What can I say? Dinner at Momofuku Seiõbo for my birthday was hands down the best present I could have received. Well, except for this chocolate tree, but you know, different. I’m a big fan of the Momofuku brand. I’ve done my little write up about the Momofuku trifecta (I’m yet to go to Má Pêche) and my big write up about Momofuku Ko (there’s no other way to do it really, for a meal that changed my perception on creativity and “orgasmic” coupled with an irritating no-photo policy).
All I can say is… thank goodness Seiõbo allowed photos.
My evening started off wonderfully. Firstly, it was unseasonably warm on Wednesday evening (26 degrees) allowing me to wear a dress. It isn’t so much that I wanted to look pretty, but more so that I had some leeway for my waist. Those jeans, they get a little tight after a 3 course meal, let alone this crazy 14 course degustation we were embarking on.
Secondly, upon arrival, the sommelier brings out four glasses of bubbly for us, courtesy of executive chef, Ben Greeno. Ben Greeno! He’s like, my hero, y’all. So, that is all. My perfect night is pretty much sealed.
But wait it gets better. After bringing out a snacking plate of wondrous things such as yuzu with nori cracker, dried pig’s blood, smoked brandade with smoked eel & apple jelly, and shiitake stuffed mochi, one of my all time favourite things was placed in front of me. The Momofuku pork bun.
Oh yes. And it was every bit as exquisite as I remembered.
steamed pork bun with cucumber and hoisin sauce
The courses came perfectly timed, the kitchen once again working in perfect harmony the way they did at Ko. I guess serving all guests the exact same thing makes organisation a lot easier, but I just loved the way they all worked together; someone would place the scallop on the shell, someone else would dress it, someone finished the job. It was melodic. Peaceful.
raw scallop with dehydrated roe and rhubarb juice
The raw scallops were fresh and light, contrasted against the richness of the dehydrated roe. A perfect match to the sweet and savoury of the pork bun.
roasted marron with zucchini and black garlic
One of my favourites of the night, the roasted marron with zucchini and black garlic. Not much to explain – it is what you see, and what you see is all delicious.
radishes with fermented black bean and wagyu beef
The most delicately plated radish salad I’ve ever laid eyes on. We were all excited about the copious truffle atop the radish, until we were told it was fermented black bean instead. Beneath the pretty radish were tiny cubes of wagyu beef. Good, but not great – I would have preferred more beef, less radish but hey. I’m greedy.
potatoes with grated bottarga (sea mullet), watercress and quandong (native Australian citrus fruit) peel
Another pretty dish, but not a favourite. The potatoes were cooked amazingly well – super crispy on the outside with creamy smooth innards. The grated bottarga, watercress and quandong were all complementary but not outstanding.
roasted quail with hazelnuts, caramelised yoghurt and cauliflower
Another favourite and you can’t even see it! Underneath the blanket of pickled daikon were three small pieces of roasted quail breast, seared to cripsy-skin perfection! The caramelised yoghurt was different but I thought it was very tasty. My friend on the other hand could not rationalise warm yoghurt with his brain.
congee with serrano ham, cured egg yolk, fried bread and earl grey tea
Good ol’ Chinese food. Wonder what my dad would say about this? Modernised congee, served with bits of serrano ham, a sheet of cured egg yolk and fried bread, in a sea of earl grey tea. Creative, delicious, genius.
steamed pink snapper, shaved periwinkle (sea snail), young garlic purée, chrysanthemum
Another favourite! (Yes I have a few favourites.) I cook fish a lot. A lot. And I’ve never cooked fish this good. I’m sure it’s all in the temperature and timing but wow, the texture of the snapper was incredible. Firm but delicate and incredibly sweet. The chrysanthemum tasted a bit like grass at the beginning but it grew on me and together with the shaved periwinkle, this dish was awesome.
deep fried beef short rib with burnt egg plant, white sesame and kombu (seaweed) purée
After the snapper I said to Panu I was full. Until I saw what was next. Deep fried beef short rib (!!!) with amazing marbling (which you can just see if you squint real well)… the white sesame dressing was insane. This whole thing was insane; suddenly I felt like I could eat about five more courses (of this).
unpasteurised cheese (C2), cider jelly, honeycomb & star anise
And then I took a bathroom break and lost my game. Our cheese course came out and I started eating before taking a photo! I know! What The Hell?! Anyway, this is what it looked like after I’d smashed the honeycomb into the cheese. This was ok, but I’m still on my journey to learning how to love cheese in all its brilliance.
passionfruit meringue with blueberry sorbet and caramelised white chocolate
The star of this dish is a little camera shy. Tart blueberry sorbet, paired with super sweet meringue and caramelised white chocolate. Divine.
potato ice cream with muntries (native apple) and crispy potato
Another moment of creative genius. Potato ice cream, seriously smooth and deeply savoury in the salted caramel way. Urgh, so so so good. I would buy a tub of this any day.
After this course, they didn’t bring out any further cutlery. We thought we were done. And then…
caramelised pork shoulder
Sous chef, Clayton Wells, brings out this itty bitty piece of caramelised pork shoulder and says yup, everyone always thinks they’re done but this one you eat with your fingers. I know it’s weird to have a savoury after dessert but somehow it worked. It brought the meal a full 360. The caramelised pork shoulder, by the way, is exquisite. Tender, sweet, smoky. Heaven.
And that, my friends, was my marathon meal at Momofuku Seiõbo. At $175 per person, I know it’s not an every day meal but I thought it was $175 well spent. The atmosphere was fresh and comfortable, yet appropriately formal; the service was second to none; the food was creative, delicious, inspiring… I loved it. If you compare this to say, Tetsuya’s $210 degustation, it’s a no brainer which one I would pick any day.
The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont, NSW, 2009