A free-spirit studying psychology at the University of Sydney.
Published July 11th 2019
Cuisine that's bursting with colour and spice
It was a tantalising treat discovering the elegant and aromatic Mekong, one of Sydney's best Asian restaurants (Restaurant and Catering Awards, 2017) a Tuesday earlier this year, courtesy of The Fork (get on it and keep an eye out as they do special deals up to 50% off meals in top restaurants around Sydney!).
It's always exciting to discover a dazzling place you've passed a million times but simply had no idea was there. It's also always exciting to visit a new restaurant and see what's on the menu; not only for dishes that are a little different but to see the Chef's own creative take on the cuisine.
In this case, it was Chef Tiw Rakarin (Mama's Buoi, Surry Hills & Alphabet St, Cronulla). Being well travelled in the Indochine region, Rakarin has really refined his culinary expertise from across this area, mastering this fusion, and showcasing the vibrant colours and spices that these cuisines are bursting with.
Beef cheek curry & Smoked duck w honey ginger sauce
Sitting above Spice Alley (Kensington Street, Chippendale), is this restaurant where an air of high-quality, upper-class luxury characteristic of the heart of Sydney is met with the aromas of authentic Indochine regions - that is, influences, spices, and traditional ingredients and methods drawn from cultures sitting to the east of India and south of China (Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand). All wrapped up in a sensational fusion.
The venue creatively infuses various elements of the Mekong river, to recreate the essence of the floating riverside villages right within its high glass walls. These include deep green walls like the reeds of jungle lined rivers, teak floorboards, furniture and bamboo, and hanging lamp sculptures as a throwback to the fishing cages used in these villages.
We commenced our taste journey at Mekong with a starter to share; spiced beef skewers with a peanut satay style sauce that made for a wonderful balance of savoury and sweet. Some cool cucumber pieces added a refreshing contrast to these. The dish had a colourful presentation, as pictured below.
For the mains we shared a spiced beef cheek curry which was melt in the mouth tender and juicy, soaking up the spices and flavours from the sensational curry sauce. This aromatic Cambodian number was a hit!
Secondly, we share the smoked duck with honey and ginger. This was like the Indochine version of a Duck a l'Orange, especially with the duck leg being topped with slices of orange, cinnamon, and the sweet and tang in the sauce. This came on a bed of leafy Asian greens. Also an immensely tasty selection. Our tastebuds were in heaven.
It certainly was a treat indulging in a casual fine feed at one of Sydney's best Asian restaurants (Restaurant and Catering Awards, 2017) midweek. With a range of fine wines and beverages, it makes for a great spot in the city for a take your time dinner date, catch-up or celebration. Wines are selected with care from some of the best wineries around the country, so to specially complement the niche Indochine flavours here.
It's centrally located too for convenience sake. And to top it off, we experienced this for half the price, thanks to The Fork - seriously, do subscribe as you can enjoy (I quote) "50% off food at hundreds of Australian restaurants" varying by the month.
Wine & dine with a carefully selected list of wines
One disclaimer I have to make; this dining experience was back in Feb of this year (2019) and the menu has been altered slightly since then - a bit late with this one, but I nonetheless still needed to tell the world about this memorable feed, and I have confidence that whatever you do get to try at Mekong will be a quality culinary creation. Enjoy!