Port Melbourne's venues have undergone many transformations over the years, but perhaps none more so than number nine Waterfront Place. The venue, which sits squat alongside the Spirit of Australia ferry terminal, was the first to move into the area 15 years ago. Since then, the restaurant has undergone many conceptual changes at the hand of its original owners, who still look after the site today.
Noom Duck is its most recent reincarnation. And while still in its infancy at just under a month old, this newest development shows a lot of promise and room to grow. They've nabbed ex-Chin Chin chef Steven Ngo chef to head the kitchen — which should tell you a lot about their intentions — and create a menu that places classic and modern Asian-style dishes alongside the staples expected of a traditional seafood restaurant, without necessarily blurring lines between the two. For example, there's the tour de force seafood platter for two ($85 per person), but you can also order a no-frills serve of butter chicken.
But the menu really excels when the kitchen turns a knife to reinvent ingredients that have become somewhat naff in Asian cooking. Barramundi breathes again as a fish cake ($24.50), thanks to thin and freshly sliced green apple, cabbage, mint and crushed peanuts and a refreshing sweet pork salad. A crispy fried half duck ($36) is well rendered, dry where it's meant to be and moist where it counts. It's a strong choice if you're sharing, and is served with a ginger nuoc cham dipping sauce, banana blossom, shallot and fried chilli salad.
Coconut sago with vanilla bean ice cream ($12.50), topped with crunchy toasted coconut, fresh fruit and a miso caramel sauce is ambitious. And while you feel the sauce is neither perfectly miso or caramel, it's a clear winner for dessert and really rounds out Noom Duck's best hand.
Fresh, quality ingredients served both confidently and boldly is what Noom Duck do best. And with a little time to refine their offering (and perhaps sharpen their culinary message), Noom Duck looks to be a seaside summer hotspot if it can rise to its obvious potential.