And just like that. Salaryman is having a temporary hiatus, while looking for a new location…
I’ve been trying to get to Salaryman in Surry Hills for months…
It all started back in March when Jude and I organised a double date with another couple friend, Courtney and Ollie. We agreed on Salaryman as the restaurant. I offered to book (in hinde sight, I kind of wish I hadn’t). March came and we had to postpone – Courtney had to scoot up to Singapore last minute. I moved the booking to a few weeks’ time. Then a late-night football match got in the way, we spent an evening in hospital after Jude broke his leg (from playing football) and a funeral happened. Each time, I kept moving the booking at Salaryman, begging not to be put on a black list.
On the most recent re-schedule, we decided Salaryman was cursed and abandoned any determination we once had of seeing this through as the venue for our catch-up. But I was too embarrassed to cancel our reservation entirely, and also felt like Salaryman was this elusive phenomenon that now had my undivided attention. So I dragged Jude along for a single date like old times. Damn glad I did…
A mission to stand out from the Surry Hills crowd
On a mission to be different, Salaryman is unlike any other Japanese or Asian fusion restaurant in Surry Hills. There’s a hint of Melbourne to the Albion Street bunker. Maybe it’s the street art-inspired wall mural, or the weird piped voices in the bathroom that whisks me back to my Chapel Street favourite Hawker Hall. It could be the industrialness or the 80s music that creates an instant vibe. Either way, it’s all good.
Salaryman is an ode to Japan’s hard-working and hard-drinking ‘salarymen’.
A menu of mod-Asian share dishes
Salaryman originally opened in late 2015 as a ramen joint. Yet, the ramen has recently been thrown out onto Albion Street, along with its accompanying Japanese street food menu. In its place are mod-Asian share dishes that pack a flavour-filled punch.
We considered doing the tasting menu of three snack plates and eight share plates ($70pp), with matching wines ($50pp), but decided to try our hand at ordering ourselves, for once. I think we did ok. Kicking off with the raw kingfish, with charred persimmon and yuzu vinaigrette.
Arriving next was a parcel of burrata, which we were instructed to smear onto the accompanying shallot pancake, and top it with some coriander paste. A little bit salty, this messy pile-up was out of this world. Even Jude, who’d vetoed it from the get-go because of the word coriander, was in love.
Next were the pan fried pork pot sticker dumplings that came hiding underneath a hat. Good gravy these were good too.
The fried cauliflower with nori and bonito sauce was packed with flavour. It was also very big. Like it could have won first prize at the Royal Easter Show. Of course, because it didn’t involve meat, Jude had one bite and bowed out.
Main course was grilled octopus, with kimchi braised chickpeas and Thai basil. Upsettingly, so full after my basketball-sized cauliflower, I could only stomach a teaspoon of squid. This was upsetting because the squid was quite good, super tender, definitely not from a rubber tyre factory.
To drink, there’s a bulky list of cocktails – try the Saketini: a martini of Belvedere Vodka, sake and shitake mushroom. It sounds scarier than it is. There’s also your usual wines and beers.
Salaryman is in the pricey end of town, but then I’m still working out whether that’s just Sydney. I think it is. As a compromise, the portions are super generous. After the fourth dish I felt like I’d eaten a Boeing. No clue how you’re supposed to finish the 11-dish tasting menu.
A big tick for Salaryman is the staff. They’re super friendly, chatting away with us like old friends. Sitting at the bar looking into the open kitchen, the head chef Alex Lynn kept checking that we were enjoying the food. He also happily shared the secret as to how they get the octopus so tender (slow cooked in cryovac first and then char-grilled).
Salaryman is a new favourite. I can’t wait to go back – the miso caramel slice is officially on my Christmas list. I just don’t think we’ll dare go back with Courtney and Ollie. Sorry guys.
Salaryman | 52 Albion Street, Surry Hills, New South Wales
Phone: (02) 9188 2985