One Tea Lounge is like four different venues in one. Owner David Yip has squeezed his famous ramen burgers in next to a perplexing mix of savoury green-tea infusions. Then there’s extremely high-grade steak and a cocktail bar serving teapots. It’s all packed into a bright space that looks like an ‘80s spaceship hotel lobby.
The term “ramen burger” is probably confusing to those who haven’t tried Yip’s controversial creation. It first debuted at the 2013 Night Noodle Markets and is a burger, but the bread buns are replaced with clumps of ramen noodles. They’ve been boiled, dried, marinated and fried to make them solid and crisp but internally gooey and slightly sweet. Yip recommends pairing it with braised pork ribs, the juiciest of One Tea Lounge’s patty options. He says chicken is best for the chewy matcha baoger (a hybrid of a bao and a burger) and for the crunchy rice buns he has a traditional beef patty.
In complete opposition to the imagination and novelty of the burgers there’s the most premium-grade steak on the market. The 9+ marbled wagyu beef, as soft and full of flavour as it comes, is served with a hot lava stone and yakiniku sauce (like a sweet barbeque sauce), matcha salt and green-tea mayonnaise. The stone stays hot for up to 25 minutes so you can personally attend to grilling your beef.
Like the lava-stone grill, almost all the non-burger-menu options have little green leafs next to them. They indicate that those dishes have been infused, cooked with or showered in some form of green tea. Most mystifying is the smoked octopus and avocado salad that arrives enveloped in mist in a terrarium-like dome. When the waiter removes the dome it hits you: the unmistakable smell of weed. Of course it isn’t, it’s Gyokuro, a premium green tea that’s been braised and smoked with the octopus.
Yip gets the green tea from his parents who run Taka Tea Garden, a hobby business that sources and ships premium green teas from Japan. “Usually my mum comes in every Friday. People call her Aunty Helen here. She basically tries to educate people about green tea.” You can try Aunty Helen’s high-grade teas as is, or in extravagant cocktails such as the ONE Tea Experience with Hendricks gin, peach, lemon, rose and green tea.
Yip says after the venue’s launch in a few weeks he hopes to run bacon-and-egg green tea baogers and matcha pancakes for breakfast, and to add a few more desserts. “By accident we've become a dessert bar, not really by design but Instagram has taken over.” Look for a Genmaicha pannacotta and green-tea lava cake.
Because the business idea and inspiration for One Tea Lounge came from Yip’s late fiancée, he’s also planning to run events, proceeds from which will go to cancer research.
One Tea Lounge
73 York Street, Sydney
(02) 9279 3311
Mon to Wed 11am–10pm
Thu to Fri 11am–midnight