79 Edinburgh Road Castlecrag, New South Wales 2068
|Opening hours||Tue-Wed 6pm-10pm; Thu-Sat 4pm-10pm|
|Features||Licensed, Accepts bookings|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 9967 5913|
Spotting Yang's Malaysian Food Truck outside your office is a sure way to turn around a dull day. So it was with great disappointment I learnt my favourite Sydney food truck would be out of action indefinitely over summer. Yet the news was not all bad: chef and owner Alexander Wong was parking his mobile food stand because he was working on opening a restaurant.
While the truck focused on Malaysian food, Yang & Co, which recently opened in Castlecrag, traverses many other Asian cuisines, most noticeably Singaporean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese.
As Wong puts it, he took all his favourite "Asian-ish" foods from his childhood and combined them.
He was born in Malaysia but his family moved to Northbridge when he was young and he considers himself a north shore local, hence the decision to open in neighbouring Castlecrag.
Of the compliments Wong has received about his new restaurant, he says his favourite is "this is so not Castlecrag". And he's right. The trendy restaurant and bar stands out in this quiet corner of Middle Harbour.
The long narrow space seats 30 people with room at the bar for a further 10 walk-ins. Light bulbs hang from the ceiling and one of the exposed concrete walls has a graffiti mural of a young woman's face. That's Grandma Wong, I'm told.
We are served by Tina Nguyen, the restaurant manager who is a chef herself and has worked at hatted restaurants Bentley and Aria. Her experience shows in the way she speaks about the food and she seems thrilled about the menu they have put together.
It's Asian tapas-style dining, so the food is designed to be shared. There's an interesting list of Australian beer, wine and spirits, and a cocktail list is on the way.
It would be unwise to eat at Yang & Co without ordering the Singapore chilli soft-shell crab. It was all the rage from the food truck, for good reason, and the serve at the restaurant is even bigger. The rich chilli sambal is sweet and tomatoey with a fiery kick and the crab is fried in a perfectly thin and even batter. It comes with man tao, deep-fried sweet buns that are crispy and golden on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside. I cannot fault the finger-licking dish.
We also eat poached prawn and corn wontons in ramen broth with an onsen egg that, when broken, gives a creamy texture to the salty broth.
The steamed blue-eye trevalla with ginger and shallots is moist, light and delightfully subtle, while the flavoursome tea-smoked duck breast is served similar to Peking duck, except wrapped in buttery roti rather than pancakes.
Wong has previously worked under Frank Shek at China Doll, at Chica Bonita in Manly and most recently as head chef at Queenie's at The Forresters, and his experience shows in the sophisticated flavours here.
We finish the night with the hard-to-look-past pandan cake with white chocolate ganache, toasted coconut, blueberries and coconut jelly. It is quite dense and happily shared. More sweet than fruity, it will leave dessert lovers satisfied.
By 8pm, the house is full. The couples at two tables adjacent to us lean across to discuss how excited they are to have a new restaurant in the area, which makes Wong happy. He wants it to be a local restaurant. However, as someone who does not live locally, I assure you it's worth travelling for.
THE PICKS Singapore chilli soft shell crab; pandan cake.
THE LOOK Long and narrow with cool, understated design.
THE SERVICE Exceptionally knowledgeable and friendly.