The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street Pyrmont, New South Wales 200902 9777 9000
|Opening hours||Mon-Thu 6.30-10pm; Fri-Sat 6pm-10pm; Sat noon-2pm|
|Features||Bar, Licensed, Accepts bookings, Accommodation, Degustation, Long lunch, Vegetarian friendly, Wheelchair access|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Chef||Paul Carmichael, David Chang|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
People who write on this page mainly about bars (such as Mary's in Newtown or Sepia's yakitori menu, see Good Food May 21 and April 23) aren't necessarily tragic booze hounds. It's just that some of the best fun food out there at the moment seems to be attached to a counter with a stool up against it and a nice person across the other side of it, surrounded by bottles.
There are some excellent and interesting bottles on the Momofuku Seiobo drinks list. There are also some healthy, interesting juices - apple and fennel, blackberry and thyme, watermelon and more - which can be matched to a full meal (about 12 dishes, $185 food only, $110 at lunch). And yes, there's some really fun food.
We know Momofuku Seiobo as the ''best new restaurant'' in The Good Food Guide 2013, propelling New York chef Dave Chang and his day-to-day man on the ground, chef de cuisine Ben Greeno, to instant three-hat status. Most people also know that you have to go online to book - welcome to the modern world, folks - and get tricky with your index finger just before 10am when a new lot of reservations appears. (You can now book up to 20 days ahead.) What a few people don't know - and, selfishly, it's a huge shame to blow their cover - is that the Momofuku crew have this fine little bar menu, available nightly and at lunch on Fridays and Saturdays, no bookings, five spots at a time, walk-ins only.
Do you need to know any more? Such as the bar menu including the legendary David Chang pork buns, which he really didn't want to put on the tasting menu here when he first opened because they were quite hard to get right with different flour and air and baking conditions. With a rather sublime balance of soft fat and soft meat, pickled cucumber, scallions and a good squirt from the Sriracha chilli sauce bottle, these spongy pouches of pillowy dough are more than just a bar snack. They make a pretty fabulous alternative to a lunchtime sambo, for a start.
And then there are Korean rice cakes (ddukbokki) - long, firm cylinders of compacted rice flour noodle. They're boiled and sometimes fried to make a Korean fast food staple that's drenched in a gloriously spicy red sauce. Here they are quickly seared on the plancha. Then drenched in a gloriously spicy red sauce, or a dense lamb-based ragu. The nutritional value may not be extremely high but the taste shoots to the top of the guilty pleasure meter. The bar menu also features a killer dish of Brussels sprouts with puffed rice, so you can quickly get your greens in, too.
So there you have it. Sound like fun? Now you know why some people who write in these pages seem to spend a lot of their time in bars.
Do … order the pork buns ($15). But we don't really have to tell you that.
Don't … over-order. Sharing two, maximum three, dishes will do it.
Dish … The brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette ($15).
Vibe … Casual, friendly, good tunes, good drinks, good food.