Review: Marche Board Game Cafe, Melbourne CBD

While I wouldn’t call myself a board game aficionado, I do know my Pandemic from my Ticket to Ride, my Settlers of Catan from Dominion, and my Codenames from Cards Against Humanity. I have a soft spot for board and card games that align with other interests (Marrying Mr Darcy and Lords and Ladies for example), and can’t wait for my latest Kickstarter-backed card game Polite Society to arrive.

However keeping up with all the latest release board games can be an expensive habit, and one that can challenge the storage capacity of our relatively small apartment. 

That’s where Marche Board Game Cafe comes in. Located on the city fringe, it’s a Taiwanese-run cafe where you can sit and enjoy a drink or a full meal while playing one of the many board games they have in stock – all the fun without the commitment of buying the game yourself. Priced at $12 per person for three hours, you get a free drink as well.

They are relatively flexible on this pricing though. For instance, we were there with some friends for about five hours early on a Saturday afternoon when the cafe was quiet (it gets busier at night), ordering a meal and a drink each (approximately $16 each) and were able to stay for the full five hours.

Ice Matcha ($6) and a Black Bubble Tea ($5)

I opted for an Iced Matcha Latte and K chose the Black Bubble Tea as it was a steaming hot day when we visited. Both drinks were weaker than we would normally prefer with the barest hint of matcha in mine. While it does the job in quenching one’s thirst during an afternoon of gaming, it’s nothing to write home about.

Taiwanese Lurou Fan ($9)

As we got there around lunchtime, we ordered some meals as well, starting with the Taiwanese Lurou Fan – or Braised Pork Rice. Most Taiwanese will tell you that this is generally considered to be typical comfort food with each family having their own twist on the standard recipe. Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed with this dish as the pork wasn’t as juicy as I would typically like and the egg wasn’t braised and seasoned as strongly as usual. 

Taiwanese Sausage Fan ($12)

The Taiwanese Sausage Fan / Rice is self-explanatory, a bowl of rice with some pickles on top, along with a generous serving of Lurou and slices of sweet Taiwanese sausage. Very simple and deceptively filling even though it does look like a smaller serve. 

If you haven’t tried Taiwanese sausage before, it tends to be a much sweeter sausage with a higher sugar and fat content. You can sometimes find it at Cantonese-style BBQ shops – the ones with roast duck, roast pork and soy chicken hanging in the windows. 

Taiwanese Paigu Fan ($12)

Finally the Taiwanese Paigu Fan – or Spare Ribs Rice. Again topped with Lurou, the pork spare ribs were a bit on the dry side unfortunately. 

Combo A with chips, chicken nuggets, calamari rings and spring rolls ($15)

Towards the end of our gaming session, we got a bit hungry again – so I ordered a Combo A sharing plate of chips, nuggets, calamari and spring rolls. No doubt most of this is straight out of the pre-packaged freezer section of the supermarket. Suffice it to say it helps to staunch any hunger pangs sustained through intensive gaming.

Marche isn’t somewhere that you would go specifically for the food or drinks. The quality is indifferent at best, but it more than fulfills its primary mission – keeping one fed and watered during a long afternoon of playing board games. 

Marche Board Game Cafe is located at 64 A’Beckett St in Melbourne CBD.

Unblogged Files: January to March 2015

Once again, I find myself months behind in my blogging – some of my latest entries are of dining experiences I had back in early February! Never mind, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will always be playing catchup on blogging. Quite simply, there’s just so many restaurants to try and recipes to share that I can hardly do justice to them all in a timely manner, unless someone was to pay me to quit my job and blog full time!

While it’s highly unlikely that someone will pay me to be a food blogger, you may know someone who needs a freelancer for a small project or ongoing work in communications. I’ve just set up my professional portfolio with an aim of growing my base of freelance clients in preparation for upcoming joblessness due to resigning from my current role to go on a six-month long trip to Europe. More on that soon, once we finally book tickets and everything is set in stone!

In the meantime, I would appreciate it if you would consider sharing my portfolio with any small business owners you know who need some communications work done!

Onto some food highlights from the past three months!


The first – this gorgeous candy apple from Love Dem Apples in Surry Hills. The days of the stale teeth-breaking toffee apples are gone, and the many coated varieties of candy-coated apples from Love Dem Apples have taken over. This is the Bueno version, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the coating does taste exactly like a Kinder Bueno, with the sweet tartness of a fresh green apple. It’s not a cheap dessert-on-the-go (I think this was around $11 for a single candy apple), but it is actually the type of snack that you would want to share with others as a whole chocolate coated apple to yourself is actually a bit too much. Split between two or even three people would be perfect.


I love beautifully presented lunches, and this was pretty excellent. It’s a healthy green vegan stack from Caffe Nostra in St Leonards, just around the corner from my workplace. With a few different varieties of beans on the plate, as well as chia crusted avocado slices and sautéed mushrooms, it’s extremely beautiful; and very filling.

Unfortunately, Caffe Nostra is starting to develop a black name in my workplace, due in large part to a series of negative experiences by some colleagues. One colleague received peanut butter toast three days in a row after specifically asking for Vegemite toast. Another colleague was charged an extra $4 for gluten-free toast, making her simple eggs and avocado on toast request a $21 dish. Combined with some instances of over-charging for soy lattes and other meals, I think it won’t be long until most of my colleagues move onto the next small café in St Leonards for their coffee fix!


The dessert craze that’s had everyone raving these past few months in Sydney is Aqua S in Regent Place. I fell for it as well, and went in to try their signature sea salt soft serve, combined with a chocolate strawberry flavour. I went all out and chose to include all toppings – popcorn, fairy floss, marshmallow and popping candy. It’s a real indulgence and while I haven’t been back yet, I think it’s going to become one of those iconic Sydney institutions that I’ll take all interstate and overseas visitors to try.


K lent his hand in the kitchen one weekend for once – an unusual occurrence as I tend to most of the cooking while he does the dishes! He spent a good amount of time cooking the perfect joint of pork in the slow cooker to create a beautiful barbecue shredded pulled pork with caramelised onion dish that lasted us for most of a week. It’s such a versatile dish – we started off using it in pulled pork sandwiches and rolls before using it as a topping on rice and pasta, and then just by itself mixed in with a bean salad as well. I’m going to have to ask him to make it again soon.


My cousin who was my maid-of-honour at my wedding has recently moved to the UK to try and build a life there for a couple of years like millions of other young Australians who make the move. It makes a lot of sense – the UK is the perfect base from which you can take a million long weekends to explore different parts of Europe. Since moving there a month ago, she and her boyfriend have already been to the Czech Republic, Spain, Morocco…and who knows where else is on their list!

Before she went over to the UK though, she and her boyfriend came to Sydney for a few days for the Asian Cup semi-finals and finals. We took them out to Ippudo Central Park for lunch one day, where I enjoyed this Akamaru red ramen. I can’t get enough of Ippudo’s rich tonkotsu broth and tender pork slices!


When my friend Jenny was visiting me here in Sydney for a few days, we went up to the Blue Mountains for a day trip. We stopped in at the Post Café in Leura for an afternoon tea during a freak hailstorm. I was hoping for a traditional Devonshire tea, alas, they had just ran out of scones! Not all was lost though – I had a delicious orange muffin, and Jenny ordered this piping hot bread and butter pudding that came with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream. The waitress advised her to dig a well in the pudding and to drop the ice-cream in…well, what a revelation! Simply delicious, though very rich.


Everyone knows N2 Extreme Gelato as the forerunner of the current craze for nitrogen gelato. There’s a few similar gelaterias around now, but N2 continue to make its mark as the nitrogen gelato stop of choice with their use of inventive flavour combinations.

I stopped into N2 with my friend Jenny after we dined at Gyuzou (read review), and introduced her to the concept of nitrogen gelato, which was new to her. I chose to have the Cendol flavour – a mix of pandan, coconut, grass jelly and red bean, with the N2 signature syringe shot of palm sugar syrup. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best flavour I’ve had at N2 before – the texture of the grass jelly was somewhat questionable. I’ll stick with my favourite peanut butter and chocolate combos next time!


K and I were also invited to Bondi Hardware’s third birthday party in February, featuring a variety of cocktails (K enjoyed the watermelon cocktail) and delicious small nibbles. The pearl barley aracini was probably my pick of the night! You can check out a few additional photos of the party on my Facebook page here.


Chinese New Year is a time for family and lots of eating! This year, our Chinese New Year celebrations were a lot smaller than they would normally be. K’s grandparents, the organisers of large family gatherings, were away in Malaysia this year, instead we had a smaller and more intimate dinner at Sambal in North Ryde for immediate family only.

Yuu sahng always makes an appearance at Malaysian Chinese New Years celebrations. It’s a raw fish salad also known as the “Prosperity Toss” and is commonly eaten at Chinese New Year as the words in Chinese can sound like a homophone for “abundance and prosperity”. When it comes out on to the table, everyone is supposed to dig in with their chopsticks and ‘toss’ the salad to mix it all up – that way everyone gets to share in the abundance!


I also took a quick trip down to Melbourne to visit my father and brother. Dad always likes having me home. While we connect multiple times every week through regular phone calls, Facetime calls and WhatsApp messages, there’s no substitute for having me there in person. Part of it is for practical reasons – I do a lot of his household administration every time I visit as his English isn’t great. So I’ll spend time calling up companies, changing account details, filling in forms…all the little things that go into running a household that you need some English skills for.

