After doing the rounds at various markets and pop-ups in Sydney for more than a year, O Tama Carey's Lankan Filling Station has found a permanent home in Darlinghurst. For anyone who has tried Carey's hoppers, delicate pancakes topped with egg, curry and sambol, this is cause for celebration, especially given their last appearance, at Carriageworks Farmers' Market, was back in September. The wait between hoppers isn't quite over yet, though; the 50-seat restaurant, designed by David Mitchell Architects, is slated to open in late April.
The menu is divided into "short eats" such as crab cutlets and fried cuttlefish, and curries and sides, with hoppers on demand.
"In Sri Lanka they keep throwing hoppers at you as soon as you're ready, so they're hot and fresh," Carey explains. "We'll try to do the same."
The hoppers will be teamed with the likes of a sweetly spiced mutton curry or a potato and mustard number, vegetable sides (known as mallung) and sambol to finish - perhaps a fermented onion, chilli and lime option or pol sambol, a mix of fresh coconut and Maldive fish, a dried fish common in Sri Lankan cooking.
New menu items include string hoppers, made up of tiny threads of rice-flour noodles that are steamed and served with a coconut-milk curry sauce, while on the sweets front there'll be a choice of coconut sorbet, Carey's Sri Lankan love cake and the traditional Sri Lankan dessert of buffalo curds with kithul, a dark palm-sugar treacle. A riff on the Piña Colada will see fresh young coconut teamed with arrack, a spirit made with coconut palm flowers, and a tight wine list will be boosted by boozy ginger beer. A range of bespoke teas blended in Sri Lanka will also be available.
Lankan Filling Station will be open from lunch through to dinner because, as Carey says, "hoppers are appropriate for any meal". And on weekends, the team will be serving from 10am, adding a new dimension to Sydney's morning dining landscape. We're counting down the days.
Lankan Filling Station, ground floor, 58 Riley St, Darlinghurst, NSW, lankanfillingstation.com.au; Tues-Fri noon-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm.