I’m having mixed feelings about you Monster, I really am, like Mother Nature herself you are also very unpredictable, which is always a bit of a pain to be honest. Doesn’t make a whole bunch of sense right now but you’ll see what I mean in a second.
So we decided to head over to Monster after checking out Hustle&Scout and snacking at The Forage, in hindsight probably not the greatest idea seeing as I tend to get pretty full from all the awesome goodies at The Forage. Nevertheless, we already had a booking and I was pretty keen to check it out so we persisted.
As the Hustle&Scout fashion market was spanning over the ground and upper floors of the Nishi building, Monster opened up their private dining and events area for sit down dining. Their bar was open for the night for nibblies and bar snacks and it was completely bustling with various fashionistas. So heres where it got interesting, I made a booking during the week but somehow managed to completely screw up the dates. Luckily enough the staff had a little look around and managed to squeeze us in!
After being seated I noticed we had the worst lit table in the room, and this made me really sad :(. I spoke to one of the staff members to see if we could swap to one of the empty tables and I have no idea what happened but they never got back to me, I think they forgot. The staff looked pretty flustered on the day, and I’m guessing they were completely unfamiliar with the private dining layout. There was this poor waitress who kept coming into the room with a dish, looking around, giving it to someone, finding out its not theirs and frustratingly walking back to the kitchen to find out which table it should go to, this probably happened about ten times. I felt so bad for her by the time we were done with our meal, poor girl!
So here’s my dilemma, they were so nice and gave us a table when we screwed up but they also ignored or forgot a couple of our questions and requests. Ahh, what the heck, I can’t get too annoyed by the service, it was a strange situation for them too, so lets talk about the food.
Our first treat for the night, Duck neck wafer with duck parfait and shaved truffle ($20). This was a special for the night and boy was it really interesting. I found that, if I just bit into it I couldn’t really taste anything but when I let the parfait sit in my mouth and allowed it to melt away, it was absolutely amazing. It’s like going to the best pork roll joint (known for their pate of course) and just having a chunk of that on some crispy duck neck. The shaved truffle was generous and it added this awesome smokiness and earthiness to the bite size treat. This was weirdly awesome and delicious. I felt fancy!
Our second small plate for the night was the Boxgum Grazing beef kibbeh nayeh, pickles, harissa and yoghurt flatbread ($21). This was a really fancy name and a fancy description for what I think was a mediterranean steak tartare. Very glad the staff at Monster were helping us out with the menu because we would have never ordered this based off the description. I had no idea what kibbeh nayeh is, now I do but after he said it was like a steak tartare we were in. I really have no idea what was in this dish but it tasted great. The beef was fresh with an array of Mediterranean flavours, there were these crispy chip things which added great texture, mint for freshness, I think I tasted cumin too. I can’t describe this dish very well, I guess its like a punch of Mediterranean. Oh, I found that this tartare was not as salty as they usually are which was a big plus.
Our veggie plate for the night was the Eggplant, smoked goat’s curd, katsuobushi and sesame ($18). Originally we weren’t planning to get this dish but after speaking to the staff at Monster they recommended a veggie dish to compliment all the meaty goodness that we had coming. After getting some recommendations we went for the eggplant. This was really interesting, another very heavily Japanese inspired dish with seaweed, more of those Japanese rice flakes and some of those awesome super thin fish flakes that moves when your food is still hot. These Japanese flavours were matched with some baked eggplants, slices of radish and goats cheese. We did find this dish quite salty, so be warned! Would be great if you’re sharing it between a couple of people and only get a smaller portion or as a side to something quite bland.
