417 Crown St
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
If a vegan tapas bar is your idea of a good time, then Yulli’s will be right up your alley. A stalwart of Sydney’s meat-free scene, Yulli’s has been doing their thing for the best part of 15 years. Given that, you’d expect the place to feel dated, but in reality the vibe is very much snazzy and on-trend. The menu does feel a little more old-school than the more recent openings, with some dishes still falling into the trap of trying to replace the animal-based elements with a vegan alternative, rather than overhauling the dish entirely so that it’s designed to be vegan from scratch. But with a share-styled menu that runs the gamut through Europe and Asia, there’s bound to be something to catch the eye no matter how picky you are. I certainly had trouble narrowing my options down, and I’m as picky as they come.
Rating: 13/20 – classic for a reason.
Don’t miss: the fruit crumble for dessert.
It’s crispy! It’s crunchy! It’s drizzled in a super addictive sweet-and-slightly-spicy sauce that isn’t even remotely Korean! But literally no one cares when the Korean Fried Broccoli ($15.5) is so light yet moreish. Just don’t get any of the sauce onto your hands, or nothing but a thorough washing will get it off.
The Kale and Saltbush Gyoza ($14.5, 4pcs) were less gyoza and more fried dumplings, but despite my reservations, they actually lived up to our waitron’s recommendation. Though undeniably green, the heartiness of the kale made a good case for itself as the main ingredient, and was unexpectedly delicious with the earthy and slightly herbal addition of saltbush.
The Smoked Eggplant ($19.5) was another recommendation, and it was similarly satisfying. The sticky slow-roasted eggplant and bright romesco sauce were more than the sum of their parts, especially with the addition of a soft chervil and pomegranate salad.
Normally I’d be the first to scream about pasta being overcooked, but somehow it ended up working just right in the Creamy Cauliflower Parppardelle ($19.5). Instead of being gluggy, this was a bowl of pure comfort, the soft strands of pasta coated in a light, silky, yet undeniably decadent sauce. The addition of kale brought the texture, and chilli basil crumbs were the guarantor against dullness.
Fruit crumble almost always loses the popularity contest when it comes to dessert, so make sure to try the Davidson Plum and Persimmon Crumble ($14.5) as a reminder of why they should get more credit. This one here ticks all the boxes of a good crumble – ripe, slightly tart fruit, a warm layer of soft, buttery crumble, and an offensively crispy top. You really don’t even need the side of coconut ice cream, though it is admittedly a treat when scooped up with the scattered bits of biscuit.
The Sticky Date Pudding ($14.5) is more of a warm and slightly datey cake, rather than any kind of ‘real’ sticky date pudding. It’s nice enough, but it certainly won’t light your world on fire.
I was surprised by how many people around the room were sipping on the Blood Orange, Lime, Yuzu ($10) mocktail, rather than availing themselves of the many craft beers Yulli’s is also known for. But then again, maybe it’s not so surprising; this really was rather good. Bright and refreshing without being overly tart, this was a deliciously sparkly little number that hits the spot for pretty much any occasion.