I love eye candy; in fact I love mouth candy… any candy really will do. So when I landed at Monkey Magic on Crown Street in Surry Hills last week I was thrilled. Eye candy everywhere, the barmen, the chefs, the venue, the food. I love the venue; New York meets Sydney meets modern Asia. The upstairs room is large enough to feel spacious. Designed in warm tones of exposed brick with diffused lighting, exposed beams and dark wood it also manages to convey a feeling of intimacy.
Executive Head Chef Shea Crawford (back) Sushi Master Michiaki Miyazaki (front)
I hosted the new Executive Head Chef, Shea Crawford on my radio show last week and he was really good value. I had the joy of looking at him throughout the one and a half hour show (yes he is very cute), plus I was able to re-indulge in some of the delicious dishes I had enjoyed at the restaurant. Sadly the divine man is married with children but who said we can’t window shop!
The food at Monkey Magic has always been very good. This time however it was impressive. As a Japanese cuisine lover, I have always enjoyed the balance of beauty, flavour and superb produce that is lovingly plated. Shea Crawford embarked on his culinary career at the age of 20, undertaking his first formal gastronomic training at award winning French fine dining restaurant Nice Matin. His next role was at Michelin starred seafood restaurant Oceana, in midtown Manhattan, where he worked closely with renowned chef Cornelius Gallagher – who worked with Daniel Boulud and Ferran Adria – providing Shea with the knowledge for Asian inspired cooking as well as French influenced sauces. He brings this balance to Monkey Magic. The GM of Monkey Magic, Hidetoshi Tsuboi is always on the floor when I visit this venue, he walks the walk and that is always a good sign.
Beetroot cured Kingfish
The menu is delightful, we started with the typical endamame and then my curiosity got the better of me, Renkon chips which are crisp lotus roots with pink salt $6. They are slightly dry and salted, perfect with a pre-diner drink. Stephen our waiter was laid back but totally switched on, I ordered all his recommendations. He suggested the Beetroot Cured Kingfish with pickled beet greens, cucumber, yuzu dressing and micro herbs $16. Pretty as a picture, light and delicious. You seriously can’t go past the Duck Pancake, roasted duck with buckwheat pancake, dark miso sauce $18, definitely one of my favourites. The Chawan-Mushi offered a whole new food experience, a cold steamed egg custard with shitake mushroom topped with prawn ceviche salad, my significant other (SO) loved this $15.
Sushi chef Michiaki Miyazaki is a maestro, he did time at two Michelin star restaurant Kikunoi in Kyoto, Japan. Under the tutelage of internationally renowned chef and restaurateur Yoshihiro Murata, Michiaki acquired an aptitude for sushi making and an appreciation for the diversity of Japanese cuisine. So you can bet the sushi was made with love and passion we had the Monkey Magic style sushi selection topped with yuzu cream, sesame dressing, basil sauce
ao-nori tempura flakes, tartare and yellow anticucho $19 small $35 large, it hit the mark with perfectly sized portions, something that I consider to be very important when eating sushi.
The main dishes were standout, the Ocean Trout with Dutch carrots, apple and chilli emulsion, hear seaweed salad $26. The sweetness of the Dutch carrots balanced perfectly with the cooked to perfection Ocean Trout. The “Suzuki Kingfish” with English spinach, red miso, dashi and lemongrass consomme, shaved radish $28 was complex and interesting. The red miso is smeared on the side of the dish so you could control the depth of flavour. The Riverine Sirloin was another of SO’s favourites with braised silver beet, grated daikon and plum steak sauce $32.
Sugar Cinnamon Beignet served with chai latte, sweet cream
I can never leave a venue without dessert it is the last stand to a good meal and an everlasting memory, the Black Sesame Creme Caramel with red wine poached pear, coconut ice cream and pink peppercorn $13 was as delicious as the Banana, White Chocolate and Shiso Spring Roll with raspberry coulis and green tea ice-cream $13. I ordered two serves of the Sugar Cinnamon Beignet served with chai latte, sweet cream $13, so we all know what really stole my heart.
Monkey Magic is a must on the Sydney Culinary Journey.
Name: Monkey Magic
Where: 3&4, 410 Crown St. Surry Hills Sydney
Telephone: (02) 9358 4444
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 6pm – 10pm. Closed Sundays
Price: Entrée from $8, Mains from $23, Desserts from $13
Vibe: Smart /casual
Vegetarian: Good options
Child-friendly: Not really
Wheelchair access: No