Shortstop

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Pumpkin Caramel – $5.00

Shortstop is tucked away in an alleyway opposite Melbourne Central. It is home to one of my all time favourite donut – the Australian honey and sea salt. Shortstop makes four varieties of donuts; raised, cruller, cake and filled; the names are quite explanatory.

On this occasion, I went in for the pumpkin spiced donut, which was unfortunately sold out already. Note to self, go earlier to ensure the full selection is available. I settled on the pumpkin caramel, which was actually a Halloween special, as shown by the web icing on top. The inside of the donut was orange too, and the pumpkin flavour was very prominent. The caramel was sweet, but not overly sweet.

Although the store is quite small, the friendly staff are able to provide prompt service to ensure that you don’t have to wait for too long to enjoy your donut. There are a few tables inside, as well as a bench; and there is also some seating available just outside the cafe. Given its convenient location and seasonal rotation of flavours, I am quite proud of myself for not visiting in it on a weekly, if not daily basis. Be sure to give the donuts a go next time you’re doing some shopping in Melbourne Central.

How to get there:
Shortstop is located on Sutherland Street, just opposite of the Elizabeth Street side ofΒ  Melbourne Central.

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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White Mojo

White Mojo took the Melbourne brunch scene by storm in 2016, having opened two more cafes already, with one extending into dinner service.

We visited its Balwyn location on this occasion, and upon entering into the cafe, the first thing that you will notice is just how spacious it is. With marble and light-coloured wood as its colour palette, the space was airy and sophiscated, down to the fresh flowers that’s placed on every table.

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Iced Matcha Latte – $7.00

I strayed away from coffee because the weather was extremely humid, and chose to cool down with the iced matcha latte. The drink came in a tall glass, and had a good amount of bitterness from the matcha.

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Double Cheese Chilli Scrambled Eggs – $21.50

Although I don’t typically go for scrambled eggs at brunch, this is the award winning dish from White Mojo, and I decided to give it a go. The eggs were scrambled through with parmesan, cheddar and corn, and were placed on top of a slice of smoked belly bacon, smothered with chilli mayo, and all sandwiched between a ink brioche bun.

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Double Cheese Chilli Scrambled Eggs – $21.50

White Mojo placed its own flare onto the traditional breakfast dish, and it was a decadent yet simple affair. The eggs were silky smooth, and the cheese added some more richness, while the corn offered a contrasting texture. The chilli mayo had a kick to it, and the ink bun was not only visually appealing, but added more substance to the dish.

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Wagyu Meatballs – $17.50

The wagyu meatball was another winning dish. The meatballs themselves were so tender, and the tomato sugo that the meatballs were being stewed in had a complex depth of flavour, perfect for dipping in with the toasted bread on the side.

It is clear to see why White Mojo is capable of such a quick expansion.Β  With a refined and interesting menu that has most items under $20, laid-back atmosphere and professional service, it is a place that guarantees an enjoyable meal, something that is actually quite hard to come by these days.

How to get here:
White Mojo is located on Whitehorse Road, catch tram #109 and get off at stop 46 Balwyn Cinema, and the cafe is sitting right by the tram stop.

White Mojo Speciality Coffee & Roaster Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taco Bill

Taco Bill is a Mexican restaurant chain that has been around for a long long time. I always saw the storefront near my local station, and finally decided to pay it a visit on a Monday night.

Incidentally, Taco Hill have a deal of half price mains on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night, so we went ahead and grabbed an entree and a main each to share.

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Chile Nachos – $19.00

The chile nachos were one of the specials on the night, it was essentially your standard nachos with the addition of chilli con carne. The nachos were pretty tasty, with the classic combination of salsa, sour cream and guacamole, and plenty of cheese. In fact, the cheese meant that the corn chips were stuck together, making it a bit difficult to eat at times.

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Enchilada Nuevo Mexico – $22.00

The new Mexican style enchilada consisted of three corn tortillas stacked together, with beef, onion and cheese stacked inbetween, topped with more cheese, an egg, and mild chili sauce. On the side were some Mexican rice and frijoles, i.e. Mexican beans, and a beef taco. The serving of this dish was quite impressive, however, the flavours were lacking. The tortillas were soggy, and thew beef mixture just kind of tasted like beef stewed in a mix of store bought salsa and tomato sauce. Although this filled me up, I wasn’t very satisfied.

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Chicken Quesadilla – $18.00

My friend chose the chicken quesadilla, and unfortunately, this was a bit of a let down. The texure of the chicken was reminiscent of canned tuna, and it was rather dry and stringy.

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I didn’t have high expectations going into Taco Bill, and it was actually an alright experience overall. Although the food was not very authentic, the service was very friendly, and the dining space was welcoming. With the half price on mains three nights a week, I can see myself returning here for a weeknight meal when I don’t feel like venturing far from home.

How to get here:
The Blackburn Taco Bill is located on Railway Road, a short 5 minutes walk from Blackburn station.

Taco Bill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Milkcow

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Watermelon Ice Cream Sandwich – $10.00

Milkcow hailed from Korea a couple of years ago, and this summer, they introduced the Watermelon Ice Cream Sandwich, and if this doesn’t scream summer, I don’t know what does.

We treated ourselves to the icecream after finishing up with exams, and although the pricetag of $10 is not cheap, the serving is huge, and is enough to share between two to three people. The concept is quite simple really, a thick slice of watermelon is hollowed out in the middle, and filled with the vegan watermelon ice cream. The seeds are actually chocolate bits, which was cute but not very tasty. I loved the ice cream, on the other hand, it was sweet and refreshing, kind of reminds of the watermelon flavoured Chuppa Chup. If you start finding the ice cream a bit too sweet, carve out a piece of the watermelon, and it tames down the whole thing.

This is strictly limited edition, so if you’re after a cartoon-like dessert that’s both photogenic and delicious, head down to Milkcow and try the sandwich for yourself today.

How to get there:
Milkcow is located on Swaston Street, a few minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Milkcow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Madame Brussels

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Madame Brussels is a popular rooftop bar, especially in the warmer weather that Melbourne’s finally experiencing over the last week. The space is decked up in the garden party theme, completed with hot pink serviettes and Japanese paper umbrellas that’s both practical and adorable.

We visited on a Saturday for the actual garden party, an event that’s on every weekend at Madame Brussels, and it’s strictly limited so booking ahead is essential at $55 per head.

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The Madame’s Fruity Double D Cups

Excuse the half filled jug, I only remembered to snap a photo of this later on. The drink was Madame Brussel’s take on the classic Pimms. It was made with a concoction of lemonade and gin, and was light and fruity, with plenty of fruits floating around.

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Phillipa’s Parmesan Sables with Goat’s Cheese, Beetroot and Orange Relish

The appetiser per se came out on the gorgeous floral plate, and the flavours worked well together. The sable acted as the perfect carriage for the beetroot and orange relish, which was tart and zingy, and the creamy goat cheese.

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Old-Fashioned White Breach Sandwiches

There four sandwich fillings included cucumber, ham, chicken and curried egg. My favourite was the chicken, the mayo had ample amounts of chives, ensuring that the chicken was very flavoursome. My friend picked the curried egg as her favourite, a clavour twist on a traditional egg sandwich, without the curry being overpowering.

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Home-Made Sausage Rolls with White Crow

These sausage rolls were piping hot from the oven, and they were some of the best sausage rolls I’ve had to date! The filling was moist and well-textured, not overly mushy as they can be sometimes, and the pastry was crispy and buttery. The tomato sauce on the side prevented the sausage rolls themselves from being too heavy.

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Petite Cupcakes with Gooey Centres, La Belle Miette Salted Caramel Macaron

The cupcakes were nice and moist, with the right ratio of icing to cupate, and it had a rasberry jam centre which added even more flavour. La Bell Miette does some of the best macarons ever, and these were delightful as usual. The pink shell was light and airy, and the caramel filling was gooey and sweet.

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Mini Pavlovas with Lemon Curd

I’m usually not a huge fan of pavlovas, since they tend to be quite sweet. However the lemond curd was thick enough to hold iteslf, and its tartnesshelped to balance the sweetness of the meringue out, and I actually quite enjoyed it.

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Warm Scones

Scones are a must at high tea, and the ones at Madame Brussel came with rasberry jam and cream on the side. The scones were on the small side, but were buttery and warm. I especially liked the cream, because of how thick and creamy it was, just how cream should be.

The ambience at Madame Brussels was very fun and light-hearted, the service was friendly but not intrusive. On the Saturday we visited, there were several bigger parties that were hosting birthday parties and the like. I can definitely see its appeal, however the $55 price tag is a tad bit steep for the amount of food we had.

I would be open to returning for a couple of drinks though, it would be a great location to relax before a musical, given its proximity to the Princess Theatre.

How to get here:
Madame Brussels is hidden upstairs on Bourke Street, catch the train to Parliament station and get out of the Bourke Street exit, then walk up a couple hundred metres, it’s right next to Spaghetti Tree, the glass door has a sign that says Madam Brussels, go up a few steps and then up the elevator to level 3 and you would make it to the bar.

Madame Brussels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Things I ate at the Night Noodle Market

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Not wanting to repeat my mistake last year of leaving the Night Noodle Market in my folder for an insanely long time, and eventually just missed the limited time window to post completely, I’m typing up this post on the first day of its duration this year. Is it too early to give myself a pat on the back?

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Hoy Pinoy | Pork Belly Skewers – 2 for $13.00

Given that Hoy Pinoy operate at markets as far as I’m aware of, I always make sure I grab a few of their skewers when I get the chance. The Filipino street food stall has made an appearance since the inaugral noodle market, and there’s a reason that it is able to do so. The skewers were grilled to perfection, and the banana glaze was sweet and enticing. My only complaint is that they were lukewarm, which I guess is the downside of it not being a busy night, the skewers weren’t exactly freshly made.

Hoy Pinoy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Wonderbao | Korean Chilli Chicken Gua Bao – $7.50

Wonderbao is also a staple at the market, and a personal favourite of mine. Although its location is quite convenient for me to grab a quick lunch, Wonderbao always does a few market specials, and I’m always curious to try the limited edition ones out.Β  Unfortunately, the fried chicken wasn’t my favourite. The chicken was fried pretty well, but there was an overwhelming amount of sauce, and it was overly taste for me, making the whole bun a bit of a mess.

Wonderbao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Gelato Messina | Aunty Tomsu’s Cheesecake (Japanese cheesecake, strawberry & cherry blossom cream, strawberry meringue, strawberries & strawberry gelato) – $12.00

Messina is probably one of the most highly anticipated stall at the market, to say the least. The theme this year was Japanese Gameshow, and in typical Messina fashion, they did not hold back with all the incredible flavour combinations, as well as the decked out stall, completed with a board to flip for luck.

I experienced a Sophie’s Choice moment in choosing one out of the four desserts they had on offer, but ultimately picked Aunty Tomsu’s Cheesecake. Do I know who Aunty Tomsu is? Nope. Do I like her cheesecake? Hell yeah. The container was filled with goodies, and if you like strawberries and cheesecake, you’re in for a treat. Needless to say, the gelato was perfection, on top of that, the cream at the time really drilled in on the cheesecake factor. The meringues were not only perfectly shaped, they were also very airy, albeit a tad bit sweet. That’s probably my only complaint about the whole thing, it was just all a bit sweet towards the end.

