Thursday, 9 January 2014

Restaurant review - Momofuku seiōbo

Momofuku seiōbo is one of the hardest restaurants to book in Sydney - it is difficult to book, as you can only book 20 days in advance and it's like a first to login best dressed situation.  Some people probably found it easy to book, but I often found that the days I wanted to book were always booked out.

Finally, we got a reservation for my birthday! And I was excited to see what all the fuss was about.
Momofuku seiōbo is Momofuku’s first restaurant outside of New York City. Reservations for the main dining area can only be made in advance through our online system. We also have a 5-seat bar that serves a limited bar menu. Bar seating is first come, first serve. In the main dining area, we serve a tasting menu that changes constantly. The menu is inspired by the bounty of Australian ingredients and Sydney’s diverse food culture. Seiōbo is the Japanese goddess of the west and her sign is the peach tree. Momofuku seiōbo has three hats from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.

- from the Momofuku website
The Star, Sydney's casino, is now full of great eateries, and Momofuku seiōbo is among them.  The staff were attentive and helpful, and the atmosphere was modern and relaxed. The bar seating allowed a view to the busy kitchen where we saw the chefs preparing our food.  Most people enjoy watching them laboriously and painstakingly preparing each course with care and delicacy, however, I am someone who prefers a bit of intrigue to mine.  I don't watch Masterchef or any of those cooking shows, but for those who do, I can imagine that

Smoked eel and apple - that was the description of this interesting starter.  It was lightly flavoured and got you looking forward to more.

Momofuku's pork bun was a lovely Asian start to the menu - they are like Taiwanese Gua Bao.  The dough was light and allowed you to appreciate the contents more rather than being overwhelmed and filled by the steamed rice dough.

Potato with roe, and parson's nose.  Who would have thought that a chicken's bottom would be so delightful!  This menu delights in constrasting textures and I am a big fan of salmon roe anyway.

Crab with chickpea and amaranth.  Amaranth is a grain, which was crispy here (I suspect it was similar nutritionally to quinoa).  A pleasant dish.

Wagyu beef cubes, radish and fermented beans.  You have to mix the dish and once mixed it doesn't look as beautiful as it did on presentation.  The contrasting crisp radish with the tender beef cubes was a delight to the palate and flavoursome.

Cauliflower with mushroom and smoked yolk.  Interesting flavour - but smoked yolk is probably not to my palate's high list.

Marron with seaweed and asparagus was well done and the meat was firm and not rubbery.

Deceptively simple looking peas with oxtail and custard - I liked this dish.  Peas were crisp and the oxtail was soft.  They really do love the crispy and soft combinations here.

Lamb with lettuce and violet mustard.  Lovely and tender.  I was getting rather full by this stage.

Curd with blackcurrant and mint.  A hint of sour softened by sweet.

I loved the presentation of this dish.  Sorrel with muntries and pistachio.  Sorrel added a really earthy flavour which I also found very different and interesting - yet I'm not sure that I found it to my liking.

Pear with jerusalem artichoke and sunflower.  What a lovely presented dish!  But alas for me, though the dish was sweet and it was beautiful to look at, I think the flavours were a little overwhelming.  More of the crunchy and soft texture combination.

An interesting end to the meal, was sweetened pork, which seemed an interesting end to a typical degustation.  It had a hint of Heston, adding a rather English flavour to the end of an otherwise Asian inspired meal.  I was so full by then I could hardly eat it anyway.

Overall, it was a culinary experience.  The flavours were definitely different, however, perhaps my palate is not as refined as I thought - some of the flavours were too earthy, too strong, which made them interesting but not necessarily tasty.  I think of it more like trying to look an original piece of artwork that is interesting and beautiful, but I wouldn't want to hang it in my house because I couldn't stomach looking at it everyday.  I am not sure that I would go again, but the restaurant had fantastic service, a good atmosphere and watching the kitchen certainly was entertaining, if you like those sorts of things.

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