Bar Ume

Time Out (Sydney) - - FOOD & DRINK -

HIGH- END CHEFS PED­DLING ev­ery­day treats is com­mon prac­tice in 2017. Neil Perry has a mod­est fast food em­pire with Burger Project; Chur Burger went from a back lane spin-off to se­ri­ous money spin­ner for War­ren Turn­bull; and now that Kerby Craig has a sec­ond burger bar un­der his belt down at Baranga­roo, it’s safe to call hyper-qual­i­fied burger chefs a very Syd­ney trend. But dammit if Craig’s katsu chicken burger isn’t one of the best hot sand­wiches we’ve eaten in this city. It’s hard to imag­ine his orig­i­nal little burger and wine bar on Bourke Street in Surry Hills was ever in the fine din­ing cat­e­gory, but Ume was, for a time, some of the best ca­sual Ja­panese out­side of the CBD. And the 2016 down­grade hasn’t hurt the ex­cel­lence of Bar Ume. In fact, burg­ers, snacks, nat­u­ral wine, sake and hip hop ac­tu­ally suit the place bet­ter in many ways. To start with, it’s small – it feels like a bar that just hap­pens to make a ba­con and cheeseburger with sharp, snappy rice vine­gar pick­les, the warm golden glow of Amer­i­can cheese and mayo. But back to that katsu burger: the hot, juicy, crunchy chicken thighs stick out on all sides; the sweet­ness in the tonkatsu sauce is good; the sub­tle cit­rus in the yuzu mayo is even bet­ter; and they jam in enough shred­ded cab­bage and raw onion to keep things feel­ing fresh, not fatty. Chips are dressed with an umami salt, but for some­thing more luxe as a side, con­sider a plate of mixed Ja­panese mush­rooms barely dressed in kombu but­ter. Fun comes in a lot of sizes here, like gi­ant bot­tles of sake; sin­gle glasses of a salty, fruity clean­skin from the Jauma vine­yards in SA; and nips of Ja­panese whisky. If you’re in the booze-free frame of mind or­der the ginger and pas­sion­fruit soda that’s low on fizz and high on de­li­cious. ■ Emily Lloyd-Tait

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