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The Daily Telegraph - by Elizabeth Meryment
The Daily Telegraph
Bright dawn for rising star REVIEW
By Elizabeth Meryment Chief food critic The Daily Telegraph
Address: Shop 1, 19-23 Elizabeth Bay Rd, Elizabeth Bay
Phone: 9332 2844
Food: Thai (mostly)
Sour orange curry of barramundi, taro, humming bird flower and crispy cha-om leaf from Sunrise Asian in Elizabeth Bay. Pictures: John Appleyard
The best recommendations for restaurants are always those you get from chefs. For instance, I was talking to a chef recently when she blurted out, as if expressing a sentiment she could not contain: “Have you been to Sunrise Asian yet?” (Answer: no). “Oh my god, it’s just incredible. The ingredients! The ingredients!”
Well, what can you do after that but visit a place? And so it is on a balmy Friday night about two minutes later, we’re at Sunrise Asian looking a menu full of dishes that do indeed contain the most extraordinary and unusual things.
To wit, here’s some of the produce on tonight’s specials list: land seaweed and hummingbird flower (served with scallops), tonkin jasmine and torch ginger (with grilled prawns and pork belly) and lemon aspen and citrus purslane (with crispy ocean perch and “three flavour sauce”).
Move on to the regular list and there’s more: long green eggplant, hog plum leaf, waterlily stem, cha-om leaf, wild ginger, butterfly pea, banana blossom, wasabi leaf and, perhaps more prosaically these days, betel leaf, sea succulents, saltbush and flowering garlic.
Scampi with hog plum leaf and lychee.
Crab with torch ginger, finger lime on fresh wasabi leaf.
Picture: John Appleyard
Fiat Malaniyom from Sunrise Asian in Elizabeth Bay. Picture: John Appleyard
So what is this place and where do they get all this stuff?
Sunrise Asian is owned and run by Fiat Malaniyom, a Thai who for a decade ran a stall at the EQ markets supplying Sydney’s top chefs with their more unusual Asian ingredients.
And he remains their supplier, for Sunrise Asian is a not just a restaurant but a cafe, shop and wholesaler selling to the likes of Christine Manfield, Neil Perry and Peter Gilmore. Impressive.
This is Malaniyom’s first restaurant and the kitchen produces food mostly rooted in Thai tradition, with, occasionally, other Asian influences (Japanese, say).
The result is aromatic, sophisticated and exciting eating the likes of which you really can’t get elsewhere.
Start with some of the delicate smaller bites, like blue swimmer crab with finger lime and kaffir lime on wasabi leaf ($6 each), a joyous mouthful of sweet, sour, savoury goodness that instantly whets the appetite for more.
Follow these by grilled scallops with roasted coconut, pomelo and long leaf coriander on betel leaf ($6 each), for a faintly sweeter, more fragrant hit. They’re so good you could eat 10.
A good handful of split, grilled scampi ($32) come on a sweet-sour salad of hog plum leaf, lychee and pineapple. The smokiness of the scampi and the acidic salad take you to the streets of Bangkok, as does the deeply unusual tang of barramundi in a sour orange curry ($35).
The flavours are deep, spicy, complex and beautifully balanced; some more fish wouldn’t go astray. The tonkin jasmine salad with prawns ($34) is another head spin of beautiful rare flavours and textures.
Perhaps it is understandable that the prices are high for smallish portions in a casual setting that’s BYO. These are speciality ingredients presented in unique and interesting ways. It’s not your average Thai food and you pay for that. No wonder the chefs are raving. Now the secret’s out.
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