As refreshing as a crisp radish is- gently shaved in a salad, slathered with butter and salt and draped on on dark bread- a cooked one is a thing of beauty. Really. Trust me on this. It’s something about the way the flesh retains some bite, but relaxes in on itself. Meanwhile the bitterness fades to a murky whisper. But if you’re not game to try it at home, then you need to get to Sydney and eat this.
I’m talking about a creche of baby radishes, cleaned and rosy, puddling about in an umami bolstered emulsion of butter and dashi.
Duke Bistro is upstairs from the slightly seamy Flinders Hotel, within spitting distance of Taylor’s Square in Surry Hills. For all its efforts in service of the ‘Dude Food/ Stoner Cuisine’ bewitching Sydney at the moment it’s this dish, rather than the chicken wings with coleslaw milk that sticks in my memory now we’re back in London.
Duke is a quirky room, with Nana style couches and forrest green walls. It heaves later on in the night with Australian hipster types sipping cold, hard cocktails But if you’re made of softer stuff (like me) never fear; earlier in the evening it’s much easier to see what’s on your plate (and hear what’s being said across from you).
The radishes sit near the top of a menu which encourages sharing. It’s the brainchild of chef’s Thomas Lim (ex-Tetsuya’s) and Mitch Orr (2010 Young Chef Of The Year). It comes in two servings (large and small) with soft and warm rolls on the side.
It’s easy to negotiate. Smear a softened radish on some bread, or dunk the bread, or the radish (or a finger) in the pool of salty gold. Close your eyes. Repeat until done.
If I was going to try and repeat this at home I’d try and fashion an emulsion of Japanese dashi stock and butter and then gently poach some cleaned radishes in it.
I’d probably serve it as a side to a banquet of a large roasted whole white fish, maybe with a touch of ginger, and shaved cabbage and raw radish salad on the side- with some grated nashi pear and a few macadamia nuts for crunch.
But if I was in Sydney, I’d get my fix at Dukes. I’d be going both early- and often.
Level 1, 63-65 Flinders St, Darlinghurst, (02) 9332 3180,