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Sugarcane: Coogee’s Little Slice of Southeast Asia

By Dining Dave Instagram @diningdave on October 26, 2016 in Food

Photo: Grant Brooks

Photo: Grant Brooks

There’s nothing quite like a relaxing meal on a Southeast Asian beach, is there? Balmy nights in Bali and Thailand certainly come to mind. Coogee, while no doubt boasting a beautiful beach, just ain’t the same, but that hasn’t stopped Milan Strbac, the owner and chef of Sugarcane, Coogee’s latest culinary sensation, from pursuing this vision in his new Eastern Beaches venture, and he’s certainly leaving his mark.

Sugarcane is prominent on the corner of Carr Street and Arden Street, staring out squarely at Coogee Beach. My two companions and I approached it on a windy Thursday spring evening, starving and anxious to see what all the fuss was about. Merrily greeted at the door, we were seated on the balcony, which gave us a view of both of Sugarcane’s two dining areas and the beach. The décor is subtly Indonesian, with flowers and hanging plants, and a strong reliance on timber throughout. It certainly is a relaxing place to dine.

From the second we met our enthusiastic waiter, Joe, we were confident that this meal was going to blow us away. Starting out with two glasses of Rieslingfreak ‘No. 3’ and a frosty Orion beer, Joe informed us that all the dishes were meant to be shared, and were both large and tasty.

Sugarcane’s cuisine borrows from Thai, Malaysian, Indian, and Indonesian influences, making it a true Southeast Asian affair. We started with several of the ‘small’ dishes: the rice cake with prawn, coriander, and caramelised sugarcane; betel leaf with kingfish, sambal matah and coconut; crisp tortillas with crab, green apple, coconut and lime; and roti with Malaysian curry sauce and pickled cucumber. While all four were excellently prepared, flavoursome and innovative, we all agreed that the betel leaf and the roti were the two standouts.

When Joe returned he guided us to the ‘large’ dishes that would knock us out: crispy chicken, quince and blood orange; and North Sumatran curry with Milly Hill lamb neck and ginger ajar. The citrusy, shallot-covered boneless fried chicken was a giant plate of deliciousness, while the tender lamb soaked in curry simply melted in the mouth. We decided to compliment the mains with Balinese fried rice and braised eggplant with black beans and shallots. It turned out to be much more food than we probably needed, but we still left with no regrets.

After all that, we somehow still had room for dessert. The Pandan donuts and the Milo chocolate mousse with condensed milk ice cream and meringue really hit the spot.

After our wonderful meal we decided go for a walk along Coogee’s beach promenade. While it wasn’t quite as warm as Bali, nor as busy, we were happy in the knowledge that the extraordinary flavours of Southeast Asia are only are short stroll up the hill.

Sugarcane Restaurant
Address Shop 1, 56 Carr Street, Coogee
Phone (02) 8313 9790
Instagram @sugarcane_syd
Email info@sugarcanerestaurant.com.au
Open From 5.30pm, Tuesday to Sunday
Prices $18 – $32
Cards Accepted All major cards
Licensed/BYO Licensed

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