Humble Rays is a relatively new Melbourne brunch spot in quite a strategic location a stone’s throw from Victoria Market, on the ground floor of a tower of residential apartments, and close to many other residential blocks with hungry university students. Pretty pictures of their food on Instagram and an interesting menu made it a necessary addition to our list of intended places to visit.
The signage was quite subtle, certainly not something that would draw your attention from across the road or down the street, unless you knew what you were looking for. When you walked right up to it, you could see the square plate, with white icon and writing on a pale turquoise background spelling out “Humble Rays”, and the other sign, perpendicular to the outer brick wall, that affirmed that this was indeed your destination.
Once through the glass doors, the blue, green, and yellow mosaic-tiled service counter, with matching light blue coloured espresso machine and greenery overhead is the first thing you come to. These rather tropical shades are the theme colours repeated through the cafe decor, and make it playfully bright, without being jarringly so. A mural in blue, green, and yellow hues takes up most of the wall on the right. The mural had quite abstract shapes overlaid, rather than being a clear image of anything, but one could imagine rivers, clouds, and radiant rays from the sun.. Although it isn’t explained anywhere, that is most likely where the cafe name comes from, the Humble Rays of the sun.
We were greeted by staff as we entered the cafe, and invited to choose where we would like to sit, of which there were many options, as it was a not-quite-regular mealtime time on a weekday. The cafe has different seating areas, with a different feel, from the large communal table with the matchingly large leafy centrepiece in the middle, to the smaller round tables that fit two off to the side by the white tiled wall, to other tables that fit four near that bright mural, and even more with booth style seats further back in the cafe. We chose to sit at the communal table, as there was plenty of space for dishes, and good lighting from the window.
Menus were soon brought to us, printed on green and blue pages, in keeping with the colour theme. There were many tempting items, in sections of All Day dishes, and another of Sweet and Savoury dishes. There was certainly an Asian or fusion bent to many of the All Day dishes, such as the Crab Meat Scramble, with crab meat scramble eggs, coconut quinoa rice, asian herbs, fried shallot, siracha mayo, red chilli, and chilli oil, or the Chicken Hot Sauce, with Korean hot sauce grilled chicken, sweet pickled root vegetables, black sesame mayo, fried shallots, and cabbage, coriander and leek salad on a black charcoal bun. Having had a good meal not that long prior, however, (review to follow) it was felt that we could only really reasonably fit one dish in between us. And beverages.
We settled on the Eggs Benny, a macchiato, and a matcha latte.
Cutlery arrived in a small wooden box, as we perused the cafe’s provided newspapers while waiting for our meal. Music played softly and unintrusively, with words that weren’t quite audible.
Drinks, as they typically do, arrived first. The macchiato was a nice warming dose of caffeine, a good strength and not too green flavour.
The matcha latte was respectably green. It was made on soy (by request), and just faintly sweetened. It had a lovely rich, earthy flavour, and wasn’t bitter at all. Certainly one of the best matcha lattes around.
Of all of the inviting menu options, we had eventually chosen their Egg Benny, listed as Ginger braised pork belly, miso and potato korokke, almond and cashew dukkah, poached egg, yuzu hollandaise, chilli bacon jam, and parsley crumbs. The korokke, or croquette, was crunchy on the outside, with a coarse, panko-like crumb. On the inside was a soft, well-combined mix of rice and small vegetable cubes. The miso paste on the top of the croquette was savoury and slightly spicy, and had nutty bits, almost like a rough satay. It went well with the croquette, making it even tastier. The pork belly was perfectly braised, so that the meat was tender and juicy, and it retained a jelly-like fat layer. It had a lovely aroma from the braise, but at the same time wasn’t too salty. The poached egg had a nicely runny yolk. The yuzu hollandaise was creamy, and only slightly acidic. All in all, it was a delicious dish, with lots of variance in flavours, and one we would certainly eat again.
Humble Rays can clearly do tasty fusion food. They offer something different from the usual, and it’s not just hype. Why settle for avocado on toast when you can have much more interesting dishes here instead? It is also a well designed space with a relaxed vibe, and I can see how they would fit plenty of patrons in on a weekend without seeming too cramped. Would certainly recommend this as a place to visit. Perhaps next time we’ll try their desserts (like the puffle waffle, or glutinous rice pudding, both with lots of other extra components)..
Price point: Brunch dishes $15.50 to $19.50 for items more than eggs on toast or granola. Sweet treats $12.50 to $19.
Value: The deliciousness makes it worth it.
Address: 71 Bouverie St, Carlton
Phone: 03 8354 8459
Website: Humble Rays