Moon Park

Saturday, 20 December 2014

On an unassuming corner block, fringing the dodgier end of Redfern is Moon Park. With a name like that, you probably couldn't get any more Korean if you tried. And that's the aim, to deliver a decidedly modern and refined take on Korean cuisine in the heart of Sydney. South American food and BBQ was a bit of "a thing" some years ago, now there has been a resurgence of Korean venues with Ko&Co, Kim and Danjee leading the charge. Hello, kimchee and soju!  

Sea urchin and black garlic on seed biscuit. The first morsel to land on the table - a rather beautiful amuse bouche that ticks all the boxes. Salt, texture and delicate - you must have one each!

Once you ascend the winding staircase to the first level dining room, one is met with a pared-back fit out with accents in dark timber and tables winding around the outside verandah (surprisingly noisy). It's small, cosy and has homely vibe (a.k.a. wouldn't you love this to be your dining room) which suits to a tee. The front of house staff were great and really added to how enjoyable the meal was. The overwhelming feeling of the place was of a 'calm', perhaps 'before the storm' yes but everything was handled with efficiency and a smile. What more does a diner want?    

The dynamic duo in the kitchen: Ben Sears and Eun Hee An, both of whom are alumni of Claude's Credit: Anna Kucera for Time Out Sydney

The food takes traditional Korean and elevates it with stunning results. Small share plates are the name of the game, because you'll want to try a bit of everything. If one was feeling rather indulgent, you could take on the tasting menu which is the chef's selection from the menu. Vegetarian options abound and are pretty much encouraged. Everything looks enticing, just ask for some recommendations and you probably won't be disappointed.  

Charred eggplant, egg custard, pickled garlic scape and lotus jorim (left) and cauliflower with royal pine nut sauce, ohiji and charred ssamjang (right). Every element contributes something to the dish. The egg custard was wobbly and delicious with the lotus root

Bibimbap: oxtail and rice, walnuts, kohl rabi and cured egg yolk. Perhaps one the of my favourites. Underneath the layers of garnish was a delectable mix of perfectly cooked rice and meltingly tender oxtail. I would go back for this, in a heartbeat. You can find the recipe (and all its secrets) published at Gourmet Traveller

1/2 a BBQ holmbrae duck with blood sausage, pine nut and perilla leaf kimchi. The main event, the duck was cooked slightly under, the fat not quite rendered enough. Admittedly we were in a bit of a RUSH (first world problems) so probably couldn't allow enough time for the duck to rest etc properly (all those tedious things). I am certain under other circumstances they would have nailed it

DOLCE (Sweeties)

"Moon pie": prune, muesli marshmallow, ginger jelly and white chocolate pudding. Totally winning with this one. A bit of this and that but even better when combined. The ginger jelly and white chocolate pudding were subtle in flavour and definitely not too sweet (something I greatly fear!)

Patbingsu: pear, red bean, shaved milk ice, burnt honey & bee pollen. This mushy bowl of ice is to be devoured in a matter of seconds (before it becomes a sloppy mess). A nice combination of ice and very Asian ingredients to make a refreshing palette cleanser

The quiet appreciation across the dining room, speaks volumes and the service was an absolute delight. I'm always on the look out for little restaurants like this, little gems I file away in my head. Maybe it's just me but some of the ridiculousness about securing a table for dinner these days has made me a bit non-plussed and perhaps even wary (beware the hype machine!). I just want to eat out and's really that simple! One of the lovely things about this place is its originality. Not many restaurants are delivering such unique and elegant food as this. Moon Park takes the essence of Korean food; balance of flavours, carefully thought out presentation to give us a distilled version of the original. Definitely worth a visit.

The minimalist but sleek dining room - job done. Credit: Anna Kucera for Time Out Sydney

Thanks for reading another instalment!
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