23 Jul Mototaxi, St Kilda
Images of mototaxis conjure up images of the busy streets South-East Asia, full of life, full of action, and of course, full of delicious food. Mototaxi is the name adopted by this new casual dining room and cocktail bar, featuring a menu designed by executive chef Danny Neat (ex-Pei Modern, Phillippe Mouchel) and with head chef Tad McLean running the pass. Co-owner Lee Mack comes from an impressive hospitality background, and is now striking it out on his first venture, building on his passion for South-East Asian cuisine.
The cocktail menu has been put together by Carlos Araujo, whose experience includes Panama Dining Room, Rice Queen and Green Park Dining. The Blanco Long Cô is made with El Jimador Blanco, vanilla, cacao infused coffee, Aztec chocolate bitters and condensed milk. It’s like an alcoholic Vietnamese iced coffee, or from a different perspective, a Vietnamese version of an espresso martini.
The food menu puts a contemporary spin on traditional Vietnamese and Cambodian dishes and flavours. The boudin noir tiger roll is filled with the blood sausage, hoisin, pickles and herbs including coriander and spring onion. I enjoy the bold flavours, and the crustiness of the bread contrasts neatly with the smooth pate-like texture of the boudin noir.
Scallop tartare with tamarind and shredded pork skin is served on a strikingly coloured black rice cracker. It’s a very textural dish, the ethereally light rice cracker almost melting in the mouth, leaving the bouncy diced scallop and shredded pork skin behind to contemplate.
Rice paper rolls are filled with jicama, chopped omelette, herbs and vermicelli noodles, seasoned with a flavoursome peanut hoisin sauce. Getting more hands on, the herb box contains the web-like banh hoi for wrapping with. A dish of spring onion oil is provided for extra flavour, though a condiment plate with nuoc cham, hot sauce, crispy chilli oil, peanut sauce can be added on for extra.
Mains are enjoyed with various salads, such as runner beans, yoghurt, fried garlic, green papaya and dried shrimp, and a number with grilled eggplant, shiitake, black vinegar, spring onion and flat noodle-like rice cakes.
Shiso-wrapped quail is succulent, paired with pickled pear and radish salad. There’s a hint of sweetness together with tanginess from the pickling liquid. The grilled bonito is fresh and juicy, flaking apart easily with the fork. Small pieces of pomelo add a slight bitterness and cold refreshment to each bite. The Sher wagyu skirt is paired with a beautiful black garlic concoction and bitter leaves. There’s a bit of gristle in this cut of beef, but it’s still moist and tender, and teams nicely with the beautiful fermented flavour of the black garlic smear.
We finish with the Vietnamese creme caramel with pear, and a chocolate ganache with sesame caramel. There’s a drizzle of coffee over the ganache, and thin slivers of chewy sesame caramel and chopped nuts create texture. It’s a match made in heaven that ties up the meal nicely.
Waiting for a permanent home, the Mototaxi pop-up is currently residing in Glass Merchants, taking over when night falls.
Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Mototaxi. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit
63-65 Nelson Street
St Kilda, VIC, 3183
(03) 9029 0170