The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar

YES, this is yet another Melbourne food blog!

MoPho Noodle Bar

9 Yarra Street
South Yarra VIC 3141
+61 3 9827 0699

Do we really need yet another ‘Asian-inspired’ eatery in Melbourne that charges double for a plate of noodles and is run by a gweilo? In MoPho‘s case, yes, yes, we do! And yep, how awesome is the eatery’s name? Funnily enough, they don’t actually serve pho here.

Making itself at home in secluded Yarra Street, this noodle bar, an offshoot of St Ali’s coffee, has attracted the ire of Asians who bemoan the opening of another less-than-authentic Asian eatery that apparently rips off noodle dishes that are perfected and charged for chilli-soy peanuts in their homelands. In addition, it has attracted praise from loser foodies such as myself who have visited this joint since it opened about a month ago. And yes, I’m Asian.

The menu, adorned with a cute panda cartoon version of tatted and pierced chef Ben Cooper, is fairly simple. One page for soup noodles, one page for wok-fried noodles and one page for warm salad noodles. There’s even a little section dedicated to rice and curries, though the focus is on noodles. At 1:45pm, the place is still bopping with South Yarra suits and it takes a while for me to get a seat but finally, a small round table against the black latticed walls, also containing hollowed storage compartments filled with dried ingredients, becomes available.

The first time I was here, I ordered a wok-fried dish of scallops, crispy bacon, sambal olek, fresh mint and Shanghai noodle ($18.50). On paper, it sounds like a very odd combination. I can understand scallops and noodles, but bacon and noodles?! Nevertheless, the dish worked. Really well. I’m not sure what made all the ingredients gel together as effortlessly as the hair of a Victory supporter and a smear of Schwarzkopf gel – it could have been the spicy sambal oelek that went with BOTH the scallops and the bacon – but whatever, it was a dish that was fantastic. It was full of big and fresh flavours, and despite all the greenage in the photo above there was actually a decent amount of noodles (see below).

While I was eating my noodles, the pasty burly dude sitting on the table next to me had just finished his pad thai. ‘Pffft, who the fck orders pad thai at a place like this?’ I thought to myself but then the guy said that it was the “best pad thai he had ever tasted.” Hmm, well, I love my pad thai like the next Aussie so the next time I was at Mopho, that was what I ordered.

Mopho’s version of the classic pad thai ($18.50) which came with fried tofu cubes, grilled prawns, bean shoots, chilli soy peanuts and all the chives I need in my lifetime. I must say, the dude from last week was right. It was the best pad thai I’ve ever had. Okay, sure they were probably a tad too liberal with the fish sauce, thus making the noodles saltier than your average suburban pad thai but everything else was fantastic. The noodles were perfectly chewy and firm, the prawns were fresh off the boat and so we were the other ingredients. There was a little bit of heat in the dish which made losers such as myself tear up, but thankfully a lime wedge and long, slices of cucumber were provided to keep the waterworks at bay. Was it worth $18.50? Well, you’d normally pay up to $15 for a pad thai in the suburbs – and it’s not always good so I’d say that the extra few dollars made the dish worth it.

Okay, so the prices would put a lot of people (and when I say people, I guess I really mean Asians) off, but the two dishes I ordered were enjoyed immensely. All the ingredients were fresh, the flavours explosive and the servings generous. MoPho wouldn’t be for everyone (like my mother, for example who will lament the fact that ‘gweilos’ are making OUR food and charging double for it) but it sure is for me. My only gripe about it is that due to liquor licensing issues, they are only open for lunch on weekdays so unless you have an RDO or chucked a sickie, I guess you’d have to wait until they get the okay to open for dinners and on weekends.

MoPho Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

12 Comments on MoPho Noodle Bar

  1. Bryan
    March 29, 2011 at 05:45 (3 years ago)

    Love how you used the word “gweilo” in your post! Best pad thai in town? I’m more than happy to give this place a go then!

    Reply
  2. Hannah
    March 29, 2011 at 12:42 (3 years ago)

    Warm salad noodles? That sounds intriguing. I highly dispute your claim to be a loser foodie, though. I think I win that name with my lunch of a can of tuna and a zucchini… grocery trip needed…

    Reply
  3. Almost Always Ravenous
    March 29, 2011 at 15:43 (3 years ago)

    LOL gweilo … awesome translation ey =P. i want pad thai from thailand sigh sigh sigh

    Reply
  4. D'
    March 29, 2011 at 22:22 (3 years ago)

    Yeah mopho’s! I wanna go to this mopho-ing joint but it’s in South Yarra and only able to go on mopho-ing weekends. D’oh!

    Reply
  5. Ashley Ng
    March 30, 2011 at 11:25 (3 years ago)

    Oooh, I’m crazy for Pad thai too! Was planning on visiting here last week but it fell through. Urgh! :c

    Reply
  6. msihua
    March 30, 2011 at 20:41 (3 years ago)

    Putting on my best “aunty” voice – Aiyo… all these gweilos…

    Lols.. I’ve been hearing lots about MoPho.. and I really want to go… !! Thanks for writing this post up… and I agree about the pad thai.. it’s usually greasy and bad and pricey in suburbs!

    Reply
  7. Iron Chef Shellie
    April 3, 2011 at 16:42 (3 years ago)

    I used to work down the road, as I left my job that’s when Yarra St got awesome… grrrr!

    Reaaaally want to try this place!

    Reply
  8. Blithely Unaware
    April 3, 2011 at 17:41 (3 years ago)

    My partner is a chef at Mopho I’ll show him this review when he gets home.
    There is a pho on the menu it’s a beef brisket, perhaps it wasn’t on the menu when you were there.

    The boys got their liquor license literally 2 days ago. The reason it’s currently not open on weekends/night is literally due to staffing. They don’t have the staff to stay open those sorts of hours, they don’t even have a dishy at the moment – the boys are doing it all themselves. Mopho has been open for a heartbeat. Unfortunately diners expect the end product, service, hours etc straight off the bat – it doesn’t always work that way in the hospitality industry. Give them time and I’m sure it will be open for a later/weekend service. I’m also praying they get their dishy – soon!!! :) :) :)

    You can also be assured that these boys come from strong Asian cuisine backgrounds. Between them they have worked at Longrain, Matteo’s and Ezard. These boys are extremely passionate about the food they create – to say they are perfectionists is an understatement. They may not be Asian by race but their food is a darn site better than restaurants I’ve gone to, plastered with stickers because they’ve made it to the Cheap Eats Guide.

    I love the last photo, the food really does photograph well. :)

    Reply
    • libishski
      April 4, 2011 at 22:57 (3 years ago)

      Hi BU!
      Thanks for stopping by. I didn’t see the beef brisket noodle soup on the menu when I was there last time but that’s a good enough reason to visit again :)
      I’m not one to say that Asian food is ONLY good if it’s cooked by Asians (and if my tone conveys that, then I apologise) and restaurants such as Ezard, Longrain and now Mopho are testaments to the fact that you don’t need an Asian background to make excellent Asian food. The pad thai I had at Mopho, for example, was the best one I’ve had in my life so far.
      I’m also glad to hear that Mopho got their liquor licence a few days ago – can’t wait to start going there for dinners and on weekends! :D

      Reply
  9. Laura
    August 2, 2011 at 17:08 (3 years ago)

    I was here on friday, pretty brilliant

    Reply

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