Moodily lit and intimate, Japanese wine bar and restaurant Moonlight is, well, light years away from the beachside breeziness of its nearby sister diner Light Years. A neon crescent moon greets diners at the door. Upon entering, diners will find a monochromatic colour palette enlivened with textural materials like plasterwork, stainless steel, concrete, cork and timber. Light fittings are used to both highlight and conceal different parts of the room. You’d never guess you’re only a block from the beach.
Hibachi is king in the kitchen, which is led by Light Years executive chef Robbie Oijvall. Japanese classics get playful, modern reimaginings, while traditional ingredients are interpreted in surprising ways. The tight, regularly rotating menu is split into three sections: raw, hibachi and “something more”, as well as dessert.
Under “raw” you might find kingfish jazzed up with ginger and yuzu vinaigrette, shiso and kombu oil, with puffed wild rice for texture, or a vegetarian-friendly watermelon “sashimi” with shiso and sesame. From the hibachi, expect snacks on sticks (yakitori) like Wagyu with “Cafe de Nippon” butter, and miso-glazed salmon crusted with chive panko. Sandos of pillowy white bread sandwiching Wagyu katsu or eggplant katsu are standouts in the “something more” section.
In a nod to the venue’s name, the biodynamic wines it pours are made from grapes picked in tune with the lunar cycle. The Japanese-tinged cocktail menu includes numbers like the Sadako’s Bloom: Roku gin, Four Pillars shiraz gin, Heering cherry liqueur, white snow dragon tea and lemon. There’s a good selection of sake from old-world breweries, as well as a range of Japanese whiskies.
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