A near-faultless small 20-seat cocktail bar from the team behind KOI Dessert Bar.
Having already seduced us with their magnificent sugary creations, everyone's favourite culinary brothers (Reynold, Ronald, and Arnold Poernomo) have moved on to the next vice: alcohol. The trio is shaking up the Sydney cocktail scene with a cheeky new Japanese bar called Monkey's Corner, right next to its dessert bar KOI in Chippendale.
In the spirit of all things Japanese, the heritage-listed terrace venue is teeny tiny, with just ten seats inside and ten seats outside. The interiors are minimalist in style, with blond wood furniture and a miniature bar about the size of a kitchen island. Due to heritage restrictions, the trio are not allowed to actually cook in the kitchen. Food can only be steamed or served raw as no frying or grilling is permitted. But thanks to a trusty blowtorch and some clever culinary technique, you won't even notice — it's just another reason to be impressed by the trio.
Monkey's Corner serves up a short, one-page menu, which consists of small Japanese plates designed for sharing. From the 15 dishes on offer, you won't want to miss the rice bowl spread with spicy trout belly paste ($13.50) and the white sesame-washed cucumber salad ($8) topped with crunchy furikake seasoning. Think of it as a fresh take on seaweed salad.
There are lots of options for foodies, including eggshells filled with savoury egg custard (also known as chawanmushi), raw sea urchin and fish roe ($7.50), whipped smoked eel on toast (13.50) and a melt-in-your-mouth ox tongue dressed in beef fat, lime and chives ($14.50). The ox tongue has been macerated in fat which has removed any of the usual unpleasant chewiness. If you thought you hated tongue, prepare to be tongue-tied.
There's just one option for dessert — and it's a good one. Courtesy of KOI next door comes the KOI bobba ($13.50), a masterwork of Thai tea cream with tapioca pearls, hazelnut sponge, freeze-dried mandarin and salted coconut ice cream. It's not just the flavours that will win you over — it's the gradation of soft textures and interesting mouthfeels that put this dish up with some of Sydney's best. If Matt, Gary and George were squished into a corner, you can bet they'd be holding up a 10/10 scorecard.
Drinks also form an integral part of Monkey's Corner, with the bar serving up an extensive selection of boutique Japanese spirits, beer, wine and sake — but it's the inventive Japanese-inspired cocktails that are sure to pique your interest. All eight options are tempting, from the pandan ginger pisco sour ($19) to the rum-based lychee and rose martini ($19) and the Hawaiian old-fashioned ($19) made with fat-washed rum, pineapple and clove. There are so many excellent options, we suggest you go bananas.