It’s Korean food, but not as you know it. Probably. What Moon Park definitely is, and we can confirm that with our mouths, is a world of good eats executed with great skill. The menu is broken into little and larger dishes meant for sharing, but you can also do a four-course tasting menu for $50. Order all the small things then a few of the larger dishes and knock everything back with icy cold tins of OB beer.
On that menu there’s bibimbap and bulgogi and fried chicken and tteokbokki. But start with a little plate of jerky fragrant with sesame oil. Texturally, it’s a little like beef cellophane – you don’t so much chew it, but crunch down like you’re biting the wings off a bat. Tteokbokki, those glutinous little cylindrical rice cakes, are rolled in chunky, chopped-up toasted peanuts. We double down on the chewy, smoky, crunchy and nutty little snack tubes.
We’ve got big plans for the balcony, once they get some tables out there. Balmy summer evenings sharing a serve of the crisp-edged grated zucchini and mussel pancake or some of that crisp-edged, tight fried chicken scattered with black sesame has us gripping white knuckled at our desk.
You’ve also got Ned Brooks running the floor. Last seen pouring the sherry at Movida, he also owns a share in the business. That means great service and a wine list heavy on the natural, the aromatic and the biodynamic, if soju or Korean beer’s not your friend.
The room is a pared back, polished-concrete minimalist's dream. An, Brooks and Sears did it all themselves, down to the sound batting under the tables. One corner of the room is taken up with a cluster of pot plants; elsewhere a few black feature lamps light the space. If it doesn’t serve an immediate purpose, you won’t see it in Moon Park. We like that.
Never mind the set dressing, bring on the bulgolgi. Here, the classic Korean dish of marinated grilled beef is translated as a juicy burger with kimchi and pickled onion. The big table of guys a few seats over have just come from footy practice – a massive tray of burgers come out, followed very quickly by a tray of beers. We follow suit. It’s a good idea. Back to the bibim: the traditional mixed rice dish is served as an umami-rich-and-slightly-funky mix up of mild chilli paste, confit king crabmeat and corn.
Despite the fact we’re talking about burgers, fried chicken and jerky, the food at Moon Park is quite elegant. Summer chicken – poached chicken pieces with pickled rose and dates – is about as far removed from the earthiness of a bowl of funky rice as you can get. Moon pie sees peaks of soft meringue lightly licked by flame strewn with pieces of torn ginger jelly and little confit pear rounds. Beauty and lightness on the plate.
This is a menu made by people who are cooking food they enjoy eating themselves. This is a menu with roots and personality. This is Redfern now.