Address: 34 Redfern Street, Sydney (Corner of Redfern Street and Elizabeth Street)
Opening hours: Dinner 5:30pm – late Tuesday – Saturday, Lunch Sunday 12pm-3pm
In Sydney, there are an abundance of Asian fusion restaurants to be discovered. Despite this, there is a surprising lack of fusion Korean restaurants. Moon Park is a contemporary Korean restaurant that opened in late 2013 and adds to the current market of Korean cuisine available in Sydney. S had expressed a desire to go, so C and I decided to take her to Moon Park for dinner recently.
We walked to Moon Park from Redfern Station. It was a short walk of about 10 minutes. The restaurant was quite easy to find, as it was situated at the corner of Redfern Street and Elizabeth Street. Once we came in, we were given a warm welcome by the staff and shown to our table. I had made a reservation online using Dimmi, and had had previous qualms about using online bookings, but everything at Moon Park went seamlessly.
The waitress that served us was very lovely and warm, and happy to make recommendations for us. We decided on the Cucumber Kimchi ($6) and the Ddeokbokki ($6) for entrees. After ordering, our waitress brought us complimentary Korean rice crackers with thyme salt. The rice crackers were a modern take on traditional rice crackers, and were light and crisp. Lightly seasoned with thyme salt, they were very tasty and were gone within seconds.
The Cucumber Kimchi with Fresh Nashi and Perilla consisted of sliced cucumber pieces served with nashi pear and perilla herbs. I was initially surprised as the name had led me to believe that the entree would feature kimchi as the main element, but there was no kimchi included. Instead, the kimchi element of this dish referred to the Korean red pepper seasoning ‘gochujang’. The cool cucumber and nashi pear slices provided contrast to the heat of the gochujang. It was a very refreshing dish to start with.
Ddeokbokki is a traditional Korean rice cake that is usually heavily seasoned with gochujang, and sometimes cheese. Moon Park’s take on Ddeokbokki was an understated version of its traditional counterpart. The rice cakes were coated in crushed peanuts and very lightly garnished with gochujang. The texture of the ddeokbokki was very chewy. The crushed peanuts added a crunchy contrast to the soft chewiness of the rice cakes. Overall, I found them quite pleasant to eat, and a nice adaptation of the traditional Korean dish.
Bibimbap is a traditional dish of rice with vegetables, salads, and some kind of meat. Although beef is most commonly used, any kind of meat can be substituted. The rice and meat mixture is topped with a cooked or raw egg and mixed with gochujang. At Moon Park, the bibimbap is made with green and white rice, spanner crab, walnuts, kohlrabi, and cured egg yolk. We were given a small side dish of gochujang to mix with the bibimbap. The spanner crab was fresh and paired well with the creamy cured egg yolk. The pieces of rice were cooked well and made the dish excellent. I find that with traditional bibimbap the gochujang overpowers the other elements of the dish. Unlike that, Moon Park’s bibimbap had subtle flavours that were accentuated by the gochujang and elements which worked well together. I would definitely return to Moon Park just for their bibimbap- it was that good.
I don’t believe the Charcoal Stained John Dory ($28) has a traditional Korean counterpart. The fish was cooked over charcoal and served with toasted barley in a broth of dried fishes. Some elements of it sounded like Korean elements with a modern Australian twist. The fish was tender with a smoky flavour. The toasted barley was light and also had a slight smoky flavour. The broth was slightly salty but this was to be expected for a broth of dried fish.
Our last savoury dish of the evening was the Shrimp Brined Fried Chicken with Soy and Syrup ($20). Korean fried chicken is one of my favourite indulgences, so I’m extra sensitive to any flaws in the chicken. However, the Shrimp Brined Fried Chicken had none. The exterior of the chicken was deep fried and crisped to perfection, while the insides of the chicken remained soft and succulent. The sweet sauce that the chicken was lightly garnished with was the perfect combination, contrasting with the slightly sour taste of the radish.
After dinner, we decided to have dessert. Initially we had thought about just getting one dessert, but our lovely waitress informed us that one dessert shared amongst three people would be no more than a few mouthfuls. We settled upon the ‘Moon Pie’ ($14) and the Patbingsu ($14).
Sticking to tradition, the Patbingsu had a heap of shaved ice that had a very subtle brown rice flavour. The brown sugar ice cream was also flavoured very subtly, and had a mild sweetness. The hard texture of the pear stood out in the dish. Sujunggwha- a traditional Korean fruit syrup flavoured with ginger and cinnamon, added some different flavours to the Patbingsu. Although my friends and I enjoyed it, between the two desserts we ordered, ‘Moon Pie’ was clearly the most preferred.
‘Moon Pie’ was more like a deconstructed pie. It included marshmallows that highly resembled meringue, creamy white chocolate pudding on top of a biscuit crumble, with small pieces of ginger jelly and candied prunes. The maesil marshmallows were light and fluffy, with the subtle flavour of prune. The white chocolate pudding was probably the best part of this dish, with a light, creamy texture that was a delight to eat. The texture of the ginger jelly was silky, and the ginger flavour wasn’t overpowering. ‘Moon Pie’ was finished in a matter of minutes. My friends and I remarked afterwards how good it was.
The total bill came to $124, with a glass of wine included. I thought it was a good price for the quality of food with wonderful service included. Before coming to Moon Park, I had heard that the restaurant was noisy. On that evening, the restaurant filled up quickly, but I didn’t find it unpleasantly noisy at all. We left with full bellies, satisfied after having a delicious meal.