Saturday, 1 March 2014

Moon Park

he says:

Ever since I visited Manna Healthy Way in the Hunter Connection food court I have developed a bit of an interest in Korean food. Not so much Korean BBQ but more the kimchi, and well, really anything but the usual BBQ.

Melbourne Gastronome's post on Moon Park a few days before our planned weekend trip to Sydney was perfect timing. I opted for Sunday lunch and made the booking immediately on finishing reading the post. Moon Park is in Redfern which has never had the best reputation.  I even had to respond to one of my dissenting friends with, 'It's the Collingwood of Sydney!'

I think there were a couple of Australian beers available but there was no way I was going to choose a Coopers over a tinny of OB. How good are Korean beers?

rice crackers with konbu seasoning

I love the name Moon Park, it's a great little play on what I believe to be two of the more common Korean names. Think UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and musical prodigy Psy aka Gangnam Sytle and real name Park Jae-sang. Disclaimer, I didn't know that either until now. Thanks wikipedia. 

zucchini and mussel pancake

Mussel pancake? Ah, that would be 'yes' said the Hoy Tod obsessive. While completely different in style and texture to the famous Thai mussel omelette this Korean version was equally crisply delicious. At $10 I thought the serving was also very generous. We had plans to order numerous dishes so had to really struggle with leaving it half uneaten.

seed biscuit with sea urchin

One of the more beautifully presented plates, the scorched sea urchin was certainly a taste like nothing I had experienced previously.  I'm not sure why but we both agreed that for some reason we are more willing to be adventurous when to comes to seafood. Sea urchin roe is probably a bit of an acquired taste and certainly one I will be working on.

cucumber kimchi

And I learned that cucumber kimchi goes really well with beer! Like I read in David Chang's Momofuku cookbook, pickling is the unsung hero of cooking. So in that spirit I will share a recent discovery from him. Quick pickled cucumbers. Thinly slice some baby cucumbers and add a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt then wait 15 minutes and enjoy. And also great with beer!

bibim: rice & pearl barley, gochujang, corn, crab, cured egg and nori

I haven't tried too many bibim's from other Korean restaurants and although I plan on changing that rapidly I imagine it would be hard to find one as good as this. Just a magnificent combination of flavours. That's all that needs to be said really.

pork belly, young corn, kale & clams

This pork belly dish was beautifully cooked and presented. I'm not sure how I feel about kale. Maybe it's a superfood, but I guess I just don't feel it. Kale rant aside this was a really enjoyable dish, the combination of pork and clams is wonderful. They also use oysters which would be equally amazing.

moon pie: prune, maesil marshmallow, ginger jelly, graham cracker

This was easily my favourite dish. It could be that I'm a dessert fiend but this dish absolutely smashed it out of the (Moon) Park!  Not included in the description is the white chocolate pannacotta. Possibly a deliberate omission but it certainly made for a wonderful surprise addition to this deconstructed masterpiece. I came extremely close to ordering a second plate it was that good. Love love loved this dish. And love love loved Moon Park. For those visiting Sydney Moon Park is a must. I will certainly be back next time I'm in town. 

Moon Park on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Momofuku Seiōbo

he says:

I used to hate Sydney. Now I love it. Not in a 'I want to live there kind of way' but in a 'I want to visit for a few days and eat myself stupid' kind of way. We recently had a chance to do just that and Momofuku was our first stop.

smoked potato apple

I don't have a bucket list but if I did Momofuku would be right up the top. I have never had a restaurant experience like it. Just incredible.

steamed bun pork belly

At first the online booking system looked like a complete lockout but a bit of persistent checking turned up a 1pm lunch reservation. Perfect! I quite liked the online system, designed to deter restaurant scalpers! I didn't even know they existed but they sound like bad people (with good taste).

