Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Master, Sydney.
Pulling up a chair at Master on the weekend, my first thought, "when was the last time I heard Korn in a restaurant?", was quickly replaced by the more pressing question of why anyone would play Korn in a restaurant. Ever. But then chef John Javier counts Momofuku Seiobo among his recent ports of call (he has also staged at Quay and Noma), so his understanding of what does and doesn't work as restaurant music may have been ineradicably altered by the experience. The flavours on show are just as loud but have been chosen with a much better feel for context: crisp straws of fried eggplant with black vinegar caramel puts a twist on the fish-fragrant eggplant perfected by Dainty Sichuan and faithfully interpreted by the likes of Mr Wong and Lee Ho Fook; rhyming the texture of white cloud-ear fungus with kale in oyster sauce (pictured) is an inspired move, while good, earthy XO brings sheets of scallop meat, rolled out to a pasta-like texture, to life. Occasionally the Chinese in the modern Chinese mix gets overwhelmed by the modern (cooking cumin lamb ribs sous-vide, for instance, leaves them rubbery and unrendered), but the hits far outweigh the misses. The plates aren't large - the salt-and-pepper sweetbreads, a dish bound to be the signature, are great, but we found ourselves ordering three rounds between three hungry diners - but prices aren't too scary. Service is eager, and if the tight, very natural-focused wine list somehow doesn't grab you, the offer of Moritz in cans and Tsingtao in longnecks oughta do the trick. Likeable and fun.
Master, 368 Crown St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 8065 0838, open dinner 6pm-10pm Tues-Sun.
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