Critically acclaimed Korean-American chef David Chang opened up his award-winning restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, in New York in 2004 in an attempt to loosen up the city's fine dining scene with high-quality Asian food, served in a relaxed environment. Fourteen Momofuku off-shoots and ten successful years later, I think we can safely say Chang has done just that. The sixth Momofuku child and first international Momofuku restaurant, Momofuku Seiobo was opened in Sydney in 2011 at the Star Casino, a typically tourist-fuelled venue where Sydney locals venture sporadically to lay down a few chips at the casino and dine only for special occasions.
But a trip to Momofuku Seiobo can certainly be slotted in the special occasion category. Frustrating blink-and-you'll-miss-out online booking system aside, if you manage to reserve a spot for dinner at the bar-style table setting, you'll get a full-frontal view at an incredible and varied 13-course menu in a comfortable and fun environment; tunes from the Black Keys fill the kitchen and the chefs serve you up your dinner. The dinner tasting menu will set you back $185 per person (lunch is available Friday and Saturday for $110). And is it worth it? If you appreciate fresh, local and unusual produce cooked expertly in front of your eyes and plated with awe-inspiring, creative flair, then yes, it most definitely is.
British chef Ben Greeno heads the kitchen, creating a Modern Australian-esque menu with a whacky twist of Momofuku personality. Think deep-fried chickens tail (parsons nose) with fish roe, or cheese on crackers, but with the freshest Australian cheeses and sweet and crumbly homemade crackers.
The tasting menu changes depending on season, but recent plates have included abalone on a celeriac base with a crushed almond side; a moreish and rich blood pudding dish, coated in a cloud of sliced mushrooms; and, of course, Chang's famous pork buns, a tender piece of pork belly stuffed in a doughy, soft bun with a mini Sriracha-style bottle ready for dousing.
Unlike most degustation dinners, it's not a pea-sized meal plated up in front of you, but quite a decent portion (considering there's 13 of them). The final course is caramelised pork shoulder, served after dessert, as a sweet and meaty end to a consistently out-of-the-ordinary dinner.
If you go the full drinks pairing ($105), the list is hand-picked depending on the tasting menu and delivered by the expert sommelier (and the only one I've ever met who wears sneakers and jeans to work). This includes everything from French bubbles with your canapes to a gutsy Italian red with your mains, plus a variety of sakes in between. It's worth the dollars as these aren't easy-to-find drops and complement each dish perfectly. If you aren't up to a boozy night, you can choose a fresh juice pairing ($60) or take a look at the drinks menu for a glass by glass decision.
This three-hat dining experience has won a slew of awards since opening, bolstered by Chang's growing fame and the Momofuku Group's influence around the world. So put your Blackjack money back in your wallet and save it for a fantastic night of unconventional eating at Momofuku Seiobo.