1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Tucked up on the side of a narrow cobbled heavily graffitied street near Melbourne’s Flinders St Station is probably what I would consider one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to (I am a food fiend so that’s saying something) and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to actually get round to trying it! MoVida opened on Hosier Lane back in 2003, dishing up delicious modern tapas to satisfied customers and not much seems to have changed since then – packed out on a Sunday night with tables full of happy diners (myself included), MoVida certainly lived up to my expectations!
I went for a lovely “girl’s night” dinner with my sister (who is a firm fan of the restaurant…I think this may have been her 4th visit in as many months) and everything about the evening was a delight. Before we even sat down, I’d been informed that it was best to just let the staff order for us (definitely saves time as everything on the menu looked amazing, it would’ve taken a while to narrow my choices down), so when our server came over to ask about dietary requirements, I reiterated that as Asians we ate anything and everything, in fact I think my exact words were “the weirder, the better – we like the obscure stuff!” My sister later remarked that that had been an extremely good shout – as a regular she’d pretty much tasted most of the menu, but this time round quite a few “new” items came to the table and according to our server it was because we asked for the “weird stuff” (personally I didn’t find the items too weird but I’m a girl who loves her offal).
First up – anchovies with tomato sorbet. Wow, what a unique mouthful. I love anchovies and the pairing with the tomato sorbet (which reminded me of a light, sweet gazpacho) was beautiful – the mix of salty-fishiness with the sweetness from the tomato complimented each other really well. One mouthful left me salivating for more – a great start to the meal.
Next up was Smoked Kingfish with pine nuts. It was an interesting idea serving smoked fish with sorbet but unfortunately the pine nuts seemed to overpower the flavour of the fish. The gentle smokiness and lovely kingfish flavour should’ve been the focus but I wasn’t really able to make it out over the pine nuts. That’s not to say it was a bad dish, just wasn’t a favourite.
The Lengua (veal tongue) cooked sous-vide (in a water bath) was moorishly tender but slightly too salty. Served with pink peppercorns the spice worked really well with the gamey melt-in-the-mouth flavour of the tongue but I suspect someone might’ve been slightly heavy-handed with the salt that evening. That being said, I still found it scrumptious.
The Pork Cheek with Carrot Purée was simply delectable. Sandwiched between two perfectly crispy slices of crackling, the soft fatty pork melted exquisitely in my mouth. The pork reigns supreme in Cantonese cooking and prior to my visit to MoVida, I’d been adamant that I couldn’t find roast pork or crackling done as well as the Cantonese way – crackling like glass, crispy not greasy and pork so tender, so flavourful…but now after sampling the porky goodness coming out of the MoVida kitchens, I think I may have to knock the Cantonese-style roast pork slightly off its pedestal.
If I thought the pork cheek was amazing, my socks were about to be well and truly knocked off because what came next was what I can only describe as “what dream breakfasts are made of” – Wagyu Beef, Truffle foam with a Poached Egg…can you sense the pure unadulterated awesomeness?! This is what people mean when they talk about “foodporn” – it’s so good, it’s got to be a vice! Wafer thin slices of wagyu blanketed by some pretty substantial truffle foam and then just to make things even sexier – break a poached egg on top. I mean, I can’t even hyperbolise how freakin’ amazing this dish was. Come to MoVida and if you’re only going to order one thing; order this! I can’t however, promise you won’t embarrass yourself by trying to lick the plate…
Any dishes coming out after the Wagyu had a tough act to follow. That being said, they were dishes coming out the MoVida kitchen so were more than capable at holding their own. The Slipper Lobsters (known locally as Moreton Bay Bugs) served with clams and squid was a lovely taste of Spain and the Med. Garlicky pangrattato, tomato-ey and a little bit of spice; not too heavy, which was perfect after the moorish Wagyu beef (mmmmmm the beef…)
We finished semi-light: Duck Liver Parfait with Sherry Foam and Cos Lettuce salad with pickled garlic. The parfait was smooth and gamey – exactly what you want from a delicious paté. The “foam” was more like a mousse but I preferred the more substantial texture as it made it a lot easier to spread with the parfait. Delicious combination! The salad was fresh and crunchy, what you’d expect, but the pickled garlic was a welcome surprise, it definitely cut the cloying richness from previous dishes and was a fresh way to finish the meal that left me feeling satiated but not bursting at the seams.
All too often I go for meals and whilst I do enjoy myself and eat well, I almost can’t appreciate it because I leave feeling disgustingly full. I’m serious, like “need to scrub the meat sweats away” kind of full. What I liked about my dining experience at MoVida however was that I left feeling satisfied and satiated without feeling stuffed. I thoroughly enjoyed the food (ahhh that Wagyu!!!!!!) but it was being able to appreciate each dish for what they were, way after finishing them. So, thumbs way up MoVida, you’re sure to be top of my list next time I’m back in Melbourne.