Sunday, 18 August 2013

Momofuku Seibo - The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Sydney

To mix things up a bit I had a request last week from a friend to do a guest blog.  And I thought, why not?  I mean, one person cannot simply have the time or budget to experience all the amazing eating houses/restaurants in Sydney or the world over to share with all of you.  So please enjoy the review and fine (proper) photos by Wesley Tan.  I apologise for the small size of them!
If there are any readers that use blogger as their platform  could you please tell me, if you know, why I cannot resize my photos?  The pop up menu only works for the first photo.  Very strange and frustrating!

Anyway I'll let the review start now. . .

I love food. Like, I LOVE food. And that’s really no secret to anyone who knows me. I love the universality and ubiquity of great food - it really doesn't matter if you're having a $225 degustation or a $2.50 banh mi, whether there are 30 ingredients in a bouillabaisse or 4 in a nigiri; given quality produce, they all have equal potential to be absolutely delicious!

It was with this in mind that I booked a lunch degustation for 2 at Momofuku Seibo, the Sydney branch of David Chang’s gastronomic kingdom, and the best new restaurant in town if the 2013 Good Food Guide is to be believed. Momofuku has a 20 day online booking policy - bookings open at 10am and allow everyone equal access, meaning you don't have to book for a special occasion months in advance but have sufficient time to eagerly anticipate the goodness in store. And that anticipation was definitely not wasted. For what we were served, the lunch degustation is supreme value - $110 pp for approximately 8 courses (we had 11). Their dinner degustations are $185 pp.

We were seated at a table adjacent to the bar. Service was brisk and polite, with various chefs personally delivering courses to our table, but not attentive enough to discover after 11 courses and our repeated and obvious migration of eating utensils that we were both in fact left-handed.

The first course we had was smoked potato encased in a cylindrical tuile biscuit with dehydrated apple and apple gel. Delicate with a subtle sweetness and savouriness, it was a harbinger of great things to come.
Next came the moment I had been waiting for my entire life - the infamous David Chang pork bun. I held those pillowy, alabaster clouds encasing that perfectly unctuous, gelatinous pork belly for a good minute as I admired it from every angle before I dared taste it. It was love at first bite. That said, my friend said she still preferred the ones she had tried in New York.

The cured striped trumpeter with celery and mustard oil was perfectly balanced and delicious, with the sweetness of the fish carefully accentuated.
The deep friend parson’s nose with crispy potato and watercress was one of our favourites.

That was followed by one of the most beautiful dishes I’ve ever eaten - sous vide octopus on eel dashi jelly with radishes, sunflower and almond milk. I found the creativity of the dishes inherently regressive, as they rendered me as giggly as a tween holding Robert Pattinson’s hand while on Red Bull at a One Direction concert. While the peppery radishes were a tad unwieldy to eat, I was impressed by the fact that this wasn’t just beauty for beauty’s sake, or complexity for complexity’s sake - but every element had clearly been carefully considered and balanced in a demonstration of supremely technical cooking.
Next came a perfectly cooked egg yolk with spiced cauliflower on an emulsion of fermented mushroom. A perfectly seasoned textural triumvirate.
Then we were finally onto the mains. First came the perfectly cooked pan-fried striped trumpeter with fennel, dill and a squid ink reduction, followed by my personal favourite - pork neck with squash two ways, kombu and a broadbean puree. As the pork arrived the music in the restaurant transitioned from a blissful Bon Iver track to a Beastie Boys classic that had most of the diners rapping along between mouthfuls.



To cleanse our palette we were then served a small bowl containing South Australian goat curd, mint oil and a blackcurrant juice.

For dessert we were served slivers of pear and honey cream dotted with native Australian muntries berries; again a perfectly balanced flavour and texture combination.
To our surprise this wasn’t the last course, as we were finally delivered their version of a French canalè - perfectly crispy on the outside, moist and sticky on the inside; and a decadent salted caramel fudge that left me with a lingering sense of satisfaction as we left the restaurant with our vacuum-sealed packet of Momofuku kim-chi in hand.

Momofuku definitely isn’t your typical 3 hat restaurant. If eating with your hands, loud and eclectic playlists and sitting at the bar are not to your taste, then this mightn’t be the place for you. Personally, I found that the somewhat childlike curiosity I entered the restaurant with was keenly fostered by the relaxed environment. I’m already saving to go back for dinner.

Momofuku Seiōbo on Urbanspoon

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