Around 18 months ago I perched myself at a small counter in a New York restaurant. What followed was one of my top 3 meals in a year that featured meals at some of the best restaurants in New York, Sydney, Melbourne and Europe.
The setting was casual, approachable and filled with awesome music (Explosions in the Sky during dinner? Yes. Yes. Yep.); I could hear the chefs breathe; I could see the entire dish evolve from ingredient to full-form; the food was incredible; deceptively simple; spot on execution.
And then, it's in Sydney.
Seiobo launches and is a pretty similar copy of Ko, that place where I had that amazing meal.
People complain about the booking system, but it's fair. I don't have to wait months for a table; I don't have to throw out different dates; I don't have to wait on hold. It's either confirmed immediately or it's not.
The people that complain about the booking system. Is this restaurant really for them? Are they will to play by the rules of the restaurant in order to have every part of the experience controlled? Will they like the awesome music, or will it be "loud"?
My first visit left me speechless. I wasn't expecting to have such an amazing meal in my backyard. It felt like I had to travel to find food so good.
The second visit: just as good. Tweaks here and there, matching beverages changed.
It's hard to call out great dishes as there are so many. Much talking has been done of the pork bun (or is that "Pork Bun"?) but you only need to last a couple more courses before you face the excellent marron with charred white asparagus, leek and lemon. Produce shines.
Next up is the radish with the most incredible sauce of ever. Burnt watermelon, fermented blackbean, wagyu. Every sense gets swamped, then cleared by the radish. It's like that burnt edge of a roast in drink form.
Soon after, silky pasta tossed with goats cheese, chilli, pickled tomatoes, mint and fried basil. Sweet, sour, fatty, smooth, crunchy. Totally delightful.
Next up is a roasted bit of trumpeter (a fish which also features near the start) with an awesome squid ink sauce.
You know what... Just bloody well go there.
Oh, and it's easy to call out the average dishes. There are none. Every dish is at least "very good".
Matching beverages (wine, sake, beer) are all spot on from the infamous Charles Leong and the extremely likeable Rich Hargreave, and service from the whole floor is relaxed, cheery and smooth.
I think the thing with Seiobo is that it's not for everyone. The music, the booking system, the bar seating. Your grandma probably isn't going to like it. But if listening to Mobb Deep and eating pork with her hands sounds good, then Momofuku Seiobo is her fine-diner.
It's definitely my new favourite fine-dining restaurant in Sydney. And, as such, is the first to earn this rating:
RATING: Will constantly return to [?]