Friday, November 18, 2011


5/5/2015: Fitzroyalty reports that Mao's has closed down, to be replaced by a Japanese/Malaysian fusion place in the near future.

November 11, 2011
Ever since I first noticed the promise of 'vegetarian Peking duck' on the blackboard outside of Mao's, Cindy and I have been meaning to swing by to check it out. The setting is nicely designed - a big black and white photo of the restaurant's namesake on the wall, a cute little wheel of teapots and comfy, well-space tables. The takeaway menu out the front has a fairly limited veg selection, but once you get the sit-down menu you discover the wide range of options they offer.

Once we'd ordered, the waitress bought out a little free tasting plate for us - chilli seaweed, vinegary carrot and potato ribbons and peanuts. The potato in particular was delicious.

We started off with the aforementioned vegetarian Peking duck (king abalone mushroom slices, rolled in homemade rice pancakes with chilli, spring onion and served with Mao's special sauce, $8.80).

Even with the number of years since I last ate duck, it's clear that these are nothing like it. The mushroom slices have a bit of texture, but don't go expecting a faux-meat style treat. The sauce is wonderful though: sweet, spicy and garlicky in equal measures.

To go along with it we ordered steamed vegetarian dumplings ($8.80).

These were stuffed with minced onion, tofu and (maybe) eggplant. The dumplings themselves were delicious - tender and nicely steamed, although the thin chilli sauce that came along with them wasn't really much use.

For mains we split a plate of the mapo tofu ($15.80).

It's great to see a Chinese place that offers a veggie version of mapo tofu straight up. And it's a pretty good version - finely cubed vegetables taking the place of pork mince. The sauce had a strong biting chilli flavour but had a nice rich saltiness as well. Excellent stuff. Vegans will do well - I think everything we had was dairy and egg free. Coeliacs will probably struggle with the preponderance of soy sauce.

For around $35 we had an excellent meal at Mao's - a nice array of dishes, friendly efficient service and a nice (if quiet - we were two of only four people in the place at 6:30) atmosphere. Definitely a good option for a quick and affordable meal on Brunswick Street.

Mao's has been enthusiastically reviewed by Words and Flavours, Feed me, darling, The Neo Melbournian and The Indolent Cook with just Foodgasm disappointed by their experience.

Mao's Restaurant
263 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
9419 1919
veg entrees $4.80 - $9.80, mains $9.80 - $17.80

Accessibility: Mao's has a small step in the entryway, but the interior is relatively spacious. All service takes place at the table. We didn't visit the loos.

1 comment:

  1. I have to confess I usually go for the meaty options when I'm at Mao's. I've introduced a few friends and they all like it too. Nice to know I can bring my vegetarian friends as well!