Time Out says
Find some of the most interesting produce in town at this Elizabeth Bay eating destination
You may not have noticed this little shop-cum-restaurant situated just off the main drag of Kings Cross. But do yourself a favour and get the heck down there. Owner Fiat Malaniyom, a wholesale grower, is one of the Sydney restaurant scene’s best-kept secrets, supplying restaurants like Sepia, Quay and Long Chim with some of their most unusual produce. But now that he’s launched a business that’s open to the public, he’s a secret no more.
“We are pretty much a specialised produce grower,” he tells Time Out, “we’ve been growing for the restaurant industry for the last 11 years. This is our first flagship restaurant and store to showcase what we grow.” Whichever season you go in, there will be some incredible things to see and try, like mild white turmeric; tiny Mexican cucumbers; fresh wasabi; kalamansi limes that look like kumquats but taste intensely tropical, and torch ginger that looks more like an exotic pink flower than anything edible, but has a gentle, floral flavour reminiscent of lemongrass.
You can buy this sort of produce in the store, or if you prefer, you can eat in the onsite restaurant and try what Malaniyom has created from what’s good on his farms at that moment. “A lot of the specialty produce integrates into our menu,” he says, “It’s produce we want to present to everyone, so the cuisine here is not restricted to Asia; it’s across the globe – our goal here is to celebrate Australian-grown produce.” With the torch ginger for example, which he grows in Darwin, “You peel off the petals and just use the little inner petals. We make a sorbet with it with Australian hibiscus.”
On the menu are things like prawn and saltbush dumplings with butterfly pea; beef jungle curry which includes ingredients like hummingbird flower and cumin basil; wasabi leaves topped with blue swimmer crab and finger limes, and samphire and hummingbird flowers served tempura-style. If you don’t want to sit in, you can just pop into the shop and pick up meals ready-made onsite like duck confit, or stir-fries ready to fry that incorporate native Australian produce. Try one of their preserves, like the kalamansi lime and passionfruit curd; or go the crunchy, pickled white turmeric.
If you ask, Malaniyom will take you through the ingredients, telling you their stories and letting you sniff and handle them. The passion he conveys for what he grows is contagious. “We live in such a big, multicultural country with heaps of land and different climates,” he says, “People just don’t know how to use it all, so our role is to actually grow it.”
The Encore Building
Elizabeth Bay Rd
|Opening hours:||Tue-Thu 6-9pm; Fri, Sat 12-3pm and 6-9.30pm (restaurant) or 12-9.30pm (shop)|