So I was a little surprised when I learnt of Bar H's change in tack earlier this year; that despite the awesome reviews, they were turning to the Asian flavours chef and owner Hamish Ingham cultivated at Billy Kwong. Goodbye, gorgeous charcuterie.
|Crispy pork wontons with sweet chilli sauce at Bar H, Campbell Street, Surry Hills|
Seats looking out to Campbell Street helped change the scenery, as did the crispy wontons, folded classically like tortellini and served with a house sweet chilli dipping sauce. Somewhat chunky fillings differentiated these from the average wonton, and I can definitely imagine a bowl of these going down nicely with beers as bar food.
|Cucumber and black fungi salad|
|Calamari salad with radish, herbs, black fungi and mushrooms|
It's ridiculously tender in an exquisite just-cooked fashion, and is dressed in a well rounded, tart dressing that's also complementary to the mushrooms (enoki and another I forget) and more black fungi. With mint and thin slices of radish tossed through, this stunning dish showed how Ingham has an amazing handle on salads that allows each individual ingredient to shine.
|Braised beef short rib with black bean and chilli|
But served without the bone, I needn't have worried. I probably could have eaten the big chunks with a teaspoon, they were so fall-apart tender. The flavours of sweet dark soy and salt-rich black beans played equally strong parts, accompanied with lots of steamed rice.
The lettuce beneath soaked up a lot of the saucy flavour, while coriander was just the thing to lift the thick richness of the braise.
|Roasted kumera with pickled leaves|
It was the first I'd ever heard of a kumquat sorbet, so it had to be that. And it was kumquat in a true form; sweetened but with that definitive bitterness of the little citrus fruits. The quenelle of sorbet was served on a slippery black tile, with fine chocolate shavings all over.
|Sticky rice and red bean donuts with anise ice cream|
Looking back at the warm yellow hues of the cosy restaurant, I think the ambience and design of the resturant are definitely one of my favoured aspects. But even without charcuterie and cheese plates this time, Bar H has impressed again, especially the salads. So it's a happy hello to the Asian flavours - hope you're here to stay.