There are few things more fundamentally human than barbeque and hotpot. Moo kata (also “mu kratha”) is a Thai cooking method that spectacularly combines the two. It’s also the hero of new CBD spot Aunglo, a casual Thai restaurant with a roller door entrance and a garage feel, hidden down Flanigan Lane in the CBD.

Aunglo is the latest jewel in owner Surachai Kunchairattana’s restaurant crown, which also includes Thai spots Pick Prik, Heng and the newly opened Lang Baan on Rose Lane in the city. At Aunglo, he’s taken on a business partner in Kittipod Tongchan. (The pair have also joined forces to open Khao, an adjoining restaurant with an entrance on La Trobe Street that specialises in the northern Thai curry noodle soup, khao soi.)

With a “choose your own adventure” energy, diners have the option to choose moo kata or hotpot on its own. “There’s no right or wrong way to do it,” Tongchan explains. “Just eat how you feel.”

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Opt for the signature moo kata and a shining brass dome plate surrounded by a shallow moat of bone broth seasoned with plenty of lemongrass, ginger and chilli is placed over white charcoal and topped with a lardon of pork fat.

The selection of things to barbeque and cook in the comforting broth is extensive. There’s a focus on high quality cuts that range from premium A5 Miyazaki Wagyu to thinly sliced oxtongue and fatty pork belly. The meats come in a range of seasoning options including mala, teriyaki and sesame oil.

Order the giant pork set and a tray of raw pork belly will arrive at the table marinated in sesame oil and topped with two raw egg yolks. Tongchan instructs diners to break the yolks and mix everything together before cooking them and says the egg helps to tenderise the meat and spread the marinade.

Snacks include crisp calamari, fried chicken, enoki mushrooms and the owners’ favourite: grilled mackerel. There’s also a selection of cold spicy salads including an udon seafood salad with fermented fish sauce and a raw salmon salad. Rice bowls, with seasoned riced served in a mound topped with marinated, cured egg yolk and beef or scallops, round out the menu.

While the restaurant is Thai at its core, the menu incorporates Japanese, Chinese and Korean dishes, ingredients and flavours. This is seen in the Japanese Wagyu, Chinese mala seasoning and the fruity and refreshing Korean bingsu dessert that comes in three flavours: watermelon (served in a hollowed-out watermelon), lychee rose and chilli-salt pineapple.

Tongchan explains this is because of the increased popularity of Korean and Chinese barbeque restaurants back home in Thailand and the access the restaurant has to quality Japanese ingredients here in Melbourne. In other words, he’s brought a present-day version of a Thai moo kata restaurant to Australia, which means incorporating influences from a range of cuisines.

The decor nods to its Japanese and Korean influences in the use of chochin to light the space, and the collage of Thai children’s storybook pages, Korean manhwa and Japanese manga plastered on the walls.

Aunglo
Flanigan Lane, Melbourne
0403309888

Hours:
Daily 5.30pm–10.30pm

@aunglo.melbourne