MELBOURNE | I recently visited the new restaurant that’s opened as part of Melbourne’s newest hotel, Movenpick Melbourne, for What’s On Melbourne. It’s called Miss Mi, and is the latest example of a Melbourne hotel restaurant that’s changing preconceptions about what a hotel restaurant can be.
The kitchen is headed up by chef Esca Khoo, who is building and refining a constantly evolving menu designed to take diners on a journey through South East Asia, with a focus on lesser known, regional dishes.
This might be the Borneo-born chef’s first head chef gig, but Esca brings a lot of experience to the table. His Malaysian and Australian upbringing, plus travels throughout Asia, all forms threads through the menu. And then there’s his time spent in kitchens at restaurants like Longrain and Noma’s Sydney residence.
I first experienced Esca’s cooking when I tried the babi guling that he made during lockdown, and was an immediate fan. My expectations for my dinner at Miss Mi were very high, and they were somehow exceeded. Easily one of the best meals that I’ve enjoyed all year.
The concept is essentially to put a spin on these dishes that represents what they might have been if they’d made their way to Australia and evolved. For example, Malaysian satay skewer reimagined as a BBQ red kangaroo skewer, glazed with Vegemite, served with avocado and macadamia.
Other dishes include things like fresh hinava (akin to ceviche) with finger lime, lime leaf, calamansi citrus fruit, latok (sea grape) and almond, and 130 dry aged O’Conner wagyu short rib with rendang curry and spring time ulam and herb rojak. For dessert, a highlight is the watalappan. It’s a creamy custard with coconut and star anise jaggery, cashews, and rhubarb cooked in hibiscus and sorrel.
For drinks, there’s a sharp cocktail and wine list that impresses. Cocktail follow the theme of the food. For example the Pandan Colada – spiced Rum, pineapple, pandan bitters, lime
coconut pure, and the Vietnamese Espresso Martini – vodka, Mr Black coffee liqueur, Kahlua, and condescended milk.
It’s not just that the food is brilliant and different. It’s the way it all comes together. Esca is one of the most humble, nicest people in the business, and this genuine desire to not just give people a great feed, but to ensure that they are happy, comes through in spades. Staff are knowledgeable and passionate, and the progression of the menu tells a story. I left full (oh so full), happy, and with new knowledge about certain dishes and ingredients.
A meal at Miss Mi is a compete dining experience. One that I recommend you book ASAP. This restaurant is only going to get better and busier once word really gets out in 2022. The restaurant is currently only open four days a week for dinner, offering a tasting menu, however you can get snacks a la carte at the bar. Expect expanded hours in the new year.
Corner of Godfrey & Bourke Street
Wed – Sat: 6:00pm to 9:30pm