When Sunrise Asian opened there wasn’t a lot of fanfare among the general public. However, Sydney’s best chefs were keen to check it out. Fiat Malaniyom has been providing Australia’s best restaurants with exotic and esoteric ingredients for more than a decade as a supplier.
“I wanted to show people that just because you have Asian ingredients and produce, that doesn't mean you have to put it with certain things in certain ways,” says Malaniyom, who’s joined in the business by Anthony Donnel. Unsurprisingly, the menu is exciting.
What is surprising is that despite Malaniyom’s total lack of experience as a professional chef, the food looks and tastes like it’s by someone who has worked for years in fine dining. Also surprising is that this spot is waiting in the most humble and unlikely venue, a simple, if slightly gaudy, cafe-grocer in the backstreets of Elizabeth Bay.
The menu, as is the standard with serious new openings, changes with the season. At the moment you can look forward to an island of Hiramasa king fish on pickled sweet bamboo shoots, wasabi stems and crumbs of flowering garlic. “This sweet bamboo shoot is really beautiful. There are 500 species, or something, but there is only one that is sweet that you can eat straight away,” Malaniyom says. “The tonkin jasmin is also purely beautiful,” he says. "Last year we managed to get it growing. It's the first time I've seen it outside Thailand.” That particular ingredient, a flower with an attached bulb that’s both crunchy and sweet, is tossed with succulent pork belly, torch ginger (a large crimson flower with a subtle sour tang) and a galangal and kaffir lime dressing.
Dessert is no less enterprising, with rose-poached nectarines in rambutan and pandan granita and a beautiful trifle-like pudding with lychee and raspberry jelly, white chocolate mousse, lychee granita and mini spheres of white chocolate and honeycomb.
Although many of the dishes are Thai inspired, with a clear sour, sweet, salty balance, Malaniyom is quick to express that this isn’t Asian food or fusion, it’s about the produce and that produce is Australian. “Some people might think it's a bit weird to throw things together like that,” he says. “[But] we live in such a multicultural society. We want to celebrate the global cuisine.”
Along with a well-priced degustation, Sunrise Asian also runs a lunchtime takeaway trade with more recognisable Thai dishes, cakes and of course, the products of Malaniyom’s exotic and luxurious grocery store.
The Encore Building, Shop 1, 21 Elizabeth Bay Road, Potts Point
(02) 9332 2844
Sunrise Asian Restaurant
Wed to Sat 11am–3pm, 6pm–9pm
Sunrise Asian Retail Store
Wed to Sat 10am–9pm