Posts Tagged ‘st ali’

Ben Cooper’s Mopho Noodle Bar opens in South Yarra

There has long been murmur’s of another St Ali venue in the same South Yarra complex as Outpost. Finally it has arrived.  It is a noodle bar serving up well made, south-east asian inspired noodle dishes with good ingredients and plenty of flavour. The concept is a simple, effective and plays perfectly into the hands of Chef Ben Cooper. One of my guilty pleasures is the dodgy noodle box shops that seem to be everywhere, so making amazing noodles is alright with me.

Mopho NoodleThe fitout too is simple and effective. Black panelling and dark wooden tables and chairs are the order of the day. The walls are almost completely covered with cupboards with black cross hatched doors which let you see the dry stock stored within. To some extent, it is a very similar feel to Outpost in that you can see all the ingredients while you dine. The kitchen is separate though and has plenty of fridge space, wok burners and bench space.

The menu is categorised into different styles of dishes, soup noodles; wok noodles; salad noodles; and curries. The dishes themselves are mostly approachable such as the hokkien noodles with slow roasted bbq pork and oyster mushrooms, the classic pad Thai and the spicy pork wontons, egg noodles and shaved cabbage. The menu is by no means limited though and 18 dishes provide a heap of variety.

The 3 dishes that we had were the steamed chueng fung with fried bread salad and soy ginger sauce, the rendang with beef brisket and japanese pumpkin and the scallops, bacon, sambal olek and shanghai noodles. For each of the dishes the key spices really stand out giving each dish a unique spice and tang. The rendang was my favourite, the mouth-melting gelatinous brisket was balanced nicely with a good amount of chilli.

The prices range from $13.50 – $20 and while it isn’t particularly cheap, the higher quality of food is well worth it.

This dish has introduced me to 2 new “favourites.” Brisket is pretty much pork belly from cows. And brown jasmine rice which has a great fluffy texture and more flavour than the white variety.

Though I loved all of the food, my favourite thing about this place is the panda motif. The panda is holding chopsticks and has a green mohawk and star tattoos. It’s a Ben Cooper look-a-like and a pretty funky icon at that. I can see it being sold in plush doll form sooner rather than later.

The Mopho Noodle Panda

Currently Mopho Noodle Bar is open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. There are plans to open on Saturdays and Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights but they are taking things slowly. Currently there is no liquor license or EFTPOS but both are to be remedied reasonably soon. It is located at 9 Yarra St next to the South Yarra train station.







St Ali, South Melbourne

St AliThere’s very few things that can draw you in like a smell. The scent of cooking onions on the barbecue; fresh bread from the oven; or in this case the sweet smell of coffee roasting wafting out over Clarendon St. That smell marks the beginning of the end. The end of the Aching Head, the end of the nausea and the best way to start the morning after.

You see, coffee is right up there at the top of the list of the best hangover cures (2nd in fact, just after the hair of the dog) and that smell comes from one of the best coffee houses in Melbourne. It isn’t just crazy South Melbourne colloquialism it really is. St Ali has been leading the specialty coffee charge for years and though the recent crop of coffee shops are raising the bar St Ali still holds it’s own. The consistency of the coffee they serve each day is unparalleled even in the face of massive take-away lines and packed dining toom.

Short Black, St AliThey are also leading the charge with their use of the Internet and social media, their blog, website and Twitter accounts are great examples of how a cafe can be a part of the online community, but still maintain their own voice.

To some extent St Ali is exporting their innovation elsewhere. St Ali at Home, Atlis (their dinner restaurant), Sensory Lab, Outpost and the recent laneway festival are all initiatives that you don’t notice when you drop in for a latte, but each of these is at the edge of coffee revolution. Even so, the cafe seems to have lost the anxious feeling of trying an exciting new bean or blend that you get elsewhere. Yet, St Ali keeps on keeping on. The range of coffee available is limited to one single origin on siphon, one single origin on espresso and the underrated St Ali espresso blend.

All the single origin espresso is made through the handmade creation known as Slayer. That may sound like a nickname – it isn’t. It’s the handmade, artisanal espresso machine from Seattle that helps create some of the nicest, freshest espresso you are likely to taste. Normally the single-origin coffee of the day is the only coffee made through the slayer, but if you are interested and if it isn’t too busy the barista will probably pull you a regular espresso shot through it. It is certainly worth the trouble to ask, even for educational purposes.

