This week i was the lucky recipient of a delightful surprise dinner at David Chang's Momofuku Seiōbo at The Star, Sydney (thanks Milo!).
This Momofuku is the only one outside of New York City and Toronto, so we are lucky to have this delightfully innovative, Asian-European infused cuisine on our Sydney doorstep. The restaurant has three hats from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food guide and not only offers great food, but also delivers 150% on ambience and un-stuffy, yet top-notch dining.
The Momofuku setting, a dull lit, long room set behind tall, industrial strength, black beams, is pretty spectacular. The kitchen is the central feature, with giant floor to ceiling fridges off to the right, and a bar setting to the left. We sat at the bar, which is recommended.
The chefs gracefully float the kitchen, whipping up various dishes at different stages of the set 10 course degustation menu, which varies regularly based on produce availability and seasonal trends. There are sometimes 3 or 4 chefs hanging over one serving, miticulously placing, pouring, and garnishing so that their patrons receive a perfectly placed, hot dish of deliciousness.
You have the choice of matching wines in either full or reduced. Full gives you approximately 5 glasses over the course of the 2 hour degustation for $105, while reduced is 2.5 glasses for $65. We went for the reduced given it was a Wednesday! You can also choose their non-alcoholic pairing of vegetable and fruit juices and sodas, all made fresh in-house for $60. And most importantly, what glassware do they use; Spiegelau.
We kicked off with three petit 'snacks' (as we heard the head chef call them, to get another set of patrons started on the first of ten) paired with a French sparkling wine that was incredibly appley - like cider! The Zucchini with black garlic paste in a super fine, short crust pastry case was my favourite out of this selection. The Chicken tail and trout roe was also very tasty with the textures of roe and crisp chicken working well. Least favourite from this course was the hazelnut toast.
The second dish was a perfect start, paired with a light red wine. A tender Moreton Bay bug with finely sliced mushrooms, savory custard and hot, mildly salty jus.
Next up was one of our favourite dishes of the evening, a just look how beautiful it was. Finely diced rare wagyu, in a rich fermented black bean sauce, covered by a garden of colourful, fine radish slices.
The fourth dish comprised grilled cauliflower set on a rich parsley green paste, topped with the most devine, zingy pickled wood ear mushrooms and crispy fried breadcrumbs. Fifth was a crab ravioli with peas and crunchy bacon pieces, and sixth was grouper, witlof and mustard - my least favourite of the night.
To finish the savory dishes, round seven was crispy duck cooked to perfection, served with a 'swede cake' and a rye sauce. The rye sauce was an interesting one on the palate, it had whole grains of rye and a warming, buttery taste. This was a goody...
The sweet courses could not have started better, paired with a sweet red wine. I mean, let's ask ourselves, how the hell to do smoke yoghurt! Smoked yoghurt, rhubarb and, japanese seasoning, Koji was course eight, and it took our taste bud senses by surprise - it was cold, tart, smokey and crunchy.
Course nine took the one before to another level, but yet it was SO simple. Vanilla bean, sheep's milk curd filled a choux pastry case to the brim with utter deliciousness. The choux pastry was so short and crisp, and that coupled with the creamy curd and sweet maple syrup condiment, just made for a little bit of heaven.
To finish the degustation, the sweetness was toned down in the form of corn custard and chervil ice cream, topped with shards of anise meringue. The more i ate of it, the more my taste buds adjusted to the somewhat earthy taste of the chervil ice cream. I wasn't sure if i really loved this dish when i was done, but it was a bit different and looked appealing.
Before the waitress hit us with the bill - degustation here is $185 per person, plus wine or juice pairings - we got two of the best canelés i've ever tasted (they beat Al Brown's at The Depot in Auckland, NZ). The secret is in the waxing of the tins they bake them in. I'm going to lay my hands on some beeswax next time i see it at the market and try this out.
And of course, you get to take your menu home and a leaf tea gift!