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