Momofuku Seiobo – 28 November 2013

Ah David Chang and his peachy restaurants! I wasn’t particularly interested in going to Momofuku at first, however it ended up being ranked quite highly in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, I decided it was worth a visit.

I was also skeptical of high end restaurants in casino complexes – though in reality I was probably comparing food in RSL clubs to this, so it doesn’t actually count. It turns out the visit paid off! The offerings of a reduced wine pairing and juice pairings were also a relatively novel concept (I think), but it’s great for those who don’t want a glass with every course.

Smoked eel, freeze dried apple

What I found quirky about this place was that they encouraged the use of hands with some of their dishes, including this one of smoked eel in a potato mash-type roll. It was paired with apple and celery juice, and some kind of fizzy dry alcoholic liquid: I don’t drink, so I’m not used to remembering various alcoholic drinks.

Pork belly steamed bun

This was the first time I’ve seen or even heard of the highly popular and trendy pork belly steamed bun, and it was a good thing I had it here! The bun was fresh and light and held its shape, and the amount of sauce was perfect. I found it odd that it made part of a degustation menu, being such a mainstream dish, but it was admittedly pretty perfect and sets the bar for every other pork belly bun out there, and I haven’t had one as good as this since!

Potato, trout roe, parson’s nose

This was one of my favourite dishes (the most favourite being further down) because it had all sorts of fried and tasty goodness. Confit potato, which were nice and creamy, with trout roe – I didn’t expect the outside to be so tough but the inside was nice and not fishy, as I’ve previously found salmon roe to have a fishy taste. The saltiness of the roe was went well with the potatoes and the parson’s nose. And of course who doesn’t like fried fatty chicken skin! This was paired with a sweet riesling, and I believe a cucumber juice. The juice had the most amazing bright green colour! I now want to juice cucumbers and soak them in their skin.

Crab, chickpea, amaranth

This dish is something I compared directly with the mud crab congee from Quay as the two were similar in concept. This was a very zen looking dish, with a healthy amount of mud crab. The chickpea soup-thing was something my brother and I disagreed on; he didn’t like it as it tasted like blue cheese, for me, it tasted like crab broth, but was a little too salty. So I guess we disagreed on the flavour, but agreed that it wasn’t as great as it could be. The roasted amaranth was really nice as the toastiness worked well.

 
 

Beef, radish, fermented black bean

I loved this one as not only was it super tasty, it was also the “surprise” dish, reminiscent again, of Quay in its unexpectedness. On the outisde, it looked just like radishes and black powder. We were told to mix this before eating as the whole thing included wagyu beef, watermelon and black bean. Watermelon you say? Yes! Watermelon! Hence it was paired with watermelon juice! It was also paired with an amazing red rice sake that tasted so good and was the most perfect pairing with this dish, as it felt like I was eating this with red rice. When the beef dish was mixed together it was the most awful looking black mess but tasted so good – the watermelon added texture and was refreshing. The waitress was very kind in bringing me a “I ‘lucky peach’ Syd” postcard with the name of the sake written on the back – Mukai Shuzō ‘Ine Mankai’ 2013, which was very thoughtful!

Cauliflower, pickled kohl rabi, smoked yolk

What a simple cauliflower dish! Roasted cauliflower… I can do that at home, right? And there was some tasty pickled kohl rabi. I’d say this was the most homely dish (even moreso than the pork bun), except for the fact it had one amazing feature: smoked egg yolk. That’s what those shavings are, and really tasty. It reminded me a lot of bottarga, except it was a much cheaper way to produce a similar texture.

Marron, poor man’s orange curd, asparagus

This was the winning dish. Half a marron so wasn’t enough! This was a gorgeous piece of crustacea glazed with buttery goodness. It was so tender and just cooked. It didn’t need the asparagus or the orange curd thing, but those two paired well. Did I mention the marron was amazing? If I remember correctly this was paired with a nice tangy grape juice, and some really dry chardonnay that I didn’t like.

Peas, oxtail, custard

I love peas. When I saw this dish I immediately liked it for the peas. It came with oxtail and a citrus custard. I didn’t particularly like the citrus flavour in this dish, though.

Lamb, lettuce, violet mustard

The juice pairing provided for this dish was beetroot – which was surprisingly sweet and quite delicious, and the only red wine of the reduced pairing was a grenache that was really nice. So of course, it was officially red meat dish time. This was a delicious lamb and I was surprised that they kept all the fat on the cutlet – however it was actually nice and didn’t smell like the awful lamb fat that I didn’t like. It was also a surprising shade of pink, but perfectly cooked. The slightly sad looking vegetable was a lettuce, and both the lamb and lettuce went very nicely with the violet mustard. I wasn’t sure that I’d actually tasted the violets, but it did have a nice colour.

Goat curd, blackcurrant, mint oil, sourdough

It was now time for dessert, and this was the cheese dish – goat curd, blackcurrant sauce, mint oil, and sourdough crumbs. The mint oil was interesting as it didn’t have the same “coolness” that fresh mint provides, but mixed in altogether it was nice and by the end of it, I felt like I was eating yoghurt. In any case, the cheese pairing called for… pear! So the juice pairing was pear and fennel, and the alcoholic pairing was perry.

Pear, jerusalem artichoke, sunflower

What I noticed at this point was that the desserts were all not super sweet, instead they were a tad savoury, like this one. The sunflower seeds formed part of the paste, which I liked. A very simple dish with a chunk of caramel hiding on the inside.

Rum baba with Ron Zacapa, vanilla creme fraiche

This was an epic dessert. We were first presented with shiny silver caviar dishes, and then they were opened one by one to reveal a yeast cake soaked in sugar water. Then the waitress placed an entire bottle of rum on our table, with a side of vanilla creme fraiche. An entire bottle of rum! There was a story to the extravagance of this dish; that it was once served to the king of Portugal (if I remember correctly) as just the sugared yeast cake and the creme fraiche – and he hated it! So he threw a bottle of rum at it and then said it was the most delicious dessert. And it was pretty tasty! This certainly gains points for being very theatrical and eye catching. Did I mention we could use as much rum as we wanted?

Sugar glazed pork

So that was actually the end of the degustation, except we got one last little treat – some sugar glazed slow cooked pork – to be eaten with hands. It was a nice finish to the night. We received some kimchi samples too!

Overall it was a great experience, which differed from Tetsuya’s and Quay by how interactive it was – the chefs here presented each dish in person and explained it, and the fact that three of the dishes were eaten using hands. The theatrics – just short of that of a bombe alaska – of the last dish was also a standout. The pacing of the food was also decent, though by the end of it I still wanted to eat some Messina gelato, whereas in the other two degustations I’ve had, I’ve been so full that I absolutely could not eat anymore. So this is 3 hats for both food and fun!

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