In Food + Drink

New & Noteworthy: Six Sydney Restaurants To Add To Your Dining List

Serving some of the most delicious and varied menus in Australia – eating out in Sydney isn’t just a pastime, it’s a religion. Thanks to a diverse population and an abundant natural larder, this bonafide melting pot has translated its cultural fusion into one of the best restaurant and bar scenes in the world.

And with hungry Sydneysiders always on the lookout for the next big thing, unsurprisingly there’s a brand new crop of dining hotspots that have recently opened their doors.

From cafe-meets-bar-meets-restaurant Japanese and casual New Orleans-inspired cocktails and snacks to high-end brunching and gourmet vegan fare – whet your appetite and read on for six of the best new bar and restaurants in the Harbour City – dining experiences that your stomach will thank you for.

Kuro, CBD

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Bar, restaurant and cafe – newly-opened Kuro on Kent Street in the CBD is an amalgamation of all three. Operating under four distinct experiences (Kuro Dining, the Bar, and Brew Bar and fine dining, Teramoto by Kuro) this new Japanese venue caters to customers from early morning commuter to late night post-work reveller.

Set in a heritage-listed sandstone building, the layered 40-seat Kuro serves house-roasted coffees in the morning and expertly mixed cocktails in the evening, all from a slick fit-out of moodily lit marble and minimalism.  Two resident Tokyo mixologists offer killer Japanese-Inspired aperitifs from an eight-seater bar.

Top tip: for both looks and taste you can’t go past the ‘green hour’ (a combo of French gin, dry vermouth, absinthe, apple and champagne cordial). Then, punters can take a few steps over to the main dining room for an a la carte meal that fuses the best of Aussie-grown produce with Japanese cooking techniques.

Standout dishes include wagyu tartare with Jerusalem artichoke chips, Japanese meatballs with an umami-rich seasoning, egg tofu with sea urchin, and perhaps most impressive of all, the two-week aged duck breast. Roasted and finished over the coals, it’s paired with a skinny spring roll of confit duck leg. Mmmm.

The Big Easy, Darlinghurst

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Want to get a taste of the New Orleans French Quarter without having to pull out your passport? At the newly-opened The Big Easy, you can squint and make believe that you’re drinking on Bourbon Street.

Taking inspiration from the Louisiana capital, this two-level space on Darlinghurst’s Stanley Street comprised a bustling downstairs bar, outdoors courtyard, upstairs mural decorated ‘Hoodoo lounge’, and open air terrace. It’s also a new Mecca for cocktail enthusiasts.

Here, thanks to its co-owner, seasoned mixologist and bar owner, Doug Laming (previously of Brix Distillery and Rabbit Hole Bar fame), drinks are the star of the show. The expansive drinks lineup nods to NOLA classics, including the signature Big Easy Fizz (a fusion of rye, Southern Comfort Black, burnt orange, Peychaud’s bitters and ginger ale, finished with a sprig of rosemary) and then there’s a raft of American beer options.

A menu of Cajun- and Creole-inspired favourites (perfect for soaking up the alcohol-heavy drinks) is small, yet perfectly formed. From snack-sized items like the charred giant prawns and homemade beef jerky, through to more filling dishes such as the jambalaya with andouille sausage and shrimp, and the mouthwatering blackened Atlantic cod sided with corn cream and toasted buckwheat.

The Cosmpolitan, Double Bay

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A Double Bay institution for more than four decades, when The Cosmopolitan reopened in November in its latest incarnation, regulars were waiting with baited breath. Turns out, this new venue (same name, but new owners, new fit-out, new menu and new approach) is its best version yet.

Backed by owners who have cut their teeth on Sydney restaurant bar institutions such as The Winery, the venue has all-day dining offering a range of modern Australian cuisine with seafood at its core.

The bounty of aquatic eats can be seen on the raw bar piled high with oysters, caviar, prawns and lobster, in addition to the sprinkling of seafood in unlikely brunch items – from the lobster Benedict, to the crab omelette – alongside the likes of baked langoustines (Norway lobsters) cooked in butter for dinner. The head chef cut his teeth working across heavy-hitting London venues like A-list hotspot, the Ivy, and it shows.

All up, the space accommodates 150, including a spacious outdoor area and the plush Cosmo Lounge, set in the back of the main restaurant. Here, the lights are dimmed, cocktails are mixed and the music plays late, meaning you can come for brunch but stay long into the evening afterward.

