Once upon a time Little Bird went by the name Papa Bo Min and served dumplings and Chinese roast duck. The format didn’t quite work for its CBD clientele so the Lotus Group – behind it and six other Sydney venues, including Fujisaki, Lotus and Madam Shanghai – changed it up.
In charge is Mindy Wood, a former Masterchef contestant and food consultant. Her menu is designed to suit the open, airy venue, and takes inspiration from her childhood years spent in Penang, Malaysia.
Wood’s chicken rice is the star of the menu – a juicy, soy-lathered quarter, half or whole bird served with a tangy chilli sauce, a coriander-laden ginger and onion dip, and a bowl of garlicky rice. Other Malaysian street food staples, such as the chicken curry with house-made roti (a rarity in Sydney outside of Mamak) and the smoky char kway teow (stir-fried noodles considered Malaysia’s national dish) are similar to their Penang equivalents, but leaner.
That’s not to say this is a “healthy” restaurant, Woods just does lighter versions of these classic dishes. Alongside Chinese-style edamame, snow pea and sesame paste salad, are stir-fried flat noodles, five-spiced rubbed beef belly and char-sui pancakes.
The drinks menu is equally approachable and fun. Craft beers from Hawaii and New Orleans sit alongside recognisable locals, and the cocktail menu is made up of familiar names, each with a subtle twist. The Levi Blues is an Americano, but with a hint of coconut, while the Peckin’ Pina Colada has the addition of Campari, bitters and maraschino cherries.