Review: MOMO Dumplings + Tea is bringing Szechuan to Prahran (Melbourne)

Situated just around the corner of Clifton and High street, MOMO Dumpling + Tea is a relaxing new addition to Prahran’s hospitality precinct. Since their official opening in late April, the bright and spacious restaurant has been slowly diversifying their extensive food menu with a variety of traditional Szechuan cuisine. Every week, a new list of specials is created by the head-chef, with particularly well-performing dishes receiving the honour of being permanently added to MOMO’s regular menu. As a result of these weekly culinary experiments, the restaurant’s regular menu is unlike any other.

With the regular menu being divided into nine different sections; Bao, Wonton Bowl, Szechuan Bowl, Dumpling, Something Small, From the Wok, Green Stir Fry, Noodle & Rice, and Dessert, guests are certainly spoiled for choice at MOMO’s. Since the restaurant advertises itself as the home of traditional dumplings and tea with a modern twist, eating dumplings was a must. And it was not the least bit disappointing.

Having never heard of it before, my guest and I curiously ordered the grilled eggplant & sweet pepper dumplings ($10.90). Served with a side of chilli oil and a soy-based dumpling sauce, the vegetarian dish was light and refreshing. One could definitely tell the dough was made fresh on that day, as its texture was soft and delicate, with a satisfying crunchy golden base. The eggplant and sweet pepper filling was moist and full of subtle flavours which were greatly enhanced by the chilli oil dip. Best of all, the dumplings were not at all greasy. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the Xi’an Biang Biang Noodle ($18.90), selected from the list of weekly specials.

Xi’an Biang Biang Noodle

Consisting of ribbon noodles topped with garlic chili sauce, and a choice of either roast duck, pork belly or stir fried vegetables, the spicy dish held a lot of potential. But despite its aesthetically pleasant presentation, the dish lacked flavour and left an unpleasant greasy film on the lips.  Although the menu describes the dish to be “HOT”, the spicy heat of the chili was barely present. However, the dish was redeemed by the pork belly, which was extremely tender and flavoursome.

Calamari & basil in three-cup sauce

The clear highlight of our visit to MOMO’s was the calamari & basil in three-cup sauce ($24.90), found in the menus’ “From the Wok” section. Tossed in Taiwan style three-cup sauce along with basil, okra, and sweet pepper, the grilled calamari was perfectly fresh, juicy and tender. From the refreshing crunch of the okra and sweet pepper slices, right down to the soft yet distinct Asian flavours of the three-cup sauce, every element of the dish worked to complement each other. If you have a weakness for seafood like myself, then this is the perfect MOMO dish for you.

Nutella wonton and Coconut sago & ice cream

And of course, what’s the point of dining out if you don’t have dessert right? When it comes to dessert, on top of their regular menu’s five different offerings, MOMO also includes four different weekly dessert specials. Like most Chinese restaurants, MOMO’s short dessert menu has a strong focus on the main ingredients of coconut and red bean. Having a soft spot for Nutella, I ordered the Nutella wonton ($9.90) from the weekly special’s menu, while my guest ordered the coconut sago & ice cream ($12.90). Served alongside a scoop of coconut ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce, the Nutella wontons look quite greasy from the outside.  When bitten into, the texture of the wonton shells are very chewy but one will quickly forget about all that as the warm Nutella oozes out from the centre. When added into the mix, the coconut ice cream brings a much-needed refreshing balance to the little parcels of rich and gooey Nutella.  If you’re a fan of traditional Asian desserts, then the creamy coconut sago with vanilla ice cream is the one for you.

Matcha Jasmine Sour

As the name suggests, MOMO Dumplings + Tea also serve a variety of traditional house-made hot and iced tea. But if you’re in the mood for an evening cocktail, MOMO also has an interesting selection of tea-based cocktails on offer, such as their crowd favourite Matcha jasmine sour ($17.50). Made with a mix of vodka, jasmine tea, matcha, and jasmine flower, the Matcha jasmine sour is certainly a unique cocktail. Once you get past the thick layer of froth, reminiscent of a green smoothie, the signature cocktail has a slightly bitter taste to it, which die-hard matcha fans are sure to love. If neither cocktails nor tea is your beverage of choice, MOMO also has a decent selection of beer & cider, white, red or sparkling wines, as well as the usual choice of non-alcoholic beverages.

MOMO Dumplings + Tea

Address: 9 Clifton St, Prahran VIC 3181
Contact: (03) 8597 1633
Hours: Wed-Sun 12pm-10:30pm

All photographs were taken by Zaya Altangerel for The AU Review