The hopper bar at new Surry Hills Sri Lankan diner Kurumba is the best seat in the house. It takes serious skill to evenly coat the rounded hopper pan with a fermented rice flour and coconut milk batter to create the crepe-thin bowl-shaped pancake. Doing six at once is an incredible feat of coordination, and makes for enthralling mealtime viewing.
Hoppers and sambols – moreish Sri Lankan breakfast staples – are just the start on the De Hoedt family’s new menu, which takes cues from their former Dulwich Hill restaurant, The Fold, which closed in July. The Surry Hills venue will feel familiar to fans: mum Dilki oversees front of house, dad Augi heads up the kitchen and son Travin (Franca Brasserie) is general manager. Son Jason (Franca Brasserie) and Travin’s wife Saaya Takahashi (Six Penny, Sokyo, Quay) oversee the decadent pastry and cake offering.
But Kurumba isn’t The Fold 2.0. “We’ve always been looking to open a restaurant and wine bar,” Travin tells Broadsheet. “When we found the Surry Hills spot, it was perfect. We had to say goodbye to The Fold to put all our energy into Kurumba.”
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Kurumba means young coconut in Sinhala, and the ingredient is found in many dishes from sambols to curries and desserts. “We had the name Kurumba for two years in our minds. We wanted to serve a modern interpretation of the Sri Lankan street food we ate as kids, the food my mum and dad ate when they were young.”
There are pan rolls filled with beef brisket, breaded in sourdough crumbs and fried; seeni sambol puffs, where the relish of spiced caramelised onions is topped with Vannella buffalo curd; and jackfruit cutlets served with fermented green chilli and fresh coconut chutney.
There’s also fragrant WA lobster kottu with curry. “We make our roti in-house, toss it and chop it in the wok on a high flame to get a nice flavour, then add pan-seared lobster on top,” Travin says. “We don’t want to over-complicate the lobster. It’s served with a roasted lobster head curry made with my dad’s special curry powder.”
Kurumba collaborated with Newcastle brewery Bread & Brewery to create a treacle beer based on Sri Lanka’s famed Lion Lager. Cocktails also incorporate Sri Lankan flavours, such as the Rumba Kurumba, where Ceylon arak joins tart calamansi citrus, young coconut water and pandan in a small coconut.
The venue spans two floors, with a 40-seat dining room upstairs, and the hopper bar and outdoor tables downstairs. Pendants, made from batik fabric custom-printed with young coconut tree leaves, cast a lovely light over the evening service.
Travin says fans of The Fold have also been asking whether house-baked pastries will make an appearance at Kurumba. “On Sunday, we’re doing a long lunch. There will be music, we’ll have baked goods and cakes on the counter plus savoury items, and we’ll also have the full à la carte menu.”
55 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Tue to Thu midday–3pm
Fri & Sat midday–3pm, 5.30pm–late