Eating all the scarlet prawns in Sydney, from Ester’s handmade pasta, to Mr Wong’s steamed with white soy and brown butter sauce and Hojiak’s luxe har mee
It’s been an incredible year for scarlet prawns (also known as Carabineros in Portugal), the super sweet, lobster like prawn. Previously the scarlet prawn was a random bycatch of the royal red prawns but a new fishery was developed in consultation with the Queensland Government and Fisheries Research which has brought Cape Moreton scarlet prawns into the limelight.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have noticed for the first time ever that I’ve curated my feed so that every 3rd photo is a scarlet prawn haha I’ve eaten so many this year that I might just turn into one! To celebrate my love of the scarlet prawn I recently got it tattooed, the design was actually drawn by Ester chef Nathan Brindle and tattooed by Jay Craig at Rising Tide Studio in Chippendale. In alphabetical order here’s a roundup of all the scarlet prawn dishes I ate in Sydney:
Ester (46-52 Meagher St, Chippendale)
Ester’s scarlet prawn ($45) offering was by far my most favourite in Sydney, I managed to visit a grand total of 5 times in the space of a month! The prawns are massive, much larger than last year! The giant prawn is very lightly grilled and sits in a puddle of intense prawn & marie rose sauce (which wiki says is made of tomatoes, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and black pepper). The prawn legs and bottom of the prawn shell have been carefully removed, dusted in semolina and deep fried to crispy, moreish perfection. The fresh hand cut egg noodles has a drizzle of prawn oil and we’re instructed to squeeze the prawn head juices into the pasta and mix it all up. It is, in short of a better word, SUBLIME.
Hojiak (92 Hay St, Haymarket)
Hojiak has a super luxe version of har mee, a Malaysian hawker classic of prawn noodle soup. Lightly poached then blowtorched scarlet prawns are served on top of a broth made with the shells and heads of scarlet prawns to create umami central. Do not wear white as you’ll want to slurp up every strand of egg noodle and the last drop of the soup! Warning I found this pretty spicy but my chilli tolerance is kinda average haha also I think we got double the amount of prawns lol thanks Junda!
Icebergs (1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach)
Dining at Icebergs is always a treat, the amazing view of Bondi Beach and the Icebergs pool from the restaurant is almost as incredible as the pastas and seafood on the menu. My eyes had immediately locked in on the Randall Family organic kosher rice risotto with marinated QLD scarlet prawn crudo ($55). The risotto was amazing, fragrant from the prawn stock and had the perfect bite to each grain. The raw prawn was the icing on the cake, I savoured each prawn which were so delicate and wonderfully sweet!
Kittyhawk (16 Phillip Ln, Sydney)
I’ve missed Alex Lynn’s food from Casoni! Luckily he’s now over at Kittyhawk and he’s brought back his Scarlet prawn tagliatelle ($38) with chilli and parsley and prawn bisque. The massive prawn is sweet and tender and the pasta so silky and perfect for mopping up the heady prawn sauce. Fun fact, Alex sent us out some scarlet prawns on the house last year for us to try and it blew my tiny mind and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that first taste which has led to this obsession.
Lotus (22 Challis Ave, Potts Point)
I’d originally visited Lotus 2.0 for the return of Dan Hong’s cheeseburger and I couldn’t help but order the special of Scarlet prawns w handmade noodles, xo and coriander ($39). The prawns were a bit more cooked than I like but that’s because I usually prefer them raw but they were still tasty and super meaty. What I absolutely loved were the noodles though, perfect bounce and chew and man I loooove coriander!
Lumi (56 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont)
Lumi has recently opened a bar area with a bar menu perfect for walkins and for those who don’t want the degustation menu. The scarlet prawn gunkan ($15 each) are great, the combination of the natural sweetness of the prawn against the slightly salty straciatella hiding in the middle and the crisp seaweed meant this morsel disappeared much too fast.
Mr Wong (3 Bridge Ln, Sydney)
The fam were keen to return to Mr Wong’s for the massive scarlet prawns ($38) steamed with the most incredible white soy and brown butter sauce. The prawns were huuuuge, definitely more lobster-like and just so sweet! The sauce was the bomb too, we ended up ordering a serve of lo mein egg noodles just to mop up every last bit.
Pino’s Vino e Cucina (199 Lawrence St, Alexandria)
Pino’s offering is a beauty, raw scarlet prawns w scarlet prawn oil and powder and handmade fettuccine infused with scarlet prawn stock ($45). The idea is to mix it all together so that the raw prawns are slightly cooked from the heat of the pasta buuut I separated half to the side to savour on its own haha
Poly (74-76 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills)
So we actually ate at Poly just for the scarlet prawns with harissa and lardo on toast ($16 each) and oh boyyyyy I reckon this is my second favourite scarlet prawn dish after Ester! The fat slice of sourdough was lightly charred with a schmear of harissa paste and 2 delicately sweet prawns snuggled under a blanket of creamy rich lardo. I chose to pull out a slice of lardo and a prawn to savour separately and squeezed half of the prawn head juices onto the toast to soak up the prawny goodness aaaand sucked out the rest for the prawn flavour explosion.