Gelato Messina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Dining at the Night Noodle Market is certainly not cheap, even by Melbourne standards. You could easily rack up a $50 meal by the end of the night, trying to sample a bit of everything. It may be pricier than food markets in other countries, Asia in particular; however the serenity of the location and the variety of food that is on offer makes it a must-go event for the Summer time.

So, grab a few friends and head out to the Night Noodle Market, it’s open every night until 26 November, giving you just over three weeks to find some time visit.

Oh and it’s also cashless, meaning that you can simply pay by card at every stall, including the $2 fortune cookie donation.

How to get there:
Night Noodle Market is located at Birrarung Marr, which is right next to Federation Square.

Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya

From its name, it’s obvious what Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya is, an izakaya, duh. Izakayas are Japanese-style pubs, serving up a range of dishes aimed for sharing.

Unlike izakayas back in Japan, Ichi Ni Nana sprawls over four levels, with the top being a rooftop bar, a good place to grab a few drinks while you’re waiting for a table. There are a range of types of seatings available, including larger tables in the courtyard and intimate booth.

The menu was extensive, ranging from traditional Japanese tapas such as nasu dengaku, chicken karaage and gyozas, to sushis and sashimis, with Western influence throughout.

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Tori Soboro – $14.00

Chicken mince piled on ricecake skewers, this was not something that I’ve had before, and I really enjoyed it. The chicken mince were flavoured with a touch of soy, and were very morish when had with a bite of ricecake.

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Nasu Dengaku – $15.00

This eggplant dish is one of my favourites in Japanese restaurants, and Ichi Ni Nana has put its own twist on the traditional dish. Sections of eggplant were covered in the miso sauce that was oh-so-addictive, and left us wanting more.

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Gyu Tataki – $20.00

The thinly sliced scotch fillet were seared perfectly and very tender. The salad on top added some extra texture, I especially enjoyed the fried garlic pieces that’s hiding underneath the green leaves.

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Soft Shell Crab Tempura – $22.00

Still on the soft shell crab bandwagon, we picked it from the tempura section. The batter was light and crispy, and the soft shell crab were as good as all soft shell crabs, though nothing out of the ordinary. Also, the portion was on the small side.

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Chicken Gyoza – $10.00

We picked two varieties of gyoza on the night, the first being the chicken. The chicken filling was again, light and flavoursome, and the skin was extremely thin.

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Pork Gyoza – $10.00

The pork gyoza were equally as delicious, tasting more meaty than its chicken counterpart. My only complaint about the gyozas is that I wish they had a crispier bottom.

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Soft Shell Crab Roll – $25

Continuing the soft shell crab trend, the first sushis we ordered was the soft shell crab roll. The roll was filled with soft shell crab, avocado and cucumber, and topped with tobiko and Japanese mayo. Although not a traditional sushi, the roll tasted fresh, and the soft shell crab added more texture to the plate.

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Dragon Roll – $25.00

Being an even more untraditional dish, the dragon roll was an inside out sushi roll with seared tuna, cucumber, avocado, and topped with tobiko, Japanese mayo, spring onion and chilli sauce. Every bite of this was a flavour explosion, and dish was also very visually appealing.

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Ichi Ni Nana Platter – $150.00

The star of the night, and probably the most instagrammed dish from Ichi Ni Nana. The platter had all sorts of sushi and sashimi, including but not limited to sashimi in the forms of (because I can’t remember them all oops): salmon, tuna, kingfish, octopus,Β  cuttlefish and scallops. The sushi included all of the above, as well as tamago, prawn, salmon roe and eel. All the seafood were very fish, and this platter not only looked spectacular, but also left us feeling very content.

Offering a large variety of dishes that accommodates both Japanese lovers and those who are still being introduced to the cuisine, Ichi Ni Nana is a good place for group gathering, intimate dinners and the like. If you are going in a big group or on a busy night, make sure you make a booking ahead of time, or, be prepared to wait for a bit on rooftop bar, which certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world.

