Driving down Yarra Lane in South Yarra, you can’t help but wish that your car could breath in - it’s a narrow two-way street - but there’s good food and coffee halfway down so it's worth the trip. Outpost cafe has been there a while now, doing great coffee and cafe food under the St Ali umbrella and now, directly across the building’s entrance, MoPho has taken a spot on the lane.
St Ali group director Salvatore Malatesta and chef Benjamin Cooper opened MoPho just over a week ago to provide the apartments and businesses around the area with a smart noodle bar highlighting Ben’s work thus far (he’s done good stints at Nobu, Ezard and Longrain and is behind the successful St Ali nights).
The small room, designed by Hassell architects, is a clever mix of black walls, which house storage cupboards behind modern latticework and blondewood tables and stools. The open kitchen allows the sounds of clanging woks and scents of garlic, chilli and fish sauce to perfume the room and the menu is structured very simply into Soup Noodles, Wok Noodles, Salad Noodles and Curries.
Ben makes no bones about the menu being his interpretation of various Asian styles. “This is a pastiche of all I’ve done so far," he explains," a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai and it’s a more Western approach. It’s my take on these cuisines.”
His take may include a feisty soup noodles with pork wonton and cabbage or a wok noodle dish of scallops and crispy bacon, sambal olek and Shanghai noodle. His honest approach to what he can offer diners is refreshing, and his ingredients are authentic even if the mix of them may not be. There’s a liquor license in the works and plans to open for dinner down the track.
MoPho Noodle Bar
7 Yarra Lane, South Yarra
(03) 9827 0699
Photos of PhoMo courtesy of My Aching Head.