Calabur Cafe & Diner
An all-day Asian diner that truly transforms from day to night.
Calabur, Bondi's low-key, all-day Asian eatery has emerged as one of the best Thai-fusion restaurants in Sydney over its one-year tenure in the eastern suburb. Unlike many all-day cafes, Calabur sees a complete transformation from day to night. By day, it's an airy, bright and foliaged cafe. But when the sun goes down, the warm mood-lighting comes on and the candles are lit to create an ambience with a relaxed, speakeasy feel.
This simple, yet massive change is also reflected in the menu. Breakfast focuses on healthy Western-style dishes — this is Bondi, after all — with an Asian fusion flair. But as nice as the brekkie menu is, it doesn't compare with the fanfare of dinner. Served family-style, the night offering is meant to act as snacking accompaniments to the well-crafted list of cocktails, wines and beers. This isn't to say the food is secondary to the drinks; on the contrary, these morsels are so magic, they alone could keep you here for hours.
Most of the meat is cooked sous vide and then flash grilled, which makes it not only impeccably juicy, but gives it that chargrilled, smoky flavour as well. The turmeric chicken skewers ($14) come out atop still-smoking lemongrass leaves, while the duck with orange sauce ($25) is slowly revealed with a lift of a smoke-filled glass cover. The picanha steak ($25) has a cooking time of over an hour, which results in an incredibly delicate, melt-in-your-mouth, medium-rare goodness.
We could go on and on about how incredibly curated this menu is — the oysters three ways ($21), spicy tuna tartare ($17) and salmon angel hair spaghetti ($20) are all stand outs — but then, most of the menu is memorable. Its distinct, homemade sauces and dressings really make each dish and showcase an impeccable respect for flavour.
If you're looking for a special occasion dinner or just want to truly treat yourself, the new seven-course tasting menu is one of the best in the city at $60 per person. The menu begins on the light side — think a salmon broth served with crispy salmon chicharron — which prepares the palate for the food ahead, along with a seafood platter of spicy sashimi, impeccably fresh tuna tartare and perfectly cooked scallop over apple salsa. The menu moves on through to Calabur's signature sous vide meats, most notably their fine dining, next-level version of the traditional Thai chicken with basil-chilli sauce. Pair the courses with the sweet and sour Strawberry Sakerinha ($16) or the refreshing Miss Calabur cocktail ($18) and you've got yourself one decadent meal for a surprisingly reasonable price.
What is not surprising is that each dish is presented beautifully with Calabur's trademark theatrical twists which make this an unforgettable dining experience from start to finish, no matter which dishes end up at your table.
UPDATE MARCH 8, 2017: To celebrate their first birthday, Calabur will be offering 30 percent off dinner on Sunday, March 12. They'll even chuck in a magic show. For more information, visit their Facebook page.
Images: Marissa Ciampi and Calabur.