How to get here:
Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya is located on Brunswick Street, catch tram #86 towards Bundoora RMIT and get off at the Brunswick Street/Gertrude Street stop, and the restaurant is 350 metres away. Alternatively, catch tram #11 towards West Preston from Parliament Station and get off at the Hanover Street/Brunswick Street stop, and the restaurant is 100 metres away.

Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

400 Gradi East

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The Eastland renovation seemed to have happened a lifetime ago, but really, it’s only been a couple of years. One of the welcome edition to the Town Square was 400 Gradi East, known for having the best margherita pizza in town.

This is an extremely backlogged post, in fact, I visited 400 Gradi East during a special event over a year ago, on National Cheese Pizza Day.

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Melzane alla Parmigiana – $17.00

The eggplant parmigiana came in a dish that was smaller than I expected, but after tasting it, all my doubt vanished. Think eggplant baked with napoli sauce, ricotta and mozzarella, are you salivating yet? The punchy napoli sauce was miles better than the bottled ones I’m used to, and the quality of the cheeses guaranteed that the sauce was intensely rich in flavour. The size of this was actually perfect, as this was a very indulgent dish.

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99 Cheese Piza

Onto the special guest of the night that appears once in a blue moon, the 99 cheese pizza. The name and idea of this pizza may seem gimmicky, but let me tell you, it tasted phenomenal. 95 types of cheese were made into a sauce, with the 4 remaining one – also what are usually present on a four cheese pizza – sprinkled on top. The cheese sauce was sinfully good, literally sending me to cheese heaven. The crust was also perfectly airy and had enough integrity to hold all the cheese on top, certainly not an easy feat.

IMG_5328I know I’m being a bit of a tease here, blogging about a pizza that no longer exist, but that just means we gotta petition for 400 Gradi to bring it back right? I mean, it worked last time.

400 Gradi has been a long time player in the authentic Italian pizza game, and although it’s not my favourite, it certainly is capable of delivering some knock-out pizzas. With its expansion into the suburbs, 400 Gradi continues providing diners with pizzas that might not transport one back to the streets of Italy, but works for a satisfying meal that doesn’t leave you feeling too bad about yourself, and that’s enough for me on most nights.

How to get there:
400 Gradi East is located in the Town Square of Eastland, right opposite Ringwood Station, which is on the Belgrave/Lilydale line.

400 Gradi East Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Proud Mary

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Ah Proud Mary, it was one of the first hipster cafes that I ever stepped inside, back when bricke wall and warehouse-esque space was still a rarity. It also does one of my favourite coffees in Melbourne, so I was keen to visit the place again when a friend wanted to catch up around the Fitzroy area.

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Skinny Flat White – $4.00

This cup of coffee reached all my expectations. Earthy, complex, with the perfect amount of acidity and bitterness, it sure went down a treat.

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The Potato Hash – $21.50

Wanting to walk further down memory lane, I ordered the classic dish at Proud Mary, the potato hash. The name of the dish is deceptively simple, and other than the titular potato hash, there was some smoked shoulder bacon, crispy as ever; poached eggs, because hello, what’s a classic brunch dish without some perfectly cooked eggs; baby kale salad to make you feel good about your breakfast of choice, and bagna cauda, a sauce made of anchovies, and takes the otherwise good dish to a whole other level. Every element was in harmony, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Omelette

My friend ordered an older rendition of the omelette, which is no longer on the menu, but has been replaced by an enticing sounding crab and potato omelette instead. Anyway, the omelette had the perfect amount of runniness, and beside thinking that the offering of butter was a bit strange, my friend only had positive things to say about what seemed to be quite a normal dish.

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There’s a reason why Proud Mary is able to keep its place amongst many of its newer competitors, and that’s the combination of excellent coffee, classic brunch dishes with a twist, and a somewhat aloof service that is nevertheless friendly enough, to remind you that hey, we are still in the heart of hipster town.