Our final plate before moving onto bigger share plates is the Cured kingfish, crisp black rice, pickled ginger, green tea ($16). This was really nice, simple but delicious. The kingfish was soft in texture, it was seasoned perfectly with that Japanese rice seasoning. I have no idea what its called but I’ve purchased some from Asian grocery stores before and its super awesome. All you need is some plain rice and a couple of spoons full of these flakes and you’re set, no need for salt and pepper, its perfectly seasoned for you. The cured fish was inside crispy black rice according to the description but to me, it tasted like those seaweed snacks you get some Asian grocery stores (again) but nicer, thicker and crispy. I really liked this dish, very Japanesy, simple but tasty.
Our first big share plate for the night was the Slow cooked pork cheek, caramelised onion, kale and kohlrabi ($26). I always thought this dish was pork belly, didn’t find out it was pork cheek until writing this up and talking to Ouk, who ordered it. This was oozing with fat, which probably makes sense, can’t imagine theres very much going on in a cheek except for fatty goodness. The pork skin was interesting, it looked quite crunchy like the skin from a crackling pork but it was actually quite soft and caramelised. The pork meat was delicious, it was soft, tender and super flavourful, but there really wasn’t a lot of it, I really wish there was more meat! The pork crackling was really nice, I normally find that they are thick, heavy and overwhelming but this one was light and airy, I could eat these ones like chips!
Our final big share plate, was the Wagyu flank, baby leek, soubise, ash ($29). The meat was so good. It was cooked perfectly to medium rare, wasn’t overly flavoured so the quality of the meat really came through in the flavours and textures. The soubise or that white paste under the beef, I actually had no idea it was called a soubise until I began writing this up, but it was fantastic. It was creamy and mild which really helped bring out and enhance the flavours of the beef. The charred leeks were really good, they really complimented the beef well and imparted a lot of flavours to the jus, which I loved. I really enjoyed this dish, definitely would order it again.
For desserts, we grabbed some Rhubarb, lime and lemon and spiced chocolate sorbet ($4 per scoop). When this first came out I thought it was in an ice cup, which would have been totally cool. It wasn’t an ice cup, but it was close enough, the bowl was chilled frosted glass! Anyway, onto the actual food, the sorbets were really strong in flavour. The lime and lemon was really powerful and quite sour, the chocolate was interesting and reminded me of Christmas with all its spices and finally, the rhubarb sorbet was really creamy.
To end the night, we grabbed some Dark chocolate, lemon, olive oil and hazelnut ($14). This was really nice, like the steak tartare, I’m very glad the staff at Monster were constantly asking us if we wanted help with the menu because if I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t have gotten this awesome dish. I read dark chocolate and just assumed that I would be getting a couple of chunks of chocolate, how very wrong I was! It was actually a dark chocolate cross between a mousse and a panna cotta. Really delicious, it just kind of melted in your mouth and the flavours were really nice and rich. This would have totally been overwhelming but the chocolate was perfectly balanced with the dried lemons and hazelnut.
Oh and a cool sounding drink! The Elderflower, soda water and cucumber ($5). No I’m not participating in dry July, I don’t drink enough to but I wasn’t feeling like alcohol on this particular night. This drink caught my eye before I had a proper look at the drinks menu and I’m really happy I ended up with it. I really liked this but I’m a total lover of all things elderflower, it just has such great flavour. The cucumber really added some odd freshness to the drink. Bit like a slice of cucumber in gin!
I do apologise for the bad pictures, again worst lit table in the whole room. So sad! But you get the general idea. If it makes you feel any better as nicely as they presented the food, Monster doesn’t have the prettiest food out there. In hindsight, I always wonder if Monster was named Monster because of the weird and wacky cuts they use, like pork cheek, pork neck, duck neck and etc because that would explain a lot.
Oh I should probably mention, just because I had a really hard time finding Monster! Monster is located in HotelHotel on the second floor from ground. HotelHotel is in the Nishi Building. Hope that helps someone!
Very interesting experience, I do really want to come back sometime when they have normal service to see how it goes. The food was pretty interesting and the menu sounds cool, the staff were trying really hard and the normal dining area looked pretty cool. Next time Monster, next time.