With a license for just thirty guests, Monkey’s Corner is a tiny bar. It’s set in one of the 16 heritage-listed terrace houses on Kensington Street, Chippendale that were built back in the 1840s, and employed as housing for brewery managers.
With the simple interior a bit over lit and dominated by functional blonde wood furniture, we opt to sit outside. We’re kept entertained by the lively hubbub surrounding the Poernomo brothers’ more popular adjoining business, Koi Dessert Bar.
Despite the heritage listing placing restrictions on how food can be prepared in the postage stamp kitchen, the Poernomo boys have been able to produce an interesting, one-page menu. Their simple Japanese inspired dishes are served raw, or cooked using blowtorch and steam. Thin slices of Ox Tongue ($15) are slow-cooked and tender. They’re drizzled with beef fat and curled with the blowtorch, then balanced by chives and lime.
Dressed with sichimi (a Japanese seven-spice blend) and furikake (another dry Japanese condiment usually added to rice), the Kingfish Collar ($16) is good drinking fodder.
Monosodium glutamate makes me very thirsty, so I interspersed the salty, fatty, flaky fish with slurps of Echigo Koshihikari Beer ($19/500ml). Yes, this Japanese rice beer is pricy, but with the half litre size, you and your bestie can easily share a bottle. If you’re going a Japanese boilermaker, the slightly more intense yeasty notes of Shin Umenoyado ($10/60ml) will cope better with the potent fish than Gin Umenoyado ($10/60ml).
The second, lighter sake drinks better with the kombu (seaweed) and shellfish in the butter-soaked King Prawns ($22).
While certainly tasty, the dishes here do seem pricy for relatively small portions. To my eye, Monkey’s Corner would work best as a pit stop for snacks and drinks, before heading into the neighbouring Spice Alley for a well-priced bowl of noodles to finish you off.
40 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Ph: (02) 9212 2085