It’s exciting to watch someone passionate about their craft get experimental. When the Shangri-La decided to overhaul Café Mix, it put Bo Sørensen (previously at Greenhouse Al Muntaha and Altitude) in charge. The result is Shayan Quarter, an interactive mix of Asian street-food and fine-dining technique.
Forget about the buffet and pick dishes off Sørensen’s innovative menu. “I’m not authentic, but I don't want to be. If you want authentic you go down to Chinatown.”
He serves deep-fried bao buns baoger style with master stock-poached pork belly and garlic chips. Shake it chicken is a riff on Sørensen’s childhood memories of McDonalds in Hong Kong. Based on Shakin' Flavour Fries, the chicken wings come crisply fried in a bag with a side bowl of Szechuan chili salt. Orders are to dump a whole load of seasoning in the bag and shake that sucker until everything’s coated in mouth-numbing joy. It’s playful, precise and entirely representative of both Sørensen’s technique and his taste for the theatrical. “Stephen (Krasiki, executive chef at Shangri-La) has given me that leeway so I can really experiment.”
Although it’s got a working menu, Shayan Quarter doesn’t officially open until its renovation finishes in January. That means for the next six months, Sørensen will also be using his kitchen as a playground to test some of his more unusual ideas. His most recent concoction is ice cream-styled chicken. It looks like a spruced-up magnum, but it’s pure poultry. In the centre is confit Girraween leg. Wrapped around that is a larb-like Thai-spiced chicken mince, and on the outside, there is a crispy skin with the occasional dab of Sørensen’s mayo or Sriracha. It’s perplexing but also hugely enjoyable, certainly an original dish in Sydney.
Sørensen says the chicken-pop (he’s taking suggestions for a new name) is his Adam and Eve. The chicken-pop hasn’t migrated to the menu yet, so make sure to ask for it, and while you’re at it, order a Mamacini. It’s a giant arancini ball packed with tomato and cumin-braised goat, brie and cheddar that’s then doused in garlic-chip strands and a viscous garlic aioli. It’s intense, distinct and odd, kind of like something you’d make by accident if your fridge were filled with produce from an incredible deli.
Level 1, 176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
(02) 9250 6206
Mon to Sun 12pm–2.30pm
Mon to Sun 6pm–10.30pm