Remember Moon Park? That sleek Redfern eatery that opened in Sydney in 2013, putting modern-Korean food firmly on the map. It closed late last year. Sydney-siders will remember it well, Melbournians probably less so. But that will change later this month when chef Ben Sears brings Moon Park back, and down south, for a six-night takeover at St Kilda's Luxembourg Bistro.
The week-long pop-up, named Zona Rosa after Mexico City's Koreatown, will see Sears collaborate on a Korean-Mexican menu with Luxembourg chef and owner Chris Watson. The pair cooked together more than a decade ago at Andrew McConnell's restaurants Three, One, Two and Cutler & Co.
"Moon Park was totally unique and there's still nothing like it," says Watson. "This is an opportunity for people to experience Ben's cooking but also something new and a bit different."
The "new and a bit different" part is the duo's unique take on Korean and Mexican flavours. Along with a selection of beloved Moon Park classics (hello, shrimp-brined fried chicken with soy and maple syrup) Zona Rosa will feature numerous new dishes such as chilli con carne ssam tacos, Korean corn cheese, fajitas with bulgogi kalbi [grilled beef short rib] and a hybrid Pocky-churro dessert. "The ideas are all a bit vague but it's coming together," says Watson. "Probably one of the best things we've come up with is the al pastor tacos - we're marinating the pork in gochujang [Korean chilli paste], and serving them with pineapple kimchi."
The takeover will feature an à la carte menu spanning bar snacks, small plates, around five different tacos, a few larger dishes and dessert, or you can leave the menu entirely to the chefs to decide for $65. Diners are being advised to book, but walk-ins will also be encouraged. "Swing by for a can of beer and some fried chicken, or book in for the whole deal," says Watson.
And what does Andrew McConnell think? "It's rewarding to see a chef I've mentored in the past doing something as interesting and creative with their career as Ben Sears has with Moon Park," he says. "It's a thrill to have him back in one of my kitchens."
Zona Rosa: Moon Park at Luxembourg will run from Tuesday 21 February to Sunday 26 February at Luxembourg Bar & Bistro, 2/157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda, Vic, (03) 9525 4488, luxembourgbistro.com.au