Pana Chocolate – Raw, Healthy, Handmade & Guilt-free!

panda 5 rating

Pana Chocolate was founded by Pana Barbounis – who is passionate about raw and slow-cooked food – and following on from the success of his 45 gram raw, vegan chocolate bars has opened his first standalone raw-dessert shop.

Pana Chocolate is a wonderful addition to the Church Street, Richmond area and serves up healthy handmade raw, delicious tasting and looking desserts, as well interestingly flavoured chocolate bars. Pana Chocolate uses natural, vegan and organic ingredients like cacao, nuts, coconut and 100% pure essential oils to create wonderful and unique flavour combinations – which include Fig + Wild Orange, Sour Cherry + Vanilla, Rose and Mint just to name a few.

Prepare to be overwhelmed with the number of selections here which leaves you wanting to try out one of each. As mentioned before no desserts are made or sweetened with sugar but are all natural and made from plant-based, organic ingredients sourced from all around the world. Cacao beans come from the Amazon, Coconut Oil has been cold pressed in the Philippines,  Dark Agave Nectar comes from Mexico, Cinnamon is organic and certified from Sri Lanka (where I am from!!), Cacao Butter is organic, cold pressed and fair trade from Peru and organic carob comes from Spain.

The space is simple and clean – with most of its offerings for takeaway patrons – however if you did want to eat in there is a row of seats available by the window looking out onto Church street. I love the décor of Pana Chocolate – there is an entire wall that is covered with clipboards that have cute, inspirational quotes and sayings on them. This adds color, brightness and wow factor in such an easy and simple manner. Such an awesome idea – Love it!

There are 10 different types of chocolate bars to choose from– Eighty (80 % Cacao), Raw Cacao, Orange, Coconut + Goji, Fig + Wild Orange, Rose, Sour Cherry +Vanilla, Cinnamon, Nuts and Mint. All chocolates are low in GI, have no dairy or soy, are Gluten Free and are handmade. In fact they are all handmade in a small scale kitchen located at the back of the shop. A major difference with these chocolates is that you can envision and see the love and care that has been placed into each bar of chocolate or dessert for that matter – down to the packaging and wrapping of each individual piece – it has been done by hand and provides a human connection.

I have tried the Sour Cherry + Vanilla, as well as the Fig + Wild Orange flavours. Between those two the Sour Cherry + Vanilla would have to be my favourite – the chocolate is smooth, silky and not overly rich and literally melts in your mouth – with the sour cherry adding a great tangy sensation that glides over your tastebuds. The Fig + Wild Orange was also great – the combination works brilliantly together and if you are into the citrus flavours this would be one for you to try.

The piece of resistance at Pana Chocolate is the cabinet of goodies. The first row is full of their raw cheesecake / desserts of the day which are in a slice format, that can range from Raspberry Ripe (their version of a Cherry Ripe), Chocolate Strawberry & Rose, Spiced Apple, Blueberry & Ganache, Banana & Chocolate – these range from $6.50 to $8.50.
Their second row has smaller bite sized treats such as Lamingtons, Lemon Slice (this is new!), Pana Pop (more on this later), Brownie, Vespa Wheel (their version of a Wagon Wheel – complete with a buckwheat wafer biscuit and a soft coconut marshmallow centre encased in a gooey raspberry chia jam and dipped in cacao) and Fudge just to name a few – these range from $3.50 to $5.50.
The third row is full of individual raw chocolates like hazelnut mousse, coconut barrels and truffles – in flavours such as Coconut & Mint Cream, Rose & Pistachio, Hazelnut Praline, Sneakers (yep spelt like this), Lavender & Macqui, Mango & Salted Caramel and Coconut Barrel – there are more flavours in store!
At the very bottom of the cabinet are their chocolate bars in all the 10 flavours mentioned above for sale ($6.50).
There are also other healthy goodies for sale – from coconut water, coconut + cacao balls to their very own hot chocolate sealed with the pana heart of approval.

