Surry Hills is set to welcome what is perhaps Sydney's first Sri Lankan wine bar with the opening of Kurumba.
"The idea has been there since we opened up The Fold and we had customers asking us to open up for dinner," says co-owner Travin De Hoedt. Dividing his time between being the executive pastry chef at Franca and his family-run (recently closed) Sri Lankan cafe The Fold, De Hoedt will bring both his culinary skills and his heritage to the fore. "We're taking Sri Lankan street food as inspiration and putting it into a wine bar concept," says De Hoedt.
One dish they are working on is inspired by kottu, a curried rice and roti dish. "We've taken that street food flavour profile as a base and we're going to be using WA lobsters. It typically has egg, pandan, curry leaves, chilli powder, coriander seeds, lime and our roasted curry powder, which we make in house."
There will also be house-made roti, which De Hoedt describes as "similar to Malaysian roti. There are so many ways of making roti across the world, but we use coconut oil in ours"; a Sri Lankan soft serve inspired by a rosewater and milk drink with jelly, coconut and pistachio on top; and a dedicated hopper bar, where the steamed battered snacks will be made to order. The egg hoppers will be served with seeni sambol (a cooked spicy onion jam with cinnamon, coriander and lime) and sambol lunu miris (a raw sambol with chilli, shallots and lime). Plus another snack the family perfected at The Fold: golden pan rolls with braised Angus beef brisket, spices, dough crumbs served with a preserved chilli aioli.
Kurumba will spread out across a two-storey venue on Crown Street, with a dining room upstairs and the hopper bar downstairs. Wine-wise De Hoedt is working with sommelier friends that have worked across Franca and Armorica to finesse the list and there will also be specially sourced Sri Lankan spirits.
The team – with father Augustus on board as executive chef, mother Dilkushie as manager, brother Jason as pastry chef and Travin's wife Saaya Takahashi De Hoedt as pastry chef – all hope to draw on their experiences of running The Fold together as well as their intergenerational culinary experience.
"We've learned so much from The Fold opening and working as a family," says De Hoedt. "This has been dad's dream to open so it's special to do it together."
Kurumba is set to open at 555 Crown Street, Surry Hills in August 2023.