Does your local convenience store lack vegan white kimchi? Have you ever left the milk bar without a bottle of burnt-honey teriyaki sauce? Eun Hee An, a former chef and co-owner of celebrated mod-Korean Sydney spots Moon Park and Paper Bird, is here to change that, with a brand-new café-convenience store in West Melbourne.
After beginning life as an online-only retailer of small-batch pan-Asian pantry goods, Moon Mart makes its eagerly anticipated physical debut this week, stocking the craft goods that won it its cult following and serving specialty tea and coffee alongside a knockout menu of sandwiches, rice sets and Asian-inspired pastries. Paper Bird’s Berkshire pork katsusando makes an appearance, alongside an egg salad number supercharged with green chilli and anchovy.
“The whole thing is kind of inspired by convenient stores in Japan and Korea, the way you can go and actually have something good and tasty to eat,” says Hee An, meaning your breakfast roll packs char siu bacon, and your lunch could be ochazuke: miso eggplant on rice, with spring onion, nori, katsuobushi and yuzu togarashi, served with green-tea dashi; or seaweed noodles with kimchi, cucumber, house-made prawn cake and umami salt.
You want a fully-fledged dessert? Wrap your face around the milk ice-cream with peanuts, sea salt and (hold the phone) aged Cheongdo apple vinegar.
Joining Hee An as a business partner is Mei Onsamlee, an alumnus of Sydney’s Bills Café and Momofuku Seiobo, and a former colleague of Hee An’s at Paper Bird.
Breakfast and lunch are set to launch next week, but the pastries – five-spice canelés and mochi brownies among them – are ready to rock your world right now.
Happy Moon landing, Melbourne.
Moon Mart, 11-13 Stawell St, West Melbourne, open 7am-3pm Thu-Fri, 8am-3pm Sat-Sun, moonmart.com.au
By Frank Sweet