Rat Alley’s really cleaned up. Or at least it’s tried to. The infamous down and dirty Good Luck House and Bon Appetit Vietnamese & Thai restaurant’s been replaced by a kitschy bar that channels decidedly contemporary tones. And just next door, representing the new face of Southeast Asian eateries on Wing Wah Lane, there’s Moi Vietnam Cuisine. The space has undergone a massive upgrade since renovation, complete with sleeker, cleaner furnishings and a fancy frontage. As with most other restaurants in Rat Alley, outdoor seating remains the preferred arrangement for most diners at Moi, especially since the narrow indoor dining room – half of which is taken up by a long bar – feels insanely claustrophobic.
Foodwise, it’s the usual suspects on the menu, starting with the snacks platter ($108) of steamed rice crêpe bundles filled with shrimp and minced pork, chicken wings, sliced Viet sausages and greasy, deep-fried spring rolls with scalding hot centres. It’s nothing to write home about but at least it’s better than the ca tim nuong ($58) – grilled, stringy aubergine topped with prawns. These slabs are drowned in scallion oil but still manage to be uninspiringly bland. At the other extreme, Moi dishes up a deep-fried soft shell crab ($108) that’s delicious on the first bite. After a few more forkfuls though, the vicious deluge of chillies and spicy salt lacerates the tastebuds. Order a lime soda to wash the feeling away.
To be fair, the pomelo and grilled prawn salad ($68) is not bad – a mound of pomelo piqued with lime juice and the added crunch of cashews and deep-fried shallots. But it’s difficult to forgive the devastating pho tai ($47) – rice noodles in soup with slices of medium-rare beef and fresh herbs. The broth is flavourful but not in a natural umami way and the noodles are undercooked and hard with a starchy aftertaste. Moi may look classier than its predecessors but, like the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Dorothy So
Shop 16, G/F, Winner Bldg, 8-16 Wing Wah Lane, Central, 2523 0886. Mon-Thu 11am-3am, Fri 11am-5am, Sat-Sun 3pm-5am. Dinner for two: around $400.
|Venue name:||Moi Vietnam Cuisine|
Shop 16, G/F, Winner Bldg, 8-16 Wing Wah Lane, Central