While the coffee may be on a plateau of sorts, the food is going from strength to strength. Having recently started serving dinner with their latest concept “Atlis” it would be easy to think the quality of the day shift may falter. But the food still maintains the unique style of chef Ben Cooper, the lite cafe-style food is accentuated with syrups and reductions. It is an approach that doesn’t take away from the easygoing nature of the establishment, but sets the food apart from the rank and file.

Unfortunately St Ali is my regular coffee shop and I don’t seem to have as many photos as I thought, but I’ve got a few and the menu changes reasonably regularly.


I really wish I could remember what the rest of this dish was. It was scrambled eggs and avocado served with the most amazing molasses based syrup. The sharp zing of that syrup had me licking my plate.


This is “My Mexican Cousin”, grilled Haloumi, poached eggs on a fried corn fritter. The poached eggs self sauce the corn fritter and the wonderful saltiness of the Haloumi tops it off perfectly.

Sensory Lab – Gateway to a caffeine addiction

Sensory LabThe world of coffee is moving in a new direction, the coffee geeks call it the Third Wave and here in Melbourne it is taking many forms. Proud Mary, Seven Seeds, Brother Baba Budan, Dead Man Espresso and St Ali all subscribe to the philosophy. This philosophy says that the coffee is king and it should be treated as such and that sourcing the beans is as important as roasting and brewing them. These “specialty coffee” (a shitty name as far as I’m concerned) shops each take an immense amount of pride in their coffee and staff at each of them will happily take time out of a busy service to explain the beauty of single-origin coffee or to help you understand the difference between brewing techniques.

Siphons, pour through and single origin coffeeBut St Ali is taking it one step further. Their concept is called the Sensory Lab and they have partnered with David Jones to bring the 3rd Wave to the world. This new venture has taken over the Little Collins St entrance to the department store and is an amalgamation where perfume shop meets coffee shrine. As you walk into the store there is a large counter with the an impressive array of Hario siphon filters, pour over brewers and a much-touted Slayer espresso machine. The bright heat lamps of the siphons are an amazing drawcard. There is a constant stream of people stopping to look and learn about what exactly is going on.

It is pure genius. The theatre of the siphon stops the shoppers and the army of white lab coat wearing salespeople swoop to explain how it works or to find the perfect coffee blend for you with a simple 4 step process. This is specialty coffee for the masses and the shoppers are eating it up. On a Saturday morning there is a constant crowd of people around the counter and about 5 salespeople and 3 baristas run off their feet. These people seem to have a newfound desire for coffee. They are buying siphons, looking at the Rancilio espresso machines in the corner, leafing through the barista books and buying take-away beans.

Coffee and cakeThis all overshadows the cafe that occupies the other half of the room. There are 2 large communal tables and a few little single seat booths along the wall. The fare is minimal, coffee and cake. The coffee is being made, not from the Slayer but from a giant La Marzocco machine and the baristas don’t have time to take a breather. There is a queue of people at the window ordering take-aways and an army of mothers with their prams trying to find seats at the communal table.

The atmosphere is positively buzzing but it isn’t all good. The space is too small and the number of people around is uncomfortable and quite noisy, not the best place for a quiet coffee, not that that’s the point. This place is like the gateway drug to a life of better caffeine.

I’m not itching to go back. The concept is great and it means that there is going to be more demand for good coffee but the pretty girls in the lab coats lack the passion of your favourite coffee shop and probably won’t remember your name. Luckily, we are spoilt for choice and I’m more than happy to sit wander down the road, grab the broadsheets and feed my addiction at the big spacious tables at the real St Ali.

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Siphon Coffee Video – St Ali

Siphon Coffee is all the rage at the moment. Apparently it was developed in Japan and the coffee fiends at the “boutique” coffee houses around Melbourne are selling them like wildfire. It makes a great deal of sense to me. The coffee, served black, is more like the texture and consistency of tea rather than espresso. The brewing process is such that the individual flavours in the coffee are far more intense than in an espresso. Don’t get me wrong, if you want a caffeine hit, a short black certainly feels like it packs a harder punch, but when you want to enjoy a tempered coffee while you read or perhaps a gentler coffee to nurse your aching head, this stuff is the shit.

Here’s a video of the brewing process. Special thanks to St Ali.