Sydney knows how to brunch. When smashed avocado is an international export, you know we’ve built a reputation as a city of good breakfasters. But hey, admit it—while our cafes in Sydney are amazing, menus can get a little samey. So when chefs mix things up by using their heritage as culinary brekkie inspiration, I do a little fist pump. Places like Shenkin, Kazbah and Boon are doing it right, pulling Israeli, Moroccan and Thai flavours.
Originally a sandwich-deli shop run by owner Eugene Leung’s uncle, Cool Mac has been spinning a Japanese-y menu for a few years now. The breakfast-lunch selection comes courtesy of former sushi chef Jun Okamatsu, and it's tempting locals away from the competition on Kirribilli’s main drag.
Kuniko on toast translates to ‘shrooms... on toast. There’s a mighty Mount-Fuji-sized serve of sautéed Swiss browns and shimejis blanketing the sourdough, rich with olive oil and a touch of miso. An onsen egg is the crowning glory—a whole egg, still in its shell, is sous-vide’d to just-yolky perfection.
Raw salmon before midday is luxurious outside a 10km radius of the Tsujiki fish markets... but it’s all-day fodder here. The salmon tartare comes chunky rather than finely-sliced, with cherry tomatoes and tarragon dressing. A squeeze of lemon to cut through the richness wouldn’t go astray, but it’s still oishi-as, bro.
Things get serious on the post-11am menu. I’m talking pork belly, fried-chicken serious. The Notorious P.I.G roll (pork belly, black garlic, sweet soy) gets votes for best Sydney menu nomenclature, but it’s the ‘cool men’ that reels me in on a balmy Saturday. The bowl of cold ramen noodles is topped with spicy chicken mince, chopped cabbage pickles, shallots and garlic oil—slick, hip, and pretty cool, man.
They’re out of batch filter coffee, and the cold brew is a little flat, so I find solace in a vanilla malt milkshake. Just a milkshake, in a tall tin cup, sans impaled donut. It’s glorious.
Inside, the fit out is mod-Jap-robot-kitsch, with toy gadgets, Japanese beer cans, and a giant cut-out of basketballer Draymond Green’s head. If you’re feeling the sweets vibe, the pastry cabinet has pretty-as-a-picture friands from Luxe Bakery. Cool Mac also doubles as an art gallery, featuring a changing guard of local emerging artists. If you like what you see on the walls, the works are for sale, too. Not your usual Sydney cafe brunch item, right?
Image credit: Daryl Kong