After a menu and design shake up, Sugarcane is back with a dynamic take on South-East Asian cuisine that fuses the traditional with the contemporary.
After a six-week menu and design shake up, Sugarcane has burst back onto the Surry Hills scene with a dynamic take on South-East Asian cuisine that fuses the traditional with the contemporary. The restaurant's new aesthetic is both polished and nostalgic: exposed bricks meet old Thai street posters and colourful graffiti, and bare light bulbs hang suspended among woven silk bags in a creative reimagining of the familiar regional souvenir.
New bartender Flynn McLennan (Uncle Ming's) brings a raft of expertise in all matters of the Asian tipple. Experimenting with house-made syrups, sweet-sour-spicy combinations and a slushy machine that is churning out a genius frozen dark 'n' stormy on the night we visit, McLennan's handiwork is innovative and bespoke and makes a superb preamble to the hawker-style feast to come.
The menu is geographically non-specific and yet its dishes from various corners of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia harmonise beautifully. The bite-sized section is the undisputed hero. We recommend the son-in-law eggs ($9), perfectly punchy in their black vinegar and caramel dressing, while the mountain of luscious Malaysian roti with cucumber and a subtle curry dipping sauce ($10) also makes for a devilishly moreish dish.
Although the flavours are Asian, head chef Milan Strbac (Longrain) makes a point of showcasing the best of Australia's own seasonal produce; it shows in the crunch of the green papaya salad with salmon and roasted cashew nuts ($19) and the fleshy freshness of the crab and shredded green apple and coconut that are served with a squeeze of lime on a crisp tortilla ($14).
With so many delectable morsels to try, we're stuffed too full for dessert, but we'll be returning to check out the 'corn flakes' option with layers of coconut mousse, aloe vera and dried banana that sound just crazy enough to work. Instead, our friendly bartender fixes us a nightcap known simply as 'whisky fun', which fuses Japanese whisky with spiced pumpkin and is basically just autumn in a martini glass.
Sugarcane has hit the ground running following its dazzling revamp and promises to continue getting better as it ripens. With an impressive array of modernised Asian classics and an intimate ambience that belies its busy street setting, Sugarcane will make you long for those hectic days and balmy nights that are the signature of the South-East.
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