When I first inspected my apartment unit on the 14th floor of a brand new, sparkling black building, I was told by the agent that there is a good noodle bar directly across from the building. After moving in and a week later, I decided to check it out. There is a small pedestrian walkway of this huge building directly across from my rented apartment building.
Yarra Lane end from Yarra Street. The laneway joins the two streets, Claremont Street and Yarra Street. Sounds very trendy. This small lane of probably less than 300 metres has a few small little eating holes. One of which is the noodle bar, “MoPho” and the very popular cafe, “Outpost Cafe”. There is another Japanese cafe, and a more upmarket looking cafe, “Veloce” in an exclusive car showroom.
I went to MoPho several weeks ago, but have not posted the article until now. To recall my memory, I googled for MoPho. There has been several past reviews by food critics including this article, in The Agenewspaper. Read the article and find out for youself where the inspiration of the name came from. It will make you either laugh or surprise.
I am not going to repeat what the other reviewers had to say. But, my first impression of MoPho was a great excitement that it is only a 1 minute walk from my apartment. It is dark and gloomy looking from the outside with the gloomy, dimmed interior lighting which set the mood of a classy noodle bar. It is small and cosy, and has an open kitchen. The Asian smell instantly get into my nose as I walked in. It was on a cold, drizzly night. Still early about 7pm. There were 2 other tables. Because I have not read or googled about the place, I had no idea what to expect in terms of the menu.
I asked the only one waitress for the menu since there is no menu posted on the window. She was quite reluctant. I waited for a few minutes before she brought me one. Thank goodness I was very relax at the time. I glanced through the small menu – a few choices of soup noodles, fried noodles, and selection of curry dishes. If I remember correctly, almost all the dishes were under $20, but over $10. It has to be something special. So I decided to get a table and try the food.
I really like the interior. Something I would do if I have another little cafe of my own. Maybe in my next life.
It was a hard choice – fried or soup noodle. Because it was a cold night, I opt for a soup noodle. But, the choices were all so “different”. Asian but the combination or twist sounded so unusual and modernised. I was really struggling. A pho or a laksa. In the end, I asked for the pho with brisket beef, caramalised onions and cherry tomatoes! The waitress suggested I should also try their chef’s specialty, “chicken wings”. That was not in the menu. She told me all their customers come back for the chicken wings, which were marinated with szechuan peppercorns.
They were so good, that I had to clean up the bones!
I was glad I ordered the chicken wings. $10. They were very good – succulent, tangy and love all the crunchy bits of szechuan red peppercorns and garlic with the fresh herb of coriander leaves and fresh red chilies. The squeeze of fresh lime juice over the chicken add a level of dimension to the flavour. It was quite salty which made this dish so additive and finger licking good. It was a great start, and with high anticipation of my main course, “pho”.
MoPho’s pho was a beautiful looking noodle soup dish. Colourful with the cherry tomatoes and sweet basil leaves and coriander leaves. Now for the real test of a different type of “pho”. I scooped a spoonful of the soup into my mouth. To tell a good pho is to taste the soup. I remembered the soup was unusually sweet. The rice noodle was not smooth or soft. If I was not mistaken and knowing my noodle well, the noodle was not fresh rice noodle. But, a dried rice noodle that I would use for making Pad Thai. That to me was very unfortunate, because a good pho stock should be served with fresh rice noodle, not dried noodle. The cherry tomatoes didn’t go with the pho as well. But, the beef briskets were good. All in all, it was a very different type of pho. The waitress asked what I thought about the dish. I gave her an honest answer which she was really surprised to hear and wasn’t happy to know. So why asked. From now on, I will stick with my pho at Richmond. The real, authentic flavour of Vietnam. Not a modernised version.
This Saturday morning, as usual, I would walked through Yarra Lane to Yarra Street and another few hundred metres to 7-Eleven next to South Yarra train station to buy my The Saturday Age newspaper. That was 8:30 am, and the “Outpost Cafe” at the corner of Yarra Lane/Yarra Street was quite busy with people having breakfast.
On my way back 5 minutes later, I walked past the cafe again and it was still busy. I have walked past this cafe a few times but never tried it. So, this morning I have decided to have my breakfast there. What I didn’t know was the two sections divided by a small foyer is the cafe. I have always thought they were two separate places. Thus, on the right is the dining area with a small bar and on the left is an open kitchen with takeaway and a few high stools with benchtop. I couldn’t decide whether to sit on the high stool with the open kitchen and people standing waiting for their takeaway or in the other room away from all the actions. With my itchy bump, I moved from one room to the other room a couple of times like a naughty little boy running around a cafe.
Breakfast is breakfast, right?? But, no! This is not the same. It is theatrical and at its best. The price is very reasonable and I believed they make very good coffee – lots of takeaway with people waiting for their cuppa first thing in the morning.
I love every thing about this interesting cafe. The kitchen is awesome. The type of kitchen I would love to work in. I read somewhere that “Outpost cafe” is part of St Ali group as well, and so is the other Japanese cafe directly across.
I ordered free range eggs “poached” which came with a nice crusty sourdough bread and sauteed mushrooms. A big Yum from me! I haven’t had such a good breakfast for a long time with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for $19. The eggs were perfectly poached. The sourdough bread had lots of pumpkin seeds and the mushrooms were really a delight, moist and juicy with lots of vinegar. The homemade relish was a nice side condiment, which went well with the overall meal. I love it. A great way to start my Saturday.