The concept: I can't say I've ever looked at a Korean menu and thought "mm, could do with a few more Italian flavours". However, this was the first thing that came to mind when perusing the menu at MOYO. Started by a couple of Italian-born Koreans, MOYO serves a variety of tapas that pay homage to the unique upbringing of the owners. This makes the concept all the more endearing when you realise this restaurant is more than fusion fabrication or a passing fad which was an assumption I recalled after owner Francesco came over to introduce the idea to our table. The small space across the street from PMQ on Aberdeen Street is minimalistic with a bar stocked full of enough soju to put you in a coma, if you were so inclined. A large "Moyolisa" at the back highlights the two cultures together in an eye-catching piece of wall art.
The food: The more unusual items on the menu were hearty pieces of bruschetta and fresh tomatoes that were peppered with kimchi ($68), carbonara sauce lathered on soft rice cakes ($158) and drunken clams seasoned with a splash of makgeolli rather than white wine ($108). The chewy texture of the rice cakes took some getting used to and didn't quite fill our carbonara cravings but the kimchi went surprisingly well with the bruschetta and the makgeolli complemented the clams to make a well-rounded sauce.
Drunken clams in makgeolli
Tomato and kimchi bruschetta
Carbonara rice cakes
Over to the more Korean dishes, the selection of kimchi ranging from fresh cucumber to more mature cabbage were excellent and so delightfully moreish that we found ourselves picking at all night in between bites of brown bossam ($198), slow cooked pork with kimchi and fresh onion and the crowd-pleasing Korean fried chicken ($188). None of these dishes felt greasy with the pork meltingly tender and the chicken a perfect balance of crispy exterior that gave way to juicy pockets of meat.
Korean fried chicken
Desserts didn't disappoint either with their 'cream & beans' ($58), which were MOYO's answer to doughnuts in the form of deep fried cubes of tofu covered in cinnamon topped with vanilla ice cream, to which we all asked in unison, "what's not to like?!" The tiramisu ($58) was infused with green tea and red bean, of course, was a graceful end to the meal.
Cream & Beans - deep fried tofu with vanilla ice cream
Soju bombs! Owner Francesco at MOYO will be on hand any night of the week to top up glasses with his impressive selection of soju, including the sought after peach and grapefruit flavours and if you were hoping to go blind, he even has one with 75% alcohol, you need only ask. Their cocktails are a great way to start before going in for the heavy stuff and the mangosteen infused Rubino ($90) was one of the best on the menu.
The verdict: Whether you're hoping to get a few drinks in with your meal or a few bites in with a bender of a night, drinks should be involved either way. MOYO's casual vibes and hearty food makes it a great central spot for intimate gatherings. Perhaps stronger in their solely Korean dishes rather than their more experimental Itarean dishes (yes, it's a term I've coined), their food is worth a trip down to try.
MOYO, 36 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2858 2777