Photo Courtesy of: hinch files
MOST PEOPLE CAN’T pronounce nasturtium let alone spell it correctly.
But imagine having nasturtium leaves as a mainstay of one of your restaurant’s major, most trumpeted, dishes?
Forget wrapping Thai duck in lettuce (a treat at Riva in Melbourne) or minced pork in iceberg leaves for san choi bow.
At Moon Park they take slivers of eel and some sort of oyster froth and create a dish that is over the moon.
One of the best things you will eat. Anywhere. Any time.
That’s if you can find the place and can get your head around the fact that this is Redfern.
(I’m old enough to remember, as a young police reporter for The Sun, being reluctant to go anywhere near the suburb unless you had the coppers with you.)
Now, the gentrification of the ‘fern is so complete that the inner city suburb now has trendy cafés, coffee shops and bars (like The Bearded Tit and The Dock) and places that sell for a million dollars.
safe as houses
It’s even trendy to pick up fresh rolls from Breadfern (yep, that’s its name) and take them across the road for a picnic in Redfern Park. Safe as houses.
The other thing about finding Moon Park s that it’s upstairs behind a nondescript door that reeks of ‘Tell ‘em Joe sent you’.
And to make it harder: Even though the address says '34 Refdern Street, the nondescript entrance is on Elizabeth Street, around the corner.
Let me assure you this adventure is worth the effort for a Korean menu with attitude. And that’s a compliment.
As veteran foodie John Lethlean described the creation of Anglo-Aussie chef Ben Sears and Korean-Australian Eun Hee An:
‘Just don’t go expecting “Korean” food; not the traditional sort, anyway. Their elegant, light and subtle (sometimes too subtle) food is almost certainly unique, the result of a partnership bringing different ingredients to the table to create something wholly new. So let’s just say it has Korean leanings.’ Good description.
Our nasturtium creation was called Ssambab. Yangnum smoked eel with puffed wild rice and that oyster froth. It’s 20 out of 10.
It was followed by a refreshing kimchi -- cucumber sticks with crunchy slivers of nashi pear and a nutty seed paste.
And speaking of sticks. The cucumber was followed by this dish of crunchies which I could not have identified if shown a picture on Millionaire Hot Seat.
It’s rice. Sort of moulded around other rice. You could swear the inner texture is crab or tender calamari. It’s all rice and it was a favourite at our table.
We followed that with a crunchy-based ham hock, shiitake mushroom and potato pancake.
‘order their chicken’
I’d been told by several people -- when I mentioned I’d been recommended a night at Moon Park – that you ‘have to order their chicken’.
It’s described on the menu as ‘Fried chicken, pickled radish, soy & syrup’. It’s good, but the other exotic dishes are so good that by the time we got to it I was sort of thinking ‘ upmarket KFC’. Probably unfair but we had been spoiled.
A lot of their best dishes are under $20 but the one that actually disappointed me was one of the most expensive: Mekjok bibimbab. It was a surprisingly bland bowl of rice with pork belly, beans and garlic chive kimchi at $33.
But by then I’d had my fill anyway.
This moon is a star. We’ll be back.