Hochi Mama is a hip Vietnamese fusion restaurant nestled in the backstreets of Melbourne’s CBD. We were invited to try out their menu and had a great time in doing so. It ticked all the boxes with food largely being really good with the cocktails, service and setting also being fantastic. If like me you enjoy Asian food but prefer it with a hint of Western influence, Hochi Mama will be right up your street. A highly recommended option would be their signature Fried Chicken Bao.
We were ordering from their legendary $59 menu which includes two small menu items, two large ones and a side. We found this was the right amount of food and were absolutely stuffed after ours. However if you’re a three-sized group or more, it makes sense to order a few more. Do make sure to leave room for dessert. The sharing aspect is a great fit for Hochi Mama, enabling you to sample a little bit of everything to find your liking. Spoiler alert: you’ll be liking a lot. The meal operated as a pretty standard starters and main affair, rather than everything coming together. I quite enjoy this, it is a departure from some of the “sharing-food-at-random-intervals” that happens at a few other places.
Naturally, we started with a couple of cocktails, the Hochi Mama itself – a delicious refreshing gin based cocktail and the Good Morning Vietnam, a punchy chocolately espresso Martini. Both excellent! Then onto the food. The starters were both strong with the Fried Chicken Bao being a real stand out for the both of us. The chicken bao full to the brim with crispy chicken (some places cop out here) and a (slightly) spicy kimchi topped with an excellent mayo.
The dumplings were less of a standout for us. Whilst they were nice dumplings, they didn’t shine quite as much as the chicken. The sauce was also a bit of a strange one as i wasn’t quite sure how to eat (drink?) it without picking up the bowl. For mains we sought the advice of our super friendly waitress for the best options. We settled for the Massaman Lamb & the double Baramundi dish, one spicy, one sweet execution.
The curry was super creamy rich and full of flavour with a good balance of lamb, potato & nuts. Occasionally, the lamb could be a bit chewy or the potato a bit hard but on the whole, was good. The addition of the pineapple was a bit of a strange one for me but Jamie loved it so I reckon it’s a love it or hate it thing. It didn’t detract from the dish, so not a big deal. This came with a super rich coconut rice which went great with the curry.
The baramundi was a huge portion with so much fish in both the dishes. You certainly get your money’s worth with the mama. The spicy one was indeed spicy, and a bit too hot for my palate, with the sweet soy dressing being much more to my liking. So there’s always one t enjoy and that’s the beauty of these shared menus, isn’t it? The fish were cooked well and both dishes did have a great balance of flavours.
We were both completely stuffed after mains but the team were keen to get us to try one of their exciting dessert options. We had initially opted for the Pandan Panna Cotta as this is the chefs recommendation. But unfortunately due to it being pretty late in the night, they were partially out of stock of some of the ingredients. However, the kitchen showed their resourcefulness! They put together a mixed dessert platter on the fly for us, so we can try a few of the components altogether. We loved the thought and effort though some of the items went together better than others.
Some of the elements on the dessert where fantastic. The Pandan Pannacotta was smooth and full of that delicious cakey pandan flavour. The coconut ice cream was sensationally creamy, and delicious with chunks of coconut running through it. The sweet sticky rice pudding was also delicious. Trust me to complain about the fruit, but I didn’t think the melon or mango added anything to it, but it was pretty.
All in all, we had a great experience at Hochi Mama. This was our second visit (the first one being some time ago) and we’ll continue to return, be it with friends or a mid-week date night. We’ll probably leave the weekends, the queue is understandably considerable over that time.
Note: author dined at invitation of the restaurant