I was initially saddened when I read that Cafe Ish was closing down. Mainly because it was a cafe/restaurant that I’d always wanted to go to more often, but never did. A week or so later, Josh announced on Twitter that Cafe Ish hadn’t quite closed forever – it was moving from Surry Hills to Redfern! The excitement on the interweb spread like wildfire.
Whether inspired by the ever-so-popular Momofuku Milk Bar, or the nostalgic concept of the humble suburban milk bar, cafe owners Josh and Ai have truly outdone themselves because in the past few weeks, I’ve been coming back, and back, and back.
It does help that The Milk Bar By Cafe Ish is conveniently located just a 12 minute walk from my office – it is almost a no-brainer where I’d like to spend my Fat Fridays!
It is also nice to know that not only do they bake their own cakes and treats, but they even bake every burger bun and loaf of bread! Plus, the meats are all free range from Urban Food Market!
But aside from the funky touches of an old school jukebox and a classic arcade game machine, the fun starts with the food!
My first visit is with Mooksy where our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs! We had the wings, fries, a steak sandwich and a cheeseburger!
The highlight for me were Ai’s freaking awesome chicken wings with crab sauce ($13). The crab sauce is the same sauce as that of their notorious soft shell crab omelette and is indulgently good. The wings are crunchy and succulent and no matter how neat you start off being, these wings are so finger licking good that you’ll end up devouring them with both hands. I talk from experience.
Josh has the grill pumping out 80 – 120 burgers a day so we forgive the smokey haze that forms in the cafe. All the minor imperfections add to the casual nature of the milk bar concept.
So the standard cheeseburger is only $5 which includes all the essentials – a thick beef pattie, melted cheese, pickles, tomato sauce and grilled onion – and is a complete steal! It is also available as a double ($9) or even as a triple ($13) for those who like it a bit full on!
Toppings are $3 and I’ve been addicted to the Japanese topping which consists of pickled daikon, carrot, cabbage and wasabi mayo. I love that they’ve stuck to the Japanese & Modern Australian fusion! It’s SO MUCH yum!
And here are all the cakes and lollies that are on sale… temptations, temptations!
Of course, I return with Zen a week later…
We decide to share the wings, but this time I order it with hot sauce ($13). It’s a tangy Tabasco style sauce that surprisingly delivers on the heat radar. However, I much prefer the wings with the crab sauce as there’s more substance and texture.
Zen has the cheeseburger with Japanese topping ($5 burger + $3 topping + $4 side of fries) as per my recommendation as I had been talking about it all week, hehe.
And for me? The tofu burger ($6) with miso sauce, and Japanese topping ($3).
As much as people make fun of vegan and vegetarian burgers, this fried tofu burger with miso sauce packs a punch! I love the earthiness and umami of the miso sauce and the crunch of the cabbage.
I’ll leave you now, with a pic of their shakes, because they’re just so insanely good!!
The shakes are all $7 and despite not being big on shakes (they make me too full), I cave in and try the miso caramel (left in the photo above). With miso, caramel and vanilla ice cream, this shake is thick and creamy with a lingering saltiness that leaves you beckoning for more!
We’re first to try the new pina colada shake (centre in the photo above) which will soon be renamed to the Chuck Norris (ask Ai or Josh about the story behind this!) and are so glad we did. This one is a blitz of milk with vanilla ice cream, coconut macaroon ice cream, vanilla roast pineapple, yuzu and lemon & lime curd and has a luxurious Summery vibe to it!
Lastly, we have the PBJ shake (right in the photo above) which is salted peanut butter ice cream, crunchy peanut butter, and raspberry & blueberry jelly! It’s so rich but so divine!
If you playback 15 – 20 years ago, I can very much remember the after school trips to the corner milk bar (hello sour power belt strips!)… But now, this grown-up milk bar is my new guilty pleasure! I cannot wait til my next visit!
The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish
105 Regent Street, Redfern, NSW