Mahi Eats: Sexy Spanish Tapas Edition

Mahi K

I rate new opening MoVida based on the three things I care about when I go out to eat - the Price, Quality and the Quantity.

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20 September 2022

Welcome to Mahi Eats! Ya girl loves to try new restaurants, cafes and bars so here’s where I try spots and waste my money so you don’t have to!

I tried new kid on the block MoVida which opened on the 31st of August. It’s a Spanish tapas restaurant which is extremely famous in Melbourne’s graffiti art-filled street, Hosier Lane.

The restaurant was started by award-winning chef and owner, Frank Camorra. Hailing from Spain, his work carefully combines elements of Spanish cuisine such as sharing style tapas, with New Zealand sourced ingredients. I had the pleasure of meeting Frank, looking the absolute part of a head chef in his long white coat. In his view, curating dishes that may be considered traditional Spanish dishes with locally sourced fish would provide for a unique dining experience. The signature dish and must try recommendation from the waitstaff was the Anchoa.

MoVida is located on level 2 of the Seafarers building. As soon as you walk in, its exposed ceilings and pipes give it a modern yet rustic feel. Izzard Design Studio has re-designed all of level 2, with the floorspace splitting into Bar Non Solo on the right, and MoVida on the left. Whilst Bar Non Solo’s side provides views of Tyler Street, MoVida provides A+ views of Auckland’s waterfront (and I am a sucker for a fancy dining experience with a view). What was once Ostro has been reimagined into a cozy restaurant with big booths and high tables. The kitchen is open plan, which means whilst seated, you have a direct line of vision to Frank and his team whipping up your dishes, which really adds to the homely yet classy ambiance of the restaurant.

MoVida was filled with central CBD employees dressed in their Ruby firebird pants enjoying a boozy lunch break from their corporate jobs, vino in hand.

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The Salmon ($19) was lightly cured with beetroot and tamarillo gazpacho (gazpacho is a raw and cold vegetable soup made of blended veggies - saved you the Google). The gazpacho gave the dish a beautiful citrus flavour that was balanced by a creaminess from the dollop of aioli placed on the end of each piece. The flavours were very rich, but the salmon was seared into perfect bite-sized strips, which made it a perfect portion for an entree.

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If you’re a burrata lover like me, I highly recommend ordering the Matrimonio. This was $34, so a bit on the spenny side for an entree, but it was nevertheless delicious. The burrata itself had pretty neutral flavours but the pickled anchovies kicked the entire dish up a notch. It added saltiness and an oiliness to the dish that was incredibly moreish. The burrata also came with bread that was well seasoned with butter, salt and herbs. I’ve got to say, this probably made the top 5 burrata I’ve ever had.

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Upon the staff’s recommendation, we ordered the Anchoa ($8 each) which is an artisan anchovy on a crouton, with a smoked tomato sorbet. We were told to spread it across the crouton before eating. The tomato sorbet added a coolness to the dish and was bursting with flavours, thanks to the combination of the saltiness and the citrus from the tomato sorbet.

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The Bocadillo De Calamares ($10), pitched as a calamari sandwich (but sized more like a slider…) with pickled jalapenos and aioli, was underwhelming and mediocre. This was dry and a bit heavy on the bread in proportion to the pickled jalapenos or aioli for my liking.

Pez ($14), a Kingfish skewer wrapped in Jamon (Ham) served with Tarragon based sauce was my least favourite from the pick. The kingfish was dry and its flavours were masked by the ham in which it was wrapped. Similarly, the tarragon mojo was confusing, or perhaps my palette was too unrefined to understand the objective, which is also very plausible. The tarragon was pungent and bitter sweet which was overpowering and made for a conflicting flavour.

Patatas Bravas ($14) is the most quintessential Latin American/Spanish dish you can get. The potatoes were phenomenal. Immersed in a tasty bravas sauce with standout flavours of smoked paprika and tomato, and with the potatoes seasoned with my spice spirit animal, paprika, topped with a tomato/aioli blend, this is a must order!

The Setas ($28), consisting of oyster mushrooms in straw potatoes, came with a raw egg yolk on top. The standout flavours were the confit garlic and raw egg yolk that made the mushrooms and the bed of straw potatoes taste very buttery and creamy. Delish.

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Here’s a wrap up. I would give this a 7/10 for Price. The tapas style menu means you can definitely try food without breaking your bank but a lot of the dishes will require you to get more than one portion if everyone wants to try it.

It was clear that a high level of attention to detail went into each dish, including in particular, the attention to different consistencies, textures, temperatures and ultimately, presentation. It was pretty impressive. I’d give this a 8/10 for Quality. No surprises there from a head chef (who I had direct vision of and man, was he putting in the work!) who is an award winning author of 4 separate cook books! Honestly, it was the fact that I didn’t love the Bocadillo and the Pez as much as the other flavours that did it for me.

I walked out of there feeling quite satiated. I didn’t feel like I was rolling out of there but I felt satisfied with the amount I’d eaten in line with the context of a sharing style/tapas menu. The dishes were bursting with so much flavour that any more of one thing would have been pretty overpowering. In my view, MoVida nailed the quantity of each dish, given the richness of the flavours. I give this an 8/10 for Quantity.

Coming to a grand total of 7.7/10 on the P:Q:Q scale, I would definitely recommend trying this place out. It gives the perfect vibe for lunch with the girls, especially as we roll into the warmer summer months with a few cheeky cocktails on the side.

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