61 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, Victoria 3065
|Opening hours||Daily 7.30am-4.30pm|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Phone||03 9419 3686|
Mark Peou has been cooking with his mum since he was a kid and now they've taken their combined talents out of the family kitchen and onto Gertrude Street. Peou also owns one of Melbourne's smallest eateries, Tiny cafe in Collingwood, which is essentially squeezed under the stairwell of a design company. Mighty Boy Eatery, a breakfast and lunch cafe (plans are also afoot to open for dinner), has a distinctly south-eastern Asian twist.
Peou and his mum, Van Chea, are Cambodian; Cambodian cuisine, he says, is a mixture of Vietnamese and Thai, hence the mash-up of flavours on offer at Mighty Boy.
"My mum and I have always wanted to do something together, so she's out the back rolling all the rice paper rolls – every single one we serve is hand-rolled – and she's also cooking up a few secret recipes that she won't ever tell me all the ingredients for," he says.
Then there's Italian-Croatian head chef Christian Simoni, who worked with Peou for years at Prahran eatery Borsch Vodka and Tears, adding his culture to Mighty Boy's menu.
Alongside standards such as sourdough toast with spreads ($5) and eggs-as-you-like-them ($9) with different sides ($2-$3) and (but of course) smashed avo (with feta, lemon and mint, $11), there's the hangover-busting haloumi sandwich, with pan-seared bacon, wild lettuce leaves, tomato, relish and avocado ($11).
But it's Mighty Boy's house-baked eggs, given an Asian spin, that are already shaping up as the most popular breakfast dish. Served with field mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, Spanish onion, a superb house-made Thai-style sausage and mixed with Thai basil, coriander and topped with feta and Tabasco ($14) it sounds like there's a lot of competing flavours, but it's a happy grouping. And it'll set you up for the day.
"That's one that ... Christian and I came up with. Christian is all about the cevapcici," says Peou. "We wanted to do a Thai-style cevapcici, so we came up with a mixture of pork and beef mince and some Thai-inspired spices."
It comes ready-served with a kick but if it's not hot enough for you, every table at Mighty Boy has a bottle of Sriracha sauce ("We have an unlimited supply; it's a staple in our house," says Peou) and a selection of spices – three types of whole pickled chillis (red, green and dried).
Coffee is from local roaster Niccolo and there's also fresh coconut and ice crushers, made from lychee, pineapple and mint, or coconut, pineapple and lime. These are likely to be reincarnated as cocktails when they get their liquor license.
Peou says the Mighty Boy Breakfast – a spin on your traditional "big breakfast", with eggs sunny side up and spiced with garlic and chill, yellow bean, light soy-marinated morning glory (water spinach) and bacon on super-thick toast ($14) is also selling well. The fact that there's nothing on the menu over $14 is astonishing, given Mighty Boy's location.
"There's a lot of high-end stuff around here – we're next door to Cutler and Co! – but we really wanted to be affordable," says Peou.
"We wanted to prove that good food doesn't have to be expensive."