Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Momofuku Seiōbo, Pyrmont

You know the drill. Or at least have heard of it. Many a time has it been remembered and revised by keen diners before me. Make an account through the Momofuku Seiobo website the night before. Write all your credit card details and booking details somewhere the night before. Wake up at 9:50 with the aid of 3 alarms going off simultaneously. Turn your computer on. Log in by 9:58 Momofuku time. Frantically press refresh until the word enter becomes available. Don't panic, you're nearly there. Pray some early bird hasn't gotten your time slot mere seconds before. Input all your details in as precisely as you can within the time frame. Phew. Job done. Grab a towel and bucket to drench all your sweat and tears. Go back to sleep. 

I was so nervous I was having practise runs the week before. It is quite ridiculous the effort that goes into having to book a restaurant but I suppose that's the price for falling into all that hype. And about time as well. It's been open since late October in 2011 but it doesn't even remotely show signs of slowing down. Boy are we special in the land down under. Listed in Time's 2010 most influential people of the year, this is radical 'bad boy' chef (a ridiculous title if you ask me, it pains me as much to say it as you to hear it) David Chang's first international foray with all his other restaurants in the states. A degustation only menu runs every night at 175 dollars with the option of wine pairings or interestingly juice pairings. If you're after something smaller, best you join the bar area where there's little snacks on offer.

smoked apple, eel
No bread and butter sadly; this is Momofuku after all. We start off with a delicately smokey eel mousse piped into a round tuille with freeze dried apple shaved over it. It's a delectable combination that invites you to use your hands and hence the warm towels that come with it.

steamed bun, shitake
This pork bun is seen so often that it's been brought up to be a cultural classic. The flavours are very similar to a duck pancake. It's a mouthwatering combination of impossibly light steamed bun, hoi sin, sliced spring onions and a pork belly so tender, it's a texture akin to the bun itself. I had mine with shitake mushrooms which was quite nice although no where near as good and melting as the pork I hear. With sriracha hot sauce or not, it's definitely a winner.

striped trumpeter, celery, mustard
After the initial set of snacks, we're ready to begin. The mustard oil gives it a sort of wasabi-like twang that just sings beautifully with trumpeter sashimi and the subtle piquant notes of celery.

potato, roe, parson's nose
Classic and controlled paves way to the more unorthodox. It was dude food refined. That's how I saw this. You get a bit of confit potato going on, throw in a surprisingly not so fatty parson's nose (the little tail part of a chicken), season it a little with the little bursts of salty roe and you've got a good thing going.

beef, radish, fermented black bean
Here we see diced beef marinated in a deep fermented black bean sauce hidden under a bed of beautifully arranged sliced radishes. For some it's oysters, others it's olives, readers you all know my aversion to anything radish. I can't say I enjoyed it too much.

tongue, watercress, fennel
We get some quality rolled tongue next that sits on top of a slick of watercress puree that has some sliced fennel drapped around it. There's a wonderful marriage that exists between the three ingredients and a balance achieve with pepperiness of watercress that works wonders with the fatty beef and the liquorishy fennel.

cauliflower, mushroom, smoked yolk
Florets and slices of cauliflower are artfully arranged on a bed of a deep and silky mushroom emulsion that's finished off with a prized shaving of smoked egg yolk. It's a wonderful dish that's only beaten by...

marron, broccoli, lemon
A grin erupted from the corner of my mouth as soon as I saw this. Marron. Wow. The superb tail is cooked beautifully with that subtle bit of firm resistance a wonderful sweetness. It's accompanied simply with a brocolli stalk and puree, a lemony vinaigrette and peel. It's wonderfully light and just such a joy to eat. 

squab, burnt eggplant, onion
Squab leg just dangling lifelessly out of the plate? David Chang for you? Wonderful flavours of the smoky eggplant puree and sweet caramelised onion are good partners for the texturally delightful breast and crispy confit squab leg.

We spy a giant slab of sugar-roasted pork shoulder, dark and caramelised and taken out from the oven to be purposefully placed in the middle, tantalizing eyes around the kitchen. It gleans and glistens in the light and just teases everyone for the final course to come.

curd, blackcurrant, mint
A palate cleanser of sorts, it seems like this is one of the polarising ones. I found it quite nice, with the potent goats curd and similarly powerful black currant competing against each other for your attention but in a way that you can taste the two well. There's the subtle background of mint that just elevates the two together.

pineapple, lime, sesame
'A' really liked this and it's hard not to see why. A sweet slice of pineapple is grilled which ups the flavour and loses the acidity. It's served with shards of lime meringue jutting out that just dissolves in your mouth and sesame crumbs for a bit of texture.

pear, jerusalem artichoke, sunflower
We spot our chef plucking away at a giant sunflower and we think it's a little odd only to find it was our dish! The sunflower petals as well as seeds garnished pear 'petals' which underneath hid the salted caramel which we get all giddy from. It's a well balanced dish that's not too heavy.

pork shoulder
And of course the meal wouldn't be complete without a savoury course in the form of a slow roasted juicy pork shoulder. They've cooked it down so it's wonderfully tender and sweet and dressed simply with it's own drippings. Unleash the inner caveman as you use your hands to pick up the trembling deliciously marbeled strands to eat.

pink lady, caramel
Instead of pork I opted for a light little finisher. A light and fresh pink lady apple granita is interestingly juxtaposed with a gutsier caramel ice cream underneath and it's a brilliant finish to our meal.

The 'Best New Restaurant of 2013' is run by a group of assured Gen Y'ers, complete with a green baseball caps and white button ups. The pass is manned by head chef Ben Greeno, a reliable and strong force that's capable of running the remote empire of David Chang's that is Momofuku Seiobo. It's unnervingly efficient and free from any Ramsayesque chaos and it's really nice having the person who's plated up your dish bring it to you rather than a waiter. 

Whilst I always do appreciate the lack of a physical barrier between chefs and diners (Sixpenny, Buon Ricordo), there's a mental one that exists which begs for a little... life. Quietly confident gradually feels a little conceited and steely as the dinner progresses. A little smile at the presentation of a course, a 'how was your day?', the little things, that's what's needed.

It's easy to see why Seiobo isn't everyone's cup of tea. You might call David Chang's Momofuku Seiobo many things: avant garde, progressive, controversial, loud, rushed, irritating, over-hyped, a little try-hard but the word boring will rarely ever pop up in a conversation involving Seiobo. And honestly, besides an irritating booking system, I thought it was pretty much great. I'm not head over heels over everything but it presents a surprisingly nice change from other fine diners. 

Unusual to be saying this but it's the uncluttered nature of the pairings, with no more than 3 core ingredients on a plate, where you'll find the ingenuity and complexity. Some juxtapose, some lift. That's where the fun lies. Service needs a little animation but food is where it shines as it should be. Like it or not, Momofuku Seiobo is here to stay. 

Momofuku Seiobo, The Star

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I'm actually surprised Seiobo is still going that strong actually! Props to David Chang haha. I still want to try that pork belly bun!!

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No, we aren't the most amazing gastronomes or chefs. Heck, half our team doesn't even know how to cook... well. However, what we really love is eating. And lots of it. We enjoy that occasional freebie, filling up that craving for a midnight snack and finding a 20 in our pockets that we thought we never had, and using that as an excuse to go out eating. As we battle the ongoing war on uni student poverty, we'll bring you the most swoon worthy recounts of our latest foodie adventures.

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