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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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.

The waiter that set this on our table was very helpful, telling us that he likes to heavily drench the dish in lemon juice, and that adding some creme fraiche – which was served on the side – adds more uniqueness to the dish.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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

Naked in the Sky

After all these years, Fitzroy remains cool and hip, somethings’ll never change. Naked in the Sky, as many of you may know by now, is the rooftop bar right above Naked for Satan. If you’re looking for some more inventive tapas paired with some breathtaking views, have more than a $10 note to spend, then enter the escalator and all your dreams will come true.

Crumbed Eggplant w/ Honey and Blue Cheese

The crumbed eggplant is always a must-order for me. These are kind of like eggplant chips, the crumb is super crunchy, and the mix of honey and blue cheese is perfect, definitely get this if you’re an eggplant fan!

Grilled Beef Eyefillet Skewers

The large cubes of eye fillet were quite meaty, and the simple flavouring of salt allowed the meat itself to shine through. My only complaint is that this was on the small side of things.

Baked Camembert

I loved the baked camembert! I have tried to bake camembert myself at home, but they always turn out to be too oily. The truffle paste and pieces of chestnut prevented the whole thing from becoming too rich.

Popcorn Chicken

The popcorn chicken were unlike the original Taiwanese version, but they were tasty in their own rights! The light dusting of batter was very flavoursome, and the pieces of chicken inside were succulent.

Naked in the Sky is definitely one of my favourite rooftop venues around, and given the unusually warm temperature in Melbourne, you still have plenty of time to give it a visit before the weather gets more chilly! It’s as popular as ever though, and there’s really no guarantee that you’ll get a seat on the limited number of numbers if you arrive around dinner time, but hey, isn’t that half the fun?

How to get there:
Naked in the Sky is located on Brunswick Street, catch tram #11 and get off at stop #17 Johnston Street/Brunswick Street.

Naked In the Sky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Queen Victoria Night Market

Queen Victoria Wednesday Night Market

Going to start my blog with a BANG hehe, well technically this is the second post, but you get me. So it’s Summer time in Melbourne, which means the Wednesday Night Market at Queen Victoria Market is BACK YAY πŸ˜€

Last year was the first year for this event I think, but obviously being Melbourne, we loved it so much that it’s back again this year, with more amazing food (if that’s even possible) and entertainment.

Running Sangria
L: Sangria | White wine – $8; R: Sangria | Red wine – $8

Last year I had my first ever Sangria at the market, so of course this year I’m back for some more! I tried out the white Sangria this time as well, it’s definitely a lot sweeter than the red, but I love them both! Perfect to pair with the endless amount of food I’m about to stuff my face with.

On a side note, my mum hated these. But all that means is more for me yay.

Simply Spanish
Beef Pinchos | Grilled beef skewers served with garden salad – $10

More Spanish food! These skewers actually exceeded my expectations, let’s be honest, they weren’t cooked to perfection by any means. However, the marinate was tasty, and the smokiness from the grill took it to the next level. The salad, although super simple – just lettuce leaf I think – had an excellent dressing, I remember thinking “how the hell can green leaves taste so good” LOL (clearly not a salad person).

Simply Spanish
BBQ Pork Belly | BBQ to perfection marinated select tender pork belly served on steam rice with Spanish style quince sauce (this sound so fob I know, but I didn’t write it I swear!) – $12

Pork belly is the one thing that I will always order, doesn’t matter if it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner. These pork belly did not disappoint, tender and juicy, some crispy skin would’ve been perfection, but oh well, perfection’s overrated. The Spanish quince had just the right amount of acidity to cut through the richness of the pork belly. There was one let down though – the steamed rice. So let’s just get this straight before we move on, if you haven’t figured out by now, I’m Chinese, so I eat rice pretty much all day everyday. I understand that different cuisines use different types of rice, and the cooking method differs too, but seriously, the rice here were half cooked, legit, there were hard bits that was seriously inedible.
Simply Spanish on Urbanspoon

Hoy Pinoy | Flipino BBQ & Street Food
Lechon Baboy | Whole pig “Cebu style”. Served with rice, archara and sarsa lechon – $12

I haven’t tried Filipino cuisine before, the only place I’ve seen it is in one of Chester See’s videos where Mama See cooks some Flipino styled chicken – super relevant I know. Anyway, this was pretty good. When we walked past the stall, a whole sucking big being roasted was what drew us in, my mum was all like “IS THAT ROAST PORK”, but no, unfortunately it’s not. It still tasted decent though, the sauce was nutty, and the shredded radish (?) salad was refreshing. The crispy skin wasn’t all that crispy (my mum asked for extra LOL), but overall it was still above average. Oh yeh, the rice was much better.
Hoy Pinoy on Urbanspoon

Nepal Dining Room
Chicken Sekuwa (Grill) | Chicken fillet marinated with garlic, ginger, rock salt, soy sauce with a touch of lime, grilled, sliced and served with a tomato chutney and fresh green salad – $12

MORE MEAT. This was not all that memorable, possibly because I was pretty full by this stage. The chicken wasn’t dry I think, and the salad was what I expect from a garden salad – boring. The tomato chutney was good with the chicken. But yeh, I didn’t think there was anything distinctively Nepalese about this dish, not that I’ve had a whole lot of experience on this cuisine anyway.

Coconut Hub
Sugarcane Juice with Pineapple Juice – $6

This tasted pretty amazing, I loveeeee sugarcane juice, and they’re so hard to come by in Melbourne, maybe only ever at Chinese New Year festivals and night markets. When I was in the line, the two girls behind me were talking about how in Asian Countries, they juice the sugarcane twice, which made me chuckle a little, oh Asians. But seriously, this was ridiculously sweet, simply because of how pure it was, my mum came up with the theory that in China, the ratio of actual sugarcane juice to water is probably 1:2, because she pretty much added half a cup of water and it still didn’t taste all that diluted.

Dutch Pancakes
Butter, Sugar and Maple – $8

No matter how full I am, some dessert is always welcome. And how can anyone say no to these cute miniature pancakes? Okay, I get that this is pretty much just regular pancakes but smaller, but they’re SO CUTE. I can never get over the novelty of cute small things. Apart from the cuteness factor, these were decent, a bit undercooked I think, but yeh, their cute exterior makes that okay in my book.

Queen Victoria Wednesday Night Market

As you can see, there’s a lot of people at this event. So definitely try to get in early if you can, and by early I mean 6pm, which isn’t all that bad. If you rock up later than that, parking would be a pain too I’d imagine. The lines can be pretty long for the food, up to around 15 minutes when I visited. The undercover part was definitely very hot and humid, because of all the food stalls and the amount of people, but once you come out onto the tables and have a sip or two of Sangria, the weather becomes perfection.

This is an event I’d recommend anyone with a passion for food, craft and just the market atmosphere to go. It’s not cheap, that’s for sure, the food varies between $10-$15 each, and one of them won’t fill you up, so yeh, grab a $50 and mark this down for next Wednesday!

The Wednesday Night Market will be open every Wednesday 5-10pm (excluding Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) until March 25.

How to get there:
Public Transport | Hop on tram 19, 59 and 57 from Flinders Street or Melbourne Central station – the Elizabeth Street Exit, and get off at stop #7.
By Car | There’s a huge carpark right next to Victoria Market, and it’s going to cost you a flat rate of $10 for the whole night.

The Night Market on Urbanspoon