Project Enoki delivers a new narrative of authentic flavours

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Thunder tea rice… a hugely textural and exciting dish, with perfectly balanced flavours. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

“At Project Enoki, Gerald Ong – previously Chairman and Yip – promises, and delivers, a new narrative of Southeast Asian cuisine showcasing Australian ingredients,” says dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON. 

WHEN creative hospitality minds get motivated to do interesting projects, the result is often magic.

Wendy Johnson.

Verity Lane Market is a unique concept and so much more than “just a food hall”, which is how I’ve heard it described. Verity Lane Market lives up to the description on its website, “gastronomic ground zero”.

The urban-meets-heritage fitout honours the history of the iconic Sydney Building. It’s elegant and spacious, but warm and inviting. The new outdoor deck is a fabulous addition and the best-in-class long bar that forms a centrepiece inside is stunning. 

Dining is casual, in that you order from food vendors – three on our visit, with Super Bao from Dickson to arrive soon. Don’t be fooled by the format. The food is chef driven and ramps things up several notches. You then meander over to the long, 20th-century inspired Verity Bar and order drinks.

Project Enoki was our choice for lunch, worshipping authentic Singaporean flavours. Chef Gerald Ong – previously Chairman and Yip – promises, and delivers, a new narrative of Southeast Asian cuisine showcasing Australian ingredients. Project Enoki currently plans to be at the markets until the end of February, so be quick.

We landed the day Project Enoki was road testing whether to branch out for lunch (they were already on deck at dinner time) so only one option was on the menu. The thunder tea rice is a hugely textural and exciting dish, with perfectly balanced flavours.

Burnt cabbage is combined with chunks of cauliflower and spinach on top of rice in a big bowl. Fried tofu is featured (the best ever) and loads of crunchy peanuts are sprinkled on top. 

Accompanying the dish is a vibrant and gorgeous-looking wakame and green tea pesto. Traditionally these ingredients are pounded to make the pesto (hence the use of ‘thunder’ in the name). We ordered extra and let it run deep through the rice. Pure celebration in a bowl.

Burnt basque goat’s cheesecake… with gula melaka syrup (thick like golden syrup) which is out of this world. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

We topped off by sharing the creamy burnt basque goat’s cheesecake with gula melaka syrup (thick like golden syrup) which is out of this world, and we mean out of this world. No wonder so many Southeast Asian desserts have this flavour profile. 

The bar is gloriously stocked with a curated selection of spirits, exceptional wines and craft beer. Makin’ and shakin’ cocktails is a specialty. 

The Verity Lane Market’s music was cool and laid-back at lunch. The outdoor deck gets sun and shade (under mature trees) or, if you prefer, you can eat indoors.

Other vendors on site during our visit were Ramen Daddy, with sensational snacks, ramen, bowls and desserts, and Pizza Artigiana, which makes pizzas with hand-crafted artisan dough. 

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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