After marvelling at the cabinet of goodies and spending a good 5 minutes oohing and aahing I decided to ask the friendly staff member of what she thought would be good try out and settled on the Pana Pop as well as the Fresh Mint & Raspberry slice.

The Pana Pop – was a white chocolate cheesecake with a berry centre coated in delicious cacao – represented a mini Magnum. From the very first bite you could tell this would be a memorable treat – the soft textured coating coupled with the creamy white chocolate cheesecake and zing from the berries worked perfectly together. You could almost eat the entire Pana Pop in one mouthful – but I would advise against this and instead treasure every mouthful; or you could just order another Pana Pop!

The Fresh Mint & Raspberry slice was another winner. There were three distinct layers – the bottom layer being a combination of cashew and brazil nuts, the centre layer being the mint and the top layer representing raspberry. The consistency of all layers was dense yet smooth – with the perfect level of sweetness across all three layers. I couldn’t really taste the mint flavour that strongly – although the strip of green at the very top held quite the minty flavour. I love the use of the fresh raspberries through the raspberry layer which not only added texture but extra flavour. The base was wholesome and added further texture and flavour bringing the whole slice together.

I enjoyed my time thoroughly at Pana Chocolate – I actually perched myself in a corner seat by the window and enjoyed these treats whilst working away on my laptop. On my way out I ordered a lamington to take away (as I had been told by a friend that these were simply superb!) which was packed away in a takeaway bag and sealed with a massive heart sticker – the Pana symbol – which I thought was really cute.

Whether you are into healthy eating, have certain dietary requirements or not – Pana Chocolate is definitely a place to check out. It produces great tasting chocolate that have been lovingly prepared using quality ingredients for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – The dessert menu changes daily but no doubt whatever dessert treat you get it will be delicious!
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Simple, Cosy and Enticing
Standout Dish: Pana Pop
Service: Very very friendly and helpful (especially when you are overwhelmed with choice and don’t know what you want)
Restaurant Details and Location:
panachocolate.com
491 Church St, Richmond

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Pana Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/panachocolate
Twitter: @pana_chocolate
Instgram:pana_chocolate

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Tadka Boom! – Indian with a Modern Twist!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Idli Breakfast Kerala Ice Cream Delhi Masala Chai Lunch Menu Salad and Snacks Menu Drinks and Desserts Menu

I heard about Tadka Boom! – a new restaurant that with a catchy name and delivers a modern take on traditional Indian street food – and couldn’t wait to try it out.

Tadka Boom! is located in Goldsbrough Lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD (near the corner of Bourke and William streets). Tadka means seasoning in Hindi which relates to the diverse flavours and taste they bring to each dish. The new restaurant was opened by Lalitha Rajan together with her son Ashwin. Rajan quit her high flying executive job at HP to found Tadka Boom! She uses her well-loved family recipes from her very own kitchen (and inspired from her hometown of Delhi) here to Tadka Boom! to share with the people of Melbourne.

The venue is quite big in size – seats 45 inside and 12 outside – and centres around the colours of yellow and aqua mixed in with white, grey and black. The colours really work well together and brighten up the space adding to its fun and lively atmosphere. There are a selection of tables – both round and square – as well as a high communal table and high bench seating. As you walk in you are drawn to the kitchen / main counter as you watch meals being prepared in a methodical manner of efficiency. The way Tadka Boom! works is that you place your order at the counter and you are handed a receipt – you then wait off to the side to receive your food. You can sit in and enjoy your meal or take it away with you.

Tadka Boom! serves both breakfast (Nashta) and lunch (Bhojan) – at the moment – dinner could be on the horizon – with the main focus is on a wide range of grab to go meals and snacks which allow the busy worker on their quick lunchtime break to experience and taste the modern and punchy flavours of India. There are also Snacks (Tiffin) and Salads (Hara Bara) available on their menu and of course a selection of Desserts (Mitha Boom!) and Drinks. Before coming here for the first time I had no idea they served breakfast meals – I only assumed it was lunch.

