When I was young, a strange old lady lived next door to us in Shanghai. I would always comment about her mismatched socks and ‘unique’ dress style but the only reply I have ever received was murmured ‘mind your own business’ in between grunts and sighs. I never really understood why she was so different. Some might even think she was a ‘hipster’ in today’s society but such words did not exist back then, especially where I grew up.
I asked my aunty about her once and her response surprised me.
“Why does the lady wear different coloured socks all the time?” I quacked in Chinese (people used to say I sounded like a duck when I was little so hence the quacking).
“Stop staring at her dear, she is colourblind that’s all.” You should have seen the quizzical look in my eyes as a 5-6 year old tries to comprehend what colour blinded really meant. In hindsight, I really shouldn’t have been so mean to her as it’s really quite sad to be colourblind.
Times have really changed. My friends now deliberately wear red and green socks together and often glove socks too. I don’t, nor would I ever, understand that. I’m staring at you! Yes you know who you are.
Cafes and restaurants these days are turning more and more ‘hipster’. The reason I say this is because of the restaurants’ chic/vintage decor as well as the dress code of their patrons. Sometimes a cafe could be totally monochrome with recycled wooden tables and chairs or, like Fonda Mexican, is full of playful colours and decorations.
As soon as I entered its doors, I was swept away by all the lovely colours and cheerful environment that’s so perfect for social gatherings over a cheap and quick meal.
Although it was so colourful, I realised that it was equally stunning in black and white so even for colourblind people, this cute restaurant can be enjoyed.
The menu here is not big to say the least but there are a few basics you can order. Our meal actually covered almost a quarter of the menu, but then a good restaurant doesn’t need a gazillion menu items to attract customers.
To start, the charred corn ($3.50 each) was a simple choice. After tasting the beautifully seasoned corn from Mamasita, we were eager to try Fonda’s version. This one was served with chipotle aioli, ricotta salata (dried and aged ricotta) and lime.
It was quite creamy with the aioli on top but wasn’t as spicy as I had hoped. In fact, it wasn’t spicy at all. Adding a drizzle of lime really enhanced the otherwise slightly bland taste but was still quite delicious as the corn was fresh and juicy.
I knew Yuye was eyeing the chicharons ($5) which is ‘pork scratchings’ with guacamole. This was not our favourite dish of the day. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s basically like prawn crackers except bland and made with pork skin. Similar products are available from Chinese grocery stores we mainly use it in soups and hotpot after rehydrating and cooking it in the broth. I have never had it in its cold and crispy state. Quite frankly I didn’t really like it.
The guacamole made it a lot better of course by giving it that much needed fresh taste but it still felt quite heavy and not all that appetising. Sorry Fonda!
The goat tacos (cabrito – $6) with slow cooked goat birria, kabuli chickpeas, preserved cabbage and coriander fared a lot better. It was goaty in all its juicy and meaty textures and I liked the colours as well as taste. Too bad it was only 6 inches (not very big at all) but then again we weren’t very hungry so it was sufficient to take a few small bites each.
Our 12 inch chopped beef burrito ($14) with beef, black beans, salsa roja and chipotle aioli was the opposite of small. It was so filling that we could hardly finish it off. Unfortunately, Yuye did find he liked High Tech Burrito a lot more for its burrito fillings but I didn’t mind this one.
The burritos here seemed quite different with a slightly charred taste that is reminiscent of Cajun flavours or grilled meats. It certainly tasted quite healthy for a burrito.
Our drink was also an easy choice for me. As I didn’t really want to drink alcohol so early in the evening, I opted for the awesome sounding Horchata ($4.50) which had hints of of rice, water, cinnamon, vanilla and evaporated milk. The cinnamon was quite strong, as was the vanilla and was a surprisingly very refreshing drink. If you don’t like cinnamon, I wouldn’t recommend ordering this drink but Yuye and I both loved it.
The serving jar and paper straw once again reiterates the ‘hipster’ feel I was talking about earlier as it’s really an ‘in’ thing to do these days. I have fallen victim to this craze by collecting such items at home as well…
As Yuye and I arrived at 5:30pm, there was a total of 1 other person dining in so I had all the seats in the world to choose. By the time we left, there was a little queue forming outside, with young people eagerly eyeing our freed up table. I have since made up my mind to eat as early as possible if the restaurant is as popular as Fonda Mexican.
There’s also (unsurprisingly) a no reservations policy so if you want a table here, be sure to go early to avoid the queues or be prepared to wait in line.
We enjoyed our dinner at Fonda Mexican on the most part although some dishes failed to wow. I loved the drink and the tacos but will definitely have to pass on the pork scratchings next time. The decor was lovely and if you’re after a quick and cheap meal or a place to socialise with girlfriends (the place was full of young females), by all means Fonda Mexican is a good choice. The waiters were very friendly as well but if it was for food alone, Mamasita has all our votes.
Question time: Do you prefer more monochrome decor when dining or would you rather a colourful place like this? Do you like collecting chic/vintage ware for your home?
Phone: (03) 9429 0085
248 Swan Street, Richmond VIC 3121