Monkey Magic – Winter Special, Surry Hills

14 July 2010
by Phuoc

Being a girl you’ll always justify your spendings. Even if you have spend hundreds, the most important thing is that you have saved a considerable amount on these items. I must admit, I am not a huge shopper for clothes, bags and shoes. I rather spend my money on cook books, kitchen utensils and appliances and of course, food!  However, student wages don’t really pay for much these days. So when I was contacted by Krissie from Wasamedia telling me about the 20% off Winter special offered at Monkey Magic every Monday to Wednesday, I thought “Might as well try out a new place during this special offer”.

Upon walking into the restaurant, the first thought that went through my mind was that this place was nice and cosy; perfect hide away from the cold and wet weather that we’ve been having recently in Sydney. Like the tv show, Monkey Magic combines Japanese with western influences to create a range of Japanese fusion dishes which are ideally to be shared. There is a wide selection of dishes to choose from and I was tempted to choose something from each section.

Oysters with ginger and vinegar dressing (left) & yuzu ponzu jelly (right) ($21/half dozen)

We started off with half a dozen of oysters. Whenever I dine out and see oysters on the menu, I would only order it if the topping/dressing is something new. We were set on just ordering the oysters with yuzu ponzu jelly but was insisted by our waitress to try a mixture of the three (yuzu ponzu jelly, ginger vinaigrette and natural); we ended up not getting the natural. I’m not a big fan of ginger but didn’t mind the ginger vinaigrette on the oysters as the ginger flavour was very subtle. We really enjoyed the yuzu ponzu jelly with the oysters; it was slightly sweet and citrusy without making you feel like you’ve just eaten a whole lemon. I wish I had a dozen of these oysters to myself.

Tempura prawn sushi rolls ($14/ 8 pieces)

Upon placing our order, our waitress suggested we try some sushi as well. With so many tempting choices we settled on the tempura prawn sushi roll. The tempura prawn was fairly crispy and was rolled with mizuna (a similar greenery to rocket but not so peppery). The roll is topped with a lovely creamy sweet chilli sauce, flying fish roe and fried leeks. Every component of the roll worked together perfectly.

Seared sesame-crusted tuna ($34)

Monkey Magic has created a special winter menu for this occasion to allow guest to enjoy comforting japanese-influenced dishes. We start off with the seared tuna crusted with black and white sesame. This dish was served with a puree of cauliflower and tofu, which was nice and creamy. We actually forgot what the puree was made of so it was surprising to re-discover that it was cauliflower and tofu as it wasn’t every overpowering. The tuna was cooked to perfection as it melted in our mouths upon each bite. The accompanying salad of crispy pancetta, roasted beetroot and watercress provided the needed textual contrast to this silky smooth dish.

Braised beef cheek ($32)

Next up was the braised beef cheek with soy and mushroom broth served with baked goat cheese gnocchi. The beef cheek was cooked until tender and the meat fell apart easily; it was so good! Ericka and I really loved the soy and mushroom broth; it was well balanced and earthy – simply irresistible. The goat cheese gnocchi were soft and what amazed me most with this dish was the fact that it wasn’t heavy at all.

White sesame tiramisu ($9)

We decided to order a couple of desserts to finish off on a sweet note after this wonderful dinner (despite feeling content – there’s always room for dessert I’d say). The tiramisu we ordered had mascarpone infused with white sesame; it was nice and light but I would have preferred the white sesame flavour to be more predominant. It was served with chocolate and macadamia nut biscotti which were wafer-thin and crispy (just how it should be). I must admit, that there was a slight peppery taste when I was eating the biscotti but I think it could have possibly been due to the bitterness of the chocolate.

Black sesame creme caramel ($13)

Now this is the stuff dreams are made off. This was the dessert Ericka and I had laid our eyes upon when we saw it on the menu. The black sesame creme caramel was velvety and had a wonderful nutty flavour from the sesame. It was served with red wine poached pears and a puff pastry twist. The pears did taste like red wine which was kind of off putting as I prefer my desserts sweet; in my opinion there was no need for the pears as the creme caramel was perfect as it is. I loved the addition of the puff pastry twist as it offers a contrast between textures; I would have been happy if the pears were replaced with another pastry twist.

The service was friendly and attentive at all times. Monkey magic would be a place I’d take friends to catch up on the latest gossip over a lazy dinner or drinks and several small dishes (shared of course).

Phuoc and Ericka dined as guests of Monkey Magic, thanks to Krissie of Wasamedia.

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  1. Maria

    Well they certainly have some interesting looking dishes on the menu! I wouldn’t mind trying this place out myself 🙂

  2. chocolatesuze

    heh i agree there is always room for dessert!

  3. joey@FoodiePop

    Oooooh yum! I might even go there tonight. 🙂 Thanks for reminding me about the winter special deal.

  4. Thip

    Wow, that sesame flan looks interesting–I should try to make some. 🙂

  5. thang @

    Monkey Magic, cute! The tempura prawn sushi roll sounds intriguing – never thought it could be a combo, but obviously works.

  6. john@heneedsfood

    I see what you mean about it not being traditional Japanese. That beef cheek looks sensational!

  7. SarahWi.nehouse

    Awesome! The owner there is really nice, although I haven’t eaten there yet. Looks good!

  8. Anh

    I really like black sesame! That black sesame flan seems wonderful…

  9. angie

    Oh wow that sesame creme caramel! Very intrigued to try that one out! Lovely write up Phuoc =)

  10. Phuoc

    I reckon you could re-create it with the creme caramel recipe you had recently on your blog. Just infuse sesame meal into the milk mixture before you whisk the eggs 🙂

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