STREATS: Uncage Street Food

Nicki Alchin
28th Nov 2016

Here at Sydney Scoop we are invited to cover many a wondrous event. Sometimes it is hard not be jaded by the PR hype machine, however, my recent foray into a world of culinary delights via the pop up "STREATS" (#UncageStreetFood - street meets fine dining) event sponsored by Tiger Beer, was not one of those moments.  

The night's cook off between two chefs of clashing styles, although both with Michelin star restaurant credentials, was all we had been led to believe it would be, and more. To think it was just the first of a series of one off dinners to bring together different cooking styles but also diners of all walks of life. The other events will be held in Auckland, New York and Kuala Lumpur. 

As promised we witnessed a night of chefs going head to head with a signature main dish each, and then coming together for a collaborative dessert. The two chefs in question were French, Macau-based Two Star Michelin Chef Guillaume Gaillot (of The Tasting Room fame) renowned for his exquisite contemporary French food, and Singapore-based One Star Michelin Chef Hawker Chan (of Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle in Singapore) with his street food style of cooking. 

The night began by entering the transformed Salaryman space of an eastern wonderland covered with dangling cheerful Chinese lanterns. We were led to communal tables once we had crossed the room's inner sanctum, a strong nod to the street vendor style of Hawker Chan. Buckets of the refreshing, light crisp Tiger Beer began the night's tasting. While we sipped our beers, a hive of activity was going on behind the pass. It was definitely a night of food theatre.  

A stern looking Guillaume oversaw his dish. He was totally focussed on producing a quality product, so it was lovely to see his playful side when he waved at me while I took a picture of the preparations. And so we were presented  with his signature creation of Australian King Crab Salad with Apple sorbet. To say it was sublime and innovative is not just an obvious thing to say, but also an understatement. We were instructed to eat with the Asian style spoons. This was to ensure that every morsel, especially the Asian inspired spice foam at the bottom could be scooped up with the salad and snow to experience the full contrast of flavours and textures. The crunch of bean sprouts, the spiced foam, ultra fresh crab meat and the cool apple sorbet (an ingenious dash of summer to conquer the humidity) all collided to perform a special unique combination. If this was an example of how Guillaume operates at The Tasting Room, I'm all for buying a ticket to Macau. 

Continuing on with Asian flavours was Hawker Chan's  Soya Sauce Chicken Rice. Very rustic as you would expect, but also bold and flavoursome. When it came out, presented as pieces on a platter in amongst the sauce, it was easy to think it was an Asian style duck dish. That golden soya sauce glaze was exhibited and it was sliced up as you would normally see duck. Either way, we teamed it up with a good healthy serving of boiled rice and lashings of the sauce. It was one of those hearty, satisfying and deliciously Asian dishes  that you often find yourself craving. 

Of course, the Tiger Beer kept coming to provide another twist with the fusion of flavours. 

All too soon it was time for dessert. Yet again there was a bustle of activity and consultation behind the pass.  We had high hopes for dessert given this level of concentration and care. Our taste buds weren't disappointed. Out came the Asian styled contemporary version of your grandma's rice pudding. The aroma of deep warm spices hit our senses first, followed by an varied taste sensations and compositions. A generous dollop of popcorn ice cream was spooned on top of a bed of warm, sticky black rice. A total mash up of the two chefs' styles and culinary backgrounds. It was a perfect celebration of the differences and similarities that exist in their approach to cheffing and using produce.  

As with every respected Asian street venue, a line was forming outside for the 10.30pm sitting. As the waiters cleared up the debris, and other guests drifted off, I contemplated the evening quietly with my final tankard style glass of Tiger Beer before heading in out into the sultry summer night.