There is lots to like about Monkey Magic - it's nostalgic theme, their chillax vibe, the sophisticated decor and the well-crafted menu. There isn't one thing on the menu I don't want to try.
It is clearly date night, with couples spread across every corner of the restaurant. We're one of them and I'm really excited as I've been daydreaming about the menu all afternoon.
We start with the renkon chips ($6) which are crisp lotus roots. Most of them are light and crunchy, deliciously seasoned well with freshly cracked pepper and pink salt, but some are densely saturated with oil and over-cooked.
The cocktail menu continues the Monkey Magic theme by playfully categorising the drinks into journey from the east and to the west. I have the Fairy Wings ($16) from the east menu. It is a refreshing twist of cucumber and gin, smoothed with honey and a hint of absinthe. The flavours are delicate and revitalising.
We also have half a dozen of oysters ($21), served with a tangy ponzu dressing which has notes of the Japanese citrus, yuzu.
Moving onto a selection of small dishes, we share the duck pancake ($16, 4 pieces) and sugar cured salmon ($17).
The roast duck is succulent with a light smokey flavour. The accompanying dark miso sauce is earthy and flavourful. The buckwheat pancake is small in size and due to its flimsy and moist nature, we eat this dish deconstructed. I'm not sure if the chef intended on making this a DIY wrap style dish, but we take the neater route.
The sugar cured salmon is served with salty pops of salmon roe, thin shavings of fennel and a vibrant preserved lemon and yuzu dressing. Yum!
Next we share the Monkey Magic Style Sushi Selection ($35, large). It is a beautifully presented platter of nigiri sushi, each uniquely paired with flavours such as yuzu cream, sesame dressing, basil sauce, ao-nori tempura flakes, tartare and yellow anticucho.
We then welcome the larger dishes and share the Saikyo Miso Toothfish ($34), Teriyaki Chicken ($19), Wok Tossed Mushrooms ($7) and rice. It's a lot of food for just two, and even the waiter comes to confirm we still want these dishes... But it's a cold rainy night and we have big appetites :)
The miso toothfish is an absolute stand out - buttery, slightly nutty, flakey and oh so good.
The teriyaki chicken is a tad dry and strangely served with wasabi. The mushrooms on the other hand are aromatic and robust in flavour, making us feel that tiny bit healthier, knowing we had some vegetable in-take.
And dessert? We share the banana and white chocolate spring rolls ($13). I think they're something you either love or hate. In our case, we loved everything about them, from the zesty taste of shiso leaves to the slight tartness of the raspberry coulis which balances out the sweetness of the banana and white chocolate. Green tea ice cream is always a winner too.
So whether you want a full dining experience or just some plates of superb food to share, let Monkey Magic work its charm on you.
Shop 3, 406 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW
Phone: (02) 9358 4444
JENIUS and her partner dined as guests of Monkey Magic and WasaMedia.