When one imagines The Star, we dream of it in a luxurious burst of sensations. The thrill of a world class casino, a sip of sparkling champagne, the glamour of live music and entertainment, and of course, fabulous dining experiences. Award-winning chef Luke Nguyen serves up an exhilarating medley of rustic South-East Asian street food at his new pop-up restaurant in the Cafe Court of The Star Sydney.
The exclusive menu is inspired by the culture of South East Asian street markets, and pays homage to the exciting destinations visited in Nguyen’s TV series such as Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Saigon. Just by reading the menu, our tastebuds transported us to the exotic origins of their offering, and we had yet to even taste the food!
We were greeted with friendly faces and divine service, and began our evening with the most curious of beverages: Avocado & Chocolate Shake (Jakarta/Saigon). The sweet sensation of blended avocado, condensed milk, ice topped with a scoop of chocolate, ice cream & chocolate sauce can be summed up as one awe-inspiring flavour. Who knew avocado and chocolate could taste so good together?
Less tentatively, we tried the Vietnamese Coconut Iced Coffee: Vietnamese drip coffee, condensed milk, topped with coffee ice cream, shaved frozen coconut milk. (Cafe Sua Cot Dua, Vietnam). It was love at first sip, as the cooling tones harmonised perfectly with the subtle, bittersweet, ever so familiar flavour of coffee. A tick of approval for this beverage.
Recommended by the wonderful head chef himself, we ordered the Lobster Tom Yum: featuring lobster, mussels, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, vermicelli noodles (Tom Yum Kung Mun Kor, Bangkok). The presentation couldn’t be more on point, and our tastebuds knew by intuition that this dish would taste as good as it looked. We were correct.
With good reason, this must be one of the most popular dishes on the menu. We still find ourselves daydreaming about the rich flavours and textures surrendered by the fresh, juicy seafood and the perfectly spiced soup noodles that compliment it.
Pad Thai may sound like an ordinary dish, but Luke Nguyen sure knows how to evolve a simple idea into something extraordinary. A round of applause for their Pad Thai Egg Net: with soft shell crab, rice noodles, tamarind, tofu, chives, egg net. (Phad Thai Hor Kai of Bangkok)
We simply couldn’t wait to taste such a beautiful creation, and it was almost heartbreaking to dig into this masterpiece of a dish. But we had to do it. The soft shell crab stole the show, as did the artistic egg net enveloping the noodles. Indulging in this dish felt like unwrapping a surprise gift, bursting with stunning flavours at every fold.
Next up is the Vietnamese Pho-Guette: wagyu brisket & braised shank in pho broth, Vietnamese baguette topped with Asian basil, coriander, pickled bean sprouts, spring onion, chilli, hoisin sauce, sriracha.
We’ve always had a soft spot for Pho, but never did we expect to find this traditional noodle dish sandwiched between two loaves of fresh baked goodness. The beef was tender and succulent, the vegetable topping was crispy, and the chilli was the cherry on top, spicing up the entire roll with every mouthful of flavour.
Overall, Luke Nguyen Street Food Pop-up is by far one of the most creative, revolutionary, yet authentic South East Asian food joints that we have ever had the honour of dining at. If ever we find ourselves at The Star again, we know precisely where to go first. And if you’re in for a food adventure to transport you around a suite of exciting destinations from the comfort of your tastebuds, we recommend that you head there too.
Luke Nguyen Street Food Pop-up
Contributed by Karen, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys