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Monday, September 26, 2011

Cafe Ish, Surry Hills

Where can you find a cheap lunch in Sydney? Frugal is not a dirty word at Cafe Ish, which celebrates Tight Ass Tuesdays with ten eleven dishes for only ten dollars.

This cosy corner cafe bar makes a point of mixing up Japanese flavours with Australian native ingredients. Here you'll find crocodile coated in Panko crumbs and covered in Japanese curry; potato and fetta mochi with Davidson plum sauce; and cups of wattleseed coffee, their signature drink.

Crab Omelette Set $10 on Tuesdays at lunchtime only
Karaage soft shell crab omelette with miso soup and rice

The soft shell crab omelette is one of their biggest sellers on the weekend, an eiderdown of fluffy egg wrapped around a tangle of deep-fried soft shell crab and fat slices of ripe avocado. The full size costs $24 but you can dig into a slightly scaled-down version on Tuesdays for only $10. Side of miso soup and rice are included too.

It's worth every penny and then some, with the sweetness of the crab enhanced by a sticky sauce of garlic, chilli, soy and ginger.

Wagyu Cheese Burger $10 on Tuesdays at lunchtime only
Free range with Coon cheese on house-made bun with tomato relish, grilled onions and fries

It's hard to go past the wagyu cheese burger either, a generous patty of beef draped with melted cheese, grilled onions and tomato relish. The buns are made in-house, along with everything else in the display case, groaning with muffins, cakes and breads, baked fresh each morning.

The burger comes with a deep bowl of french fries and dishes of tomato sauce and mayonnaise for dipping. This is protein and carbs at its purest - salad lovers need not apply.

Owners Josh Nicholls and Ai Mashima aren't known for being meek -- and who wants to be, in the cut-throat restaurant industry -- but the John Lennon and Yoko Ono-inspired portrait on the wall gives a softer (and more intimate!) view of this couple. The photo, featuring some rather famous artichokes, was taken by Masterchef's Billy Law for last year's Sydney Morning Herald Shoot the Chef competition. Now who was talking about tight asses?

Tight Ass Tuesdays - available lunchtime only
11 Dishes for 10 Bucks!
  1. Porridge
    Organic porridge, umeshu stewed fruits and Country Valley yoghurt
  2. Croc in the Rock
    Crocodile sausage, egg, shallot and organic fetta in toast with tomato relish
  3. Classic Ish
    Two eggs done how you like and toast
  4. Little Ish
    Quattro Stelle bacon, one egg, roast tomato and toast
  5. Baked Beans
    House-made baked beans with free range ham hock and bush spices served with toast
  6. Salad of Boy Coz
    Garlic croutons, Quattro Stelle bacon, boiled egg, bush tomato aioli, shaved parmesan cheese
  7. Free Range Chic Salad
    Cabbage, carrot, apple, green shallots, fried escahllots, black sauce, wasabi mayonnaise
  8. Soup of the Day
    Served with house-made bread
  9. Crab Omelette Set
    Karaage soft shell crab, avocado, shallots with garlic, chilli, soy, ginger dressing, miso soup and rice
  10. Yaki Udon Noodles Set
    Free range chicken, carrot, cabbage, baby spinach, red onion, Davidson plum sauce and miso soup
  11. Wagyu Cheese Burger
    Free range with Coon cheese on house-made bun with tomato relish, grilled onions and fries

View Larger Map
Cafe Ish on Urbanspoon

82 Campbell Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9281 1688

Opening hours:
Monday to Wednesday 7am-4pm
Thursday to Friday 7am-10pm
Saturday 9am-10pm
Sunday 9am-2.30pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Surry Hills - Le Monde
Surry Hills - Single Origin Roasters
21 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/26/2011 12:09:00 am


  • At 9/26/2011 6:43 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    It is hard to go past the wagyu cheeseburger and softshell crab omelette! The wattle mac coffee is always a must have for me :) Love Cafe Ish Food!

  • At 9/26/2011 7:30 am, Blogger Mel said…

    Seeing all the tweets & posts about Ish's Tight Arse Tuesdays make me long for a job in the city (but only on Tuesday's mind you).

  • At 9/26/2011 7:38 am, Blogger Michelle Chin said…

    no salad greens with the burger???

  • At 9/26/2011 8:47 am, Anonymous Apple @Polkadotsandchopsticks said…

    I think I'd love to try the wattleseed coffee. It sounds strong and sweet.

  • At 9/26/2011 9:13 am, Anonymous Cafe ish said…

    Wooo hooo.
    Thanks Helen
    Heaps more promos coming up with good food month
    Stay tuned

  • At 9/26/2011 9:33 am, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    I love the restaurants in Surry Hills - full of interesting place to dine. If I'm ever there on a Tuesday and feeling thrifty - I'll venture into Cafe Ish.

  • At 9/26/2011 9:33 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    I want that omelette...!

  • At 9/26/2011 10:37 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    The burger is amazing value, it can make a grown man cry.

  • At 9/26/2011 10:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I will try going to Surry Hills ~ wish I'd gone there now ^^

  • At 9/26/2011 10:56 am, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    Love CafeIsh! Had that ommelette for dinners one night and was blown away by it

  • At 9/26/2011 12:08 pm, Anonymous rockahenry said…

    tuesdays suddenly got a little better.

    burger looks good, although burger to bun ratio looks a little dissapointing?

  • At 9/26/2011 12:49 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    I love the idea of all the Australian spices! Baked beans with bush spices sounds so exciting.

  • At 9/26/2011 1:17 pm, Blogger Shanks said…

    Cafe Ish has always been on my "to eat" list and the TAT menu is a better excuse to go now.

  • At 9/26/2011 2:29 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Porridge and crocodile! That sounds exciting. I also love the proud proclamation of "Coon cheese" :P

  • At 9/26/2011 3:48 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    *waves from across the room*

  • At 9/26/2011 8:10 pm, Anonymous Billy @ A Table For Two said…

    Looks absolute bargain! Can do with a wagyu burger anytime.

  • At 9/26/2011 9:26 pm, Anonymous tania@mykitchenstories said…

    Love the food here, even though Josh is older than my bosses pimples hes still a fun guy!

  • At 9/26/2011 11:55 pm, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    gee that's pretty good value. good to know :-) i must try the Crab Omelette Set again

  • At 10/05/2011 6:26 pm, Anonymous food blogger said…

    Awesome burger! I will surely visit that place when I get there in Sydney some times.

  • At 10/11/2011 8:31 pm, Anonymous Lil said…

    Came here today with some friends because of this blog post! ^^ They have Ai's Freaking Awesome Fried Chicken Set as part of Tight Ass Tuesday too!!

  • At 10/22/2011 12:49 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I had possibly one of the absolute worst experiences of my life at Cafe Ish and I didn’t even get to eat the food!

    I won’t go into the minutia of our ordeal, save the following key points:

    1. We booked via a website promoting a discount on the bill, but the discount was an added bonus rather than the motivator for booking this restaurant.
    2. A group of 4 of us were booked in for a 7pm dinner for which 2 of us were on time and 2 of us were late.
    3. The disagreement began when the owner stormed over to our table to announce that he would not be giving us the discount as the table was running late. I’d already had my heart set on going to Café Ish, discount or not, so I would’ve had no problem with it if he hadn’t been SO ABSOLUTELY RUDE about it!
    4. It ended with the owner shouting profanities at us and threatening my male companions (plus the arrival of the police).

    I’m genuinely upset that our visit to Café Ish ended this way as I was extremely eager to try what is apparently some amazing food, and now I’ve completely lost the opportunity as I’ll NEVER return here.


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