Mundoaka was created in Zagreb as a street food venue – not, however, the typical street food that immediately springs to mind. They began with a philosophy that everything starts with quality ingredients. They value and respect the produce and are creative and playful – something their guests have recognised. In 2016 Mundoaka opened in Čakovec and in June in Umag – at a fantastic location: right on the seaside at the Stella Maris resort. The setting has been spruced up, everything is brilliant and elegant and you’re immediately awaited by the smiling and courteous staff.
Umag’s Mundoaka is somewhat different than the Zagreb restaurant. It is much larger and the concept has been modified. The playful approach and the relationship towards the food have not changed; they have simply adjusted to the Istrian setting and to the local produce.
I recommend you open the evening with a rosé Prosecco while you breathe in the sea and the excellent atmosphere selecting dishes from a menu that is both fascinating and diverse. There is no permanent menu here and it has a tendency to change with the seasons, the available foodstuffs and the inspiration of chef Mario Mihelj. Mario is a young chef but with many years of experience gained working at various Croatian restaurants, notably at Dubravkin Put.
We sampled some of the dishes that will be on the summer menu – opening with an interesting seabass confit served with cream of tomato, homemade focaccia and crispy salad with Grana Padano. The starter is served on a wooden board, which is very original. One gets the impression of unpretentious service but with a closer inspection once you’ve tasted it you quickly grasp that it is in fact very well thought out and laid out. With the first bite there is a wave of freshness and acidity, just what a summer meal should offer. Like the presentation, the dish is also offbeat, intrepidly weaving several very intense flavours.
We moved on to the hot starter – homemade tagliatelle with a Parmesan and truffle emulsion. Given that the truffle is an Istrian classic they have done a nice job of combining it with homemade pasta and Parmesan cheese. The truffle flavour is not overly dominant and the savours have melded beautifully. The dish is accompanied by a Degrassi Sauvignon Blanc.
Already quite full given the abundant serving sizes we moved on to a poached seabass served with Mediterranean vegetables and a brodetto-like soup, only milder and more acidic, adapted to the summer. The seabass was absolutely brilliant and the combination both interesting and light. The vegetables were served crispy. Here too we see an approach to food where every ingredient is given the fullest attention. All dishes are served freshly prepared with fresh, carefully selected ingredients – something you can sense at first bite. Many of the ingredients are sourced locally in Istria in line with the restaurant’s philosophy of using fresh, local produce.
We closed off this very tasty dinner watching the sun set and enjoying the sea breeze with a dark chocolate cake and a dulce de leche cake. Mundoaka’s dulce de leche is also available at DM shops.
The people at Mundoaka find inspiration everywhere, especially in the local clime and the produce offered locally, says chef Mario Mihelj. For the entire Mundoaka team, he added, this is so much more than just a job, it’s a way of life, and you can feel it in everything – the setting, the atmosphere and especially in the food. This enthusiastic and creative chef has given every meal a special touch.
And so northwestern Istria now has a real breath of fresh air on its gastro scene. I look forward to visiting again and am already curious to see what the Mundoaka team has in store for us.