Strap yourself in for a creative feast of fusion flavours at Darlinghurst's sparkling new modern Asian eatery Restaurant Moon.
Taking over the old Onde spot on Liverpool Street, the restaurant has been given a monochrome makeover, punctuated by playful moonscape artworks and pendant lighting suspended from the ceiling like golden suns.
Like its contemporaries, Chin Chin and Long Chim, Restaurant Moon has moved beyond the cheap and cheerful format to create a more refined offering. In this case, it's European meets Thai with a moon dust sprinkling of molecular gastronomy.
During the day time, the lunch menu, created by ex-Longrain chef and co-owner Aum Touchpong Chancaw, is down-to-earth, with familiar noodle dishes and rice bowls served with salad. There's a hotter-than-usual pad thai ($14), made with stretchy noodles, garlic chives and crispy wok-fried egg as well as a delightful red curry with fish ($17) revealing just-cooked flesh, bathed in a kaffir-lime spiked coconut cream sauce.
However, it's the dinner menu which really launches into the stratosphere. Bone marrow ($15) gets an Asian do-over with a smear of snappy red pepper relish over the soft, gelatinous filling. Toasts are traded up for prawn crackers, with a side of lemon to cut through the richness.
If you thought that dish was daring, wait until you try the Surf and Turf ($34) a sirloin and confit baby octopus stir-fry. Like a ring around a planet, the dish sees a soft fried egg surrounded by a halo of beef strips and tender tentacles, topped with crispy holy basil leaves. Puncture the yolk and fold all the lusciousness together. A cross between a chilli basil stir-fry and a steak tartare, the flavours and textures actually come together nicely.
Desserts are inventive and visually stunning. For a refreshing finish, go the green apple sorbet with lychee granita and rosella flowers ($16), which is light, sweet and cooling to the palette. Or for those looking to end strong, there's a chocolate and charcoal sphere ($22), a silvery shimmering planet, pumped full with Thai tea mouse, lemon caramel gel and creamy nitro yoghurt.
It may not be what you're used to, but an exploration mission to Restaurant Moon is sure to be rewarded.