There’s no ramen at Salaryman anymore. It didn’t work. The chef who made it (and eventually dropped it), Stephen Seckold, is also gone. Alex Lynn is in charge now, an ex-Mr Wong and Ms. G's chef who’s keen on playing with Asian flavours in an Australian context. “That’s why I came here, I knew modern Asian would work,” he says. “If it was ramen, I wouldn't have come. I'm a white guy, I can do funky Asian shit but I can't do full-on ramen. Ramen is sick in Sydney anyway.”
The menu is made of simple dishes with big, punchy flavours. A beef tartare with black sesame rice fritters riffs on cheeseburger flavours and is made with smoked cheddar, egg yolk, cubes of beetroot and miso mustard. Kingfish is served in a salad with charred plums, cucumber and shiso-and-yuzu vinaigrette. A hunk of pork hock is the centrepiece of a DIY bao dish with pickles, herbs and Bulldog sauce (a pungent barbeque sauce).
Everything is easy to share. Lynn serves stracciatella instead of burrata with shallot pancakes and chilli oil because it’s easy to split with chopsticks. Most other things can be eaten by hand.
The other important factor for Lynn is the price point. “If I look around [Sydney] every kingfish dish is $24, burrata is hitting $24, beef short ribs are pushing $48. I feel like this package is good,” he says pointing at a $20 kingfish salad and a $19 bowl of stracciatella.
The rest of the restaurant is largely unchanged. The design is the same, the dim vibe remains, and the bar, run by Lloyd Whitlam, still has a strong cocktail game. “I wanted to establish a core cocktail list that matches the style of food and flavours here,” says Lloyd. “We use yuzu in a rye Whiskey Sour, and we do a Saketini with mushroom-infused vodka. We also do weekly specials.”