Sushi E (4/252 George St, Sydney)
I’ve actually not eaten at Sushi E before but I was in the area for a few beverages and was feeling snackish and had seen their scarlet prawn on their degustation menu. Fuelled with liquid confidence I rocked up and asked if I was able to order the prawn to eat by itself and luckily scored the last seat at the sushi counter. The scarlet prawn roasted on binchotan with seafood butter sauce ($38)
Mat Lindsay (Ester, Poly) and Russell Beard (Paramount Coffee Project, Reuben Hills) have joined forces to create Shwarmama, a hole in the wall kebab joint
I’m a big fan of Ester, as you guys would know if you’d seen on IG the amount of times I’ve been this year. So when I found out Mat Lindsay (Ester, Poly) and Russell Beard (Paramount Coffee Project, Reuben Hills) had joined forces for Shwarmama, I dragged Eric out for a quick bite to eat.
Order inside and head back out to the pickup window to get your food. It’s standing room only inside of Shwarmama with a few counters to huddle against but there’s Harmony Park nearby which would make for a nice picnic with this weather warming up.
The Falafel Pita ($13.50) is a delight, the fluffy pita bread comes stuffed with crunchy, brilliantly green orbs of chickpea falafel, lashings of tahini, hummus and harissa, and the fresh crunch of cucumber, onion, cabbage and pickles.
So bright, so vivid! The pita normally comes with pickled chillis but we opted for without as there’s bottles of chilli sauce on the counter to control your spice amount.
Is the Shawarma ($15) just a fancy kebab? Who cares when it’s this delicious!
The laffa (Middle Eastern flatbread) holds juicy strips of spiced rotisserie chicken (shaved to order from the rotating spit roast), tahini, hummus, garlic sauce, harissa, onions, cabbage, pickles and chips for some carb on carb action.
The Salted chocolate chip sesame cookie ($6) is pretty epic, it’s about the size of my face and just so damn tasty! It’s a soft style of cookie which I prefer, incredibly buttery with a generous amount of dark chocolate rippled throughout and smothered in sesame seeds.
Shop 2/106-112 Commonwealth St,
Mon – Fri: 8am – 3.30pm, 5pm – 10pm
Sat – Sun: 10am – 10pm
Lotus in Potts Point has returned but most importantly Dan Hong’s beloved cheeseburger is just as delicious as before
It’s baaaaaaack! Almost a decade ago Lotus won my heart with the best damn cheeseburger I’d ever eaten in my life. When The Fish Shop took over the premises I was pretty devastated but like a Christmas miracle Lotus has returned with a 1 year pop up in the same Potts Point location and yes the cheeseburger is on the menu!
The boys and I had been day drinking and managed to arrive at Lotus right as they opened and scored the last unbooked table in the restaurant. Kitchen sent out comped ‘Nardin’ smoked anchovies, chilli, cultured cream and scallion bread ($24) which were awesome, the scallion bread was fluffy and perfect for slathering on the smooth cream and topping with a salty anchovy.
Not gonna lie, I knew as soon as I saw the Scarlet prawns, handmade noodles, xo and coriander ($39) on the menu that I’d be visiting quick smart before the prawn season ends! For $39 this is pretty great value with 3 giant scarlet prawns which had hella sweet flesh and I squished out the super intense prawn head juice onto the noodles.
These noodles though! Perfect bounce and chew and just so good to soak up the prawn juice.
The Lotus cheeseburger ($21) can also be ordered at the bar that’s hidden out back towards the kitchen, it’s also the same price and comes with fries but if you’re at the restaurant a side of fries will set you back $10. The cheeseburger is still awesome, even after years of Sydney being flooded by a crapton of burger joints. According to BS the new pattie ‘uses coal-smoked brisket and dry-aged beef fat’ and the old burger buns have been swapped out for Martin’s potato rolls. Whatever the changes, I would totally eat this burg again.
There’s a 200g wagyu denver steak ($48) on the menu but we decide to go for the blackboard special of the Copper Tree Farm 400g dry aged striploin on the bone ($48). Holy crap this steak was so damn tasty, perfectly cooked to a medium rare so that the nubbly edges of fat were all nicely caramelised. The red wine sauce was so flavourful, I wanted to bathe in it but settled for drowning each delicious piece in it. Also special mention to the incredibly juicy mushrooms oh boy <3
The Hot fudge sundae ($14) feels like a guilty childhood pleasure, creamy vanilla ice cream with shards of honeycomb, crunchy peanuts and juicy raspberries and a pot of hot fudge ready to smother everything to your heart’s content.
22 Challis Avenue,
Tues – Sat: 4pm – midnight
Sun: 1pm – 9pm
Pork lovers rejoice, Sydney Cebu Lechon in Newtown is the place to be for their famed charcoal roasted lechon
Sydney Cebu Lechon originally started as a catering lechon business supplying their famed charcoal roasted suckling pigs to the pork lovers of Sydney. The Mahusay family has been operating since 1991 and a few years ago opened a restaurant in Newtown.
The meat is tender and juicy and I swoon at the caramelised edges.
There’s a blackboard special of Ngo hiang, a vegetarian spring roll wrapped in beancurd skin that is crispylicious and is surprisingly addictive with the hot sauce.
But time for the main event! There are limited portions of the Cebu Lechon (200g/$21.50), aka charcoal roasted pork which has been slow roasted for 3 hours, marinated in lemongrass, garlic, star anise, shallots, salt and pepper and comes with a side of rice. The pigs are organic and free range, with each plate of pork chopped to order.
The pork is fantastic, the meat is tender and juicy with a slight smoky flavour. The tile of crackling is as amazing as it looks, crisp and deliciously fatty and the atsara (pickled papaya salad) helps cut through the richness.
There’s also mains to share like the braised soy chicken or the mixed vegetables sauteed in shrimp paste but we’ve decided it’s gonna be a day of pork and get the Lechon Kawali ($23.50), aka incredible crispy fried pork belly. This is not one for the health conscious!
There’s a selection of desserts boxed up along the back wall for a quick takeaway treat or they can be plated up and eaten in the restaurant.
We decide to share the Ube Cheesecake ($4.50) and the frozen Brazo de Mercedes ($4.50), cleverly served in cupcake portions.
The Brazo de Mercedes is my favourite- the flavours are light and the meringue is nice and fluffy against the frozen custard centre. The Ube Cheesecake is a touch on the sweet side but deliciously creamy with grated coconut on top.
And I had my eyes set on the Leche flan, a gloriously golden custard, rich and smooth and drenched in a syrupy sweet caramel.
There’s less than 30 seats in Cebu so arrive early or make a booking otherwise risk missing out on the glorious lechon!
Sydney Cebu Lechon
Shop 4/80-80A Enmore Rd,
Friday: 5:45pm – 9pm
Saturday: 11:45am – 3pm, 5:45pm – 9pm
Sunday: 11:45am – 3pm, 5:45pm – 9pm
Monday – Thursday: Closed
For the best hot pot in Sydney, check out Legend Hot Pot Buffet in Burwood for unlimited meat, seafood and dessert.
I love hot pot, specifically the communal dining aspect of everyone focussed on a pot of soup bubbling away at the centre. Carefully swirling thin slices of meat into the soup until cooked to your liking, fishing for forgotten tofu and smothering your morsels into a custom made dipping sauce.
Legend Hot Pot in Burwood is one of the few hot pot places in Sydney where it’s buffet hot pot, lunch will set you back $48pp and dinner $58pp but lemme tell you right now, this place is VALUE! The quality of everything was super impressive and there’s so much variety! You pay at the entrance first and can purchase alcoholic beverages from the inside bar later.
LOOK AT HOW CLEAN EVERYTHING IS!
You’ll get given a business card and then shown to your table. You head over to the hot pot soup base station and pick which one you want. Options range from full pots or half half flavours- there’s different spicy bases with varying levels of heat and also mushroom, chicken, fish, pickled vegetable, braised beef and nourishing chicken. Once you’ve picked which pot you want, you hand over the card. Pick carefully as you can’t go back and get a different base if you change your mind.
Take your pot back to your table and a waiter will come by with a kettle of hot water and explain the settings on your induction table.
Bubble bubble. I opted for the half spicy and half nourishing chicken.
While your pot o soup is heating up, head over to the stations and pick what you want to eat! Everyone usually heads straight for the pork, beef and lamb scrolls.
For the offal inclined there’s tripe honeycomb, kidney, blood jelly and brain (!)
Gotta load up on the veggies and mushrooms for the health!
Get your money’s worth on the seafood station, there’s cockles, prawns, scallops, blue swimmer crabs and fish fillets.
There’s a fried foods station which is totally a stomach filling trap but the fried mochi with brown sugar sauce is so freaking good!
There’s a trolley with steamed buns, dumplings and xlb
At the end of each station there’s some cooked foods like pork knuckle, noodles and fried rice. We scored chilli crawfish later on too!
And then head over to the amazing condiments station to diy your favourite dipping sauce combo. My personal sauce is a tonne of coriander, crushed garlic, sugar and sesame oil. Can I reiterate again on HOW CLEAN AND SHINY EVERYTHING IS!
Oh and there’s lychee sodas, herbal tea and grass jelly drinks, cut fruits and dessert for later.
Unlimited soft drinks and fro yo!
Be warned if you take too much food they’ll charge you for every 150g wasted. But seriously, this place is my new favourite hot pot in all of Sydney! The staff are lovely and everything is just so clean and orderly and there’s so much variety!
Legend Hot Pot
Shop 25/27-31, Level 2, Emerald Square
31 Belmore St,
Mon – Fri: 11.30am – 3pm, 5pm – 11.30pm
Sat – Sun: 11.30am – 11.30pm