After just having another quick look at their updated menu, I’ve got my eyes set on some new things to try, although it’ll be hard to steer away from the potato hash. Guess I’ll just have to talk my dining companions into sharing next time hey.

How to get here:
Proud Mary is located on Oxford Street, catch tram #86 towards Bundoora RMIT from Parliament station and get off at Hodgson St/Smith St, and Proud Mary is two minutes walk away.

Proud Mary Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MoVida Aqui

The MoVida Group needs no introduction, but I’ll give you one anyway. Focusing on bringing authentic Spanish food into Melbourne, the MoVida Group largely serves up a range of tapas, using copious amount of seafood; and larger plates of dishes, all aimed for sharing. There are four MoVida restaurants in Melbourne, and one or two in Sydney too I believe. Needless to say, MoVida has been on my radar for the longest time, and I finally made the decision to give it a visit for some birthday celebration.

We visited MoVida Aqui on this occasion, because the original was fully booked out on a Friday night, and although they do take walk-ins, I’m not a fan of bar stools, the only type of sitting available to walk-in diners.

Entering into the restaurant, it felt very sophisticated and mysterious, with dimmed lights, and a bar as its centrepiece. We were sat promptly by our waitress for the night, and from the beginning, let’s just say, she didn’t seem very friendly. This is going to possibly take up a large portion of the review, and I apologize in advance.

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Complimentary Bread

We were served some complimentary bread after placing our order, and the bread had a nice bite to it, although it was nothing spectacular, it was a pleasant enough way to start our night.

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El Maestro Oloroso – $12.00

MoVida Aqui had an extensive drinks list, and we were quite overwhelmed. My policy for choosing wine is generally anything that is under $20, has the word berry in it, and if the bottle was extra fancy looking, it’s pretty much a done deal.

On this occasion, we had a browse through the food menu first, since that’s what we were here for. The waitress asked us if we wanted anything to drink right away, and we said not for now, and she responded ‘no drinks’ in a condescending manner, almost mocking us. We felt extremely unwelcomed after this exchange, and just wanted to place our order as soon as possible so that we don’t have to have any further contact with her.

I settled for the Oloroso, knowing pretty much nothing about it besides it being a sherry. The waitress’s response for my choice of drink was ‘it’s got a bit of a bite to it, are you sure?’ And as often is the case, it’s not what she said, it’s how she said it.

The drink was quite dark and nutty, definitely not something I would grab a bottle of at Dan Murphy, but it suited the general atmosphere of the restaurant, and I was happy to step out of my comfort zone.

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Ponce Rosato – $13.00

My dining partner had the only Rose that was available by the glass. She liked it enough; being a Rose and all, it was quite easy to drink.

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Cecina – $23.50

Our first dish of the night was the Cecina, described simply as ‘David Blackmore’s air dried wagyu’. It was served with pickled jalapenos, and I’m not sure what the white crumbs were, but it had strong wasabi flavours coming through. The wagyu was cut into thin slices, and almost melted at the tip of your tongue, its richness complemented by the bitey jalapenos, as well as the crumbs.

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Pincho – $5.00

The Pincho was one of the specials, described as ‘quail breast, pancetta, red mojo’. I was curious by the sound of the dish, but wanted to clarify what red mojo was. Response by our waitress: ‘it’s quail breast wrapped in pancetta’ as she tries to not roll her eyes at such a simple question. I had to ask again for an explanation of the red mojo, and it turns out to be a capsicum sauce of sort. In what universe would the most exotic ingredient out of the three not require an explanation? Beats me.

I enjoyed this tapas immensely. The quail breast was surprising tender, and was seasoned heavily with cumin – aka my favourite herb for long time readers – and the pancetta added both crunch and saltiness, with the red mojo balancing everything out.

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Bomba – $4.80 each

Onto probably one of the most infamous tapas across all MoVida restaurants, the bomba. This was essentially a potato croquette, with chorizo mince as its centre. The potato was very creamy, and the exterior of the bomba was quite crunchy. Placed on top of the bomba was a dollop of the same red mojo, and a smaller dollop of a mystery white sauce, the flavour was not prominent enough for me to pinpoint what it was.

