Pachamama House is one of the most exciting new entries in the Sydney dining and drinking scene, with one of the best dishes I’ve had in 2013 (yes I know it’s only early in the year.) This is a cracker. A la piedra: Husk baked fish of the day, calamari, rocoto and mussels is one of five cebiche (all $15) offered by Chef Danny Parreno in his first gig as chef/owner. We didn’t get this tip until after dinner but bartender Tristan Fletcher recommends a smokey Islay whiskey with this dish. He’s talking my language. Of the other cebiche Nisei: Grilled Octopus, yuzu dressing and taki onigiri is also a good choice. We tried a few; now I come to think about it, I think they are all winners.
The restaurant and bar offers extraordinary flavour at extraordinary value: there are only two dishes on the menu that top the $20 mark.
Yet what tops the bill in my mind and stomach is the creativity emanating from Parreno. His first bite at the menu sees him sinking his teeth in deep with a sense of innovation springing from his DNA. His grandfather (he told me) is Japanese yet his family tree also holds the secrets of more than 2,000 years of ancient Peru. Although he grew up working in the family’s Japanese restaurant from age seven he hasn’t yet been to Japan. His gutsy menu belies his humility; his modest start in Australia was working as a kitchen hand.
Fusion is difficult. But maybe because his combos all stem from his upbringing – this is crazy good food.
From the small dishes we tried the braised pork cheek empanadas which make a tasty bar snack without the usual inclusion of black olives.
We didn’t try the pizzas but watched them enjoyed at the next table. Always learning, I now know that pizzas are eaten in Peru.
In the mixture of the more traditional yet adventurous mains, listed on the menu as a little bit more, Sticky duck roasted coconut and crispy rice is served on betel leaves. Use your hands. Enjoy good eating of yet another stand out.
Chilean sea bass, roasted scallops , yucca and panca sauce was delightful complete with crispy fish skin and soft moist flesh that satisfied.
Cocktails are well made though more classic than the menu and can be a lovely night out on their own. They were our bookends: a Pisco Sour to start and a Young Fashioned in lieu of coffee completed a splendid night out. The Pachamama House wine list displays global choices including as you might hope a sprinkling of bottles of Argentinian and Chilean reds. We supported our night with a rose and a white from the listed 17 wines by the glass.
Two choices of dessert offer contrasts. I loved them both.
2/200 Goulburn Street Surry Hills NSW Australia
+ 61 2 9261 8799
Photos by Jackie McMillan