Top 5 Mod Asian

Australia has a long tradition of Asian food – the Chinese restaurant has been a mainstay in every suburb and country town as far back as any of us can remember. In the late 1970s Thai and Vietnamese entered the mix and, over time, more Japanese and Korean restaurants followed. Initially these appeared as clusters of ‘cheap & cheerful ethnic’ restaurants in specific suburbs that are still fascinating microcosms of those cultures today, such as Vietnamese in Cabramatta, Korean in Campsie and the Thai-town section of Haymarket. In the 21st century, a new generation of chefs and restaurateurs took these classic cuisines as inspiration, added their own twists and some smart décor and wine lists, and gave us the restaurant category of Mod Asian with deliciously fresh menus of largely shared dishes. Here are five of my favourites.


Red Lantern Darlinghurst
Luke & Pauline Nguyen and Mark Jensen’s Red Lantern on Crown was an innovator in 2002. Their next incarnation, a French colonial Indochine space, still serves authentic Vietnamese dishes with modern presentation. Best ever salt & pepper squid and great $50 lunch banquet.


Fu Manchu Darlinghurst
After serving great dumplings and more from a Victoria St hole-in-the-wall since 1994, Annie Lee moved Fu Manchu to larger designer digs at The Kirketon Hotel a few years ago. Dumplings, noodles, san choy bao and duck wraps still rock on the Chinese/Malaysian menu, the brief wine list is a winner and I love the lanterns.


Bar H Surry Hills
Hamish Ingham cut his culinary teeth at Billy Kwong and has flirted with various Asian inspirations, but his current take on Chinese-influenced Japanese dishes, with some great use of Aussie natives, is his most interesting yet. Perch at the bar for a glass from Rebecca Lines fabulous wine list or settle in for a full meal.


Ms.G’s Potts Point
It’s loud, chaotic and delicious! Dan Hong and Paul Donnelly’s menu spans the flavours of China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and more, combining them in ways you’ve never seen before (I can’t stop thinking about ‘strange flavour’ burrata with sesame, chilli and peanuts). Check out the packaged cocktails in the upstairs bar.


Moon Park Redfern – CLOSED
Chefs Ben Sears and Korean-born Eun Hee Ann (both ex-Claude’s) bring wonderful flavours to this minimal first-floor space overlooking Redfern Park. Zucchini and mussel pancake is my go-to dish, I love wine man Ned Brooks natural-leaning list and the dokbeokki (Korean rice cakes rolled in chilli) made my 2015 Top 5 Dishes.


Last updated 9 May 2017