Almost hidden from street view, in a basement style setting in Bondi Junction, is the quaint Calabur Café, the first food venture for the four Thai co-owners Bank, Max, Benz and Bew, who have cleverly created an Asian fused menu that easily (and deliciously) transitions from day-to-night dining.
With room for only 28 diners, this Sydney café isn’t large, but that only adds to its charm, with a cosy interior acting as the perfect urban retreat for residents of the busy Bondi Junction area.
The décor is fresh and rustic and by night becomes low-lit and moody, resembling that of a 1950s New York speakeasy. During the day, cute potted plants adorn each table and sugar is craftily stocked in conical flasks (stealing this idea for my own home). An exposed brick wall surrounding a fire place with a white tiled bar splash-back and mismatched chairs combine vintage flair with a modern twist. And, the creativity behind the interior design doesn’t just stop at the furniture either. The petite space inspired the installation of a nifty coffee counter blackboard that shifts from the view of beans and coffee making equipment during the day to expose a cocktail menu and spirits for the evening, adding to the café’s quirkiness.
The family inspired menu reveals the chef’s excellent culinary skills and an extremely well-considered combination of flavours that bring to life mouthwatering and colourful dishes that are totally ‘gram friendly. The dishes are reminiscent of the owner’s Thai heritage with a modernised touch. Think onsen eggs benedict with wasabi hollandaise, radish and pomegranate for breakfast or, for the late riser, the lunch menu includes dishes like the angel hair spaghetti namtok salmon—a contemporary take on the traditional soup and noodles— while the the Thai laksa (a recent addition to the lunch menu) is packed full of fresh ingredients teamed with rich, warming spices. If that’s not enough to send you into a photo frenzy, the pulled duck rice paper rolls taste as good as they look (if not better), so make sure cameras are at the ready but don’t delay to get these in your belly.
At night, the food becomes a little lighter to accompany the well-crafted cocktail menu. With cocktails like the sakura all day, all night—Calabur’s signature Yakult based cocktail—you can be sure your post work drinks to be a treat. The Asian craft beers also call for applause, as their distinct flavours complement the dishes and provide Sydneysiders an alternative drinking and dining experience.
A low key, woody and atmospheric venue, Calabur is the perfect East meets West fusion offering friendly service and wholesome meals, it really is like a home away from home for diners and owners alike.
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Image credit: Federica Portentoso