A neon-lit, hip hop-playing, Asian-fusion restaurant has joined the Ivy precinct in Sydney’s CBD. Meet Mumu, the latest venue from Merivale, Justin Hemmes’ hospitality empire.

“In 2019, Justin, Dan [Hong] and I took an amazing research trip around Southeast Asia,” head chef Oliver Hua tells Broadsheet. “In one week, we travelled through Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, meeting their best chefs, who took us out to their favourite places to eat.”

That trip became the inspiration for Mumu’s menu. It’s a collaboration between Hua, who was previously chef at Queen Chow, Est and Mr Wong, and Hong, executive chef at Mr Wong, Ms G’s, and now, Mumu.

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“We wanted to replicate the street food of Southeast Asia, which is usually cooked over charcoal,” Hua says. To that end, the chefs enlisted Beech Ovens to custom-build a giant charcoal oven and had it delivered from Queensland.

Among Hua’s favourite entrees are the betel leaves, which are piled with a sprightly combination of sweet pork, dried shrimp, macadamia, salted lime, finger lime, ginger, scud chilli and lemongrass.

The mains menu, designed for sharing, is split into three groups: raw, salad and small plates; seafood and meat; and vegetables, rice and noodles. Hua recommends the prahok ktis, a Cambodian spicy pork and fermented-fish dip served with pea eggplants and crudités, as well as the pork spare ribs with black-vinegar glaze and curry leaves.

Stand-out desserts include the Vietnamese-coffee tres leches cake with chocolate and hazelnut, and the iced coconut soup with lychees and jackfruit sorbet.

Given that the menu is big on flavours and spice, refreshing cocktails dominate the drinks menu. Cool down your palate with the Tiger Tail (tequila, apricot brandy, yuzu, sumac), a Suntory Time (Suntory whisky, osmanthus, citrus, soda), or a Riot Rosé Spritz (Riot rosé, blood orange, rhubarb, passionfruit). The yuzu slushies, which are a popular menu staple at Ms G’s, also grace the menu.

“We wanted the restaurant to feel like a party,” Hua says. “It’s a place where people can relax and have a really good time.”

The interior – splashed with bright colours and neon signage – is an extension of that good-times ethos. Hemmes worked with interior designer and frequent Merivale collaborator George Livissianis on the space, and Bettina Hemmes styled it with Amanda Talbot. There’s seating for 180, across communal tables, private booths, round tables (with lazy Susans for easy sharing) and bar stools. For diners who like to watch their meal prep, there’s a bar overlooking the enormous open kitchen.

“The kitchen is open all day,” says Hua. “So, you can come in and eat whenever you like, whether you want snacks and a cocktail or a feast with friends.”

330 George Street, Sydney

Tue to Sat midday–late