crab chickpea amaranth

Lunch wasn't cheap at $110 pp but given that the meal went for 1 hour 45 minutes and included 10 incredibly complicated courses I decided it was actually really good value. The wine pairing at $75 was a mandatory addition for us. Oh yeah, loved this dish. Crab without the effort is so much tastier. 

eel dashi octopus turnip

I was given David Chang's Momofuku cookbook a few years back and although I haven't cooked a single dish I've read it cover to cover and back again. His take on Asian flavours is something special. Like this eel jelly! Who'd have thought. David Chang of course! This was paired with a gorgeous milky saké perfectly accompanied the Japanese flavours of the dashi and octopus.

potato parsons nose roe

When I read that the menu included a preparation of parsons nose I thought it was a bit of a piss take and it probably is a bit. Albeit an amazingly tasty one! We dined at the bar and definitely noted what an interesting way it is to enjoy a meal. Watching the chef's construct these beautiful dishes is very inspiring. 

egg cauliflower mushroom

The descriptions I have used are from the printed menu given to diners at the end of the meal. They probably don't do the complexity of the processes in each dish justice but I like the confidence of not having to explain how difficult it all is. We watched the chef peeling eggs to obtain these delicately runny yolks. No explanation required, it looked very tricky! 

mulloway carrot kelp

Maybe this was Momofuku's take on the classic meat and three veg. It tasted as elegant as it looks. 

chicken cucumber watercress

Each dish is presented to you by one of the chefs. Something I think might be quite challenging for a chef not used to dealing with the general public on a regular basis but definitely a good thing to get to see people enjoying your creations instead of being hidden out the back somewhere. 

curd blackcurrant mint

I was especially taken by the beautifully crafted bowls and plates in various complimentary colours. One of the luxuries of running a highly successful establishment is that you get to source wonderful items to compliment the delicious food you serve. Some of the items reminded me of the takeawei ceramics crafted in North Melbourne by my lovely friend Chela. 

peach almond thyme

Being an Asian food tragic I don't get to eat a lot of traditional desserts which means that when I do I usually go all gooey. This dish was absolutely superb. Definitely my favourite dish of the meal. Silky creamy peachy loveliness. 


And all too soon it was over. Would I return? Yes definitely! Next time for dinner. Fortunately the come down wasn't too hard as I knew we had a booking at Moon Park the following day...

Momofuku Seiōbo on Urbanspoon

Monday, 20 January 2014

Gai Yang BBQ

he says:

These days I'm posting a lot less than I used to but I'm still enjoying eating and cooking new amazing asian food every day. For lots of reasons I just don't seem to find the time to write about it. Occasionally something new comes along and I feel compelled to share it. I love Gai Yang (Thai Grilled Chicken) and was cooking it up on my Tao for a few friends a couple of weeks ago. As usual I was struggling with massive flare ups from the sugary marinade that caused the usual blackened outside and undercooked inside. I mentioned to my friend my long term goal of making my own barrel BBQ that I once saw in a Lucky Peach article by Naomi Duguid. I just hadn't been able to find the right barrel. He suggested a beer keg and even better offered to bring me one. A couple of weeks later and a shiny stainless steel beer keg landed on my front porch! This is what happened next. 

Inner flange removed with grinder and steel cutting blade and Tao inserted inside. 

Ventilation hole cut to align with Tao air inlet. 

Wire hanging ring added.

Charcoal fired up and chicken hung to roast. The beauty of this system is that the chicken juices drip down the sides thus avoiding flare ups.

Juicy roasted tender Gai Yang, perfect inside and out.

Lid added and coals stoked and fanned to around 200 degrees.

The first of many batches of Gai Yang to be roasted in my fantastic new beer keg Thai BBQ.

Just add sticky rice and sweet chilli sauce and let the good times roll! Next up, grilled catfish - aroy mak mak!

This is the article from Lucky Peach that inspired my design - hopefully David Chang doesn't mind me posting it! It's a great magazine, definitely worth checking out if you're into food.