New restaurant Meta has a head chef with stellar credentials. South Korean chef-owner Sun Kim has worked in acclaimed chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s restaurants – Tetsuya’s in Sydney and Waku Ghin here – but it’s hard to discover this by asking Kim himself. Despite the open kitchen and counter seats in this dark 30-seater space, Kim’s reserved nature means you’ll hardly find yourself engaged in small talk with the chef, save for him popping up occasionally to explain one or two dishes.
Luckily, Kim’s young energetic team makes up for their quiet boss in spades. Aloysius Chon, the pink-haired bar manager formerly from Neon Pigeon down the road, is one. Chon easily rattles off the different ingredients in all eight dishes that we have from Meta’s winter tasting dinner menu, and will happily whip up a cocktail of your choice if none from the limited drinks menu catch your eye. We asked for a strong drink with a sweet touch, and were pleased with our rum-based cocktail spritzed with some chrysanthemum tea for a light floral scent.
The cuisine here is contemporary Asian, so expect familiar flavours presented differently. Like a single plump oyster that comes dressed with ginger and pomelo sacs that provide a welcome hit of spice and sweetness over the typical dash of lemon and tabascon. Or slow-cooked Tasmanian beef short rib accompanied by charred spring onions and parsnip puree instead of the usual red wine jus.
Meta’s pastry chef Tammy Mah, formerly from fine-dining Italian establishment Garibaldi, also has some sweet tricks up her sleeve. A frozen dessert named The Rock is presented in the form of a coffee-infused bon bon made with liquid nitrogen, and comes with strict instructions from Mah. Do NOT bite into the bon bon. Place it on your tongue flip-side up, and exhale.
This results in a self-conscious few seconds of us puffing smoke out from our nostrils and mouth, while being terrified of what would happen if we actually bit into the bon bon. A fun touch that definitely got us sitting up and paying attention – even if it was towards the end of the meal.
Spotlight on: Slow-cooked beef short rib, John Dory with clams and basil.
Masterminds behind the scenes: Chef-owner Sun Kim