Monday, July 21, 2014

A sweet new fitout at Sugarcane

With age comes wisdom, experience and, especially if you like a drink, a few signs of wear and tear. If only I could undergo a sweet new fitout like Surry Hills' Sugarcane, which has had a facelift and the nip & tuck from its simple, bare basics look for the past five years or so.

New wall mural and fitout at Sugarcane, Reservoir Street, Surry Hills
(Image courtesy of The Cru Media)
The new look is brighter, and more lively and inviting than previously, with hints of Thailand and Asian marketplaces quite fitting with the pan-Asian menu of chef and owner Milan Strbac (ex Longrain). Indeed, the loud chatter of happy diners suits the new fitout much better than its muted former look.

So approachable and welcoming is the new look that Strbac is seeing more walk-in customers than ever into the petite restaurant. Former customers shouldn't fret - most of Sugarcane's signature dishes remain on the menu with a bigger, better focus on the wine and cocktail list.

Prawn, rice cake, caramelised sugarcane
I remember the Thai-influenced prawn-topped puffed rice cakes from several previous visits, and they were as delightful as ever.

Best eaten in the one mouthful, this moreish appetiser of a whole prawn, shredded betel leaves, fried shallots, chilli and a caramelised sugarcane dressing atop a crisp rice cake was a table-silencer - at least for the time it took to scoff the mouthful and wish aloud for another.

Salt and pepper squid, yellowbean and soy dressing
To another signature - and classic Sydney - dish from the 'Small' part of the menu, Sugarcane's salt and pepper squid was impeccably tender in a light and pale batter with plenty of seasoning on the surface.

The squid was served with a yellow bean and soy sauce dressing which I found a tad salty with the already well-seasoned squid.

Coleslaw, crispy pork
Next was an Asian style cabbage coleslaw full of carrot, chilli, coriander and other healthy ingredients, and the rather concealed addition of not so healthy cubes of crisp fried, golden pork belly.

While each component was great and the vegetables were much needed in light of the pork, this probably could have been a standalone salad without the meat while the pork belly could make for a star dish of its own.

Crispy chicken, blood plum
From the 'Substantial' part of the menu came the crowd-pleasing boneless crispy chicken, battered then drenched in a sweet plum sauce and garnished with a wealth of fresh and fried shallots.

Served with a squeeze of lemon, this could well be the modernised and improved version of the classic Aussie-Cantonese dish of sweet and sour pork.

Braised eggplant, mustard greens
The deep fried then braised cubes of eggplant from the vegetables section of the menu had a very pan-Asian feel about it, topped with slices of cucumber, chilli and coriander, sitting in a pool of its braising juices which were great with steamed rice.

Massaman curry of duck
Rice was also partnered with the impressive serve of duck massaman curry, served with chunks of potato and plenty of mild curry sauce. The duck took on plenty of the spice flavours and fell from the bone easily, making for quite the filling dish with rice soaking up the sauce.

Banana roti, condensed milk ice-cream
We made room for shared desserts though, with the deliciously clever roti flat bread, topped with ripe, mushy banana, a silky condensed milk ice cream, caramel sauce and coconut cream. It was a fabulous combination of classic flavours and textures that came together extraordinarily well.

'Corn Flakes', coconut mousse, aloe vera
The other very modern-looking dessert we had featured a white orb of coconut mousse atop a contrasting crumble of corn flakes, sesame seeds and other crunchy bits, beneath which hid a subtly sweet aloe vera jelly. Intriguingly different, it took a little more time to understand and enjoy than the banana roti.

Sweets scoffed and the sweet fitout admired and appreciated, the older, wiser and renewed Sugarcane leaves you with a sticky feeling - one that you want to come back to again and again.

Food, Booze & Shoes dined at Sugarcane as a guest, with thanks to The Cru Media.

Sugarcane on Urbanspoon


missklicious said...

the food looks fabulous! love the look of the banana roti

penny aka jeroxie said...

I've not taken H to this place yet... always on the list but not at the top. soon, very soon!

Tina said...

Hi missklicious - I'm not a big dessert person but loved that one! It was a great finisher :)

Hi Penny - Haha, every restaurant in Surry Hills is probably on the list!

Cindy (a foodie's joy) said...

I did enjoy dining there recently! :)


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