Pasta isn’t just an Italian thing anymore. LuMi and ACME have redefined what pasta can be and now cafes such as Brainwave and Double Cross Espresso Bar are doing their own experiments. New cafe Double Cross in Crows Nest serves a new take on mentaiko spaghetti, a Japanese-Italian dish made with marinated cod roe.

“There's a couple of pastas that are really common in Japan,” says Double Cross’s co-owner and chef, Samuel Lee. “The basic mentaiko pasta is made with butter, cream, milk and mentaiko (chilli-marinated cod roe). I use a soy-sauce and lemon base and we serve crème fraiche and egg on top.” The idea is you can enjoy the marinated-cod flavour (nutty and not particularly fishy) or mix the cream in to have something similar to the creamy original.

“I'm Korean, my wife is Japanese. On our table there's Japanese, some Korean, maybe Indian, Spanish and Italian. It's all mixed. I love it.” Lee says that’s his and business partner Quinton Ng’s concept for the cafe – to have a simple (there’s not much in terms of embellishment) and relaxed venue that has both casual food with an Asian and French twist, and hotel-style service. They both worked at Standford Hotels together.

Because Lee is working in a commercial kitchen for the first time, he’s starting off with mostly basic dishes. The fusion aspect will be further introduced as he gets the hang of the new job. Until then you can try the mentaiko pasta; a karaage burger stuffed with eggy macaroni; a confit fillet of salmon with a 63-degree egg and creamed spinach; and a soufflé ricotta omelette. “We had a lobster burger with gochujang (a fermented Korean condiment) that we want to do as a weekend special,” says Lee.

He’s most proud of the two delicate tiramisus, one made more classically with Kahlua, single-origin espresso and Mok cacao; and another made with a high-grade matcha-and-vanilla blend.

Double Cross Espresso Bar is the only cafe getting its everyday supply of beans from acclaimed Darlinghurst roasters and fellow fusion enthusiasts Edition Coffee Roasters.

Double Cross Espresso Bar
Shop 2/118 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest
(02) 9438 1058

Mon to Fri 6.30am–6pm
Sat & Sun 6.30am–5pm