Popping my Fancy-pants cherry: Momofuku Seiobo (Part 1)

Popping my Fancy-pants cherry: Momofuku Seiobo (Part 1)

Momofuku. Momofuku Seiobo.

When I first started planning my trip to Sydney, I decided that I wanted to go to a fancy-pants restaurant. We’ve been food lovers, eaters and enthusiasts for long enough that I like to think that we would actually appreciate the experience, rather than just ‘this is food.’

It was hard to pick which restaurant to go to. I wanted to go to Quay. I wanted to go to Tetsuya. I wanted to go to so many places that I just couldn’t pick. But in the end we decided to go with Momofuku, because I’ve heard so much about the darn steamed pork buns and really wanted to try it for myself.

I have to split the post into two parts as I really don’t want it to get overly heavy and hard to digest in one seating. So here’s Part 1!

Making a Booking

To eat at Momofuku, you need to make a booking. No walk-ins. Bookings are made via their online booking reservation system only. No phone bookings accepted. But to make things even harder, spaces are strictly limited with the restaurant only seating between 30-40 people, therefore the fight for tables can get quite heated. You are only allowed to book up to 10 days in advance, new table bookings are made available on the reservation system at 10am (AEST) in the morning.

The good news is that as long as you are there at the computer on time and have a fast connection, you shouldn’t have too many issues with obtaining a booking. (Remember, 10 days in advance, no more no less!) If you delay for even a minute, you will be forced to sit and stare at the screen forlornly at rows of red crosses. When I made my reservation, I noticed that all seats were snapped up within 3 minutes. So you gotta move fast!

14 courses.. starting now!

We were seated at the kitchen bar, which I was extremely delighted with. Not only was the lighting much better for photos, but you were also able to watch the action as it went down. I had a lot of fun ‘stealing ideas’ and trying to work out what was going onto the dish before it got to us!

Things to take note of to help your reading:

The Boy opted for the Vegetarian Course, while I went with the normal standard fare. You will see a V labelled on some of the photos to signify the vegetarian dish.

The Boy opted for the juice pairing ($55), while I went with the wine pairing ($95). I will only be showing photos of the wine pairing, but will also mention what the juice pairing was under each photo.

First Course

1. Nori Cracker topped with Roe / Vego version omitted the Roe)
2. Smoked Eel / Vego version: Smoked Potato
3. Pig’s Blood Chip / Vego version: 5
4. Shitake Mushroom Mochi
5. Kimchi Chip / Not available on the standard menu.

Juice Pairing: Apple and Fennel

This was described to us as snacks. I was really curious to see how the vegetarian course was match up to the standard fare and was quite amused to see that even though the ingredients differed, our items still look quite similar which is why I’ve only shown you 5 out of 8 of the items – they looked the same!

The smoked eel / potato was quite fun to eat. Beautifully delicate, it exploded in my mouth sending me to the heavens as I took in the beautiful depth of flavour the little tube contained.

The Kimchi Chip had to be the hero of both dishes as it was incredibly addictive and very moreish. If I could get a whole bagful of that, I’d be quite the happy girl!

The Sake went beautifully with this course, and I mused over the fact that I would never be able to drink cheap sake ever again. I’ve only ever had cheap sake and much like cheap wine, once you’ve had the good stuff, you never want to go back!

Second Course

Momofuku Pork Bun: Vego version had shitake mushrooms instead of pork; served with Siracha sauce.

Juice Pairing: Apple and Fennel

The Famous Momofuku Pork Bun. Finally I get to eat you. I have long heard of this famous pork bun but couldn’t help but wonder how good could it be? Well.. the bun was definitely beautifully made, fluffy and melt in your mouth; the meat was gorgeous and the siracha sauce just kicked things up a notch. Everything was gorgeous but I couldn’t help but feel that it didn’t really live up to the hype.

