MoChi Restaurant, Wollongong NSW
|From 12 o'clock clockwise - the black Jiaozi, the barbecued pork bun, two types of Shuimai, the Har Gou and the Xiao Long Bao.|
Opening week in July at MoChi was a flurry of activity and customer interest. The owners, the Sheppards, already operate Caveau, a small French dining restaurant across the road and which the Sydney Morning Herald has consistently renewed its one Hat rating. Occupying two shop lots, Mo Chi is spanking clean with neutral hues (Nest Emporium), friendly staff (ground and first point of contact) and with a spacious feel. The bar is upfront so one can ponder on its offerings whilst waiting for a table. There is an in-room divider blocking up the inner third of the place, perhaps catering for any private functions cordoned off from the main dining floor.
The lunch express came in a single bamboo basket, with a section of yum cha dishes, including some of Hong Kong's Four Heavenly Kings but excluding the steamed cakes. The prawn and pork filled Har Gou with a whitish outside layer was good to the taste, but the Shuimai's two choices - one with sticky rice, more Indo Chinese than southern Chinese and another with rather dry minced pork and prawn - were disappointments. The wanton skin selected to wrap the Shuimais were rather thick and so affected the delicacy of what should be a more refined prepared snack. The barbecued pork bun was more passable in presentation, especially its fluffy steamed dough, but they can look to improving the marinade of the pork fillings.
The black coloured Jiaozi tasted flat even if it was an interesting attempt at it. I did like the Xiao Long Bao (the Shanghai inspired steamed bun with soup inside).
In the brave new world of culinary adventure and frontiers, we have Koreans and Japanese celebrity chefs dabbling in fusion, especially with French cuisine. At Mo Chi we have Australian background owners experienced in French cooking venturing on to southern Chinese dishes, utilising ethnic backroom teams. We also have people of south-east Asian backgrounds combining the best of ingredients from a tropical setting fused into so-called modern Australian cuisine. Results can vary but the important things is the continuity of such interchanges in cooking styles, especially in clever use of local and overseas ingredients and coming out with a why not taste.
Mochi is located at 157 Keira Street, Wollongong city centre.
Open from Wednesdays to Sundays from noon for lunch and from 6pm for dinner.
Telephone: 612 4244 5811
Vehicle parking can be on side streets like Market or Victoria, or one can park at the shopping centre a block away.
The wine list is good and especially chosen to match the nuances of southern Chinese food.
Would I return? Perhaps from dinner, where I am told that the barramundi and crabs are worth trying.
I am eyeing as well the slow cooked duck leg with star anise, perhaps a real test of Chinese and French classic styles.