Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Morena (CLOSED)

Morena dinning area
Whenever someone mentions Latin America, the word "exotic" pops into my head, and Morena, a modern Latin American fine dining restaurant in Surry Hills definitely matches that. In the evening the space is dark and moody; while timber screens and hanging glass decors gave it a modern feel, banquettes upholstered in hand woven fabric and yarns stretched across the walls and timber screens added splashes of colour. With a strong Peruvian influence, the dishes arrived at our table were drool-worthy. 

Ceviche Peruano, small dices of fresh pink snapper gently cooked in lime juice and Ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) served with cancha (roasted Andean corn) & caramelised sweet potato, is a traditional ceviche and an excellent entree at that. As soon as the snapper hit your tongue, a wave of citrus and a hint of chilli took your taste buds into overdrive. The tartness of the dish was like a massive sign that says "Hello appetite!". The roasted corns gave the dish a crunchy texture against the soft, melt-in-your-mouth snapper, brilliant! 

It's not often that one gets to taste a delicacy like Alpaca meat, so I jumped at the chance of ordering Anticucho de Alpaca, grass fed Millpaca Alpaca skewers marinated in a traditional anticucho sauce (mix of Andean roasted peppers, vinegar and garlic) served with chimichurri (fresh aromatic herbs macserated in oils and apple vinegar). I find it hard to describe the taste, perhaps a cross between lamb and beef. The meat itself was very succulent with a slight sweetness to it. 

Chirraron de cerdo lechal
We were going to ordered 3 dishes to share thinking that we need to leave some room for dessert, but our waitress suggested that we should have one more small dish and recommended the Chirrarón de cerdo lechal, twice cooked crispy suckling pork belly served with caramelised sweet potato & orange puree, pickled dikon and malagueta chillies (spicy andean chilli). And what a great recommendation! The pork was cooked beautifully, once again there was the contrasting crunchiness of the crackling and soft, tenderness of the meat. Oh and the chillies had a pretty big kick to them, loved it!

Pollo a la braza
I tend to avoid ordering chicken in restaurants nowadays after eating many so-so chicken dishes, but the words "Peruvian style" got me intrigued. So for our main we ordered Pollo a la braza, Peruvian style roasted free range 1/2 chicken, served with chips, apple & red cabbage salad with traditional South American sauces. And I was not disappointed. The chicken was full of flavour, even the breast was moist and tender, not a hint of dryness. 

When it was time to order dessert, there was no need to look at the menu again as we made the decision the moment we sat down, it had to be Borracho de pisco, Latin American sponge cake soaked in Pisco & spice syrup, served with currants & dulce de leche ice-cream (Argentinean caramel). The cake was dense, rich and simply delicious. It was a far cry from the usual light and fluffy sponge cake I've came across. 

Feeling adventurous? Curious about what Alpaca taste like? Or just want to see sponge cake in a whole new light? Then Morena is the place for you. I know I'll never be able to look at sponge cakes the same again.

Morena: 15/425 Bourke Street Surry Hills, NSW 2010   Morena on Urbanspoon


  1. ive never tried alpaca either, sounds interesting!

    1. I've been told Alpaca meat is actually one of the healthiest and tastiest meats in the world! Definitely worth a try :) I'd love to see it in more restaurants too.