Sugarcane Restaurant, Coogee

Eat, Sydney / 3 August 2016

Sugarcane opens second restaurant in Coogee

Entering Sugarcane in Coogee I am transported straight back to my holiday in tropical Phuket. Vibrant green plants are suspended from the ceiling, creating a lush canopy. Waitstaff glide across the floor with the speed and finesse of zippy scooters. The smells of roasted peanuts and fresh herbs make my mouth water, the sound of knives cutting through limes fill my ears. I soon realise that this is as close to a South East Asian holiday as I’m going to get.
You may already be acquainted with the buzzy Surry Hills restaurant, complete with colourful lanterns, Thai inspired prints and Jenga style seating plan. With business better than ever, it made perfect sense for chef and owner Milan Strbac to open a second 100 seater establishment along Coogee’s breezy shoreline.
Wondering how this trendy eastern suburbs jaunt translates as a seaside restaurant? Well as it turns out, incredibly well. Strbac explains that the Coogee menu has a more defined seafood focus than his Surry hills restaurant. An open style floor plan with white furnishings and glossy timber finishes also evokes the more laid back vibes of the seaside eating spot.
sugarcane dining room
Perusing the cocktail menu I notice that each drink has a fruity focus, complimenting the spice and fragrancy of the food. I order the Cucumber Aloe Fizz ($18), a refreshing combination of gin, cucumber juice, aloe vera, honey, lime, mint, egg white and soda. Want to take a walk on the wild side? Why not request the Only God Forgives ($16). Served long, this drink incorporates mezcal, spicy Sriracha, lime, draft beer, agave and salt. Be warned, it is like drinking liquid fire and may burn twice.
For entree we choose the crisp tortilla with crab, green apple, coconut and lime ($7). So often I am disappointed when I order crab as the flesh is often masked by other flavours. In this case, I am thrilled to have the delicate sweet taste of the crab meat reach my palate. The flavours of apple and coconut are only subtle, with some fresh lime adding a little kick of acidity.
sugarcane crab tortilla
The next dish to reach our table is the betel leaf, served with kingfish, Sambai Matah and coconut ($7). The waitress tells us to tightly wrap the betel leaf up, popping the whole thing in your mouth. There are certainly some delicious textural elements and flavours to this mouthful. The only thing it’s missing are some crunchy roasted peanuts. But I keep eating, whilst listening to the collective ‘mmmmm’s travelling around the table.
One of the standout dishes of the evening is the Chicken Pad Thai ($22). I have had this popular Thai noodle dish plenty of times in my day, but this one comes with an exciting twist. Hiding beneath a mound of noodles, sprouts and crushed peanuts are crispy fried nuggets of chicken. With each bite I can’t help but wonder why everyone isn’t serving Pad Thai this way.
sugarcane pad thai
If you’re looking for something a little heartier you can’t go past the Wagyu Rendang ($31). Known for being a decadent curry, the use of rich wagyu meat adds an extra layer of melt-in-your-mouth indulgence. I recommend ordering a big bowl of rice to soak up all of the delicious sauce.
For dessert we order the spiced banana cake, with butter scotch sauce and peanut butter ice cream ($15).
This reminds me of your humble banana bread, except on steroids. It’s a fight to death between my date and I, as we share the one plate. It doesn’t take long before I find myself scraping the remnants of cake, ice cream and  butterscotch sauce off the plate with my spoon.
Sugarcane Coogee represents a well thought out adaptation of its Surry Hills mothership. This is the sort of place that you would swing past after a day at the beach, wearing shorts and thongs. If you’re looking for a casual date night, I can also highly recommend checking out Sugarcane.
56 Carr Street, Coogee
02 9281 1788
Open Tues-Sun 5:30pm-12am and weekend lunches from 12pm Sat and Sun.