Gwen O’Toole is an accomplished writer focusing on travel, food, wine and events management. Follow her on Instagram @Gwennieo
Published August 10th 2016
Newly opened in South Yarra, Rock Sugar is not your typical Thai restaurant. You know the ones that conjure up images of thick curries or oily stir-fried vegetables in a plastic takeaway container? Yeah, you're not going to find anything like that here.
With Kam McManamey at the helm in the kitchen, who many will know as the name behind South Wharf's BangPop and Brotherambo, this place is colourful, quirky and a lotta fun.
Newly opened in South Yarra, Rock Sugar. Image:The Ideas Library
The Thai inspired menu is full of fresh choices and offers items designed be shared across the table. But if you are having a bit of trouble choosing, you can also opt for the 'Feed Me Right Meow' option which is a play on the restaurant's mascot Phi Phi, a 'waving' neon fortune cat. Your table will get 7 courses for $49 per person and there's no way you'll leave hungry.
The interactive '#rocktail' cocktail list is certainly something worth trying out, with a focus on made-to-order bubble cups with flavours such as Thai Basil Smash with coconut water, gin, Thai basil and lime; Blue Bird with sake, lychee, lemongrass, violet and citrus; and Pandan Chilli Ginger Swizzle with rum, pandan flavoured beads, chilli, ginger and palm sugar.
Frozen cocktails include the Chilli Choc Martini – chocolate sorbet, cognac, and scud (bird's eye) chilli, however it's the Fairy Floss Martini that caught our eye with the vodka and lemon served separately in a test tube beaker, which when poured over the floss dissolves into a delicious treat (below).
The sweet and tasty melting fairy floss cocktail at Rock Sugar. Image:The Ideas Library
The duck leg salad with grilled pineapple, green papaya, coriander and chilli was so fresh and light and if your not a fan of coriander (which can be a tricky thing when dining at Asian-inspired eateries) the chef can create the dish to suit you.
While it didn't last long (was devoured in minutes!) the dug leg salad was incredibly fresh and light. Image:The Ideas Library
What's even more endearing about Rock Sugar is that the owner of the venue, Nikon Souphan, used to live in the space that has now been converted into Rock Sugar with the front door being the front door to his old family home. The vibe inside is incredibly welcoming and friendly and it's an ideal spot to pop in for a cocktail or drink from their wine/beer list or for a great night out. With the menu designed to share among friends and family, it's also an ideal spot for groups of 6-8 as well.
If you're a spicy food lover, there's plenty to enjoy and if you love REALLY spicy food, the Jungle Curry with pork belly, snake bean, corn, banana chilli and shallots comes with its own warning.
Alternatively, you'll find the more traditional Massaman, red and green curries on the menu with a bit of a twist and the popular vegetarian orange broth curry is also a favourite.
The larger-sized shared beef cheek with chilli coconut cream, pomelo and green mango just melts when you pull it apart on the plate and while they call it a shared plate, you'll be tempted to keep this dish all for yourself.
The beef cheek is one shared plate you won't want to share. Image:The Ideas Library
And if you have a sweet tooth (or a not so sweet tooth) the dessert options are a great mix of sweet as well as lightly sweetened and fresh. We tried the turmeric and coconut creme caramel following the suggestion of our waitress and loved every bite. With kaffir lime and blood orange, it was refreshing and incredibly light and not overly sweet, making it an ideal finish to a great meal.
Not too sweet but of so good, the creme caramel with blood orange, lime, coconut and tumeric. Image:The Ideas Library