The best new restaurants Sydney has to offer
They are making very, very good ramen here, with natty wines, Japanese beers, whisky highballs and a very smashable yuzu soda that comes in a Codd-neck bottle, the ones sealed with a glass marble that you need to pop down into the neck to break the seal. Sydney is a town of many noodle soups, so what makes this one worth waiting for? To start with, the char siu roast pork gets an extra flavour kick by being seared quickly on a hot plate before serving.
The word ‘delicatessen’ cannot encompass the golden sparkle of the new Continental Deli in the CBD. In an otherwise heavily scaffolded corner of Phillip Street, it’s an oasis where all your city life expectations of Martinis and steak after work come true. You certainly can get the famous Continental Mar-tinny, the canned gin Martini that is super chilled and perfectly dilute and in a sturdy casing that you could take on a long sea voyage. And the tinned seafood naturally made the migration to the new digs, which are much bigger and only one storey, unlike the original Newtown location squeezed into a narrow terrace.
We’ve all got that story about that little roadside place we found on holidays, where you’d get a whole barbecued chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf that you would eat down by the river. But instead of boring everyone to death with tales of this glorious chook, Sophia Thach and Lillia McCabe simply recreated it on the menu of Kingdom of Rice, the Cambodian pop-up inside the drive-through bottle shop behind the Tennyson Hotel in Mascot.
The premise here is that you lay down your $70 and let chef Tristan Rosier take the wheel in this warm, open-plan space where you can watch the chefs prepping each course while you sip on a McLaren Vale fiano with a muted tropicality, or a blood orange Spritz. In fact, it feels a lot like you’re lurking in your fancy mate’s kitchen, drinking wine while they do the hard work, and eating an opening course of sweet pickled radishes, butter and housebaked bread, which is what they’ve given you so you'll stop nicking ingredients from the chopping boards.
Sang by Mabasa is the second venue for Chef Son and his family, who are all involved in the business. The original Mabasa clocked up eight years in Balmain before they moved to Surry Hills, with chef Son’s wife Jin Sun Son joining him in the kitchen, son Kenny Son on front of house, and Kenny’s wife Youmee Jeon handling the pickling, desserts and graphic design. The aim was to modernise a lot of traditional Korean fare, but not by fusing it with other culinary traditions. It’s still authentically Korean, but presentation is styled with the Instagram generation in mind.
You can definitely tell that Don Peppino’s used to be a nightclub. As you head up those impressive theatre steps off Oxford Street and turn gently up the wide, white marble stairwell the sound of animated chatter builds till it sounds like a full blown party. Given we are not here for dancing, we are not disappointed to find ourselves in an large, airy dining room shaped like an awkward slice of cake, ready to eat classic Italian fare from the latest pop-up from the Full Circle team.
There are five pizzas in total, including one proudly wearing a soft pink coat of LP’s mortadella, and another featuring the house-made pepperoni – it’s a clever closed loop system since Luke Powell of LP’s fame is behind this new venture, along with his partner Tania Haughton, plus hosp legends Joe Valore and Elvis Abrahanowicz of the Porteño group. The midas touch that follows all venues affiliated with them is in full effect, and they’ve brought a seasoned team with them so that it feels like they’ve been running for months, not days.
Remember the good old days? You know, the ones when life was easy and restaurants served the kind of food that belonged on the cover of a Women’s Weekly cookbook? That’s the fantasy they’re serving at Ron’s Upstairs, a delightfully retro dining room with a menu that lists gently in the direction of the European continent. It’s like a ‘70s-toned holiday snap from your parents’ photo album.
“I bring you gifts, not of frankincense and myrrh, but of crunchy corn”. It's pretty much the best opening line you can hope for in a Sydney bar, and it’s the one that greets us at Bar Topa, the narrow slice of real estate on Palings Lane that used to be a fashion boutique before Merivale transformed it into an ace little tapas bar. Don’t linger and reply to that last email, because the early bird gets the best seats that line the long counter.
You know those Chinese diners in coastal towns – unchanged for decades, brash gold furnishings and laminated menus... Well Sydney hospitality juggernaut Merivale has flipped this tacky trope into a dining destination with the opening of a high-end Cantonese restaurant that isn’t so much waterfront as it is launched out over the water on Manly Wharf.
We’re all worldly enough at this stage in the game to appreciate that the ninth edition of a beloved burger shop is never going to have the same spirit as the original. When Huxtaburger first opened in Collingwood in 2011 we were all about their “take-no-prisoners American-style burgers that see meat, cheese and condiments as king, and all other accoutrement as crazy gourmet tat”. Fast forward to 2018 and the Sydney arm of this burger juggernaut has set up shop in a new development in Redfern, next to a buzzy ramen shop.
Here are some fun facts about Bistecca, the basement restaurant devoted to Florence’s famous T-bone steaks. First, they ask you to lock your phone in a little drawer. We’re told that 60 per cent of people oblige, and the other 40 per cent have reactions that range from ‘unsure’ to ‘abusive’. They also go through a lot of meat. They recommend 600g as the minimum cut to achieve the full bistecca Fiorentina experience (anything less is getting to minute steak territory), but 800g is optimal.
Even though our love for Chippo resto Ester is a strong as the day it opened five years ago, when you’re in a long-term dining relationship you can get a wandering palate. But it’s not cheating if your piece on the side is a wine bar by the very same crew who won your heart in the first place, right? How fitting that chef Matt Lindsay and sommelier Julien Dromgool’s new walk-in wine bar is called Poly, because it’s going to split your love across two venues. And don’t kid yourself, just because it’s calling itself a bar doesn’t mean you’re not going to drop a chunk of cash grazing your way through the snacks menu.
Lankan Filling Station such an exciting prospect. They’ve set up the menu like a spicy Duplo set, and you decide what kind of meal you want to build, marking your order on the white paper menu. It also means that you can genuinely get out of here for under a $50 if you order right. For small appetites there are snack-sized hopper sets or hopper bowls, but if you’re here to conquer the menu order the full-sized curries with as many hoppers on the side as you can take.
The char koay teow here is spectacular: even more so if you add plump king prawns grilled with their heads on to the mix of juicy chinese sausage, bean sprouts, egg, green onion and charred flat rice noodles wearing wok breath like a heady perfume. You do not have the home skills to elevate instant noodles to the kind of lofty flavour ranks they achieve with the indomie, whose curly noodle strands are stained a glossy chestnut by the housemade black sauce and capped with a soft fried egg.