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Monday, February 22, 2016

Ghostboy Cantina, Dixon House Food Court, Chinatown, Sydney

Beef taco at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney

The beef taco at Ghostboy Cantina has some people convinced they're eating a handheld pho, a tumble of beef brisket, onion, Thai basil and crunchy bean sprouts. Ghostboy Cantina would have to be one the city's quirkiest new openings, a surprise pop-up deep in the bowels of one of Chinatown's lesser known food courts. Toby Wilson (ex-owner and ex-head barista at The Wedge Espresso in Glebe) switched from coffee to Mexican, promising "tacos no authenticos" and a sense of humour - the oft used "gweilo" by Cantonese to describe foreigners translates roughly to "ghostman" or "ghostboy".

Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Ghostboy Cantina at Dixon House Food Court

Dixon House Food Court has always been one of my favourite places to eat. Its basement location, closely packed stalls and tables, harsh lighting and dated decor are the closest thing you'll find in Sydney that resembles the hawker markets in South East Asia.

Ghostboy Cantina is the weird kid in the all-Asian neighbourhood, a commonality of stalls that trumpet rice and noodles with 30 different options promoted with backlit photos. Instead of trying to fit in, Ghostboy Cantina does the opposite, bucking the photo trend and offering a minimalist menu on a lightbox backdrop.

Toby Wilson at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Toby Wilson in the kitchen

The corner stall opposite the bar used to be a Vietnamese place then Korean. The woks in the back of the kitchen are eerily still but Wilson makes high use of the grill and deep fryer.

Peking duck pancake tortillas at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Peking duck pancake tortillas on the grill

Wilson's Asian-style taco is underpinned by the vessel itself - the tortilla. Most people don't realise he uses Peking duck pancakes, toasting them lightly on the grill and then sandwiching them together for reinforced stability.

Toby Wilson at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Adding parsley to the cauliflower taco

The assembly line is quietly efficient, an organised mise en place enabling tacos to be pumped out with speed.

Asian tacos, corn and fries at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Asian tacos, corn and fries

The tacos are served on Asian melamine plates, all jostled together on a standard issue black tray.

Beef taco at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Beef taco $6

The beef taco yields a saucy jumble of brisket, Thai basil, bean sprouts and raw diced onion dotted with salsa verde and salsa roja. A squeeze of fresh lime makes all the difference, and the Peking duck pancake, blistered with brown patches from the grill, is thin enough so the wrapper doesn't overwhelm the filling.

Adding salsa verde to beef tacos at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Adding salsa verde to beef tacos

Pork taco at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Pork taco $6.50

It's the addition of sweet yellow peaches that really make the pork taco, the meat marinated in an East meets West mash-up of five spice and chipotle.

Cauliflower taco at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Cauliflower taco $5

But my surprise favourite is the cauliflower taco, florets singed a deep golden brown that come through with an intense and satisfying nuttiness. It's vegans ahoy with this one too, sauced up with a macadamia cashew cream and sprinkled generously with chopped coriander.

Seaweed fries at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Fries $4

A cardboard carton of fries gets an umami boost from seaweed seasoning.

Green papaya salad at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Salad $6.50

The salad offers a virtuous counterbalance to the fries, a mountain of shredded green papaya and carrot with Thai basil leaves, coriander and fried shallots. Our only quibble is we find the dressing a little bland on this one, tasting like weak lemon juice and not much else.

Toby Wilson seasoning corn at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Seasoning the corn

Buttered corn at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney
Corn $5

But really, who wants salad when you can have buttered corn? There's a generous smear of butter on this whole ear of corn, dusted with seaweed and garnished with fresh coriander.

With tacos at about $6 a pop you could easily rack up a $30 food court lunch, but there's a sense of fun and originality about the place that's worth a look-see. I'm looking forward to seeing what else comes through on the menu - I'm personally hanging out for tongue tacos. 

Head over before Ghostboy fades to black.
  Food court customers at Ghostboy Cantina in Dixon House Food Court, Sydney

Entrance to Dixon House Food Court, Chinatown, Sydney


Ghostboy Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ghostboy Cantina
Shop B08 Dixon House Food Court
Basement level, 413-415 Sussex Street, Haymarket, Chinatown, Sydney

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 12pm-9pm or until sold out

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/22/2016 05:43:00 pm


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