80 Pyrmont Street Level G
Sydney, NSW 2009
First stop on our Sydney weekend was the bar at Momofuku Seiōbo. Of course I was aware of David Chang's Momofuku and its various incarnations and offshoots - the New York restaurants, the Milk Bar bakery, Lucky Peach magazine, the cookbooks, the Crack Pie, the famous pork bun - but prior to this, I'd never actually eaten, read, cooked or experienced anything Momofuku.
Momofuku Seiōbo only offers a "constantly-changing" set menu, and whilst I was totally keen to try out the restaurant, I didn't really want to lock myself into a $175 thirteen-course dinner, especially as we weren't going to get to the restaurant until about 8:30, dependent on flights and traffic. I must admit I was also put off by the difficult booking system - basically you have to book online, and you can only book ten days in advance. (Kinda like buying concert tickets - see their website for more details.) I also instinctively shy away from restaurants that are even remotely hyped up - and I guess you can't really get more hypey than "Australia's Hottest Restaurant"!
However, in my pre-trip online research, I saw the below paragraph on the Momofuku Seiōbo website...
from 7pm–10:30pm monday-saturday, and 12:15pm—2:30pm friday and saturday, we offer a limited bar menu at our 5-seat bar (walk-ins only). the bar menu, different from the tasting menu, ranges from AUD$4-25 and features snacks that we like to eat while drinking.
... and thought it would be a good way to dip my toes, cautiously, into the Momofuku waters.
Aside from that paragraph on their website, I struggled to find any other info or impressions of the bar at all - the bar menu isn't online, and everyone I know who's been has gone for the full set menu (see I-Hua and Sofia's blogs for two great blog posts!) So I was a little nervous selecting the bar as our location for our Friday night dinner, especially as I was bringing An and Sandra along with me. Would we be able to get a seat? Would the food be in tiny, expensive, portions? Would the staff be too-cool-for-school and / or militantly enforcing all the restaurant's rules?
You know what? I needn't have worried. It was easy to get a spot at the bar, the food was good (and filling!), and the staff were chilled out and friendly. Phew!
When we arrived at about 8:30 on a Friday night, there was only one seat (out of five) free at the bar, but we were told we were welcome to stand, which we were happy to. And when the couple next to us finished up, we moved into their seats. Too easy!
Here's what the restaurant looks like - despite the dark and grey colours, and all the hard surfaces, the effect was warm and it didn't get too loud during the evening.
|The dining space|
The food just seemed to come when it was ready, brought out by the chefs themselves.
|Beef cheek buns - $16 per serve (2 serves pictured, 2 buns per serve)|
|Confit chicken wings - $16|
|Fried brussel sprouts, fish sauce vinaigrette - $15|
|Spanner crab roll, celery salt chip - $22|
|Pork buns - $15 for two (2 serves pictured, 2 buns per serve)|
|Spicy roasted rice cakes, tripe - $17|
So, for all my initial trepidation, we really enjoyed the Momofuku bar. I loved the food, loved the ambiance, loved the service. I hear through the grapevine that the staff do enforce the rules (mainly: no flash photography and no phone calls inside the restaurant), but I can't stand flash photography or noisy phone calls in restaurants, so I think this is a Very Good Thing. Besides, all the rules seem to be in place to try and ensure that the system is fair and that everyone can have a pleasant time, rather than to enforce some kind of faux-exclusivity. Dinner at the bar was definitely on the pricey side - $142 for the three of us, including only one drink - but the food was all made from high quality ingredients, prepared in unusual and exciting ways, and crucially, we got a good feed and left full. Based on our experience at the bar, I think it'll definitely be worth it to brave the online reservation system and go the full thirteen courses on our next trip to Sydney!
This is the second post in my 2012 Sydney Trip series.