To all my readers, Gong Xi Fa Cai or Gong Hei Fatt Choi. May everyone be blessed with good food and be prosperous enough to feed yourself with good food.
Back to blogging.
After spending a night at Coffs Harbour, we were quite eager to soldier on to Sydney. Faced with a range of 1 lane and 2 lane roads (not to mention the turtle crawling speed limit), I was surprised that it was still rather easy to drive long distance compared to driving down the highways of Malaysia (maybe its the scenery).
A very old friend of the Wife played host for the night. The better fact was that her husband was also quite a big foodie and when we said we leave it to them to pick a dinner venue, they said let's go to Sugarcane.
Sugarcane, one of the growing restaurants in Sydney / Australia which serve Southeast Asian cuisine with a twist. The menu is not quite fusion as such but its more of the chef's interpretation of the cuisine. Headed by chefs from Longrain, I presume the pioneer restaurant who started this trend, we were told that the food will be good and luckily it was.
The downside of this place though is the noise level. It is an open kitchen concept and yes, there was a dinner group of 20 people at one end that night but the amount of echo was equivalent of entering into a bar. Not exactly the place for a quiet conversation.
The battered calamari was what it was, a standard starter served with a soy based dip.
Whole barramundi, deep fried with two dipping sauces (if I remember correctly), a soy sauce and a chili like dip. Fried to perfection; crisp skin as you run your fork in and smooth silky flesh inside. The soy sauce was a little on the thick side, if it was slightly runnier, it would have reminded me of how we used to eat fried fish in restaurants back in KL.
The pork hock served with a thai mango salad. This was the bomb dish and if you ever come here and the dish is available, you got to order it. That being said if you were vegetarian, go try the mango salad, there's that perfect mix of sweet, sour and spicy (at least for the poor soul here who can't really take his chili very well).
Not equally as good was the chicken in a tamarind / plum sauce. Again playing with the familiar sweet and sour notes, the chicken wasn't over cooked, there was crispy skin but it all seemed a bit too ordinary for me.
I am a big fan of eggplant and lo and behold we somehow ordered a plate of this cooked in a yellow bean and basil sauce. The gravy was delicious with the addition of basil and by the end of it, the eggplant had soaked in all the flavours.
A rather late comer this one, the last dish arrived after a while which was a jungle chicken curry. Maybe by now we were stuffed, so it really didn't stand out for me.
Dessert was a pumpkin "cake" and mango with black sticky rice. There were a few "ooh" and "aah" with the pumpkin cake / flan and I must admit it was pretty good. However one must realise I was stuffing myself silly with Zumbo desserts just hours earlier and everything seemed like a shadow.
Interesting thing to note is the above dishes were a mix of fixed courses from a voucher and ala carte dishes. Can you identify which is which? I personally felt after having dishes from both sides, the quality was pretty similar although the fixed courses seemed a bit flat at times. A rather old issue but restaurants will always have a dilemma between trying to break even and making sure customers do come back. Even if the food was spectacular, people looking out for bargains won't come back when they see the prices from the ala carte menu. I wonder what say you?
Overall pretty good stuff with I guess average prices of AUD25-30 a main.
Address and contact details:
Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Got to take off marks for the incredibly loud atmosphere and some of the dishes we tried did fall a bit flat and tasted uninspired.