Aaron Ratanatray has brought a little piece of Southeast Asia to his home turf at Prospect. The 33-year-old has transformed an old deli into a bustling grab-and-go for authentic Asian street food.
He’s captured a chilled beach hut vibe at Sunny’s Shop, complete with dark wood walls, tropical greenery and a Balinese shop front straight out of the ’70s. Sunny is a fictional character, but Ratanatray describes him as “that guy who owns a shop by the beach, maybe in Phuket somewhere, where you’d come in all sandy and get a nice papaya salad.”
Centre-stage above the counter is a menu board hand-painted by artist Tristan Kerr. Plastic stools and metal tables complete the hawker ambience outside. “I really want it to be a destination,” Ratanatray says. “It’s got so much charm and warmth that if you were just to get takeaway you’d be missing half the fun.”
But Sunny’s is more than aesthetics. “So much of Asian food is so watered down these days so I really wanted to recreate something authentic,” Ratanatray says. The lunchtime menu features quick items like salads, cold rolls and bánh mì, while a brand-new dinner menu will provide more substantial offerings such as pad Thai, larb (spicy mincemeat salad), curries, and papaya salad. It will be rolled out in the next week and available through the UberEATS app.
Born to Laotian and Australian parents, Ratanatray has a long history of hospitality in his family. Sunny’s is his first solo venture, and the first two weeks were anything but easy.
“We had some awful weather and blackouts so it’s thrown me right in the deep end,” he says, shuddering at how bad the day after SA’s statewide blackout was. “We had to throw out so much stock. It was really tough.”
Rain or shine, it seems Sunny’s Shop is satisfying the street-food cravings of Prospect and beyond, with lines streaming out the door come lunchtime. There are already plans to expand with additional seats inside and a beer garden out the back.
Mon to Sat 11am–2.30pm; 5pm–8.30pm