So Merivale’s latest restaurant is helmed by Dan Hong and Jowett Yu and they cheekily decided to pun it Ms G’s after the much venerated food additive. I swear, it’s really not that bad and considering it’s found in many foods naturally, it’s not artificial. MSG just gets so misconstrued like a thousand other things. Anyway, the place is located in Potts Point, pretty near King’s Cross station on Victoria Street, where it’s all 1P parking except 2 lots. Which sucks. We end up parking a few minutes walk away but yea, easier to take the train there or just walk.

Outside, there’s the small neon pink signage that sticks out from the abyss of black that surrounds. Inside, it’s pretty goddamn busy for a Tuesday night. I reckon they pack more seats into this smallish space than the average restaurant. There’s 3 seperate mezzanine’s with the kitchen on the bottom. There’s barely enough space for people to pull their chairs out and get in/out. It’s not a bad thing per se but it’s clear the space caters for a more casual dining atmosphere. Read: Loud. Lots of chuckly gaffaws like at any other busy place with a cooler than average crowd I’d say. It’s new, it’s hip, it’s where everyone wants to be other than Porteno.

The decor is curious. The wall has some pseudo graffiti passage printed in white on a black background and the middle floor, where we’re seated has windows looking out into some foliage. There’s the requisite old school incandescent bulbs everywhere that I can’t really stand anymore and ropes! hanging like all over. The tables are composite chip block polished finished smooth on top so you see the “grain” and the chairs are a mish mash of iterations of Eames style chairs done in wireframe, plastic and rattan. Every table has this metal container with disposable chopsticks, white paper napkins, bubble tea straws and a bottle of sriracha, like you’d find in an Asian diner. Actually the interior guy was probably given the words “trendy as fuck Asian diner” in his brief.

We get served by a couple dudes. The second dude looks like the maitre’d on the night and stops us following the first dude, saying “don’t bother bout him, he gets lost sometimes…”. This is a good thing because I reckon we get this really nice seat in the middle floor, window and all, not the bottom floor, which just looked cramped to me haha. He seats us and this other dude comes over. His name I can’t recall at the mo but I do remember he wanted to be addressed as “Butterscotch”. I did not comply. Butterscotch gave us some menus and then left for a minute before returning and saying sarcastically that we were taking too long. Haha. Eventually, we make up our minds and he takes our order with a mini etch-a-sketch. It’s kinda funny cos I notice our ordered scribbled down. GT, PC etc.

We start with 2 cocktails. A green tea thingamajig, sorta like a mojito x mint green tea is mine and a Pina Colada is the other. Both come in ridiculous Ms G branded bubble tea cups. It’s so cute and there’s this big red dot that is Ms G’s mouth which you stab through with the straw. Pretty punny shit but the cocktails at like 13 or 14 a piece are pretty good. It really does feel like bubble tea too cos the pina comes with coconut jellies. Like nice ones I suppose, not completely like real bubble tea fake flavour everything.

The opener is the mini banh mi, with crispy pork belly encased in a micro bun, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, kimchi mayo I think and it’s $6 for one. We share one because my dining companion is hella tiny so I would have the responsibility of mopping shit up. They also offer a chicken version. It is fucking good. Really good. Like you wish they just sold normal sized versions of these in the daytime for lunch takeaways. Unfortunately, I still haven’t had any good banh mi in Sydney. Surprising cos there’s plenty of Vietnamese. It just seems like people do more pho and crispy skin chicken instead. Somehow the US banh mi craze hasn’t hit Sydney quite just yet.

We decide to just share everything together or rather I eat like 70% of the stuff and my friend gets to try more than she would normally. Numero uno is an entree of prawn toast with yuzu aioli and Vietnamese herbs. I actually had a variation of this before in Lotus, Dan Hong’s last restaurant which I though was ok but nothing spectacular. That time, the toast was flattish and it got topped with a parsley salad, almost like a tabbouleh. This time, the toast is thickish, super crispy and the herbs were awesome sauce. It made me wish we made simple starters like this. So easy to plate and so tasty.

Numero due is a salad of heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, lotsa herbs and crispy tofu with a spicy dressing. This is really good. The tomatoes are super sweet and meaty delicious. The eggplant isn’t the long variety but the bulbous rounder ones that are cooked firm and skinned. The tofu gives the textural contrast but the spicy dressing really pulls it all together.

Last. The main I looked forward to most was the whole deep fried baby chicken, which is done up korean fried chicken style with a kimchi mayo dip. However, instead of a whole bone in poussin, you get pieces as you would in like KFC or summin. I read that this was the thing to order and whilst the chicken was fried well, juicy and delicious, it wasn’t anything TOO amazing. I’d recommend it as like something to share and nibble on but I wanted so much more. I think the problem was mostly my lofty fried chicken expectations. I still had the amazing Abashiri fried chicken fresh in my memory with the awesome unsalty salt crusted skin and insanely flavoursome flesh. This just kinda pales to be honest.

Total damage came up to under a $100 for 2 cocktails, a starter, an entree and 2 “mains”. I was fullish with space but we decided to follow the original plan and go for dessert at Gelato Messina instead. I reckon for the food you get served, the location, the decor and ambience, the restaurant hits a lot of the right spots. The food isn’t quite 1 hat standard but some of it has to be really really close. Actually, I really like this place, which I was surprised with. First off, I didn’t have a great experience at Lotus beforehand. It was a bad choice on my part that night cos I relented with my mate’s penny pinching and we went for this cheapo 3 course $45 menu incl wine, which sucked balls. I still feel Lotus was better than what I had tasted but nevermind that. The other thing is when I looked at the menu at Ms G’s, I wasn’t a fan of the pan Asian variety but it turned out the place was really good. In fact, I’d love to go back again and try more stuff and if anything, this gives me courage in the forging of my own mod Asian food.

I suppose I really want to be able to create a new language for Asian food that doesn’t simply use exotic ingredients that white people don’t know how to pronounce as my marketing schtick. What I really want is to like create the first bowl of ramen or dishes like the modern Korean olive oil deep fried chicken or the current iteration of banh mi or maybe a new style bak kut teh or chicken rice or whatever. Something that uses modern cooking techniques to create new flavors that are still hauntingly familiar.

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Soz for blurry imperfect pics, was distracted by better sights.