Restaurant review: Moi Moi by Luke Nguyen in Central lives up to expectations with bright, intensely flavoured dishes
The first Hong Kong restaurant the Vietnamese Australian celebrity chef has opened offers light and refreshing dishes with bright, intense flavours
We had high expectations when we visited Moi Moi by Luke Nguyen in Central. I have several of the Australian chef’s cookbooks on Vietnamese cuisine and have watched a few episodes of his television programmes, although I haven’t visited any of his restaurants in Australia.
Moi Moi was less than half full when we ate there on a weeknight. The staff offered us the tasting menu (HK$428 per person), although the menu states that it’s for a minimum of four and there were only two of us. We decided to go à la carte instead.
Soft rice paper rolls with Australian tiger prawns, pomelo, green mango and herbs (HK$118) were a lovely, light and fresh tasting start to the meal, with a rich, peanut sauce adding substance. I expected the “Aunty 5’s rice cakes” (HK$148) to be like the crunchy fried snacks I’ve enjoyed in Vietnam, but these were entirely different, and our favourite dish of the evening. The rice cakes had been cut into rectangles and pan-fried, before being topped with prawns, pork, pork floss and spring onions and drizzled with a fish sauce-based dressing. The flavours were cohesive, bright and delicious.
We enjoyed the mild taste and soft texture of the steamed sea bass marinated in galangal and turmeric paste (HK$198), but it was too hard to eat. The sea bass was meant to be wrapped in lettuce leaves and topped with fresh herbs, but either the fish pieces were too large, or the lettuce leaves were too small.
Black angus beef sirloin with Phu Quoc green peppercorns and garlic butter (HK$168) tasted fine and the meat was tender, but it wasn’t the most exciting dish. Much better was the vegetable side dish that was served at the same time: crispy fried Brussels sprouts with sesame, soy, chilli and puffed green rice (HK$98). It wasn’t the prettiest presentation: the Brussels sprouts were blackened and shrivelled, but the cooking method had intensified the flavours and given the sprouts a slight chewiness.
The waitress told us at 9.30pm that it was time for the last order, even though we weren’t ready for dessert. She told us that we only had to order the dish, but the kitchen wouldn’t prepare it until after we finished the savoury courses. We enjoyed the banana fritters with shredded coconut and jasmine rice (HK$98). The bananas weren’t that ripe, but their starchiness was balanced by the subtle sweetness of the coconut ice cream and palm sugar caramel.
Moi Moi by Luke Nguyen, Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road Central, tel: 2808 1086. About HK$415 without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area: