There's an easy way to score a seat at Sydney's Momofuku Seiobo restaurant. Stroll in and pull up a seat at the bar. There's no need to make a booking. Just five seats line the bar, offering patrons the chance to eat and drink as little or as much as they please. You can slip in any time Monday to Friday night. And why wouldn't you when there are chicken skin tacos on the menu. Oh. Did that get your attention?
Bar seating at Momofuku Seiobo
I'd been keen to revisit Momofuku Seiobo after last dining there in 2013. Since then, Paul Carmichael from Momofuku's Ma Peche in New York has taken over from Ben Greeno (snapped up by Merivale to head up The Paddington), quietly peppering the menu with his own Barbados-born flair.
Skin contact Franco Terpin 'Quinto Quarto' pinot grigio $45 for 375ml
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy
Admittedly there's not a whole lot to look at from our vantage point at the bar. Unlike the counter seating in the main dining area which offers you a birds eye view of the kitchen, the most action you'll find in the bar area is enthusiastic glass polishing and the occasional ladder to reach a bottle of wine from the top shelf.
We don't find the bar staff particularly chatty either, even when we seek recommendations on specific sakes. Sitting at the bar does guarantee you'll get your drinks quickly. We started with a skin contact pinot grigio, served in a carafe that looks just like a glass penguin.
Snapper ceviche with macadamia and jalapeno $14
The bar menu is a short and sweet listing of five savoury dishes and one dessert. We order all of them of course. The snapper ceviche is a refreshing way to start, sweet curls of marinated snapper set atop a lake of macadamia cream. Thin slices of jalapeno provide a gentle kick.
Crab, chicken and thousand island $18
The crab, chicken and thousand island looks like a taco but is actually more of a crackling sandwich. You cannot eat this without making a mess but that's half the fun. Long and thin shards of chicken skin crackling are used to sandwich a filling of handpicked crab mixed with thousand island dressing. It's sweet and creamy, crunchy and salty, and so darned delicious you'll immediately want to order another one. Or two.
Snapper fish head $18
We're told of one off-menu item: the snapper fish head. We snap it up. Pronto. This is incredibly tasty, the fish slathered generously with coconut milk, chilli, tumeric and onion. It's the kind of dish you could imagine Carmichael might have grown up with. We strip the bones clean, savouring every last bit of caramelised and spiced up flesh.
Busted roti $8
Roti might seem like a strange thing to serve in a high end restaurant, but roti is hugely popular across the Caribbean. In Trinidad, they call it "buss-up shut" because it looks more like a busted up, or torn up shirt.
Here, the busted roti is a scrunched up flatbread of supreme crunch. The entire surface area is crisp so you get a satisfying crack with every bite. I don't know how much butter or oil is used on this, but trust me, it's worth it. We ordered two serves and the roti still retained its crunch after 15 minutes.
Waldorf salad, blue cheese and grape $12
The kitchen had sent out the snapper and roti head to eat as a pair. Next we have waldorf salad and the Kurobuta pork chop matched together. Each combo works perfectly.
The waldorf salad is a reminder of how good this salad can be, not so heavy on the mayo but more of a light and refreshing assembly of crisp baby cos and apple covered in a cloud of grated cheese. The blue cheese in the dressing is subtle. Walnuts and halved grapes add textural interest.
Kurobuta pork chop, jerk and burnt lime $42
The Kurobuta pork chop is everything that is good about pork. It's succulent and juicy with the fatty edges charred to a blackened sweetness. The meat is cooked perfectly. There's a terrific hit of cinnamon and all spice in the jerk rub. Squeezing over the burnt lime adds an extra caramelised tang.
Coconut turnover $12
We're warned that the coconut turnover will take 20 minutes but there are no arguments when it arrives fresh from the oven.
Inside the coconut turnover
The coconut turnover is a loaf of dough rolled up with fresh coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg and demerara sugar. It's a typical Barbadian dessert that reminds me a little of a Chinese cocktail bun. The version at Momofuku Seiobo is made even more luxe with the addition of a coconut cream cheese icing.
Usually coconut turnovers are sized for one, but the one here is so large we easily share it between three people.
Nori caramel popcorn
As we mull over the last of our wines, the kitchen sends out a complimentary serve of their nori caramel popcorn. It's a sweet and salty combo that proves incredibly addictive. The caramel has a salty tinge and the inclusion of seaweed mellows out the overall sweetness.
Our favourite dishes of the evening were definitely the Barbadian ones. The snapper fish head, that juicy pork and the busted roti are all winners. Feel like taking a punt? Trying to score a seat at the bar might be your best bet yet.
Head chef Paul Carmichael alongside sous chef Cian Mulholland
Momofuku Seiobo at the Star
80 Pyrmont Street, Sydney
Bar Monday to Friday 6pm-10pm
Lunch Saturday 12pm-2pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 6pm-10pm
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Momofuku Seiobo, Pyrmont (full degustation 2013)
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12/04/2016 01:00:00 pm