absolutely creamy, coconut-pandan ice cream so it was definitely a unique desert. Unlike traditional panacotta, this one had chunks of fresh lychee that I really appreciated. The different sources of sweetness and textures from the desert was just the perfect end to a unique meal unlike any I've ever had.

I think there are great parallel between Sri Lankan/Indian and Indonesian food. Or maybe, Indonesian cuisine betraying its Indian roots. The fritter, was perkedel. The Hopper, was serabi, and the Kottu tasted exactly like Martabak Telor. As an Indoneisan in Melbourne, usually I went to a modern Australian / fusion food who either tries to authentically present Indonesian food (never actually happens), or try to Autralianized Indonesian cuisine (rarely a success, although there are some exceptions). The funny thing is, if the fritter/hopper/kottu are passed as their Indonesian equivalent perkede/serabi/martabak telor respectively, they would make it undetected. Somehow, the recipe experienced 2 separate journey. From South Asia, and then slowly (hundred of years) east towards South East Asia and finally arriving at the archipelago. And another, (Pavlov is 2 years old) straight to Modern Australia. And the taste, the style, the accent, the nuance, was near identical. Amazing! Maybe I'm biased because I'm getting all the familiar tastes that I have acquired growing up, but I like this food.

Pavlov's Duck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Pavlov's Duck
401 Smith St
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Monday-Thursday: 7.15am-4pm
Friday: 7.25am-10pm
Saturday: 8am-10pm
Sunday: 8.30am-5pm