Breakfast or Nashta as they call it back in India presents interesting combinations of eggs that you wouldn’t have experienced before. There are 3 main breakfast dishes and the one that got me excited to come back and try was the Idli Over Easy. Idli is steamed rice cakes and comes served with coconut chutney, spicy tomato chutney & gun powder served with fried eggs and spinach. Also available is the Bada Breakkie – which is a mixed lentil and rice pikelets served with chutney and mushrooms – the Bujia Roll and Grandma Jau’s Porridge.

Lunch consists of roti wraps (which you can get in either wholemeal or spinach) filled with a variety of fillings such as Lamb with Kaboom! Masala, Ginger Chilli Prawns, Grilled Chicken or the vegetarian option of ricotta, broccoli and carom seed patty. The Snacks menu consists of Bombay Bites, Sliders and Paratha (Flaky Roti) served with chutneys. There are 4 different chutneys to choose from, all with varying spiciness. There are 3 salads to choose from – all of which have a vegetarian base and if you choose you can add chicken, lamb or prawn.

Desserts include a selection of two ice creams – a Rose and Pistachio Ice Cream as well as a Kerala Spice Ice Cream. Drinks add another interesting twist to the menu – in house made cold drinks – the Nimbu Pani (Homemade lemonade) and the R.O.C Tea (Raspberry, Orange and Cinnamon infused tea). There is also Garma Garam Chai as well as Chennai Kaapi (South Indian filter coffee) for hot options.

P and I both decided to order roti wraps – she went for the Veggie option (Varanasi Veg) and I went for the Grilled Ginger Prawn option (Mr Parker’s Prawns). When we went they had a special on where you could order a cold drink for an extra $2 (which out well for me as I wanted to try the R.O.C Tea anyway!).

I opted for a wholemeal roti wrap for my choice of Mr Parker’s Prawns – Grilled ginger-chilli prawns with Dahlia Salad & Date Tamarind Chutney. The roti itself was thin and flavoursome – to the point where you didn’t really feel like you were eating a wrap that was made of wholemeal. The flavours from the grilled ginger chilli prawns were delicious – it had a smoky spicy flavour to it – coupled with the sweet, tangy chutney made for a well-rounded dish.

P did enjoy her Varanasi Veg – a light Ricotta, Broccoli & Carom Seed Patty with Green Salad, Kasundi & Date Tamarind Chutney. She said she enjoyed the overall taste, but struggled to finish the whole wrap as it was quite filling.

The R.O.C Tea was refreshing and tasty – I love anything with Cinnamon right now so this was a double bonus. The drink didn’t taste anything like a tea but instead like a fresh juice. I also sampled some of P’s Nimbu Pani which was just as good. My only comment was that I expected to get the drinks in the jars as they were in the pictures – that looked impressive! However we received them in a takeaway clear cup – which makes sense if people wanted to take away.

The staff at Tadka Boom! are very friendly and customer service is first class. This is evident from the time you place your order to when you receive your meals. You can tell they are really passionate about what they do and the enthusiasm really shines through.

Tadka Boom! aims to bring the hustle and bustle from India’s markets and street food “wallas” to the streets of Melbourne, fusing this with a modern twist all whilst keeping its exotic flavours and spices. They definitely do succeed! If you are looking for a flavour hit (BOOM!) be it first thing in the morning for breakfast or in your lunch break check out Tadka Boom!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above or check it out at http://static.squarespace.com/static/533cc8f4e4b025688de41377/t/537d878ee4b0eb4ddd2ba5fb/1400735630812/TadkaBoom_Menu%20TV_Website.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Fun and Light Filled
Service: Fantastic! Very friendly and welcoming!
Online Booking: They only take bookings for Breakfast
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.tadkaboom.com.au/
TG22 Goldsbrough Lane
550 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9600 1633

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:30pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TadkaBoom
Twitter: @TadkaBoom
Instagram
: Tadka Boom

Tadka Boom! on Urbanspoon