Imbue – Maribyrnong

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My birthday falls within the same month that The Hungry Moustache celebrates it’s one year anniversary. Eugene (Yes, my camera is called Eugene.) was given to me as a Birthday gift and this blog was created shortly after. So its only fair that we celebrate byΒ feeding The Hungry Mo’, right? As you all know, I love my food fried, between two buns or drowned in gravy but, sometimes it’s nice to be wined and dined. There isn’t anything wrong with feeling like a Disney princess and newcomer Imbue situated along the Gordon street strip, was going to be my Disneyland.

As long time readers will know, I love this strip. From Shinmai Tasty, Sambal Kampung, Gorilla Grill and Thai Thonglor – many cuisines will cater for all taste buds. Even if you just want value and sheer quantity there is a Lazy Moe’s next door. Within three weeks of opening, a new institution has emerged and set to trail blaze a fine dining movement from deep within the Inner West.

This was definitely a birthday and one year anniversary I wasn’t going to forget any time soon.

The owner and head chef of Imbue is a gentlemen by the name of Phong Nguyen. Don’t let his name fool you into thinking Imbue is a place where you can get a $10 bowl of Pho Bo Dac Biet with extra Bo. Chef Nguyen is a man of pedigree and has honed his mastery through working the hellish kitchens of Melbourne’s most infamous. Imbue has replaced with what was formerly known as Mamma Cho’s. An empty shell of what it was otherwise known for a mix of Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine that whilst ambitious, was underwhelming and didn’t have me coming back.

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Whipped feta, honeycomb, dukkah – $11
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Handmade burrata cheese, roasted beetroot, almonds – $16
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Raw tuna, ponzu, spring onion, chilli, rice crisps – $18
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Harvey bay scallops, cauliflower puree, pancetta – $20
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Fried chicken, parmesan, chilli crumble -$14
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Cheese croquettes – $12
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Roasted pork belly, pickled radish, shallots & pomegranate – $12
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Mmm…. I need like 10 of these.
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Handmade linguini w/ crab and cherry tomatoes – Special of the day
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Market fish, creamed leek, pickled fennel, beurre noisette – $28
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Great southern porterhouse, charred corn, spring onion, chilli, jus – $32
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Melt in your mouth tender.
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Free range chicken breast, pumpkin puree, roasted mushrooms – $24
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Close up angle #2.
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Black forest, chocolate, creme fraiche, sour cherries – $12
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Vanilla panna cotta, berry compote, freeze dried raspberries – $12

The Inner West is not known for hosting a collection of polished and refined institutions nor are we known for providing an experience of elegance and wizardry levels of practical gastronomy. Whilst there are solid forerunners such as West of Kin, it takes more than one restaurant to create a movement that is not only lasting but makes impact. Imbue does just that – Chef Nguyen’s creations are there to delight and dish elements are cooked so well, I just kept thinking why are there not more places like this in the Westside?!

Highlights:

  • Linguini with crab – This was by far and wide, the best dish of the night! I highly recommend this dish if it’s on their specials! The pasta is handmade, cooked to a perfect al denteΒ  and served with an abundance of sweet crab. It’s a shame this dish isn’t on the menu but I did plead my case with Chef Nguyen!
  • The pork belly – Another standout dish. A lot of people and myself included love using the, ‘melt in your mouth’ line. So I’ll try and use something else. This pork belly literally disintegrates in your mouth hole (99% sure that line worked). The crackling doesn’t crackle to the bite but was so caramelized and disappeared in my mouth before I even noticed. Recommended!
  • The chicken breast was soft to the touch and had no trouble being carved into with my butter knife. This was my first time seeing Enoki mushrooms being cooked this way and boy was it crunchy! It was a mouthful of savoury, sweet and contrasting textures.
  • Cheese croquettes – I forgot to take a cross-section of these bad boys but if you love cheese and awesome fried things; this is the one to order. It’s like a blast of oozy, melty richness that was so good that I wished I had a dozen to myself.
  • The moustached waiter – I won’t say more, but that man will make your night. Will charm you with his mo’. You’ve been warned.

Not-so-highlights:

  • None!

My experience at Imbue has been nothing short of amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better evening then to have spent it with great friends and Imbue added much more to the occasion. I hope Imbue inspires and creates a firm message that we can have more than a few nice places to fine and wine at in the West!

5 moustaches out 5!

Imbue Food And Wine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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