Surry Hills’ Sugarcane restaurant has weathered Sydney’s evolving dining scene and earlier this month reopened its doors. Keeping to its South-East Asian focus, owner and head chef Milan Strbac realised it was time to transform the venue. It now has communal seating, graffiti on exposed bricks, Thai street posters and a new team, including mixologist Michael Eason (previously of Ms G’s) and front of house manager and 10 William St alumnus Ged Higgins.

The five-week renovation was led by Giant Designs and, although Milan – who has owned and run the restaurant for five-and-a-half years – is happy with the food, the minimal, white interior was in need of a change to give the space a cosier, more casual, canteen atmosphere.

Strbac previously worked at Longrain with Martin Boetz and frequently visits Asia, “We have drawn inspiration from the back streets of Bangkok,” he says.

While menu staples such as crisp chicken with blood-plum sauce and wagyu rendang curry remain, new additions include share plates of roti with Malaysian curry sauce and crisp tortilla with crab, green apple, coconut and lime.

“Our dishes don’t focus on a particular country or region,” says Higgins. The menu showcases street-food dishes from destinations such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Northern Thailand. “Our menu is very dependent on what is available at the markets. The beauty of Asian food is that it’s dependent on the freshness of ingredients, so we often find ourselves at the mercy of the farmer,” he says.

With a vibrant cocktail list and natural wine varieties, the team hopes to encourage a drinking culture at the venue. “It’s about offering a holistic restaurant experience,” says Higgins. “We want to add to the space and make it somewhere people can come for a drink after work.

40a Reservoir Street, Surry Hills

Wed to Fri 12pm–2:30pm
Mon to Sat 6pm–10pm