155 Victoria St
Potts Point, NSW 2011
I have a personal vendetta against course-based fine dining that Sydney still seems to be so very fond of. As far as I’m concerned, 4 dishes served in procession is just not a good use of a few hundred dollarydoos, not when there’s the option of a table-full of share plates, or dozens of exquisite nibbles served degustation style. Thankfully, although the high-end restaurants in Sydney tend to prefer stuffy, traditional-styled dining, there are a few places that eschew that old-fashioned habit, and Ms G’s was one of the first in the city to do so.
Ms G’s is cool to this day, so I can only imagine the amount of cred it had back when it opened a whole 10 years ago. Despite spanning a whopping 4 floors, there’s absolutely no doubt that it was packed to the jam-jar-decorated rafters every single night. Even in these trying times, Ms G’s is still as popular is it ever was. Equally as cool as the décor – the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking native Australian plants and the city skyline is an especial highlight – were the staff. Despite being casual to the point of insouciance, there is no doubt that they know their stuff, and will point you in the right direction with a smile and a cheeky wink.
The menu here is huge and eclectic, with the only consistent factor being an Asian heritage. The dishes span everything from traditional pan-fried gyoza, all the way to burrata spiked with chilli oil and peppercorns. The best way to try everything however would be the Banquet ($69pp), which showcases 10 of the most popular dishes at the restaurant for a startlingly low price.
Our feast started with a gorgeous plate of Kingfish sashimi. This may not have all the bells and whistles, but what you do have is a hard-hitting duo of tangy aged ponzu and dark kombu stock, resulting in a potently umami base to the firm white fish. It’s simple, but it’s exactly what you need to get the palate going at the start of a long meal.
The Chicken Katsu Mini Banh Mi is a crowd pleaser dish, but it is a good one. Between the soft white milk bun, crispy chicken cutlet, and sriracha mayo, you have a fail-safe of a delicious sandwich. It may be far from a traditional banh mi, but the addition of an ample handful of pickled carrot and daikon makes the connection clear.
The Cheeseburger Spring Roll is what Chris has been going on about all week, and despite having gimmick written all over it, it is frankly… rather amazing. It is an absolute dead ringer for a fast-food cheeseburger, right down to the onion-flecked special sauce and gooey American cheese. Wrapped in a crunchy spring roll wrapper, this is a bit of a mind-bender that’s nevertheless probably one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten all year.
In comparison to katsu and cheeseburgers, the Chargrilled Cauliflower may seem dull, but I promise it is anything but. The combination of creamy cauliflower and crunchy chickpeas is a textural delight, highlighted by earthy dollops of black garlic miso dressing.
Wrapping up the smaller dishes was the ‘Strange Flavour Style’ Burrata. As odd (strange?) as the description might be, it’s actually just the name of a flavouring combination commonly used in Sichuan cooking. Basically think the spicy and numbing combination of fried chilies and peppercorn Sichuan food is known for, then add in a dash of sour and a generous dose of sesame. This seasoning is commonly served with tofu or cold cuts, but burrata is a no-brainer of a switch with its mellow, creamy flavour and texture.
The Soy Glazed Chicken Wings is another crowd-pleaser, but like the katsu banh mi, it is still very much worth your time. Each wing was coated with a luxuriously sticky soy glaze that was a moreish balance between sweet and savoury, and a sprinkling of black pepper to give it a bit of an edge. If I had one complaint, it would be that I would’ve liked to see a more generous dose of black pepper, but other than that, I happily gobbled down my share of the 6 wings (I know, very generous!).
The main act for the night was the BBQ Pork Belly Ssam Style. This is a riff off the traditional Korean dish, the bossam, which consists of pork belly boiled in spices, served with a multitude of condiments, and lettuce for wrapping. Here, the pork belly has been given a Chinese twist; barbecued in a sweet soy, the taste was strongly reminiscent of char siu. Except instead of a lean pork fillet, this was a glistening slab of pork belly consisting almost entirely of fat. I ended up having to cut more than half of it away, but I was getting pretty full by this point, so it was no hardship. Plus, between fresh lettuce leaves, kimchi, and Korean bean paste, there was plenty of tangy freshness to cut through the fattiness of the pork.
Thankfully, there was also some Greens to make life a little easier. You know those lovely plates of crisp Chinese broccoli doused in soy you get at yum cha? This is like that, but about 6 times better. The gai lan was augmented with the addition of charred sprigs of broccolini, plenty of garlic, and a dark, earthy sauce of smoked soy and savoury fermented black beans. It is everything good about the traditional dish, but amplified to new heights.
Because it was Chris’ birthday, I let him have his choice of dessert, and he gleefully decided on the Stoner’s Delight Part 3. Frankly, it would be easier to talk about what’s not in this, but here’s what the menu lists: doughnut ice cream, raspberry curd, peanut dulce de leche, peanut and pretzel brittle, crispy bacon, Mars Bar brownie, potato chips, and deep fried Nutella. It seems like way too much, and in a way it definitely is, but the sheer variety of textures and flavours stops any one element from feeling excessive. It’s a really fun dish to explore, and highlights include the addictively salty dulce de leche, and the ice cream reminiscent of sugar cinnamon doughnuts. There’s nothing here that will blow your mind, but with its mad stoner scientist vibes, it’s a memorable one for sure.
Despite its hatted status, Ms G’s is not fine dining, nor does it try to be. The food is fun and energetic, taking its influences from all across Asia. This approach is nothing new; what sets it apart from all the other Asian fusion restaurants out there is the execution – there’s no half-baked mashups that achieve nothing other than proving that some things just shouldn’t be. There may not be any remarkable culinary achievements here (cheeseburger spring roll aside), but there’s something to be said about an 9-course meal that was highly enjoyable from beginning to end, and for only $69pp to boot.
Rating: 15/20 – good value good times.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.