Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Momofuku Seiobo - Sydney

I was pretty excited when hubby told me that he'd booked in Momofuku for us. It's a pretty difficult reservation process - with bookings available only 10 days prior - kind of uses the psych theory that the harder it is to get in, the more you are meant to really like that thing. Anyway - booking 1 second after 10am (when reservations opened) landed us with a 8pm reservation. Though we were early on the night, they didn't seat us at the many empty tables until precisely 8pm. The reason for this, I think, is because they cook each course up on batches of 4s, so seating you early (or out of order) will muck up their whole service.

The seating area was dimly lit, leaving the spot light on the many chefs in the tidy, organised open kitchen. There was also a lively vibe to the restaurant, with the music hand-picked by the famous David Chang. The menu is a bit of surprise, but you are served personally by the chefs as the dish gets plated. For $170, you get a 12 course meal. Add $95 and you get alcoholic pairings on most but not all dishes (mix of red and white wines, cider and sake).

First course of the night was a smoked eel brandade in this crispy tube with apple jelly emulsion and shaved parmesan on top. This was pretty good actually. The mash was smooth and nicely flavoured, and the crispy outer coating made it an enjoyable eat. The apple sauce was ok too.
The highlight for hubby, and the dish he was anticipating prior to dining here, was the steamed pork belly bun. The pork was a good thickness and was melt-in-your-mouth. Kind of like the pork in the Korean dish Bossam but more moist and melty. This was couples with sweet hoisin sauce (or peking duck sauce) and a super soft white asian bun. There is also the option of using the sriracha chilli sauce. It was yumminess in a small package.
A sashimi of striped trumpeter was next, served with celery and a mustardy vinaigrette. Whilst I thoroughly enjoy sashimi usually, this fish was a little bland. It lacked the usual subtle sweetness offered by your usual salmon, tuna, kingfish variety. So I guess you really do have to eat it with the mustardy celery vinaigrette to enjoy it.
I enjoyed the next course much more. It was deep fried chicken tail. When the chef placed the plate down, he called it some sophisticated name - but upon our puzzled looks, he said 'it's simply just chicken tail'. Ahh.. ok... so loads of fat wrapped in deep fried chicken skin. Yup! sign me up! It was crisp with delicious flavours. YUM. It was served with little balls of deep fried potato, super thin disks of mushroom and roe - making it quite an appetitisng dish.
Next up was the beef. The chefs (yes multiple) spend YEARS plating up this dish - trying to make it look like a flower? Underneath all the thinly sliced radishes was a small mound of little cubes of medium rare steak and seared watermelon in fermented black bean sauce. The sauce was no where near as flavoursome as I expected. Yes it was definitely black, but it was kind of bland too. There was also not much taste coming from the tiny cubes of steak and seared watermelon? not for me. I guess to top it all off, there's way too many slices of radish and raw radish gives off a bit too much of that peppery taste... so I wasn't too overly impressed by anything in this dish apart from the fact they seriously spend so much time in the plating.
Next up was beef tongue with a black and white garlic puree, zucchini and zucchini flower. The beef tongue was rolled and tender and the sauce was quite tasty. The black garlic is really something! Definitely not for the non-garlic eaters.
Congee with ham and a yolk disk was up next. This was not your traditional congee. Thick, gluggy ricey congee was mellowed out with Earl Grey tea. Interesting no? but it was the yolk dish with its super rich flavour that put a smile to my face. I love congee :)
The next dish was probably my favourite for the night. It was marron with broccoli puree and salted lemon. There were generous pools of seaweed butter that added to aromas. The marron was cooked to perfection. Juicy, sweet and delicious all at the same time. And when eaten with the rich broccoli puree, I was in heaven!
The squab was a little bit underwhelming after the last two dishes that I enjoyed muchly. The squab was probably cooked very well for squab. It was a very densely rich meat with an almost crispy skin. It was served with a purposely burnt eggplant puree - yes, definitely could taste the burntness - and cherry.
The next dish was even more of a downer for me. Goats curd with blackcurrent and mint sauce. So I confess, I'm not a fan of goats curd. That's possibly why I didn't really like it. But the flavours really did seem all wrong - super overpowering goats curd with somewhat sweet blackcurrent juice and almost non-existent mint... not really for me...
The raspberry foam was next. Huge blob of red, sour and tart raspberry foam encasing over refreshing cucumber sorbet and some yoghurty sauce. Loved the cucumber sorbet. Didn't really enjoy the yoghurty sauce. Could only stomach so much of the raspberry foam.
The next dessert was much much better (in my mind). It was pineapple with flat lime meringue, a blob of gooey meringue and some crunchy clusters. The flat crunchy lime meringue was a perfect marriage of citrisy acidity and sugary sweetness. Pineapple and lime were also good matches for each other.
To finish the night off, sticky pork. Yes the pork was sweet. It tastes like something I cook at home to be eaten with rice. It was delicious. But for me, it was not meant to be a dessert.

You get a packet of vacuum sealed kimchi to take home after you finish your meal. Not really sure how they expect us to eat kimchi at home... just by itself? set up some korean bbq? But... it's just a gimmick right? I have to say, the food for the night was a bit hit and miss. Some dishes I loved. Some were okay. Some were really not for me. And for the price and the difficultness in getting a reservation here... probably won't be in a haste to revisit.

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance- 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 30.5/40

Momofuku Seibo
The Star
80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont NSW 2009
Tel: (02) 9777 9000

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