Nikkei Bar, Surry Hills

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Peruvian food globally is definitely having a ‘moment’ right now. Previously winning the ‘world’s leading culinary destination’ title for six years running, Peru (specifically its capital city, Lima) is legitimately one of the most recognisable foodie hotspots around.

In fact, the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ guide puts it in the same league as New York and London. And thankfully in Sydney, there’s a brand new eatery that showcases one of the country’s most lauded styles of food: nikkei.

Taking its name from one of the original fusion cuisines in Peru – a culinary tradition that began when Japanese migrants moved to Peru 100 years ago – Nikkei’s fresh take on Japanese-meet-Peruvian has been applied to a sharable menu of small bites and larger items served tapas-style.

Showcasing the country’s native vegetables (think corn, potato, and tomato) along with seafood and meat dishes, signature items on the menu include swordfish ceviche (served with sweet potato, avocado, mango, chilli and coriander); mushroom tiradito (three types of mushrooms on a bed of Jerusalem artichoke puree with nori crackers); and papa rellenas (giant potato croquettes filled with chicken, corn, and olives, paired with Japanese curry sauce).

Alongside a 40-strong wine list, there’s a range of Peruvian cocktails, including pisco.

Eden, Bondi

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A go-to for the svelte, activewear-clad set; Bondi Beach is unsurprisingly home to a raft of organic, plant-based, raw, vegan, gluten-free and Paleo eateries. And the newest out of this clean eating crop (and dare we say the best) is Eden.

Set in a lush fairy light-lit courtyard garden (yep, it’s a literal garden of Eden) just across from the beach, this vegan bar and restaurant embraces the paddock to plate, farm to fork philosophy with gusto. Rather than simple salads, this newly opened venue serves up creative plant-based dishes that go way beyond the pale. Think pizzas, pastas, burgers, hotdogs and giant cookies – it’s vegan food, but not as you know it.

Some of the items on the menu that are already become firm favourites with locals include the plant-based ‘captain Jack’ pizza – topped with caramelised onion, barbecued jackfruit and chilli mayo; a mushroom-based take on a classic spag bol; and the plant-based hotdog and cheeseburger on a sweet potato bun, both of which are guaranteed to leave even the firmest of meat-eaters satisfied. Catering to all allergies, there’s a tonne of nut and gluten-free options too.

Clearly passionate about the benefits of veggie fare, Eden is equally enthusiastic about cocktails. With a resident mixologist creating Instagram-worthy creations, such as the ‘garden of Eden’ (naturally), comprising hippocampus vodka, green chartreuse, lemon, mint, cucumber and myrtle soda; and the ‘Bondi sour’, containing Old Tom’s Gin, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, aquafaba, rosemary and grapefruit garnish. There’s also a selection of yummy smoothies and pressed juices.

Could this be the newest, best vegan joint in town? Quite possibly.

Tokki, Surry Hills

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A marriage of Japanese and Korean Izakayas, Tokki is fresh from its opening on Foveux Street but is already making serious waves in the local nightlife scene.

Specialising in shareable dishes, bespoke cocktails, small-batch beer, and a largely organic and biodynamic wine list, the casual, trendy Surry Hills eatery pairs both good vibes and good food.

Classic dishes from both Tokyo and Seoul are given a contemporary reworking and brought together under one roof under the expertise of a Korean-born head chef.

xpect varieties of fluffy, steamed bao; a raw bar serving the likes of yellow fin tuna sashimi on a bed of bacon creme fraiche with lime ponzu (so good!); kimchi fried rice; and a new take on prawn toast called ‘menbosha’ – essentially brioche toast with prawns coated in Sriracha mayonnaise.

Go native and pair your food with a soju cocktail. For the uninitiated, soju is the world’s most popular liquor that you never knew existed. Beloved by Koreans, the distilled Korean spirit is traditionally consumed with food (especially Korean BBQ) but also mixes into cocktails.

Speaking of, you can’t visit Tokki and not try their take on Korea’s biggest two culinary exports: KFC (Korean fried chicken) and Korean BBQ. Crunchy, spicy, and perfectly cooked, KFC is a national Korean obsession and the version at Tokki is drenched in drool-inducing sweet garlic sauce and crushed peanuts. The BBQ tray assortment of wagyu short ribs, baby pork, and pork belly is equally appealing and a surefire favourite with hungry carnivores.

(All images: supplied, lead image: The Cosmopolitan Double Bay / supplied)

Published 14 January, 2020