Mostly though, he simply likes to cook all my favourite dishes and feed me up! This time, dishes included fish head noodles, tomato prawns on vermicelli noodles, fried tofu and a chicken and mushroom stir fry. I absolutely love fish head noodles, and really should learn how to cook it myself!


Tim Ho Wan recently opened in Sydney, and with it, an entirely new dining precinct (“The District”) opened up in Chatswood Interchange, above the train station. While Tim Ho Wan is definitely the drawcard with immense queues of people lining up for the famous Baked BBQ Pork Buns (my review coming soon!), there’s heaps of other new eateries in the area that I strongly encourage people to check out!

K and I were the first customers on opening day at Cheers Cut, a Taiwanese fried chicken and seafood joint. While we only ordered the fried beef and chips as a small snack to get us through to lunch, they were so excited to have us stop by that they gave us a sampler of their fried chicken and spiced squid to try as well. The chips were incredible – salted and seasoned with mixed pepper, and the squid was equal parts sweet, tangy and spicy. I’d definitely go back the next time I wanted a quick snack – or even a full meal – in Chatswood.

Coming up in the next three months – two big meals with one at the Fat Duck Melbourne (Chef’s Table – yay!), and one at Tetsuya’s as well. What indulgence!

Review: Bao Dao Taiwanese Kitchen, Chatswood

My dad’s not an adventurous eater at the best of times – born and raised on a Cantonese and Shanghainese diet for most of his life, the idea of pasta, schnitzel, or salads for meals are completely foreign to him. Wanting to introduce him to new cuisines, but also very conscious that anything too outside of his comfort zone would be treated with trepidation, I eased him into trying Taiwanese food when he was recently in Sydney for my wedding.

We dropped into Bao Dao Taiwanese Kitchen in Chatswood for a quick lunch two days after the wedding, before he flew back to Melbourne and we flew to Ballina for our honeymoon.

Baodao sticky rice with pork sauce, $6.60
Baodao sticky rice with pork sauce, $6.60

We started with Bao Dao’s signature sticky rice, which comes mixed with mince and other goodies, before being finished off with a thick pork sauce and egg on top. Dad missed having his usual Chinese lupcheong sausage with the sticky rice, but enjoyed the sweet and slightly chilli sauce.

Soy braised pork belly, $7.70
Soy braised pork belly, $7.70

He was a big fan of the soft braised pork belly – cooked to the point where the fat just melted in your mouth. He did tell me off for not eating the fat off the pork belly (“It’s the best part, why are you leaving it!”), and happily ate the fatty layer that I discarded on my plate. The soy braising sauce had slight tones of aniseed which I enjoyed along with the crisp bokchoy that helped to soak up some of the sauce.

Braised pork belly bun with pickled mustard, coriander and crushed peanuts, $4.50
Braised pork belly bun with pickled mustard, coriander and crushed peanuts, $4.50

The pork belly bun was a big hit with our group – sandwiched with a soft white steamed bun, chunks of the soft braised pork belly was served with sour pickles, fresh herby coriander, and crunchy peanut shards – a perfect example of textured eating. We ordered two to share between four, but I could have easily eaten one by myself!

Steamed Asian greens with house sauce, $4.40
Steamed Asian greens with house sauce, $4.40

Dad’s not big on vegetables (he’s a big meat eater), but I am! I ordered the steamed Asian greens in an attempt to eat slightly healthier than we had been in recent days, and enjoyed the still slightly crunchy fresh veggies (I prefer my Asian greens slightly undercooked!) in the sweet soy sauce.

Baodao beef tendon noodles soup, $11
Baodao beef tendon noodles soup, $11

The beef noodle soup was a hit with our group as well. While I found the noodles themselves a bit soft (I prefer them slightly al dente), Dad liked how the softness made it a lot easier to slurp up the noodles from the rich beefy soup. You get a healthy serving of noodles here as well, though not as much beef tendon as you might get elsewhere.

Handmade pork dumplings, $7.70
Handmade pork dumplings, $7.70

The pork dumplings came out a lot later than all the other dishes – probably five minutes after all the rest had been delivered in the space of three minutes. I can only assume that they were wrapping the dumplings on order rather than using pre-wrapped dumplings, resulting in a later delivery to the table. With a firm pork filling, these dumplings helped to round off a hearty and homely meal.

Dad was a big fan of Bao Dao, and it really served as an excellent way of introducing him to other cuisines that aren’t too dissimilar from what he’s used to. I think we’ll be visiting more Taiwanese restaurants in the near future to sample other dishes, and Bao Dao will definitely be on our regular re-visit list!

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