The creation of this blog – which was supposed to be nothing more than a journal of my thoughts (mainly food-focused as you can probably tell) – was merely a good idea to get experiences down so they weren’t swimming around inside my head. Recipes, restaurant/cafe reviews, product recommendations, adventures, opinions. But really, this blog is so much more than that to me. I may not be getting a million views and my words may not be heard by many, but the few who do listen make me feel just a tiny bit special. It is truly an honour to have subscribers; those magical little humans who kind of care about what I want to say.
Now that you all know about my cheesy feelings about y’all, let’s move onto what this post is really about. It’s about a recent restaurant outing which I owed to a certain friend. Bouts of unemployment can be healthy for the soul – they give you time to really think about things you hold dear to your life. One thing that always pops into my mind when I have too much time on my hands is friendship. I am constantly talking about this friend, that friend, this social outing, that brunch date. You see, when most of your extended family lives overseas, friends become your substitute family. They give you guidance, support, new perspectives, advice, knowledge and wisdom. This one’s for you soul sista – happy belated birthday Matt!
If it isn’t clear by now, I am allergic to following the crowd. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve made a conscious effort to be unlike the crowd. This is why I’m an oddball, but ‘unique’ – however overused – probably suits better. When I create posts like this about restaurant reviews I’ve seen on countless other food blogs, I sort of mope and moan a little that I’m blending in. But every now and then, I come across somewhere so spectacular it deserves a space of its own. Moon Park, in one sentence, I shall sum you up: Brilliant food, vibrant atmosphere, crummy service.
The night started off a little lopsided. I had booked a week in advance and it seemed like our table was taken by another customer. That wasn’t a worry but the service could have been a little more accommodating seeing as it wasn’t our error. The wait was not short, and there were a few hiccups from the staff. The food, however, outshone that so bad that we stopped caring and just enjoyed it for what it was in the end. We kicked the meal off with traditional Japanese umeboshu rice wine served on ice, which was refreshing, tart and with just enough kick to get your taste buds going. Birthday boy is great when it comes to menu choices so we ordered a good selection of dishes from the entrees, mains and sides to get a feel for what Moon Park is all about.
As clear from the photography on the night, the lighting was dim and moody while the minimalistic design of the black-timbered fit-out was refined and understated. It’s funny how much you can get a glimpse into the style of cooking just from the design of a space. Moon Park embodies simplicity and tradition with a modern twist on Korean classics. The first dish to arrive was the Bulgogi Ssam, Anchovy & White Cabbage ($7 each) which was constructed in an entirely unexpected way. Three thin slivers of cabbage with a small amount of rich meat and a few shavings of baby turnip. Beautiful to look at but leaves you wanting something slightly more substantial, mainly in size. Next came the Dokbeokki & Peanuts ($6) which rose way above the standard set by the beef. Visually stunning, the crispy-coated stumpy rice cakes were creamy, chewy and unbelievably addictive. Pure genius, so good.
The Zucchini Pancake & Chopped Mussel ($12) – a take on the ever-popular Korean street food Hae Mul Pa Jun was crisp on the outside with soft, sweet innards. All three of us agreed that an accompanying sauce would have made this dish complete and simply perfect. Soon after, we received the one thing we had excitedly anticipated all along: KFC – Fried Chicken, Pickled Radish, Soy & Syrup ($9). We all know that ain’t nobody got nothing on the ingenius Korean folk who created this glorious godsend in food form. The deep bowls were a snug fit for the golden-hued chicken pieces, with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds and a bit of theatre in the form of daikon radish cubes. The chicken was actually as amazing as everyone claims it to be, all crunchy outer and tender, juicy inner. Although it was pretty much perfect, the question of ‘Why is there no sauce?’ did briefly cross our minds a second time. Even a slight dash of Kewpie mayo would have been enough to satisfy saucy cravings. Our last main Geranjjim; Egg Custard, Eggplant, Lotus Root Jorim ($16) consisted of three squares of smooth custard, some braised eggplant and a slice of banchan-style lotus root, salty and rich from its slow bathe in soy broth. Again, it was very picturesque, but not as memorable as some of the standout dishes of the night.
Dessert was not even up for debate, it was a must. We went on a whim and picked the intriguingly titled “Moon Pie”: Prune, Maesli Marshmallow, Ginger Jelly, Graham Cracker & Chocolate ($14). Of course, I should have known it had to be deconstructed. This will never become a fad, will it? Ah well, it was a sweet ending to a special night – the meringue airy and light, the custard providing a balanced sweetness and the nutty crumbs a much-needed textural element to the pretty plate. Regardless, how cool would it be if we added the term ‘moon pie’ to our vocabulary? Surely if selfie is a thing, moon pie would take off too. So Matt my dear, here’s to unexpected adventures (and unplanned puns) for your future!