Zero Mode is an all-day pan-Asian cafe and restaurant. It’s in a modern, pared-back space that’s been thoughtfully designed with light-grey walls, a white espresso bar, honeycomb tiling around the kitchen, and circular fixtures.
Moving up to the second level, you’ll find a loft-style space with extra seating. In the morning, the floor-to-ceiling windows bring tons of natural light and contrasting shadows into the space. At night, things get a bit moodier and the neon signage kicks in, adding a colourful glow to the room.
Owner Cain Xu and head chef Kyo Tze Jian Tan work together to come up with inventive new ideas for the menu: each dish starts with an idea from Xu – a flavour combination, an ingredient or a rough concept – then Tan works on recipe development, cooking and testing.
There’s a good handful of sweet, savoury and spicy combinations on the menu, some a bit unorthodox, but all grounded in familiar flavours. Take the Wild West Waffle, a dish centred around fried chicken, egg, and siracha-maple bacon that comes covered in a net of bubblegum-pink fairy floss.
Xu’s nod to the Korean trend of pairing fried chicken with beer is culminated within the joint’s Boozy Broth – an Asahi beer glass that’s filled with thick noodles and a broth of pork, chicken and ginseng. It’s then topped with a foam of egg white and cream cheese, and served with crispy fried chicken, a mix of mushrooms, some kimchi and more noodles on the side. It sounds – and looks – a bit strange, but it works.
Zero Mode’s cakes are internet famous. People come from across town to try both the cream cakes and the bubble tea cakes here: your cake is presented to you, its structural support is removed, and it self-collapses into a messy puddle.
On the drinks list, there are ales from Tasmania’s Moo Brew, a pear cider from The Hills Cider Co, sweet lychee cider, and a selection of cocktails, including the tequila-based Sour Mode (with notes of elderflower and lime) and the Japanese Mode (a powerful hit of gin, sake and yuzu).