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!

Bake-alicious Bakeries: Bourke Street Bakery in Surry Hills and Flour and Stone in Woolloomooloo, Sydney.

Bake-alicious Bakeries: Bourke Street Bakery in Surry Hills and Flour and Stone in Woolloomooloo, Sydney.

I’ve long wanted to go to Bourke Street Bakery. For too long, I have drooled over their gorgeous book. I nearly made it there last year, but a mishap with some Zumbo goodies saw me sitting in a corner of a random Maccas, too depressed to go on flying solo in Sydney. This year, I was determined to actually get there.

I very nearly didn’t make it again. I got there on an exceptionally hot Friday, sweaty and grumpy, only to find out that they only accepted cash payments of which I had none. Too hot and too bothered to go looking for an ATM, I ended up across the street at The Book Kitchen for lunch instead. Just as well, as I fell in love with The Book Kitchen, but it meant that my quest for Bourke St bakery was still unfulfilled.

Fast forward a few more days and Tuesday saw me once again standing outside of Bourke St Bakery. This time, I had cash with me and I was determined to get myself some of these goodies. I stepped into the tiny interior, took in the gorgeous smells and smiled a tad crazily at the boy across the counter. My pointing finger came out and soon it was a flurry of points as I listed out my order without taking a breath. Despite knowing that our mode of transport for the day would be mainly walking, I still threw caution to the winds and added the gorgeous lemon curd tarts and ginger brulee tarts to my order.

It was a busy day of running between appointments but I could wait no longer. In the middle of Rozelle, I sat myself down on a bench at a bus stop and inhaled my tarts and all its tarty goodness. The pastry was perfection, crumbly and buttery. We marvelled at the fact that despite it containing rather moist elements such as lemon curd and custard, the pastry still remained beautifully crumbly and not in the least soggy. We ooh-ahhed over the gorgeous ginger brulee tart and if it were not for the fact that I was in the middle of Rozelle and not Surry Hills, I’d have marched right back into Bourke St Bakery and bought myself more of these little sweet treats. Later on, we also tried the chocolate croissant (which we didn’t like quite as much, more because we don’t much like chocolate and croissants together than through any fault of the bakery) and also the most delicious and tasty Macadamia and Sticky Nuts bun. (Bun of some sort, I have no idea, I forgot to take a photo of the name!)

Would I go back again? Definitely! There are lines, and queues that stretch out the door and into the street, but is it worth it? Oh yes.

Bourke Street Bakery (Web)
02 9699 1011
633 Bourke St
Surry Hills, NSW 2010

Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Instagram and Twitter are wonderful things. If not for them, I would not have seen the number of people who were spazzing out about Flour and Stone. It’s really not very far from Bourke St Bakery though it’s far enough for them to qualify as being in a different suburb altogether. On our last day, we bundled our luggages into a cab and made a quick pitstop here before heading off the airport. Our taxi driver even asked us why we made such a special pit stop!

Why indeed.

Flour and Stone isn’t very big. It is a touch bigger than Bourke St Bakery, which means that should you choose to stay and munch on the yummy offerings, you are able to have a table indoors amongst the good smells rather than being out on the sidewalk. The glass display cases are laden with goodies and I stood for the longest time agonizing over which to pick, my task made even more worse by the knowledge that every minute I took to think was another minute on the taxi meter that was running outside.

The pointing finger came out and I pointed to this, this, this, and that, that, that. With my previous mishap with Zumbo’s creations in mind, I also asked which of their goodies would travel well. Once determining that we were one step away from boarding our flight out of Sydney, the very adorable ladies at Flour & Stone then packed everything up in the most secure fashion ever and this was proven when all my goodies got to Adelaide unharmed and very much intact. (Other than the lamington, that got eaten on the way.)

I didn’t know it’d be possible, but I believe Flour & Stone actually blew me away even more than Bourke St Bakery did. I am seriously in love with the Salted Caramel Tart and I’d marry it if I could, only so I could not-so-subtly eat it every night in bed. The amazing pastry, paired with the beautiful salted caramel and topped with what tasted like malt (I say malt, the boy say not. Sigh.) made for an amazing combination and I desperately wished past me had the foresight to buy more than one slices. Sadly, past me didn’t. So I had to share the one lonely slice with the boy and tears may or may not have been shed.

If you like baked goods, pastries and gorgeous afternoon treats, then Bourke St Bakery and Flour and Stone are both bakeries you should hit up. Both have beautiful pastries and there is no way I will be able to pick a favourite. So I strongly suggest you check both out, and spend some time in their bakeries to really take in the sights and smells. For there is nothing more beautiful than baked yummies and a never ending passion for good food.

Flour and Stone (Web)
02 8068 8818
53 Riley Street
Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011

Flour and Stone on Urbanspoon