Having said that, I would probably be quite happy to order more of that, I do think that it was a gorgeous bun, but I also felt that it wasn’t really as amazing as I had heard. The humble chinese steamed buns strike me as having more flavour than this version!

Third Course

Vego: Tomato Salad with Whipped Tofu and Yuzu Dressing.
Standard: Pink Snapper Sashimi with Celery and Green Mustard Dressing.

Juice Pairing: Cucumber

The whipped tofu had the most interesting texture. It was foamy and felt like it had come out from a siphon. (Maybe it did, who knows.) You could definitely taste the tofu though, and this just blew our minds – foamy tofu!?!?

I really enjoyed the pink snapper sashimi but being incredibly used to having strong wasabi with my sashimi, felt that the Green Mustard Dressing was rather lackluster.

Fourth Course

Vego: Onions with pieces of Rhubarb and Sea Lettuce.
Standard: Raw Kangaroo Island Scallop with Rhubarb dressing.

Juice Pairing: Cucumber

We were very intrigued by the vegetarian version of this dish. Definitely not similar in any way or form to the Scallop. Not just that, it had these plastic looking greens on it that were apparently sea lettuce. Hmmmm. It didn’t taste like plastic, which was a good thing. In fact, the whole dish was beautifully balanced and the textural elements made for a fun dish to eat. Out of both our dishes, I much preferred this one!

My scallop was fresh and juicy. However the rhubarb dressing was way too tart and sadly overpowered the scallop. I was left with an unpleasant taste in my mouth and tried quite hard to chase it away with my wine.

Fifth Course

Vego: Confit Potato in Olive Oil with Quandong and Watercress Emulsion.
Standard: Confit Potato in Beef Fat with Quandong, Bottarga, Beef Fat and Watercress Emulsion.

Juice Pairing: Watermelon

I loved this course so much!!!! All the exclamation marks in the world cannot express how in love I am with this dish. Confit potato in beef fat is the most genius cooking move ever! I had been feeling kinda deflated prior to this as the boy had won our little ‘Veg vs Standard’ competition so far in the taste test but the standard version of this dish blew his out of the water and shot his to pieces!

His dish did taste a lot cleaner, a lot healthier, so that’s a plus. But Confit potato in beef fat!!! Oh yeah baby. The flavour, the melt in your mouth potatoes, the salty bottarga…. I must try and cook this dish at some point!

Sixth Course

Vego: Grilled Watermelon, Radish and Fermented Black Beans.
Standard: Wagyu Beef, Radish and Fermented Black Beans.

Juice Pairing: Watermelon

Both dishes looks the same so only one photo for you. Where the difference lies is actually underneath all of that beautifully crisp Radish slices. We were skeptical about the grilled watermelon and as it turns out, it did seem to lack a certain heartiness to it as it was very clean and generally yummy but definitely lacking.

The Wagyu in my dish had been chopped up into small cubes, beautifully tender and both flavour and texture really lifted the dish up when contrasted with the fermented black beans and the crisp radishes. I really quite enjoyed this dish and cheered for another score on the ‘Vego vs Standard’ test!

I should also make a super big mention about the sake that accompanied this course. Firstly the pink appearance of the sake caught my eye, secondly it was incredibly sweet yet not cloyingly so. It was fragrant, smooth like silk and my gosh, I wanted to down an entire bottle down my throat that instant. I was so in love with it, I started asking the wait staff how much I could buy it for ($200++ if you are curious). Interesting facts I learnt about this Sake: it’s brewed by one of Japan’s few female brewers and is brewed from red rice. YUM!

Seventh Course

Vego: Slow Cooked Egg, Courgette, Zucchini Flower, and Black Garlic.
Standard: Roasted Quail, Courgette, Zucchini Flower, and Black Garlic.

Juice Pairing: Carrot

If you were keeping count of my little game, this is where I tell you that I managed to chalk up another win for my side. The quail (boneless!) was rich, tender and so beautifully flavoured that I felt like getting up and screaming my love for it. I don’t normally eat quail and after eating this, I question why not!

