15 Courses at Sydney's Momofuku Seiōbo
Our insatiable reporter Matt Rodbard recently ate his way through Australia and brought back some stories about Asian food encounters he had while down under. In his first dispatch, he explained why the yum cha in Sydney is so (bleeping) good.
Even though I would eventually blow through a sizable stack of chips at a sketchy roulette table in the mammoth Star casino, and would later attempt to comfort myself by pounding a mysterious purple cocktail that gave me mile-24-of-a-marathon cramps—I still had a very, VERY LUCKY final night in Sydney.
Rewind five hours and I’m walking through a food court, past a celebrity macaron maker (wtf?) and through the iron gates of Momofuku Seiōbo, to take my seat at the counter for a 15-course fireworks display. It was Australia Day after all. “It’s a David Chang restaurant by following what the other David Chang restaurants do,” English-raised chef Ben Greeno told me during an interview the day before.
And, true, as I settled into my seat the familiar Momo-soundscape played at an enjoyably high volume: Wilco, Built To Spill, deep cuts from Midnight Vultures. So much Built To Spill. But ignoring the jams, and the counter setup—an expanded 18-seat version of NYC’s Ko—this was to be a very unique meal, with the Noma-trained Greeno running point like Jeremy Lin—knocking out dish after dish. Nothing but net.
Sea mullet with blood orange vinaigrette and nori powder. Smoked eel with artichoke and dashi. Spanner crab seasoned with an Old Bay-marmite reduction (for real) and textbook Yorkshire pudding (photo at left).
Day-caught marron tail with an artful squid ink gel (photo at left). And unless you’re up to snuff on your Melanesian seafood, much of product probably sounds a little foreign. It certainly was to me. (Marron is like lobster; spanner crab is meaty and mild and tastes like a scallop).
This is the beauty of the Seiōbo experience. It’s like Momofuku on safari, 10,000 miles removed from the mothership. And though Greeno reinforces that he’s in constant contact with Dave Chang—via email and frequent calls—you’re not going to see a soft egg with caviar on his menu. But you will find an egg custard with green tea, toasted rice and brown butter (photo at left). There’s a pork bun of course, though the bun is made in-house and thicker than the ones served in NYC.
And there’s a closing pork shoulder course, slow-roasted to a porcine candy and eaten without utensils (photo at left). Indeed, this was the closer after the cheese and two dessert courses. Pork. Over-the-top. 100% Chang. There is no doubt who writes the checks.
So now you want to visit Sydney? You must! Australia is a gastro-tourist’s dream. We asked the staff at Momofuku Seiōbo for their restaurant picks:
Su Wong Ruiz, Manager
Tan Viet for crispy skin chicken
Baxter Inn for drinks
Galuzzo's for fruits & vegetables
Richard Hargreave, Sommelier
121 BC is definitely my favorite bar. Awesome Italian wine list and [owner] Giorgio di Maria is the
most knowledgeable guy out there.
Charles Leong, Sommelier at Large
Golden Century for the best special roasted duck to date
Wine Library for the wine, snacks, and service
Lucio for the squid ink pasta and old Italian hospitality
Bondi Trattoria is a great café that's open all day, serving steak, oysters and beer. That’s all that's needed to make a Bondi man happy.
The Corner House for a casual dinner after a game of pool across the road from The Royal Pub.
Ben Greeno, Chef
Ms G's and Longrain