We were all very sad to see Mr Liquor’s Dirty Italian Disco leave the Tennyson Hotel in April this year. Despite knowing that the raucous combination of music, preserved meats and graffiti was only temporary, it forged its way into our hearts through its smart dishes and cheeky, charismatic style. Taking over the drive-in bottle shop in October is Kingdom of Rice, a Cambodian street food pop-up from the team behind Sydney’s much beloved ACME, who aim to take up the baton and run a new lap in this experimental space.
Mitch Orr and Cam Fairbarin have teamed up with Merivale to explore and experiment with Khmer cuisine. Working closely with head chef Lillia McCabe (from Singapore’s Blackwattle) and Sophia Thach, who leads front of house, the rag-tag team are inspired by Thach’s Khmer heritage as well as the rest of the team’s adoration and admiration for Cambodia.
“The Tennyson drive-in provides the perfect setting to share our passion for Cambodian food and culture to the hungry people,” says Orr. “We’re excited to have the opportunity with Merivale to serve this style of cuisine, introducing diners to food that is unique yet approachable, and something they had no idea they craved until now.”
Kingdom of Rice will lean on the flavours of kreung; a paste made with lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, galangal, garlic and chilli, prahok; crushed, salted and fermented fish paste alongside fresh herbs, lime and kampot pepper. Guests should expect share style seafood and meat dishes cooked over charcoal or tossed through a wok.
With mismatched furniture, big communal tables and open roller doors, the space will give off a street-food appeal. “It’s a real sensory overload. There’s laughter and noise of people everywhere, the smell of food cooked over charcoal, colours of fresh tropical fruits and an amazing sense of community,” says Orr.
Of course, it is still a bottle-o, and guests can still get up and grab themselves a drink, with the fridge shelves stocking Cambodian and Asian beers, as well as natural wines, while the bar slings Southeast Asian inspired cocktails.
Keep your eye out for more information on Kingdom of Rice as the second collaboration at the Tennyson Hotel looks to fill the big shoes left by Mr Liquor.
Kingdom of Rice
Opening in October
952 Botany Rd, Mascot