The boy’s dish wasn’t quite as exciting however. Still, beautifully clean, the textures were in perfect harmony with each other and it was definitely good to see him eat an egg yolk. He normally gives them to me. I was also very pleased to see the Zucchini flowers on our plates. I had noticed them earlier on the stove and had wondered which dish they’d appear in. Another point for not being a typical stuffed zucchini flower!

Stay tune for Part 2!! What do you think of the dishes so far? I can tell you that I’m in love, drooling, wanting more! However my wallet doesn’t quite agree and my physical location is a bit of a hindrance so I shall just have to rely on these photos and my memory to relive the moment over and over again.

Till next time!

Eating Out: Haan Ssie Oriental Cuisine@ Adelaide CBD – Korean Fusion

HAANSSIE Oriental Cuisine
08 8215 0110
300 Rundle St
Adelaide, SA 5000

It’s been very interesting eating out in Adelaide. Learning all the new places and finding absolute gems (and sometimes not-so-gems.) I must admit to having loved every minute of it. It’s always nice to explore a new city and get to know new things. And Adelaide is very much underrated, as I am slowly finding out. Clearly, people do not look hard enough before declaring Adelaide a dud!

This meal at Haan Ssie was quite awhile back. The menu seems to have changed, though I cannot verify that due to Haan Ssie not having a website and me not having been back since. I cannot vouch nor review the current menu, so this review is based upon the meal I had awhile back.

To start with, let me just say that the good reviews of Haan Ssie confuses me. I went with high hopes and based on the prices vs what I got, I really was quite disappointed and it certainly does not encourage a return visit despite the menu change.

Granted, the decor of Haan Ssie is really quite interesting. The lights reminded me of mushrooms and the decor was quite tasteful. It is done up rather classily and the prices of the mains definitely reflect that. The average prices of the mains are between $15-$20. Photographers do take note: the red lighting of the restaurant does not lend well to photographs!

Bimbimbap: $19.50. Nothing to write home about, I certainly wasn’t taken by it. It was tasty enough in that there was enough salt in it. Maybe way too much. I felt the lack of an egg keenly and if Haan Ssie had claimed to be a Korean restaurant rather than an Oriental-inspired restaurant, I’d have a full on rant about how this wasn’t Bimbimbap. But since they did toss the word ‘inspired’ into the mix, I shall hold my tongue.

Bulgogi: This was actually decent. I don’t remember the price and seem to have neglected taking a photo of the menu for this item, but at least this was worth eating and the price.

Japchae: $19.50 A small serving with a high price. It really didn’t satisfy my craving for Japchae as this version of it was really quite far from the mark.

The servings in general were not very big. Normally, this wouldn’t bug me as I’m not a huge eater anyways. But when the prices are where they are, I expect the servings to be slightly more than just one serve. I really don’t have any problems with paying quality prices for quality meals (as this blog can attest to) but I really do worry when the prices and the quality do not match.

The wait staff were friendly enough and in general, the meal was made all the more enjoyable more so because of the company I had rather than the food that was on the table.

Would I go again? Not really, not when there are so many other places waiting for me to explore!

View Larger MapHAANSSIE Oriental Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Eating out: Blue Moose Cafe @ St Kilda Road, Melbourne

The Blue Moose Cafe
03 9804 5605
Ground Floor, 436 St Kilda Rd
South Yarra
Melbourne, VIC 3004

When you are in a location that is surrounded by high rise buildings filled with office workers, there are just 2 things that I believe you need to fully grasp for your cafe / restaurant to stay loved.

It needs to be:

1. Good and tasty.
2. Fast.

And Blue Moose Cafe is both. I’ve been a few times now, mostly with K when I used to visit her during lunch hours. I was blown away by how busy it was, the little cafe was practically humming!

