10 Mar Rock Sugar, South Yarra
Loud hip hop tunes and bright pink neon lights are the setting for Malvern Road’s Rock Sugar, which was once the former home of owner Nikon Souphan. The kitchen is in the hands of Executive Chef Kam McManamey, who’s had experience doing up the menus for places like Botherambo, Dandelion and Bang Pop.
The food is billed as modern Thai, with the drinks list including an inventive cocktail list that features a few Asian twists such as tamarind, pandan, and sake. Salted Caramel Mocha Martini is a mix of vodka, coffee, and Baileys, and it’s a smooth and strong drink with a touch of sweetness.
The meal gets off to a good start with the refreshing spiced Thai tuna tartare and avocado lime on rice cracker, and the Soft Shell Crab Steamed Buns filled with crisp and juicy crabs, pickled papaya, green onion and chilli jam, and salted egg sprinkled over. Filled with saltgrass lamb, the Spring Rolls come with dobs of massaman cream. Their smooth, pale-coloured filling is tasty, and the pastry is suitably crunchy. Beef Short Rib is accompanied by pickles, chilli salt and a trio of sauces, including tamarind nam jim. The bone slides out with only a gentle pull, and the meat is tender and gelatinous. Definitely the one with the biggest bang for buck.
Rock Sugar’s Red Curry comes with duck leg, pineapple, young bamboo, snake beans and Thai basil, though the colour of the curry is not quite as deep as expected. It’s more sweet in flavour, but when stirred up, a more tangy flavour comes through. The tender Pork Belly is coated with a peppery caramel, and sits on an orange smear of nam prik that isn’t too spicy. Spring onion, cucumber and radish cut through the fattiness of the cut of pork. On the side, we have the soft shell crab Som Tum. There’s a definite spice hit from the green bean chilli here. The sauces of the larger dishes are enjoyed with a small bowl of jasmine rice, and crispy roti, which comes with a salty peanut sauce.
It’s a fun environment for drinks and shared plates. Small shares and singles at Rock Sugar are the highlight, and though we didn’t try any, we’ve heard good things about dessert.
Disclaimer: I received a discount to dine at Rock Sugar, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time
477 Malvern Rd
South Yarra, VIC, 3141
(03) 9826 2888