Sugarcane Restaurant has opened in Coogee bringing to the beachside suburb the vibrant Asian flavours of chef and owner Milan Strbac.
There is a feel of being in a stylish Asian-style beach house with its bamboo and timber finishes and faded posters behind mesh beneath an overhanging garden. There is a room with communal tables for those who are happy to share the experience or for groups. Opposite the cocktail bar are high tables while the outside tables that overlook the beach and rolling surf yearn for those pre-dinner cocktails in summer as the heat of the day subsides.
The cocktail menu has been created by Flynn McLennan (Uncle Ming’s, Kagura) which features Asian-inspired cocktails that have you reminiscing or dreaming of your next tropical holiday. They are fresh and summery late afternoon cocktails that stand by themselves but also prepare the palate for the meal to come.
Kaffir Lime Colada
The Kaffir Lime Colada ($18) with Pussers Navy Rum, Pineapple Plantation Rum, Coconut Cream, Pineapple, Orange, Lemon, Kaffir Lime served in mug over crushed ice is a well balanced tiki style cocktail. The blend of rums, cream, pineapple and citrus make for a very refreshing drink with the aromatics from the kaffir lime taking you to a place under the palm tress.
If the Martini is your drink of choice, the Kumquat Martini ($18) with London Dry Gin, Bitters, House Made Kumquat Vermouth will be one to add to your list of favourites. This bitter style of Martini is dry and delicious.
The Tamarind Sour ($18) with vodka, King’s Ginger Liqueur, Tamarind Lime, Coconut Sugar Syrup is a tangy aperitif but just lacked the punch of the tamarind to enhance the sour.
Cucumber Fizz ($18) with London Dry Gin, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Cucumber Juice, Pear Juice, Lime Mint and Soda is as refreshing as it seems. A wonderful palate cleanser that also pairs well with the dishes.
Sugarcane’s menu feature a similar shared concept to the Surry Hills venue but with more seafood options to reflect the new beachside location including the Fresh or raw section.
The Scallops with Eschallot, Green Apple, Coriander and Chilli ($19) are wonderfully fresh with the scallop itself oh so soft. The chilli delivers a mild heat that develops slowly on the palate.
The Hiramasa Kingfish with Roasted Rice, Chilli, Lime and Coriander ($22) packs a punch bringing together the fresh Kingfish and a piquancy from the combination of lime and coriander with a good hit of chilli.
Salt and Pepper Squid
You may have had salt and pepper squid before but Sugarcane’s version of Salt and Pepper Squid, Yellow Bean and Soy Dressing ($20) is well worth ordering. Tender, well seasoned with a good kick of chilli and a yellow bean sauce that makes the dish.
Pork Mince Salad
Another favourite is the Pork Mince Salad, Lettuce Cups and Crispy Rice ($24) served with crisp lettuce cups. Zingy and spicy with the rice adding texture and crunch, the flavours lingers long with heat while the lettuce adds a cooling effect from the heat of the chilli.
Crispy Chicken, Quince and Blood Orange
Moving onto large dishes, the Crispy Chicken, Quince and Blood Orange ($29) is succulent, sweet and satisfying with the sweet sauce from the quince. With these larger dishes Rice ($3 per person) is available to soak up these wonderful sauces.
Salt and Pepper Silken Tofu
From the Vegetarian selection, the Salt and Pepper Silken Tofu, Mushrooms with Yellow Bean ($16) continues the flavour and texture journey. The softness of the tofu strikes a balance with the earthiness of the mushrooms with the salt and pepper in harmony with the dish.
The Wagyu Rendang ($32) is beautiful and soft as it melts in the mouth with the combination of spices making for a big full flavoured dish. The origins of Rendang are as a traditional dish for feasts and ceremonies and once tasting this dish you can fully understand why.
Desserts in some Asian restaurants are almost an afterthought but certainly not at Sugarcane where the concise dessert selection offers as much flavour as the savoury dishes that have come before.
Take for instance the Strawberry Parfait with Candied Puffed Rice Crumble and Vietnamese Mint Jelly ($15), a palate refreshing dessert that brings together a blend of textures from its components.
Milo Choc Mousse
To the Milo Choc Mousse with Condensed Milk Ice Cream and Meringue ($15), a playful lattice with a creamy mousse and the smooth ice cream of condensed milk.
Spiced Banana Cake
The Spiced Banana Cake, Thai Butterscotch, Peanut Butter Ice Cream ($15) is a balance of spice and sweet and perfect for those looking for that dash of comfort food to end the evening.
The Tapioca with Palm Hearts, Green Mango and Lychee Granita ($15) with its festive look is a fun blend of the softness and silkiness of the tapioca contrasted against the cool crunch of the granita.
Sugarcane is a welcome and long-needed addition to Coogee with its decor fitting so well in its beachside home. The dishes may be shared and may seem familiar but are taken to the next level with Chef’s use of spices and bolder flavours. Add to this a cocktail list on point, friendly wait staff and you have the makings for a relaxed experience with friends or family that you will want to have again and again.
Shop 1, 56 Carr Street
Coogee NSW 2034
Tuesday -Sunday 5:30pm – late