Once you taste their food, it’s not hard to see why. An array of meals is offered at the counter for those who are short on time but they do offer a fairly good menu for ala carte as well. I’ve never tried ordering from their menu – everytime I’ve been, the counter meals have suckered me in because they tasted amazing. With names such as Tandoori Risotto, how could I even begin to resist?

Their servings are not stingy either. With quite a team of wait staff available, they jump to attention when you need their service and efficiency seems to be their middle name. They understand their clientele and they answer to their customers needs by speed and more speed. Takeaway meals were flying out the doors as I sat there having my lunch and the turnover of tables would have made any Diner Dash player proud.

I’m not a regular, and it has long left my memory just how much I paid for my meals, but I remember marvelling at how reasonable the pricing was. Especially given the kind of clientele they get, they could have charged a lot more and gotten away with it. Good food, good prices, good service – what else can you ask for?

We tucked into our food eagerly, salad, pasta, risotto, pie alike were all equally tasty. I wouldn’t say that their asian-inspired risottos tasted much like what they were named after but they certainly were tasty. And when you are trying to get a bit of food into you in between meetings, tasty is more important than authenticity, in my very humble opinion!

So if you are in the area and wondering where to eat, go to Blue Moose Cafe, grab a meal and sit back and let it all flow over you. Amazing.

View Larger MapThe Blue Moose Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review: Colonel Tan’s, Prahran

Review: Colonel Tan’s, Prahran

Colonel Tan’s
(03) 9521 5985
229 Chapel Street Prahran
Prahran, 3181
Colonel Tan’s online

The blog’s been a little quiet. A little too quiet, if you ask me, but sometimes it’s hard to find time to blog. There’s just so much going on and my blogging schedule is in tatters while I’m trying to get everything under control. It’s never going to be under control so what the heck, let’s have a go at blogging.

There are many places in Melbourne that I’ve been meaning to get to. Much like blogging, it does get a little “when I have time”. Being away from Melbourne for most of the time also means that when I’m actually back in Melbourne, I cram too much in. And by cramming, I actually do mean physically cramming of food. So much eating was done in my two weeks back in Melbourne. Too much, my diet would say.

Colonel Tan’s has been on my to-go list for awhile now. I first heard of it when the housemate and I were trying to find other american diners that wasn’t Misty’s. We made an agreement that we’d go check it out as the housemate loves american diners. But it was one of those things that never got done. Then K started hanging out at Colonel Tan’s, and I wanted even more to check it out…..

I guess the important thing is that I did finally make it to Colonel Tan’s. And I wish I had a whole lot earlier. To be honest, I very nearly didn’t turn up for that dinner date because I was sick and having a sore throat and generally feeling quite ill. But I hated the idea of abandoning my friends so popped a couple of pills and headed out. And I was so, so, so glad I did.

Those chips! I had a sore throat but even I couldn’t stop eating them. I had to restrain myself so I wouldn’t end up ruining my throat more than I already did. But they were addictive and boy do I wish I had them right now. Yum. Do yourself a favour and order them when you go. You will thank me.

I’ve always liked beer. But I never drank a lot of it till I came to Murrayville. Then boy, BOY did I drink beer. Even so, being so far away from all the fancy bottle shops and what not, the beer you get up in Murrayville is crap like carlton draught. You learn to drink it and not complain about its crap-ness because if that’s all you’ve got… then that’s all you’ve got. (To be fair, we do have Cascade light and Coopers as well. But I get picked on if I drink Cascade Light up here. Hurdedum.)

Handcrafted beers is not something I’m terribly familiar with. But good beers are something I can most definitely appreciate (especially after Carlton Draught) and boy was this a good beer. I really should have picked up a six pack somewhere along the way before heading back up to Murrayville, but that’s okay. I’ll pick some up on my next trip back.

The sweet potato and cashew dumplings were sublime. I really really liked them. I can’t think of what else to tell you other than, I really liked them. It was a pity there was only enough for one each. Darn. I could have eaten a whole lot more. Definitely ordering more.

