Momofuku Seiobo is closing. After almost 10 years of pork buns, live marron and Caribbean cooking at the highest level, the Sydney restaurant will serve its last tasting menu on June 26.
"This isn't a sad ending," said general manager Kylie Javier Ashton in a social media post on Monday.
"The goal was always to create a sustainable restaurant post-pandemic, which is exactly what we rebuilt. When our lease was up for renewal, we realised that the most sustainable thing we could do was to finish our time on top."
The hatted restaurant opened at The Star in 2011 as the first venue outside of New York for American chef David Chang's Momofuku empire.
With its theatre-style counter-seating, left-field wines and high-impact food, it immediately became the most exciting fine diner in Australia. There was no Coldplay or Kind of Blue on the playlist; this was a place cranking Pavement and AC/DC album tracks.
"When our lease was up for renewal, we realised that the most sustainable thing we could do was to finish our time on top."
Seiobo's first executive chef, Ben Greeno, left the restaurant in 2015 to open The Paddington with Merivale hospitality group.
Soon after Greeno's departure, Barbados-born Paul Carmichael – then executive chef of New York's Momofuku Ma Peche – relocated to Sydney to lead the Seibo kitchen and introduce diners to Caribbean cooking rarely, if ever, seen in Australia.
A Momofuku Seiobo dish of military snail, escabeche and plantain. Photo: Edwina Pickles
"I don't know anybody else cooking food like this, at this level," wrote The Sydney Morning Herald chief restaurant critic Terry Durack in a 2017 Seiobo review, referencing Carmichael's $185-a-head tasting menu that included cassava gnocchi, snail-filled plantains and banana leaf ice-cream.
"It was always going to be a gamble moving to the other side of the world, especially to an established restaurant like Seiobo where they had already achieved so much," said Carmichael in a statement.
"It was an even bigger gamble to throw caution to the wind and cook the food I have always wanted to – the food of my heritage, Caribbean food. The Sydney hospitality industry has welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home while our guests and regulars have allowed me to cook from my heart.
Chef Paul Carmichael relocated to Sydney in 2015 to cook at Momofuku Seiobo. Photo: Edwina Pickles
"I am extremely humbled that so many have embraced our restaurant and I want to say a big thank you to all of you who have shared your time with us. Through the freedom I was given at Seiobo, I was able to see what was possible. Now I can walk away knowing that nothing is impossible."
Momofuku Seiobo will continue to trade for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday with seatings at 5:45pm and 8:30pm until its final service on June 26. By 16th March all bookings were taken, according to their Instagram post, but keen diners can still hope for cancellations.