Momofuku Seiobo, the first overseas outpost of Momofuku is closing on Saturday, the 26th of June, 2021 and from now until then diners can book in for a final taste of chef Paul Carmichael's incredible 7 course Caribbean menu.
Two weeks ago I visited Momofuku Seiobo for my birthday dinner with Monica. She had snagged tickets in the lottery and this dinner was my delicious birthday gift. I was lucky enough to celebrate another birthday at Momofuku in 2013.
The menu has changed over the years and Paul Carmichael has been the Executive Chef since 2015. Paul is from Barbados and his food has had Sydneysiders falling in love with Caribbean cuisine, a cuisine that is very underrepresented in Australia.
For the final bow sessions, the set menu consists of 7 courses for $250 per person. And even if you don't have a booking, it's worth putting yourself on the wait list (Monica received almost a dozen notifications that tables had become available).
Prior to our arrival, they had sent her a little questionnaire asking about how she wanted her experience to be. They asked her questions about whether we would prefer to be left alone, whether we wanted a low key night or whether we wanted the whole experience to be as they intended. We start with drinks: a Negroni for Monica and a white tea kombucha flavoured with pineapple and all spice for me.
Our seating was at 8:30pm and Monica is usually in bed by 10pm and I have usually eaten by 6pm so we are both eager to get started. And they begin the meal with a bang: the seafood tower.
The three tier tower starts with the bottom layer of "Chow" made of green papaya with super fine and crispy deep fried potato shards as fine as vermicelli with pearls of salmon roe. Chow is a traditional Trinidadian snack made with green fruit, garlic, lime and chadon beni (similar to coriander). The Chow here is to be eaten with the warm "Buss Up Shut" Trinidadian buttery roti. Buss up Shut refers to a tattered and torn up shirt in the same way that the roti is tattered and torn. In my haste to eat I almost forget to savour but hold myself back and enjoy the crispy textures and buttery roti.
On the plate with the roti there's Solomon Gundy which is a Trinidadian pickled white fish pâté and crisp cassava shell with caramelised toffee that is wonderfully creamy and crunchy in one petite bite.
The second layer has an oyster with a guava mignonette with a delightful and unexpected fizziness to it. My favourite bite is the XL pippies with plantain and miso salt cod that delivers a flavour sensation in one neat bite.
The top layer is their version of Jamaica peppa shrimp. In this case it's Peppa marron from Western Australia with a confit of habanero chillies. This is so luscious as it's gently cooked so that it is other worldly tender and spicy in every bite. And thankfully there are two just because one just simply is not enough.
Our next course is a little bonus course. It's their version of a "Duncana", a Saint Lucia dumpling. On the bottom is a raisin and sweet potato dumpling all sticky and lightly sweet and then on top is a banana leaf foam with the most divine salt cod XO sauce. This is one of our favourite courses, the XO pitch and quantity perfect with that tasty little dumpling hidden below.
The only course that neither of us really went for was the Stirling Caviar with a fermented pineapple syrup and rum sabayon. The rum was very punchy, perhaps too punchy and it was a sweet course, almost as sweet as dessert.
The Kalalou Diri is an okra rice from Haiti, aka Haitian gumbo. Historically Haitians brought this dish over to New Orleans, Louisiana where it became gumbo. This is an intensely flavoured dish with rice at the bottom and a dark, rich okra sauce on top.
They explain that the Jamaican patty is usually served in coconut bread (coconut bread? Book me a ticket to Jamaica please!). This one is filled with beef brisket, abalone and bone marrow in a curry puff-style turmeric puff pastry. It is so luscious and buttery crispy that I'm glad that it comes out so hot so I could count exactly 20 silent bites interspersed by moaning to eat this. "What can I slip you to get another?" I ask as they clear away the plates. "Make another booking" says our waiter, probably used to the begging.
The pudding and souse might sound like a sweet course but this is pure ceviche vibes. Pudding and Souse is a Barbadian dish made with sweet potato, black pepper, onion, cucumber and coriander and squid cut so that resembles rice. It's so light and refreshing and the perfect course to follow to the rich Jamaican patty. Another favourite course.
By now I'm completely stuffed and fortuitously the meat course rolls. This is a David Blackmore Karubi (boneless short rib) plate with beef smoked in jerk leaves with a jerk oxtail reduction. This is paired with Pickliz or Haitian pickles that are 7 day fermented cabbage and carrot pickles and a bowl of braised cavolo nero. The beef is sweet and smoky and cut very thin so you can go slow and savour every bite. I don't even think it needs the cavolo nero, just the beef and the spicy pickles will do me just fine.
Then come all the dessert courses and our stomachs magically reset for dessert. The hummingbird cake is an all spice sponge with banana curd, pineapple jam and unsweetened mascarpone cream. It is downy soft in texture with freshness and tanginess from the banana curd.
The comes the second dessert course which is a Cucuricho from Baracoa in Cuba. This is a banana leaf wrapped coconut dessert which is an ode to coconut. There's grated coconut cooked with coconut water that has been cooked down from 1 litre to 250ml, caramelised coconut cream and coconut sugar. What results is this intensely coconut flavoured sweet dessert. This is served with nutmeg ice cream scooped at the table with freshly grated nutmeg on top.
Because it is my birthday I am lucky enough to get a bonus dessert course and it comes with a birthday card signed by the staff which is such a lovely, thoughtful gift. It's a frozen banoffee pie with a torched meringue outer that just melts in the mouth.
The menu comes at the end detailing the main dishes with the flags of the Caribbean countries that they come from. There's also a packet of Hibiscus house tea which they recommend sweetening. I make a pot of it once I get home and sweeten it with honey. A great birthday dinner indeed.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you been to Momofuku Seiobo? When you hear that a favourite restaurant is closing down do you try to visit before they do? And have you tried much Caribbean food?
This meal was independently paid for.
Wednesday to Saturday 5:45–8:30pm
Sunday to Tuesday closed
Phone: (02) 9657 9169