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Moon Mart

Posted in Melbourne

We made our way to West Melbourne’s Moon Mart on an overcast weekend morning. Some of their quite photogenic coffee and cake photos had appeared in our feed, then savoury main items. When we turned up, it turned out that many other people had been similarly intrigued, and we joined a line that progressively grew longer.

It is located amidst a number of tall apartment buildings, but is in a little standalone cottage. It stands out from its surroundings though, with its sunny yellow doors and frame. “Moon Mart” is clearly in black lettering at the front of the eatery, with one of the “O”s replaced by a crescent moon. The queue outside also serves as a telltale indicator of where it is.

moon mart outside
The outside of Moon Mart, on a grey day.
moon mart outside
Some brighter hues on it.

On the other side of the dine-in area is where you can get takeaways, and a shelf and refridgerator of with a curated collection of foods (hence the “Mart” part of “Moon Mart”). They are mainly Japanese and Korean condiments and snacks. Looking in the refridgerator, you will find locally made kimchi and soup bases.

moon mart mart
The little mart part of Moon Mart.

We waited patiently in line, almost cruelly teased by the dishes we could see through the front window being served to earlier patrons. Some ordered coffees to sustain them through their waiting time. Staff did come out to check group sizes so as to manage table turnover inside.

We waited for around an hour, and when it eventually came to our turn, we were led through to a table in a covered outdoor area. It is a very compact space, with three little spaces for diners. It added to the cosy feel, but you could see why the turnover was so limited.

moon mart inside
One of the compact seating sections inside.
moon mart outside
The little sheltered outdoor area we were seated at.

At the table were menus, a single sheet of paper held the available food and drink items. They have just a few regular items, which are also the things you can get to take away – Japanese-style sandwiches and a spin on more typical breakfast/brunch items, like avocado on shokupan or a bacon roll. What people are more likely drawn there for though, are their seasonal and weekend specials. They are only available to have dine-in, and frequently change. You have to keep an eye on their Instagram account to know what is coming up.

moon mart menu
The menu on the day we were there – likely to be different again on another day.

The dishes are of Japanese and Korean cuisines, and that mix of hearty and homely dishes that are made to feed the stomach and spirit. It is a short menu with just a few items, but still enough to make deciding difficult. In the end, we ordered the Hoedeopbap, the Tonkatsu, and the Sundubu Jjigae.

moon mart equipment
Some of the tools of their trade on display. An earthenware pot on the left that is used to ferment kimchi.

We also had drinks. The flat white had good texture and flavour, with a fruity note to it.

moon mart flat white
The flat white.
moon mart flat white
Another look at the flat white latte art.

The soy matcha latte had good strength. It was sweetened, and had a little bitterness in the finish, but was alright as a whole.

moon mart matcha latte
The matcha latte.
moon mart matcha latte
The matcha latte from another angle.

When brought out, the food was served teishoku-style, with the main item and smaller dishes presented on a canary-yellow tray, in keeping with their colour theme.

The Sundubu Jjigae was listed in the menu as spicy silken tofu soup by Tofu Shoten with king prawn, clams, mussels, and onsen egg and rice. As the tray was placed on the table, we were warned not to touch the bowl. If you have had Korean cuisine, you may recognise this as the type of earthenware bowl that is usually fired directly on the stove, and yes, is brought out with the contents still bubbling hot. Perhaps other people had been mesmerised by the prawn and mussels perched at the top of the bowl and been burned as they reached for them.

moon mart sundubu jjigae
The Sundubu Jjigae with king prawn, clams, mussels, and onsen egg and rice.
moon mart sundubu jjigae
The very hot dish again, with bubbles in the soup and steam rising.

The soup was spicy and savoury, and just the hearty meal for a cold day. Soft tofu was hidden under the surface of the soup – as one would expect, as sundubu jiggae is tofu stew. Besides the prawn and mussels, there were also a few little clams. The seafood components were well cooked. Unfortunately, we discovered that the prawn had not been deveined. The onsen egg was soft, and the yolk still gooey. There was also a small dish of kimchi, which had good tang and spice, without being overpowering. The bright yellow pickles were a nice accompaniment, providing some crunch and not too sour.

moon mart sundubu jjigae
The stew closer up.
moon mart sundubu jjigae egg
The onsen egg.
moon mart sundubu jjigae egg
The gooey yolk of the egg.

The Tonkatsu had Berkshire pork schnitzel with rice, wasabi, pickles, yuzu and apple sauce, and miso soup. The tonkatsu had a golden-brown crunchy panko crumb, and would hold its own in any Japanese restaurant. It was a good cut of meat, rather than a stingy serve (in some places you get more coating than meat), and still soft and tender. A bottle of tonkatsu sauce was brought to the table to go with it, but there were also other flavour options on the tray of wasabi, lemon, and the yuzu apple puree. They presented a good variety, so each bite was interesting.

moon mart tonkatsu
The Tonkatsu, with rice, wasabi, plickles, yuzu and apple sauce, and miso soup.
moon mart tonkatsu
Another angle on the Tonkatsu dish, with the bottle of tonkatsu sauce.
moon mart tonkatsu
The tonkatsu closer up, with its very crunchy crumb.
moon mart tonkatsu
And a cross section of the cutlet.

The Hoedeopbap was listed in the menu as a rice bowl with kingfish, NZ king salmon, corn, zucchini, butter lettuce, shiso, chojang, white kimchi, miso soup, and soy cured yolk. Hoedeopbap is like a Korean version of a chirashi bowl, except with punchier sauces (the chojang here). The friend who had this dish found the fish fresh, and quite filling, although the components seemed like they would be lighter than the other dishes. The dried seaweed sheets served with it gave extra flavour, and they wished there were more..

moon mart hoedeopbap
The Hoedeopbap, with kingfish, salmon, corn, zucchini, butter lettuce, shiso, chojang, white kimchi, soy cured yolk, and miso soup.
moon mart hoedeopbap
The dish from another angle, capturing the shine of the glossy yolk..
moon mart hoedeopbap
The main item closer up.

Moon Mart definitely had delicious dishes, and staff were polite and friendly despite what must have been constant pressure from the ever-growing line. The food is a little on the pricey side compared to some other places in Melbourne that serve similar dishes, especially when you add in the 10% Sunday surcharge. However, it feels like there is a little more artisanal craft here, and that dishes are tuned to the seasons. It is a special little space, and we enjoyed our time there (though conscious that many others were waiting their turn). Don’t leave it until you are too hungry before you visit though, or you may not make it through the queue.. And note that they don’t do the hot meals every day, currently just towards the later part of the week.

moon mart financier
A sweet little treat from them – we forget exactly what flavours, but a cute financier.
moon mart financier
Another angle on it.
moon mart tidbit
A reminder that on some weekdays they may not have the full menu, but do drinks and pastries.

Food: 3.5/4
Setting: 1.5/2
Service: 1.5/2
Total: 6.5/8

Price point: Items we had $28 to $35 before the 10% surcharge.

Value: Alright.

Address: 11-13 Stawell St, West Melbourne
Phone: TBA
Website: Moon Mart

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