Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more

May 07, 2017
Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more


With family living in Melbourne including an aunt who lives in St Kilda, it’s a given that I spent many a childhood summer there. During my recent visit to the seaside suburb, which ensued in an observation of characters best described as straight out of a Ginsberg poem, the extend of a parents’ ability to shelter their children became apparent. 
   
For beyond the Victorian mansions and fairy penguin-watching of my childhood, St Kilda is what Lonely Planet dubsMelbourne's slightly tattered bohemian heart” - an amalgamation of families, punks, drunks, and hipsters.  

A jumble of contrasting architecture styles - Moorish apartments clash with Art Deco theatres while colonial houses that line leafy residential streets almost seem to disapprove - dot the landscape of what started life as a 19th century seaside resort. A crusty junkie wanders out of a seedy side street to jump in on a ladies' Zumba class on the promenade before being chased away to the nearest crumbling pub. Instagram-worthy vegan cafés and Pinterest-perfect wine bars with their perfect culinary creations threaten to break the internet. Buses and trams spit out tourists, day tripping families, and teenagers on dates into the open mouth of Mr Moon, where the hordes will descend upon the creaking rollercoasters of Luna Park. It’s brash, it’s bohemian, it’s as chaotic as the gigs a young Nick Cave played at what was once the Crystal Ballroom (now the George Snakepit).  St Kilda is the best of the Mediterranean, Brighton, and Venice Beach - it’s all of these things and yet none of them, but rather a one-of-a-kind enclave with a thousand faces that inspired many a pop culture creation and captured countless imaginations.


Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more
Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more
Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more
Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more
...St Kilda is the best of the Mediterreanean, Brighton, and Venice Beach - it’s all of these things and yet none of them.
Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more

MATCHA MYLKBAR
THE LEAN, MEAN, GREEN-EATING MACHINE
72 ACLAND STREET, ST KILDA


Flipping both the figurative and literal bird (the latter in the form of the charming neon middle finger that adorns their shop exterior) in the face of conventional artery-clogging diets, Australia's first matcha café deftly juxtaposes badassery - think lattes served in clear skull-shaped glasses - with prettiness, all on a vegetarian platter topped with edible flowers.  
Matcha Mylkbar makes small work out of eating healthily, one gorgeous foodie flatlay at a time: Instagram addicts flock to this cafe on Acland Street to get the perfect snap of the famous matcha pancakes (left) to make their followers green with envy. Other flights of fancy include Flight, the barista's selection of four lattes - I was served chocolate, apple pie, carrot cake (creamy, nutty, and delicious!), and tumeric and ginger (just the right amount of zing! to perk me up). Salad dodgers, fear not - Matcha Mylkbar 's plant based menu has the substance to match the style, with its green offerings as filling as any breakfast burger.

Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more
                       FLIGHT OF FANCY: THE BARISTA'S CHOICE OF 4 LATTE FLAVOURS


Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more
Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more

IL FORNAIO
"GETTING BAKED IN ST KILDA"

On the opposite end of the road is the St Kilda I'm more familiar with: a quiet, tree-lined residential pocket of Victorian mansions that seem a world apart from the commotion along the beachfront. Il Fornaio - Italian for 'the baker' - is sandwiched (huhu) between Fitzroy Street and Acland Street. It's the place in St Kilda to get baked; with marvellous pastries, pizzas, breads, buns to feed oneself into a carb coma.

When in Melbourne, brunch as the Melbournians do - so at Il Fornaio I had a brunch of smashed avocado on toast topped with more avo (cubed), poached egg, cherry tomatoes, and sprinkled with chives. All very wholesome, very delicious, very filling - but what truly blew my little mind was their matcha latte made with coconut milk. So life-changing that the first thing I did when I got back to Kuala Lumpur was hit up the Japanese food store for matcha powder. Sadly, I've not since been able to recreate the creamy, rich, and just-the-right-amount-of-bitter flavour and texture.


Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more
Yes, the baked goods were excellent...
Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more
...but the matcha coconut milk latte was a religious experience.
Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more


LUNA PARK
CLOWNIN' AROUND TOWN
18 LOWER ESPLANADE, ST KILDA

Nothing screams nostalgia more than this cocktail of creaky, creepy, and kitsch. The iconic face of Mr Moon terrified me as a child, and it will continue to terrify many more generations of fledglings long after I depart this mortal coil - be it from clutching on for dear life on a deceptively-perilous ride while whining: "I regret my decisioooooooo-ahhhhh-nnnnn!!!".

I gotta be square with you - paying $50 for an unlimited ride ticket is not worth the money - not when admission to Luna Park is free. My date, who I spoilt at Malaysia's own Sunway Lagoon - now there's a theme park - commented on the quality of the rides (imagine this in a snide Kiwi accent): "The best part of the whole park is walking in through that giant clown mouth." I'd say that Luna Park is all about the nostalgia, history even - the heart of the park is The Great Scenic Railway, the world's oldest continually operating rollercoaster which since 1912 twists and turns to show off stunning views of the bay, all set to the nonchalant narration of the guide who stands throughout the ride. 

Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more
Melbourne, Australia: St Kilda, Matcha Mylkbar, Luna Park, & more


FROM FLINDERS TO FITZROY

The 96 and 67 trams run from Flinders Street to St Kilda.
I'd recommend making a day of it: take the 96 tram and don't worry about missing your stop - the route ends at the entrance of Luna Park

Walk down to the far end of Acland Street (toward Fitzroy Street) and have a hearty brunch of smashed avo on toast and matcha coconut latte at Il Fornaio. Head back to Luna Park but don't bother with an unlimited ride ticket - it's the Great Scenic Railway you want for a sprawling vista of the bay. Refuel afterward on matcha pancakes at Matcha Mylkbar. Walk it off along the promenade, stopping to take in a striking panorama of the Melbourne skyline. At dusk, head to the breakwater to see the colony of fairy penguins head back to their nests, then make like the birds and hop on the tram back to the city. 

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