East Asia really knows how to do brunch. Rice, a bit of fish, small bowls of broth or stew, and a dizzying array of side dishes is something shared across the region – mostly healthful and full of flavour. Now, Potts Point’s Paper Bird has decided to put its own spin on the tradition by launching its brunch menu.
From April 7, its existing breakfast offering will be replaced by a more relaxed line-up of dishes that riff on Korean, Chinese and Japanese delicacies, with service from 10am and until 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Chefs and co-owners Ben Sears, Ned Brooks and Eun Hee Ann say the decision for the change was made because they didn’t want their venue to be interrupted by the changeover from breakfast to lunch and dinner. Instead, they want a seamless menu and restaurant that encourages lengthy, frivolous afternoon sessions with friends.
“We were finding we were getting more people coming in from 10am wanting something other than scrambled eggs on toast,” says Brookes, adding that brunch more reflects what Paper Bird is as a restaurant. “It’s about sitting down with a group of people and sharing a selection of dishes, taking your time and bringing a sense of fun.”
The new menu includes pork-katsu “sandos” and pipis doused in sweet-miso butter served with a chunk of Bourke Street Bakery rye for dunking. Brooks describes it as “a nice, traditional, common dish you find in East-Asian restaurants.” There’s also panko-crumbed arancini injected with XO sauce and a mussel emulsion; and crab wontons in a pool of black vinegar streaked with scarlet specks of chilli. And then there’s hoedeopbap – a nourishing Korean dish of rice latticed with pearly raw fish – which is typically eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“Fusion is not a dirty word,” says Brooks. “We’re not putting a Western spin on East-Asian classics; it’s just our interpretation of an Asian dish using Western ingredients.”
Take the salt-and-pepper squid for example. It’s classic but incorporates native saltbush and bush pepper.
The team sees it working like this: waiters will place down the diverse dishes on the table, all at once, to be enjoyed with the newspaper and a Single O espresso. This will then be followed by rounds of Yuzu Spritzes or Bloody Marys with Korean chilli powder, spices and a spear of pickled cucumber.
The wine list has grown from 85 varietals to 110, including more sparkling wine and burgundy (white and red). “We’ve extended it out a little bit. It’s not crazy expensive … a little more about the $100 to $120 mark so you can have a really nice bottle with your lunch,” says Brooks.
You can still greet the day with crisp fried chicken (which was made famous at the owners’ former restaurant, Redfern’s Moon Park); golden-fried hash browns; and eggs enlivened with chilli king-brown mushrooms and potato, which will be carried across from the old breakfast menu.
Brooks says the local community has embraced Paper Bird since opening in July last year. “It’s different to Redfern. There’s a lot more pedestrian traffic [here] and we’re among a hotbed of restaurants. It’s nice to be in the community. If we run out of a bottle of gin, we’ll just walk across the road and borrow one from the Apollo. We all know each other’s names and say hello. When we first opened, Kylie Kwong (Billy Kwong) popped her head in the door and screamed hello.”
Paper Bird will offer its brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday, from 10am until 3pm, before an all-day menu will be offered from 3pm until late.