This good-time girl cer­tainly serves up the right flavours, but needs a bit more work to truly stand out from the crowd

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - MS EL­WOOD: RE­VIEWED BY MEGAN MILLER

Mod-asian flavours at Ms El­wood.

WITH her neon “Stay Saucy” sign and licks of hot pink, Ms El­wood cer­tainly com­mands at­ten­tion.

Opened in Jan­uary, this new mod­Asian ca­sual diner oc­cu­pies a hole-inthe-wall along El­wood’s main drag. There is seat­ing for 40 in and six out, with two swings in the front win­dow prov­ing ir­re­sistible to chil­dren and big kids alike. It’s run by Daniel Dixon, who serves up flats whites and frit­ters at The Join­ery cafe across the road, and pan-asian bites, bowls, desserts and drinks here.

The booze on of­fer is im­pres­sive, from sparkling sakes and lo­cal and Ja­panese beers to a killer cock­tail list, some us­ing frozen gin from Four Pil­lars.

The shar­ing menu also packs a punch, with stopovers in Japan, Korea, China, Viet­nam and Thai­land. Name-checked ingredients like Rob­bins Is­land wagyu and Cape Grim flat iron make sense given chef Nick Steven’s pre­vi­ous ten­ure at the Tassie-lov­ing Pure South Din­ing.

Kim­chi greens flecked with chilli burst with flavour, colour and crunch, while the karaage chicken with wasabi mayo hits the spot for salty snacks. Ditto pork and spring onion gy­oza – bronzed parcels with a sharp ponzu dress­ing.

Desserts are also wor­thy of your time, of­fer­ing fa­mil­iar-with-a-twist takes on sweet Asian flavours. A tum­bler ar­rives laden with sticky rice, con­densed milk and banana pieces, plus hon­ey­comb bits for tex­ture. Queue spoon wars for that. Or per­haps the matcha dough­nuts, lit­tle nub­bins of sugar-coated love­li­ness to dip in yuzu curd and choco­late chilli sauce.

The down­sides? Cheap pho­to­copied menus and por­tion sizes, which are some­times too small to share. Our party of three or­dered the sam­bal king prawns but only two ar­rive per serve. Wait­staff need to give more guid­ance on this front.

Ms El­wood cer­tainly looks good and nails Asian flavours, but needs at­ten­tion to de­tail to ce­ment her stay at the bay.

Top and bot­tom: some of the fare on of­fer in­clud­ing bahn mi, sashimi and sushi; and (mid­dle) the colour­ful street­front. 3/5 $$$ 24 Or­mond Rd, El­wood msel­

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