Salaryman looks completely unassuming from the outside with dark tinted windows hiding a restaurant home to amazing fusion food with an intoxicating charcoal scent wafting through the room from their incredible in-house charcoal grill. Going for the vibe of a ‘grungy, modern-day grill and noodle bar’ the venue successfully conveys this but remains stylish and sleek in its interior design. Describing itself as a place ‘where food is religion and playtime replaces overtime’ this translates through the menu and its amazing array of food which will leave you salivating. The chefs emphasise high quality produce, a seasonally changing menu and attentive service which translates throughout.
To begin we enjoyed the Fried Chinese bread, black garlic dip ($4) served with XO bone marrow ($3 supplement). After returning from a six-week stint in China, I have enjoyed my fair share of fried bread ranging from street carts to five star hotels. I would often take great pleasure in dunking it indulgently in sweetened condensed milk or if I could find it- Nutella! This savoury pairing of the housemade black garlic dip was a rich and gorgeously velvety texture, a little thicker than a mousse. Abundant in flavour, I polished it off quickly whilst my counterpart enjoyed the lusciously fatty and silky bone marrow. These two components paired perfectly alongside the deep fried bread, with its crispy golden crunch.
After taking advice from the helpful staff, they recommended the Lamb tartare, fermented bean curd mayo, wasabi, bean curd chips ($17). I was so glad we settled on this instead of the ocean trout tartare. The restaurant’s dedicated focus to quality, permeates through the lamb, which is served effortlessly cured thanks to lightly creamy dressing of bean curd mayo. Deep fried shallots sat atop the meat, adding a crunchy texture and propelling the flavour to new levels. A slight zing emerged through wasabi somewhere in the dish, finishing the flavour alliance perfectly. We piled the meat onto the deep-fried bean curd chips, and devoured this dish!I loved the sound of the two buns on the menu. The Pork roll, pickled carrot, foie gras butter ($9) was not what I expected. Some juicy pork mince sat inside a golden toasted bun. The bun for both was a brioche style bread with a slight sweetness but gorgeous light texture. The pickled carrot provided a fresh crunch to the richness of the meat. Meanwhile the Spicy karaage chicken bun, pickled daikon bun ($9) encompassed a generous serve of fried chicken and scrumptious aioli. Depending on your mood and preference, both were enjoyable and delicious!
The Japanese Prawn Toast ($16) took my definition of the classic prawn toast dish to an entirely new level. An incredibly generous thick layer of prawn was housed inside a golden fried batter. It was juicy and full of prawn flavour, dressed with tonkatsu sauce, some spicy mayo, nori & bonito flakes, it is definitely the best prawn toast I’ve eaten.
Keeping it healthy with some Charred broccolini, black bean, confit bacon ($15) the broccolini was the star! Chargrilled on their amazing grill, I could have easily polished off an entire plate of this green goodness! The black bean dressing and chunky bits of confit bacon were tasty, sweet and sticky, however drenched in lashings of oil it proved a little too much for me considering the number of other fried things we had already consumed. I would order this again — the chargrilled broccolini flavour is simply unbeatable, but next time opt for the dressing on the side.
Our last savoury dish was the Charcoal plate of Octopus, enoki, chilli, yuzu ($24). I was absolutely bewildered at how the chefs had managed to keep the octopus so tender and juicy, despite cooking it on the searing hot chargrill. After investigating, we found out that the octopus is vacuum sealed to retain all moisture and flavour, then cooked sous-vide before being finished with a quick searing on the charcoal. The yuzu sauce was zesty, a little citrusy and unusual. Whilst the enoki were delicious battered pieces of mushroom, deep-fried and topped liberally on the plate.Dessert time is my favourite time of every meal and I was pushing my partner out of the way to finish this! Even though it says Hot Fudge Sundae for two ($15), I think it should be renamed for one, because I could definitely enjoy this all to myself! Dark chocolate brownie bits lay in the bottom of the bowl, with an addictively thick dark chocolate fudge sauce. The vanilla ice-cream was soft and melty, with crunchy milk chocolate balls and charred marshmallows – everything was just too yummy too handle.The new menu at Salaryman is definitely worth checking out if you love any variety of Asian cuisine! The modern twist on Western classics and Asian favourites draws on the backgrounds of both to create a menu collaborating flavours in wonderful union together.
52-54 Albion St, Surry Hills, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9188 2985
Photography by I Ate My Way Through contributor Justin Isip
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Salaryman