I gotta say, the high expectation I had for this dish probably didn’t work in its favour. Having tried many croquettes in my time, this was nothing special. Sure, the textures were nice, but there was barely any flavours coming through. This could be due to the ratio of the potato and chorizo being off, or the chorizo being chopped too fine, whatever the case, there is definitely room for improvement.

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Pulpo – $18.00

Onto the only dish that we actually didn’t like on the night. From the menu, I expected a grilled octopus tentacle with the sauce on the side. This was certainly different to what I envisioned, and the flavour was also not up my alley. There was a heavy use of yuzu or something similar, resulting in an extremely bitter sauce. If you got lots of the creme fraiche underneath, it kind of overpowered the bitterness, but it was still not enough. The redeeming factor of the dish is that as always, the produce was cooked perfectly, the octopus was extremely tender.

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Tartar – $7.50 each

We originally wanted to order the crispy pork belly, but unfortunately that was sold out for the night, and we settled for the tartar instead after finally getting a recommendation out of the waitress. With a topping of Flinders Island lamb, cracked wheat and mullet roe puree all placed on a thin semolina cracker, it was a rather refreshing and refined dish. I have never tried lamb tartare before, and was worried that it would be too gamey, but that was not the case at all here.

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Arroz Negro (small) – $35.00

This was the most substantial dish of the night, although it had an exotic name, it was pretty much a cuttlefish squid ink paella. After hearing that I was going to dine at MoVida, my friend at uni highly recommended this dish, and having only tried a couple of paellas at markets in my time, we decided to give it a go.

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We followed his orders, and what resulted was a very decadent and unexpected dish. The rice was cooked perfectly, and there was a decent amount of cuttlefish thrown into the pan. However, the dish was quite salty, although it was somewhat balanced out by the creme fraiche and lemon juice, I still had to down a couple of glasses of water while eating it, and many more afterwards.

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Flan – $15.00

After our table has been cleared by our waitress without asking if we wanted anything else, there was no hint that she was going to be bringing us the dessert menus. Debating whether to just leave the restaurant without having desserts at this point, the waitress seemed to sense our agitation, and kindly graced our table with her presence, and I still had to request for the dessert menus nonetheless. When we were ready, we had to practically wave our arms around to get her attention to place our dessert order.

The flan left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the creme caramel was some of the creamiest I’ve had, and the pestinos – deep fried biscuit glazed with sugar – were also a nice touch. On the other hand, the burnt caramel or whatever the brown syrup is, was extremely bitter, and we had to eat around it to not let it destroy the dish.

As you can probably tell already, I was not pleased with my dining experience at MoVida Aqui, to say the least. The food were largely pleasant, but the flavours were often just a little bit off. The appalling service, however, is not something I can overlook. I know that this may be a rare case, as other reviews tend to rave about how helpful the waiters and waitresses can be, explaining the menu in detail and all. But that wasn’t my experience on this particular occasion, and I think it is important for me to share that.

At its pricepoint, MoVida Aqui can’t get away with having shockingly terrible service, even if it is just one waitress. From beginning to end, our waitress made us feel that we didn’t belong in the restaurant, we didn’t understand and couldn’t appreciate Spanish cuisine, and thus she did not have to pay any attention to us. That is not how I wish to feel after any meal. Food is supposed to be a medium for people to gather and share joy. Unfortunately, I do not recommend for anyone to dine at MoVida Aqui in the near future. I am open to re-visiting the restaurant to see if it was really just a one-off thing, however, given the plethora of similarly priced restaurants that gave me a much more enjoyable experience, I am in no rush to return.

How to get there:
Catch any of the City Loop trains to Flagstaff Station, and the restaurant is about a 5 minutes walk away.

MoVida Aqui Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato