Prison bento? I bet they don't get these at Litchfield Penitentiary. Instead you'll find it part of the breakfast line-up at Rising Sun Workshop, finally opening up on bigger - and permanent - premises on what was once a Mitre 10 shop. Its original pop-up, only a few blocks away, first introduced Sydneysiders to the symbiosis between ramen and a motorcycle workshop. The new digs boast a much bigger space, an expanded menu and a proper kitchen for head chef Nick Smith.
Upstairs dining area
Ground floor seating lets you sneak a look at everything going on in the motorcycle workshop area while basking in the buzz around the coffee machine and in the kitchen. Upstairs a high-ceilinged dining area yields plenty of communal table seating. Tables are large enough so you don't need to sit at the next person's elbow, but create a pleasing sense of energy whether you're dining in a group or on your own.
Prison bento $15
Rolled egg, pickles, miso soup, sesame stalks, silken tofu, yoghurt and rice
The cafe sticks with three menus: breakfast daily from 8am-11am, lunch daily from 11am-4pm and dinners from Thursday to Saturday from 6pm-10pm.
At lunchtime you'll find the same ramen ramen from the original pop-up, a poetic trio of The Dark, The Light and The Monk. Smith has also thrown in a couple of banh mi (grilled kurobuta belly or black pepper tofu). There's always a vegetarian version of each dish.
Rolled egg and steamed rice with umeboshi pickled plum
Breakfast offers a quirky mishmash of Asian influences. The prison bento is a cheeky reference to its presentation on metal food trays, commonly found in prisons but also used in Indian cuisine to present multi-dish thalis. The compartmentalised recesses are perfect for keeping individual curries separated from your rice and pappadums.
Smith assembles a multi-textured vegetarian journey, not too far removed from a traditional Japanese breakfast. That means a collection of silken tofu, cooked vegetables, crunchy pickles, a rolled omelette called tamago, a splodge of yoghurt and steamed rice. Even the miso soup comes in a metal cup. Protein seekers can add grilled fish for an extra five dollars.
Breakfast ramen $15
Buttered toast broth, bacon, egg and tomato
Breakfast ramen is one of the those things that you wonder why noone has ever thought of before. Smith infuses the ramen broth with actual pieces of buttered toast, then ladles it into bowls of ramen with bacon, egg and grilled tomato. It doesn't get more East meets West than this.
Crinkly noodles are cooked to a toothsome chew, the bacon is crispy, the fried egg has a gooey yolk, there's a sweet acidity from the tomato, and yes, you really can taste buttered toast in the broth. I relished this much more than I thought I would. It works terrifically well.
Next time I'm definitely headed for the Hokkaido milk buns. The version with mushroom, egg and cheese is said to be mindblowingly good.
Flat white with Single Origin Roasters beans
I love that you can have ramen and a really great coffee here. Chief barista, Daniel Cesarano, worked at both Single Origin Roasters and Melbourne's Seven Seeds, and pumps out coffee that is sweet and robust.
Dark chocolate and ginger cookies
Dimity Genaus makes all the treats you'll find in the sweets cabinet. It's a glass cabinet filled with temptation.
Breton Bun $5.50
The Breton Bun is like a kouign amann pastry laden with cinnamon sugar. The flaky caramelised scroll unravels to reveal crisp layers of pastry. Add the crunch of cinnamon sugar and you've got one helluva addictive indulgence.
Sticky date banana loaf $8
with creme fraiche and granola dust
And the sticky date banana loaf is like some crazy tasty hybrid of sticky date pudding and banana cake. A generous dollop of creme fraiche helps allay any overriding sense of sweetness, but the favourite part of this ensemble is that granola dust. It's like crack. I have no idea what's in it, but I need more.
Grab Your Fork on
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry podcast
Rising Sun Workshop was actually the location of my interview recording for The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry podcast. Lee Tran Lam has been food blogging since 2007 and broadcasting her podcast since 2012. As a regular listener of her podcast, it was an unexpected honour - and rather surreal experience - to be on as a guest and answer the rota of questions I almost know off by heart!
To listen to the podcast, check out Lee Tran's post.
Grab Your Fork's
food photography tips for Good Food
I was also interviewed by Good Food on my tips for great food photography. I even like that the haters have already left their mark in the comments section! Check out the article (and witty and insightful comments) here.
Rising Sun Workshop
1C Whateley Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9550 3891
Breakfast daily 8am-11am
Lunch daily 11am-4pm
Dinner Thursday to Saturday 6pm-10pm
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7/25/2016 02:27:00 am