Devon by Night, Surry Hills

The ever so popular brunch spot Devon Cafe has launched Devon by Night last week, offering a dinner menu that showcases Chef Zachary Tan (ex-Guillaume) love of Malaysian hawker food with a twist by adopting French techniques. Thank you Chris for inviting me and the bestie to join him and Elena to try out this delightful menu.

I love eating with fellow foodies. Their excitement and enthusiasm to try new food makes me so excited too! Elena wanted to order the Kacang Puteh ($3), fried spiced chickpeas, because Devon makes everything better so we obviously had to taste how much better this traditional Malaysian snack could get. I was expecting this to be similar to the canned peanuts we buy from Asian groceries but it was so much more and so addictive. The spiced chickpeas were freshly fried and still warm, with a crispy coating and the interior so soft that it melted in the mouth.

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We were all expecting corn on the cob when we ordered the chargrilled corn with coffee miso butter ($4 ea) but it was actually soft, sweet baby corn with umami flavours of the coffee miso butter.

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We were talking about Devon’s lobster roll ($15.50 ea) everyday leading up to the dinner. The brioche roll held a generous amount of lobster, accompanied by radish, tatsoi and a drizzle of kewpie mayonnaise. The lobster was perfectly cooked and so meaty, everyone just ate in silence. I thought the brioche roll was a little dry but otherwise, I think this will be one of Devon’s signature dishes if it isn’t already.

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We wanted to try something different so we decided on the sate babi ($16). It was a skewer of Penang Hainanese style pork mince with a sweet potato and plum sauce. It was interesting but I think I prefer smothering my skewers into peanut satay sauce.

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The KJI fried chicken ($15) offered crunchy fried Korean style chicken wings with a go chujang and peanut sauce. We found the sweet and spicy sauce more alike to Singaporean chilli sauce (as in chilli crab!) than Korean go chujang (red pepper paste) which was even tastier.

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I loved the juicy and meaty chargrilled jumbo prawns ($29) with Penang Hokkien mee flavours delivered mainly by the hot and spicy sauce.

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Another must-order dish for us was the Chinese egg custard ($29), shiitake, fungus, yellow needle flower, Chinese fried bread and Perigord black truffle. My mum’s version is so silky, soft and smooth that it’s hard to beat but it was the lingering, distinctive aroma of the black truffle that made it my favourite savoury dish of the night.

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Another highlight was Aunty Yulia’s short ribs ($28) – a recipe from the owner’s mother. The beef short ribs were slow cooked in Indonesian sweet soy and was tender and flavoursome. I’m glad that the waitress’ warning about the spicyness of the tomato and basil relish didn’t deter us away from ordering this dish.

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Although the pork bun also looked good, we had enough savoury dishes and it was time for dessert! The tamarind chilli popsicles ($6 ea) were reminiscent of Chinese preserved plums and Thai tamarind candy that I used to get from my grandmother. The sweetness and sourness along with the spice that came through was quite nice but the other desserts were calling my name.

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Fried ice cream bao ($7 ea) was a bit different to what I had imagined. I would’ve preferred ice cream and kaya (coconut jam) sandwiched between a deep fried mantou (the bun); instead of fried vanilla ice cream that melted too quickly so the result was too much bao and breadcrumbs but not enough ice cream.  However, I am a big, big fan of their rich and sweet kaya!!

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My favourite dessert and my favourite dish of the night had to be coconut jelly, guava sorbet, freeze dried pineapple and sago ($11). It was a sweet but refreshing dessert with flavours that worked so well. The coconut jelly and sago was made with fresh young coconut juice instead of coconut milk which was lighter on the palate but still had a creaminess to it. The guava sorbet and freeze dried pineapple added additional sour flavours to balance it all out. The flavours and textures were all there and was comparable to desserts that you’d find in a fine dining restaurant.

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Devon by Night is available from Thursday to Saturday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. but I suggest you go early because a few dishes were sold out before the end of service. Although it is casual dining, the dishes are exciting, sophisticated and such a wonderful addition to Sydney’s dining scene.

– C

Devon Cafe on Urbanspoon

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