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The Australian - Supplier to Stir Fryer - By John Lethlean

Fiat @ Food by Fiat - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Australian                                                      

February 18, 2016 12:00AM

From supplier to stir-fryer

JOHN LETHLEAN

A providore to restaurants of excellent Asian ingredients has opened his own kitchen. The dishes are delicious.

Fiat Malaniyom with a selection of cakes at Sunrise Asian. Photo: Bob Barker

Supplier of locally grown Asian produce to Australia’s restaurant luminaries, Sunrise Asian has opened a restaurant and concept store pitched as a “destination for food lovers looking for amazing Australian produce, quality cooking, ingredients and great-tasting food”.

Proprietor Fiat Malaniyom has long been a fixture in the Sydney scene, supporting the likes of chefs Peter Gilmore, David Thompson (credited as the inspiration to start the business), Martin Benn and Neil Perry, with a range of quality, hard-to-find stuff and locally grown — much of it near Darwin — produce.

The pitch: Unpretentious, value-for-money, essentially Asia-inspired eating.

The reality: Fiat is cooking up a storm in this humble but pretty little corner store in a rather lovely part of inner Sydney. There are bare tables and simple indoor-outdoor seating, not quite enough photocopied menus to go around, fridges full of the ready-to-cook range and a few shelves piled high with the kind of stuff you need to make anything out of a glossy magazine these days. By 7pm it’s heaving with locals and, on the Wednesday night we visit, a generous helping of those glossies’ food writers on a night off. It’s a beard and tattoo-free zone.

The cuisine: Exotic, fresh, mostly organic, sustainable, ethical and bloody deli­c­ious. The menu changes according to what’s available but expect a strong Thai accent among the ­selection of Small Bites; Fresh, Raw, Pickled; Salads; Bowl; Wok, Crispy, Grill; and Sides. Here you’ll find finger limes, young bamboo, Tonkin jasmine, saltbush, torch ginger, wasabi leaves, Thai shallots, butterfly peas, padron peppers, sea parsley and goats milk just for starters. All ingredients are listed with their origin and have been tested in the kitchen garden in Sydney to find the best way to grow before sending it out to growers around the country.

Address: 1/21 Elizabeth Bay Rd, Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, phone (02) 9332 2844, sunriseasian.com.au. Lunch: Tues-Sat; dinner: Wed-Sat. Rating: 3.5 out of 5. Summary: A glorious little find where you just know the produce is going to be impressive

Jasmine salad with prawns. Photo: Bob Barker.

Highlights: Everything we tried was outstanding, but if we had to pick favourites they’d be crispy rice cake topped with red curry and fleshy, thick lobster medallions, pickled Thai shallots and sea succulents — an exercise in the balance of crisp, sweet, fresh, tangy and luxuriously modern. A young bamboo shoot dish on a large betel leaf with black garlic sauce, sesame seeds and shredded Kaffir lime and Thai basil leaves is creamy, umami-rich, sweet, unctuous and surprising. All extremely satisfying. It’s also BYO so you can treat yourself if you feel like splashing out on a couple of nice bottles of wine. A light and fruity rendang of ­butter-soft beef cheeks is atypical of the Malay standard and absolutely terrific.

Lowlights: It’s a corner store, so don’t go ­expecting a fully fledged restau­rant experience. Service is charming and competent but the whole experience is reflective of how ­recently they’ve come to the restaurant game. The wine service is a bit hit and miss. But it is BYO.

Will I need a food dictionary? No. Fiat is more knowledgeable about his ingredients than almost anyone in Australia, so just ask him if you need help. There is also plenty of reading material provided.

The damage: Very reasonable for such high quality, interesting and delicious food.