8 | 4 | 1.5 | 1.5
- Modern Korean done right
- Excellent and warm service
- A well deserved One Chef Hat
- Serving sizes are relatively small (for Korean food)
- No free banchan
- Dining room makes a prison cell seem well furnished
- Bibim, Green & White Rice, Spanner Crab, Walnuts, Broccolini & Burnt Butter
- Zucchini Mussel and Prawn Pancake
TL;DR – Moon Park is the best Modern Korean restaurant on the East Coast (beating Kim Restaurant, Sydney and Bistro K, Melbourne). While the serving sizes are smaller than a traditional Korean restaurant, the food is unique and executed to perfection.
You know, I was never really a fan of Korean food. I always thought it was a rip off of Japanese food. Kimbap was sushi with ham and pickles instead of seafood. Korean BBQ was Japanese BBQ minus the melt in your mouth Wagyu. Haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) was just Okonomoyaki without the delicious sauce. You get the idea.
Things started to change when I visited Moon Park in their opening week. It’s seldom that you find a new favourite restaurant. Even more seldom do you find a restaurant that changes your perception of a cuisine as a whole. Moon Park made me realise that my mindset was completely wrong; I needed to stop comparing Korean cuisine to other cuisines, and start looking at Korean cuisine for what it was.
And what is that exactly? Korean is the ultimate in home cooking and comfort food. In other cuisines there are dishes that you see in restaurants that would never be cooked or eaten in a home (eg. Chinese people will virtually never have peking duck as part of a home cooked meal). But when you have Korean food in a restaurant, it’s all home cooking; whether it is banchan, bulgogi or bibimbap, these are regular staples of a korean household meal.
What this means is that while Korean cuisine does not offer the most technically brilliant dishes, or score particularly well on the food taste scale, it does make you feel immensely satisfied. It’s all about the feeling you get from eating the food as opposed to while eating the food.
So in modernising Korean cuisine, has Moon Park captured the “from”, the essence of what Korean food stands for? Yes, yes it has. But the best part? For the first time, Korean food now has the “while”.
Today is a sad day.
Goodbye old friend. Thanks for the memories.
Chefs Ben Sears and Eun Hee An.
Photo credit – Anna Kucera (Time Out Sydney)
Chefs Ben Sears and Eun Hee An (both ex-Claude’s) are the brains behind Moon Park, with Ned Brooks (ex-MoVida) and his beard running the floor.
Special shout-out to our sommelier Abby Meinke, who always looks after us and occasionally gives us some free food 🙂
Zucchini Mussel & Prawn Pancake – $16 (8.75/10)
I love haemul pajeon (seafood pancake), and I’ve eaten my way through Sydney’s pajeon scene. The pancake here, along with the kimchi pancake at Kozy, would be one of my favourites in Sydney.
The two things I look for in a haemul pajeon is flavour and how well it’s fried, and Moon Park succeeds on both counts. The flavour punches you in the mouth, without ever being too overwhelming; the perfect level of spice. It’s also fried well, crispy and not too doughy.
Appetisers and entrees are meant to whet your appetite for the rest of the meal, but this pancake just whets my appetite for more pancake!
Mubap – Green and White Rice, Mussels, Sweet Corn & Burnt Butter – $26 (9/10)
Balance, balance, balance.
Did I mention balance? No single ingredient or flavour dominates, and that is where its strength lies. It was like a symphony orchestra in your mouth. Layers of textures and flavours, all playing in perfect harmony. Every ingredient only adds to the symphony, take one away and the whole piece is off. If you concentrate you can hear the sound of every ingredient, but it’s best enjoyed by taking it all in. An extremely enjoyable dish.
The ingredients in the rice dish is seasonal, but I’ve been through several seasons now and every time it is spectacular. My favourite would be the spanner crab, if you’re reading this Moon Park, PLEASE bring this back!
Fried Chicken, Pickled Radish, Soy & Syrup – 4 pc/$14 (8/10)
It’s great to see that despite the witty reimagining of Korean cuisine, Korean fried chicken has not been lost in translation.
My friend, who is a fried chicken expert (even more than me), boldly declares this is the best fried chicken in Sydney. My opinion? Yes and no. The biggest downfall with Moon Park’s fried chicken is that they use cuts from the whole chicken. Get a thigh and you’re in for a good time. Get something else and you’ll likely get a somewhat dry piece of chicken, albeit, fried perfectly and seasoned.
Spanner Crab & Black Garlic on Seed Biscuit – $7.5 ea (8/10)
Photo credit – @princess_porky
I’ve been eating at Moon Park since its first week of opening. It’s always a pleasure to watch one of your favourites “blossom” into a One Chef Hat restaurant. In that time, I’ve sampled most of the many seasonal menus, and while I’ve listed my favourites above, other notable dishes include Spanner Crab & Black Garlic on Seed Biscuit (above), Dokbeokki & Peanuts (below), and Potato Pancake & Mackerel Floss.
The great thing about Moon Park is, whatever you order, chances are it will be a good dish. There is, unfortunately, always exceptions to the rule. The one and only “miss” dish I’ve encountered at Moon Park is the BBQ Rangers Valley Beef Flank, Ssamjang, Pear and Brined Leaves.
Dokbeokki & Peanuts – $6 (7.75/10).
Photo credit – @princess_porky (you should seriously follow her)
Even though Moon Park has changed the landscape of modern Korean cuisine, it has not forgotten its traditional roots; arguably this is what allows them to create so many memorable dishes. Modernising cuisines is one of the restaurant trends of the last few years and unfortunately there are a lot of restaurants that get it wrong. When modernising a cuisine, the one and only test that it must pass is this – “Would I eat this over the traditional version?”
For Moon Park, the answer would be a resounding yes.
So fellow foodies, what’s your favourite Korean restaurant?