Review: Musou, CBD

Drink, Eat, Melbourne / 7 December 2020

From humble beginnings in a dark kitchen during lockdown, to becoming the new CBD stir-fry hotspot, Musou is the against-all-odds success story.

Launching a restaurant in the midst of Melbourne’s strict lockdown restrictions may sound like a recipe for disaster. But for new CBD Sichuan fave Musou it was a challenge to be met head-on with great food and a little bit of creativity. And when it comes to Musou’s success, the proof is in the pudding – or, rather, the stir-fry.

Beginning its life from a dark kitchen, Musou was already ahead of the game before it began. A dark kitchen or a ghost kitchen, is a professional food prep kitchen independent of a restaurant. Operating on delivery apps, and from their dark kitchen, Musou was able to get their dishes flying out the door and straight to hungry Melburnians in iso. With restrictions now easing, Musou have launched in-venue dining at their new Elizabeth Street restaurant.

Musou interior

While hot pot has been a Melbourne favourite for a while now, Musou are taking things to the next level with their signature Ma La Xiang Guo, or “dry pot”, a kind of stir fry. Much like a hot pot, a dry pot is a choose your own adventure when it comes to ingredients – and at Musou, the list of add ons is extensive. Offering up delicious options for every palate and ensuring everyone in your party gets the dish they want regardless of dietary restrictions, Musou is the perfect place for your post-iso squad reunion.

Limitlessly customisable, Musou’s selection of ingredients means you can be as adventurous as you want – with clear-the-sinuses heat and add ins such as beef aorta and bamboo fungus – or you can stick a little gastronomically close to home with a milder spice base, and familiar faces such as crispy pork, Chinese cabbage, and tofu. Even hot chips make an appearance as an optional add on.

And, ultimately, that is the key to Musou’s success: comfort food. At a time of adversity and uncertainty, Musou provided anxious Melburnians with delicious, comforting food, and they’ve carried that through to their restaurant. With Covid-safety measures in place, Musou’s staff made us feel at home and at ease, while also ensuring we were safe, well distanced, and with plenty of unobtrusive sanitising between diners. If the high standard at Musou is our New Normal, then I think we’re gonna be alright.

Musou dishes

If stir-fry isn’t your thing, Musou’s got you covered with plenty of other dishes that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters. We loved their Tom Yum Ma La Tang – or hot pot style soup. Again, you are free to load up with any ingredients that tickle your fancy, and in a town flush with Tom Yum dishes, Musou’s easily rises to the top of the crowd. The flavoursome broth, with kaffir lime for freshness and coconut for a creamy, satisfying richness, it’s perfect dish to welcome you back to Melbourne’s dining scene.

Speaking of the Melbourne dining scene, would it really be a return to Melbourne form without a bubble tea? The good news for tea fans is that you don’t have to go far from Musou to get your fresh tea fix, with Gotcha Fresh Tea setting up shop downstairs. Grab yourself a tea to go on your way out for a sweet end to your visit to Musou, or pick up one on the way in, with restaurant staff happy for you to pair your stir-fry with some bubbles.

Ready to Melbourne again? Hit up Musou for a great night out, fantastic food, and a New Normal that we can all get behind. Find out more here.