Muli, Carlton

MELBOURNE | Footscray’s DK Live Seafood is one of my favourite places in Melbourne to buy fresh seafood. The quality and variety of seafood is amongst the best in town, with owner Van Tran, her husband David, and son David, supplying some of Melbourne’s best restaurants. When I heard that the Tran family was opening their own restaurant, Muli, I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than that the seafood would be exceptional.

The restaurant is tiny, with space for 12 diners inside, plus a few small tables for two out the front. There’s fresh seafood tanks, with a raw bar and a few stools on one side, and a handful of tables on the other. Blink, and you might miss the place as you walk by.

While Van’s brother-in-law and niece take care of the day-to-day at DK Live, Van, David, and David are busy running a restaurant that’s not quite like any other in town. Van, who likes to do things her way, told me that she’s had the idea of opening a restaurant for over 20 years. None of the family have prior hospitality experience, and they’re learning as they go.

Don’t let the leafy Carlton locale and fancy building fool you, Muli is an old school family restaurant at heart. Van loves to chat to diners, and is an honest, open book. You might wait a while for dishes to arrive at the table (as David Jr let us know when we were seated outside as walk-ins), but you’ll leave feeling like you’ve just enjoyed a meal at a friend’s house.

Personal touches can be found throughout Muli. Doily table cloths because that’s what Van likes to use at home; little trinkets and mantras on the shelves that keep Van calm, when the realisation hits that she’s in the middle of busy service, wondering what she’s gotten herself into; and a whole lot of flowers from her garden that grew like crazy after she picked up a few during COVID.

As for that seafood, it’s used in a variety of dishes that are mostly simple, with a broad Asian influence. A plate of six oysters, sourced from across the country, each with a unique texture and flavour profile, give you a greater appreciation of the starter. Yabby rice paper rolls are generously stuffed, and served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Steamed Adelaide pipis served in garlic butter, with bread, are a must try.

Raw and fresh crab, lobster, and marron come straight from the tanks, with multiple species served in a variety of ways. For dessert, the unique sea urchin ice-cream is worth a try. The focus on freshness and quality means that availability depends on supplier availability.

To drink, there’s a focus on wines, with a few beer and other options. Muli’s short wine list sticks to traditional varietals, with an emphasis on sparkling wines.

You can also book in for Muli’s Shuckmaster Experience, where you’re taught to open 12 different types of oysters, uni and more, learning about the different varieties along the way. At the end of the class, you enjoy the fruits of your labour, along with sparkling wine.


184A Rathdowne Street
Victoria 3053

Telephone: 0434 258 898‬
E-mail: [email protected]

Wed: 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Thu – Sun: 12:00pm to 3:00pm, 6:00pm to 9:30pm



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