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It’s always nice when the things you love become a little more accessible.
Like when your favourite designer releases a high street collaboration or, in this case, when your favourite ‘special occasion’ restaurant opens a restaurant for every occasion.
Frequented by politicians and favoured by, well, pretty much everyone, Wild Duck on the Kingston Foreshore has been a mainstay of fine dining in Canberra since it opened in 2012. But now, Wild Duck is bringing their beloved cuisine to the city, albeit with a twist.
Momoda has taken over the expansive space most recently occupied by Soju Girl in the Melbourne Building, facing Northbourne Avenue. With neighbours like new sports bar Bleachers and relocated Molly, and just around the corner from perennial favourite Bar Rochford, Momoda is in good company. Not that this really matters, however, because once the word is out that you can get Wild Duck style dishes in the city for prices that mean you could dine there multiple times per week they’ll be needing that expansive space.
Co-owner and Front of House Manager Irean Tan explains that the name comes from Chinese slang, where Momoda is a noun meaning “Kiss-kiss; an expression of affection used at the end of text messages similar to “mwah” in English.”
She says the name is a nod to the casual nature of the restaurant.
“Like a cheeky Momoda kiss itself, every mouthful is created to taste, to love, to share. It’s traditional Chinese street food with an unexpected, modern twist.”
One look at the menu and that twist is obvious, with crowd favourites like Peking Duck gua-bao with fennel, Lebanese cucumber, shredded leek and plum sharing space with Mongolian kangaroo spring rolls with Sichuan chilli salt, wombok and ginger salad.
Having been lucky enough to eat there soon after Momoda opened, I can assure you that both are equally delicious.
“Most Canberrans are no stranger with what Chinese and Asian eateries have to offer, the team at Momoda aims to bring this to a whole new level with a new approach to traditionally well-known dishes, and provide them with a different interpretation while retaining the essence and wonderful flavours,” says co-owner and Executive Chef Will Liang.
“We always try to think outside the square,” adds Irean. “We do not want to be restricted to the more usual and traditional interpretation of cuisines. The use of local produce and local sources of supplies allow us to offer a different dining experience to the community. And our Head Chef is always using his magical method to combine local ingredients with Chinese cooking techniques.”
Favourites from our meal included Hakka grilled edamame with star anise, sesame chilli and “flakes with strange flavour” and Chippy Lotus, Momoda’s take on crispy lotus chips served with salt and sour prune mayo (trust us, it’s amazing).
Other standouts included the Pork and Chinese chive dumplings with black vinegar and ginger numbing chilli and the Yu-Xiang eggplant with Chiang-Jiang red vinegar, sesame paste, ginger and dry chilli. This may all sound like it packs a hot punch, but it was surprisingly mild.
Unsurprisingly, however, Will says that many of the most popular items so far have been some of Momoda’s more adventurous options.
“Dragon cut cucumber has been a hit. Its freshness and crunchiness with bits of strawberry and cherry bocconcini give it a unique texture. Mud carp croquettes have also been a favourite on the menu, the flavour of the fermented black bean fully integrates with the fish flavour and finished with pickled Alfa Alfa. Also, the 16 hours slow braised ox cheek is also very popular.”
Where: Ground Floor, 39-47 Northbourne Avenue, Civic
When: Open 12 pm – 10 pm Monday-Wednesday and 10 am-midnight Thursday – Saturday. Closed Sunday – Monday
HerCanberra dined courtesy of Momoda, however the authors’ opinions remain their own.