The most beautiful dishes in Sydney
Adrian Widjonarko, better known by his social media handle @adrianwidjy, is one of Sydney’s most popular Instagram and TikTok content creators. Here are his picks for the most photogenic dishes in Sydney.
If you’re a social media scroller, chances are you’ve heard this phrase before: ‘Places in Sydney you must visit’, said in a soft-toned voice and accompanied by a reel of lush food imagery from some of Sydney’s best restaurants, brunch spots or street food experiences. That voice is Adrian Widjonarko’s, who along with his partner Josh Zhou, run @adrianwidjy, on both TikTok and Instagram, profiles that explore the diversity of Sydney food with a few travel tips along the way. Despite both having day jobs, the accounts have a combined following of 440,000 followers and Adrian is, unexpectedly for him, now one of Australia’s biggest food influencers. “We are so lucky living in Sydney where there is such a diverse food community, everyone is trying to bring the best of the world to Sydney. I'm really lucky that my canvas as a content creator is so vast,” he says.
Here are Adrian’s picks for the most beautiful and photogenic dishes in Sydney, as told by him.
Koi is helmed by Reynold Poernomo and his brothers. Reynold was on MasterChef and is known as the ‘dessert king’. The brothers have, which is always great, but more recently they've come up with a more experimental experience called Koi Experiential. It’s more of a set menu, fine dining kind of place with nine savoury dishes and three desserts. It's got a Heston Blumenthal vibe and all the dishes look magical. If you've watched The Menu, it's like that; you see the chef make the dishes in front of you and the whole sitting takes three hours.
There are so many memorable dishes but the one that comes to mind is a pearl-like dish called Paspaley. It looks like white chocolate, but when you break it open it's not sweet at all, it's savoury and served with sashimi [Paspaley pearl meat] and caviar. It's so beautiful.
See more at @koiexperiential
S'more is a Castlecrag bistro on the city’s lower North Shore helmed by chef ‘Big’ Sam Young @bigsamyoung and his wife Grace Chen @superbananana. They work on the menu together, and she's in the kitchen and he is in the middle of the room, greeting and serving everyone, like: “hey, yo whatsup man”. It's such an experience eating there. It's a small place and very popular so it can be hard to get a booking.
S’more does modern Asian cuisine; it's very rich and savoury. The highlight is a lobster dish with curly mafaldine pasta. Sam posts videos of the restaurant’s day-to-day, and every day, every table at the restaurant will order the lobster. During truffle season Sam will rain truffle on it in front of you. It has a beautiful taste and it looks so good.
See more at @smore_syd
This restaurant is wow. I think it’s one of the top three most expensive dining experiences in Sydney, but it’s worth it because of the view — you’re really high up in the Crown Tower building literally looking out at Sydney city — and the food; every dish is very beautiful, like a work of art. It’s a set menu, and quite a long experience — I watched the whole sun set over the Sydney Opera House and the harbour. It was so romantic. If you want an ultimate date night, Oncore is definitely it.
For me, it wasn’t one of the mains that struck me the most, it was a dish they bring out at the end of the degustation on a piece of bark. On the bark there are shiny jellies, some gold and some maroon. The maroon ones are made of muscat (Rutherglen), the gold are made of Semillon (De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis). It’s so beautiful and tasting wine as a jelly is such an interesting experience.
See more at @oncorebyclaresmyth
Lode Pies is a bakery from Federico Zanellato, the head chef at fine-dining restaurant Lumi. They have this pastry that looks like combed hair, but it's actually a layered, rectangular croissant. The pastry is, OMG, mind blowing. There are hundreds of layers, and when you bite into it all the layers crunch. You can order the pastry at Lode Pies with peanut butter and jelly in the middle (Lil Miss Jelly), but you can also get it at Lumi, where they serve it plain, just like a croissant but with a sauce to dip in.
See more at @lode_pies
Lilymu is a modern Asian restaurant in the new Parramatta Square precinct. I love their roast duck. The way it comes out, it looks so dark and the skin is so shiny, like it’s caramelised. Some people like their duck quite rare but that’s not a vibe for me. I like my duck like Chinese roast duck. The sauce is like a caramelised soy sauce. It’s next level. They slice the duck really thin, and the contrast between the meat and the skin makes it look like petals placed side by side. For a simple dish, they plate it really well.
See more at @lilymusydney
Donburi is Japanese for rice bowl. Dopa, in Darling Square, is the ultimate donburi place and my favourite is the beef. They use wagyu that is 7+ marbling – it's crazy. The beef is so thin and they cook it perfectly. They plop it on top of the rice with an onsen tamago (a custard-soft egg, slow cooked at around 70°C), then when you mix it all together it’s this great emulsion of beef and creamy egg. It’s just beautiful. When I go with friends, I have the donburi and we share a kakigōri (Japanese shaved ice dessert) and the purple sweet potato toast. I love it. I also love eating in Darling Square because there’s so much outdoor dining, it’s a good place to go with our dog.
See more at @dopabydevon
This is one of the ultimate brunch spots in Sydney. It’s close to The Grounds in Alexandria, which is always packed, but you can usually just walk into Café 0.6. When you come in, the ceiling has hundreds of paper cranes hanging from the ceiling, it’s very Instagrammable. They do a seasonal menu and when I went they were serving a dish called Fairy Tale, which is like a lobster roll but uses Morton Bay bug tails. It doesn’t look like a normal lobster roll, it looks amazing, the way they use the tails and the sauce is just so fun. But I like Café 0.6 because the flavour is there. If someone asks me to brunch this is my go-to.
See more at @cafezeropointsix
This place specialises in ochazuke, which is basically a rice dish that you pour tea over. It’s quite common in Japan when you’re eating rice to pour tea, often barley tea, onto the rice. Tento has three kinds and all of them are beautiful – the way they shape their rice and place the meat on top, whether it be kingfish or salmon, it’s very aesthetic. Then when you pour the tea, it’s such an Instagram moment. The combination of rice and tea is also an unexpected flavour.
The vibe is really good too. The café is in Surry Hills and the seating is mainly outdoors. I also love their plates and teacups, which are all handmade pottery; they’re all different and they all look like artworks.
See more at @tentosyd
Don’t Tell Aunty’s Curry Platter
Don’t Tell Aunty is a semi-casual restaurant in Surry Hills. There is a set menu, but it’s not fine dining at all. One of the dishes is a round platter with like 6 – 8 different curries, all different colours. It’s striking. You get to taste many different kinds of curry in one platter (the standards are butter chicken, lamb masala, short rib korma, Aunty daal, chana masala and Punjabi kadhi), and it comes with a great naan. If you’ve never been to Don’t Tell Aunty there is lots of colour. They use the prominent Indian colours, like the the royal blue and the royal pink [throughout the restaurant].
The reason why it’s called Don't Tell Aunty is because they try and do everything with a twist, and a lot of Indian aunties would not like that.
See more at @donttellaunty
Temasek’s Chicken Rice
Temasek is one of the OG Malaysian restaurants. It’s definitely one of the most authentic Malaysian restaurants and it opened years ago in Parramatta. I find Malaysian curries to be quite similar to Indonesian curries; I’m Indonesian, and Temasek do them so well. Another highlight is the chicken rice. I love it so much. Some places only have good sauce, but Temasek do [every element] so well. Their laksa is great too. There are two places that I love to go for laksa in Sydney, Malay Chinese Takeaway and Temasek.
See more at @temasekrestaurant