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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!