Sleepy Hawksburn Village has been shaken up with Rock Sugar – a kitsch Thai restaurant and bar that wouldn’t feel out of place in some of South Yarra’s more bustling shopping and eating destinations.
Rock Sugar is drawing the crowds east with modern Asian flavours and bubble-cup cocktails on offer. Modern Asian is a tried and tested formula for Executive Chef, Kam McManamey, whose culinary skills shone brightly at Botherambo, Dandelion and Bang Pop.
Kam’s latest culinary escapades featured a trip to Thailand where he researched and created Rock Sugar’s menu. The result is a dining experience that stays to true authentic Thai recipes whilst pushing the boundaries in terms of presentation – using 21st century techniques such as water baths and smoking guns. The mostly gluten-free menu packs in punchy, spicy, sour and sweet flavours that everyone loves, expressed in new and inventive ways. “To make Rock Sugar’s menu accessible to everyone, we are using rice flour and gluten free-soy sauce” said Kam.
Start with a selection of single servings – delicious bite sized temptations with options that include smoked ocean trout betel leaf with kaffir lime, chilli, coconut and roe or a sticky rice cake with tamarind, silken tofu pomelo and Thai basil. Move on the small plates where you can sample fried chicken ribs with chilli caramel or cured Hiramasa kingfish with chilli pomelo and salmon roe.
Of the more substantial offerings the whole baby snapper is a popular option with fermented yellow bean and lime, or try the Robbins Island Black Angus beef cheek with chilli, coconut cream, pomelo and green mango. If you like it hot, the jungle curry should be at the top of your list with Borrowdale free-range pork belly, snake bean, corn and banana chilli.
Make sure you order a refreshing cocktail – the offerings scream summery Thai nights. There’s even a selection of adults-only bubble cups with flavour combinations including Thai basil, coconut water, gin and lime, or lychee, lemongrass, violet and citrus with sake. There is also a pandan chilli ginger swizzle with rum, pandan flavoured beads, chilli and ginger.
It’s hard to go past the fairy floss martini – with liquid served in a test tube beaker that dissolves when poured over a glass filled with fairy floss. If you prefer, keep it simple with a selection from the range of Thai and Australian beer or a glass of wine from Australia, New Zealand or Europe.
Rock Sugar’s mascot is Phi Phi, a waving pink neon Fortune Cat that beckons guests on arrival. Phi Phi stands out among the white exposed brick walls and light wooden tables, as does the large pink neon ‘let’s rock’ sign.
With bright LED lighting, distinctive cocktails and flavoursome cooking, Rock Sugar has a distinct party atmosphere that brings a taste of revelry to Hawksburn.