Aren't we lucky in Melbourne has such a diverse food scene due to the vibrant culture of over 150 ethnic groups? I particularly fond of Asian fusion food simply because I love being able to choose dishes from different parts of the region. Also, some clever chefs often create exciting dishes with the mixed use of ingredients from different cuisines. Guess what I am going to say about the food at Hochi Mama? Mama from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) had brought us the traditional Vietnamese food and Mama's sons have certainly put in new twists to create some delicious fusion dishes. Mama should be proud!
Hochi Mama emphases on its Vietnamese fusion cuisine. The Vietnamese based dishes have incorporated ingredients from Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Thai food to create some interesting flavours. The menu has a good selection of sharing dishes from starter to main are catering for the meat eater, pescetarian or vegetarian. Both the lunch and dinner menus are set for two people to share with a fixed price during weekdays and weekends, and of course, you can add more individual dishes.
I went to Hochi Mama twice for weekend lunch with family and friends back in September and just before Christmas this year. I love the food and the vibes of this little funky place... the decor, mural, music and the bustling noise from the happy diners.
Here is the selection of dishes we chose on the two occasions.
Trio of scallops with Saigon red curry - kampot pepper, kaffir lime leaves and holy basil. The scallops were steamed then topped with the delicious red curry. The red curry isn't overpowering, just goes nicely with the tender scallops.
Fried prawn dumplings - slaw and chilli soy. Everybody loves dumplings these days, those little crispy morsels are dang good. The salad and chilli soy added the texture and a surprising kick of chilli... bang love this creative chilli dumplings slaw!
Rice paper rolls - seared beef, salad and vermicelli. Never bored of eating Vietnamese rice paper rolls, these wrapped with beef instead of prawns. The dipping sauce is so delicious! A healthy choice for the fit fam!
Crispy pork belly bao - pork belly served with fresh cucumber, pickled daikon, spring onion, crushed peanut and hoisin sauce. This signature bao does not disappoint. A brilliant Asian fusion bao!
Hochi chicken banh bao - Hochi signature fried chicken served with spicy kimchi and fermented chilli beans. We couldn't decide whether to choose the pork belly bao or fried chicken bao so we ordered both. The right decision made... again love the Asian fusion flavours of this crispy chicken bao. Thumbs up!
Strawberry salad - strawberry, apple and Vietnamese slaw with a sesame soy dressing and poached chicken. This fruity summer salad that took on a twist of the traditional Vietnamese chicken slaw. The sweet, savoury and sour flavours... and the texture are totally wowed. Love it!
Banh mi - satay chicken skewers, slaw and peanut satay sauce. The mini banh mi is served on sweet soft bun (not baguette) with grilled chicken, pickled slaw and peanut satay sauce are so good. Nice banh mi and we love soft bun or bao anyway... baolicious!
Hochi fried chicken - Mama's secret recipe served with Vietnamese spicy sauce. Indeed, the combination of the crispy coating and tasty meat which make these VFC very moreish. A real contender to the Korean KFC!
Roti and curry dip - crispy roti bread served with a side of Saigon curry sauce. It's quite satisfying of dipping the fluffy roti into the Saigon curry sauce and ate it in one mouthful. So good!
Pad Thai beef - a stir fry of Pad Thai noodles, beef, bean sprout, eggs and spring onions. This Pad Thai is definitely keeping a good "wok hei" (wok fragrance) which we Asians are mad about proper wok-fried noodles. Nice job chefs!
The wine list at Hochi Mama is not extensive, but it has a reasonable cover on the whites which tend to go nicely with Asian food. Both the whites and reds are also reasonably priced around $60 sourced from Australia and Europe. The cocktails meant to be their star drinks to match perfectly with the food. We should try next time. If you are a beer drinker, there is also a good variety for you to choose.
It's a tie-break on the savoury dish this time:
My favourite savoury dish 1 - Hochi chicken banh bao - Hochi signature fried chicken served with spicy pickled cabbage and fermented chilli beans.
My favourite savoury dish 2 - Strawberry salad - strawberry, apple and Vietnamese slaw with a sesame soy dressing and poached chicken
The two lunches at Hochi Mama were delicious. We were over ordered the savoury that truly no room for desserts. We will definitely try the ice-cream brioche and pandan panna cotta on our next visit.
If you love Asian street food, casual dining, lovely vibes, friendly staff and delicious food which you can order a nice feast sharing with family and friends without breaking the bank right in the CBD... you should try out Hochi Mama. Bon appétiti!
11 Liverpool St, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9078 2285