REVIEW: Sydney Kopitiam Cafe

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015

File this one under: small Malaysian joints with smaller kitchens that miraculously pump out an almost impossibly large amount of dishes (alongside Yang’s Food Truck and hopefully a growing list as we become Sydney’s premier online guide for Malaysian hotspots).

I’ve walked past Kopitiam a good hundred times and never once thought to go inside, the unremarkable shopfront somehow overpowering the incredible smells coming from within. Maybe I knew how overwhelmed I’d be by the menu, a double sided A4 laminate with no less than 60 dishes on offer. One hot and frothy sweet milk tea was all I needed to calm my mind and focus on the dishes that needed to be ordered the most.

There’s probably not a bad dish on the menu, although the cheap price will effect the quality of certain elements – a ten dollar prawn dish will always taste like a ten dollar prawn dish, but a ten dollar pork belly dish can taste at least double that when stewed with taro and served sweet, sticky and decadent. Nasi lemak, nasi goreng and other Malay staples are on point, celebratorily so given the price point.

Kopitiam is a long running, family owned business and the friendly personalities of the owners shine brightly on the walls, amidst hand written menus and photo collages. This might be Sydney’s only proper ‘dive bar’, and they don’t even sell booze.

Where
592-594 Harris Street, Ultimo

When
Mon-Sun 12-3pm, Tue-Sun 6-9:30pm

How much
$12 a head

REVIEW: Brooklyn Boy Bagels

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015

Things that are in Matraville:

-The high school that our former Premier Bob Carr went to
– 100 years of ANZAC history
– Brooklyn Boy Bagels

You may have eaten a Brooklyn Boy Bagel at the markets over the last few years. A labour of love for ex New Yorker Michael Shafran, who decided to fill Sydney’s bagel shaped hole by perfecting a true NY style bagel at his kitchen in Matraville, then selling them each weekend at markets around Sydney, including Marrickville, Manly and Frenchs Forest. After boiling and baking some ten thousand bagels from his boarded window commercial kitchen, Michael installed a shopfront and opened the Brooklyn Boy Bagel cafe earlier this year.

A stencil of Travis Bickle is somehow more welcoming than the anthropomorphic spray can out the front of the shop but once inside the aroma of hot baked goods is all the welcome mat you need. On the shelves are bagels topped with various seeds (when in doubt, always order the ‘everything’ bagel), which can be cut in half, filled with ham, salmon or variations of the word ‘schmear’. There are also pretzels, rye and challah bread, sandwiches, celery sodas and salted caramel babkas: irresistible sticks of dough, sweet and sticky with caramel.

Earlier in the year I’d be hard pressed to come up with many reasons to visit Matraville (and I’m a HUGE Bob Carr buff) but I can think of at least ten reasons to visit now – and all of them come out of the ovens at Brooklyn Boy Bagels.

Where
448 Bunnerong Rd, Matraville

When
Mon-Thu 7am-3pm, Fri-Sun 7am-4pm

How much
Bagels from $4.50

REVIEW: Waterman’s Lobster Co.

A lobster roll? In Sydney? I’ve been burned before and spend most of my nights crying myself to sleep over our city’s inability to cram a bunch of cold lobster meat into a hot dog bun and charge me twenty bucks for it.

Someone’s been listening to my midnight sobbing, as the last few months have seen two new lobster-roll-dominant menus launch in Sydney. One of them has a fun name and will be featured in the future, the other has the considerably less fun name that you can see above.

“You know it’s imported, right” barks a disgruntled Potts Point resident as she walks past my lobster-roll-chomping co-worker, before flying into the night while cackling about the success of the lock-out laws. The lobsters at Waterman’s are sourced from Maine, home to a sweeter lobster than the ones that swim in the Pacific. It’s just one of the many steps the restaurant takes to ensure their rolls are as authentic as possible – showcasing the quality of the lobster meat without overpowering it with the other ingredients. You’ll find just warm lobster, butter and a little lemon in the Maine style roll, while the Connecticut option boasts mayonnaise and celery. Much to the surprise of the others at my table, who spend most of their nights being surprised at boring tidbits, I found the Connecticut style lobster roll to be the better of the two, the creaminess of the mayo allowing the cool lobster meat to shine a little brighter.

Did I wish there was a little more meat on the roll? Did I wish they baked a New England style bun, the perfect buttered vessel? Should I spend less time obsessing over pointless minutae? The answer to all those questions is yes. But! Did I spend that night crying myself to sleep? No. The lobster rolls at Waterman’s are the real deal, and just one of the many marine creatures worth eating on the menu, which includes rolls filled with scallops and pork floss and fish rillettes served with pickled carrots and saltines. Washed down with a truly great spritz from the bar (sparkling wine with peach, orgeat and lemon), and Waterman’s Lobster Co. gives you more than enough reasons to chase down that disgruntled local and cram a lobster roll down her mouth (just ask if she’d prefer Maine or Connecticut style first).

Where
5/29 Orwell St, Potts Point
When
Mon-Sat 12pm-late, Sun 10am-6pm
How much
$18

REVIEW: Burger Liquor Lobster

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015

I feel like you’ll be able to buy unicorn dumplings before somewhere serves a proper lobster roll in Sydney. Every few months somewhere new pops up offering their take on the coastal American classic, and these takes can range from the roll containing more potato than it does lobster to a quaint little bun the size of a cupcake.

A lobster roll is simple and can be perfected with just three ingredients: lobster, butter and a hot dog bun. Specifically: fresh lobster meat, slathered in butter, heaped into a warm hot dog bun. If you visit Maine, Connecticut or Nova Scotia, a lobster roll will set you back somewhere between five and ten bucks, with a pickle and some potato chips on the side. If you’re in New York you’ll be able to find the same thing for about double the money. If you’re in Australia you’ll find something completely different for about three times the price.

Burger Liquor Lobster opened last week, in the space above the London Hotel in Paddington. My eyes immediately ignored the first two words of their name. Their menu is divided into three sections, with the lobster portion offering a lobster roll, popcorn lobster, a lobster cobb salad and for some reason, crab and prawn burgers. All the lobster-y options cost $15. I ordered all three of them, because the L in YOLO stands for lobster.

No piercing screams were heard from the kitchen as my three course lobster meal was prepared and after a short wait it was brought to the table. The three dishes each featured salt and pepper lobster – this was deep fried chunks of frozen lobster meat, which I should’ve figured given the price point. On its own, the salt and pepper lobster is crunchy, salty and vaguely fishy. Dipped in lemon aioli, it’s a decent drinking snack. If you’ve ever wondered what deep fried seafood and blue cheese taste like together, try the lobster cobb salad.

The lobster roll features the salt and pepper bites in a hot dog bun with lettuce, onion, aioli and chives. They haven’t been dishonest – it is lobster in a roll, therefore it is a lobster roll. But it’s not the lobster roll that I cry myself asleep about each night, this seemingly simple dish that, due to the cost of fresh lobster in Australia, is anything but.

I realise that Burger Liquor Deep Fried Seafood doesn’t have as nice a ring to it, and that maybe I should just give up on my dream of eating a proper lobster roll in the Southern Hemisphere. Pass the unicorn dumplings.

Where

85 Underwood St, Paddington

When

Mon-Sat, 12pm-12am

How much

$15