The rendang chicken curry dip with roti bread was okay. The rendang was a lot nicer than I was expecting it to be, so that was a nice surprise. But as far as blowing a person away or wowing them… this was about average.

In my opinion, this was the star of the night. The fat duck noodles kicked me straight back to nostalgia lane and the greasy goodness was just greasy enough to be delish and not overly so. Incredibly tasty, incredibly flavourful, every mouthful was a pure injection of happiness and joy into my veins. (Along with an injection of cholesterol, but let’s not think of that) Much like the dumplings, I’d have loved more. The portion wasn’t big, and we shared it out between 4 of us which was just nice but I’m being greedy and I would have liked more. More, more, more!!

This. Definitely order this if you go.

My next favourite would probably have been this. The Bangkok Bolognaise. Little surprise that my favourite dishes are of noodles, I’m noodle obsessed! Still, it was lacking a bit of wow factor. I’m still going to try it at home tho. I’m pretty sure I can come up with something with a little more zing in it.

Vegetable and Coconut Yellow Curry – mmhm. You can move along.

And lastly, The Colonel’s Five Spice Chicken with Sweet Chilli. K did warn that they are a bit inconsistent and we must have hit an off day as I was quite unimpressed by it. Tough chicken, not yummy skin. Pass.

All in all, an absolutely enjoyable experience. While some of the dishes weren’t wow, they were nonetheless of a very decent quality and coupled with the environment and atmosphere definitely puts a very different spin on the typical asian dishes that I know. Would I go again? Hell yeah. That fat duck noodle has my name all over it!

Colonel Tan's on Urbanspoon

Masterchef Finale Party! Complete with Macarons!

Okay, let’s try this blogging consistently thing again. Ever since my holiday, my blogging schedule has gone out of whack and I’ve been falling in and out of the habit. I will try harder, I promise.

Now, let’s talk about Masterchef. Even if you don’t watch it, you probably know what Masterchef is. If you still don’t know what it is, that’s alright. It’s just a reality tv cookshow that happens to broadcast during dinner time so I’ve been following it faithfully.

The Masterchef Finale was really just an excuse to have a dinner party. To make things slightly themed, we agreed that only masterchef dishes would be on the table for the night. So the night’s menu looked like this:

The guest list was filled with amazing guests. We had the beautiful Violet Le Beaux filling our house with pink and amazing macarons, along with Jimmy America who played photographer for the night and K who I’m currently missing so much, so hurry back to Melbourne, gal!

No recipes with this post, though if you went to look on the MC website, you’ll find them all there. I will be sharing the recipes later this week, but for now you get photos!

Prawn Scotch Eggs: I didn’t make the sambal that went with this, but that’s because the guests don’t eat spicy food. (Blasphemy!) Making this wasn’t quite as easy as it looked on TV, hats off to Adam!

Beef Stroganoff: Unfortunately we don’t seem to have a photo of the pasta. Next time! The stroganoff was yummy! It was my first time trying any sort of stroganoff and I was told by my housemate that this wasn’t the traditional stroganoff as this had the addition of tomato paste in it. I liked it!

We had leftover Beef Bourguignon from the previous day’s cookoff so I plated those up too. It was even nicer the next day! But not officially on the menu as Masterchef never did do beef bourguignon.

Why hello there, macaron towers! Violet and Jimmy did an amazing job with the Macarons! We had Green Tea with Pistachio ganache, raspberry with white chocolate ganache and chocolate with beuno flavoured ganache. I can’t pick a favourite! They were all so amazing.

And if the sugar high from the Macarons weren’t quite enough, have a piece of decadence: Opera Cake. I wish I had more of that cake. I really do.

I have fond memories of the night, but don’t believe me. Go check out what Violet had to say about the night. Be warned tho! There’s a really unglamorous photo of me stuffing my face with a massive wine glass. Teehee.

Recipes to follow! And are any of you planning to apply for Masterchef Season 3?