Monday, February 3, 2014

Yulli's, Surry Hills

Several friends have asked if I should do a section for vegetarians in each blog post which includes any suitable dishes they should try at a non-veg eatery. Due to my love of meat, this has been tough. One restaurant that I've been keen to go for a while and would certainly recommend to my vegetarian/friends is Yulli's in Surry Hills. There's something about it that makes you initially believe that it's just another Modern Australian, organic-food friendly Surry Hills restaurant until you paid attention to the menu and realise "hey where's the meat?". This was what happened when I stepped inside Yulli's a few years ago. Back then I was in my polenta phase so I was craving over a pan-fried polenta dish. It was until after I left feeling completely satisfied that I realised that it was vegetarian. And I really enjoyed it. 

Since then, I have been trying to go back but it's always completely packed out. Even on a Tuesday evening at 7:00pm. At the rear end of the restaurant, there is also an outdoor area which is not as noisy or busy as the front. Quite relaxing although it's still fairly busy since the service staff had to run around everywhere. 

Poire Cider - Small Acres Cyder from Orange NSW : fruity and sparkly ($8.80)

The massive salt and pepper tofu triangles were yummy with its crispy batter and soft and fluffy interior. Despite the inclusion of salt and pepper, we thought it wasn't as seasoned as we expected. Probably a good thing if you are trying to eat less salt and pepper. The papaya salad was more Vietnamese inspired as it was much less spicier than the Thai version. We absolutely loved the fresh, sweet and zesty flavours in the whole salad as well as the crunch in the crushed peanuts and the shredded carrots and papara. 

Salt and Pepper Tofu with Green Papaya and Peanut Salad ($16.50)

I wasn't planning on ordering the haloumi dish but after hearing the recommendations from the service staff, we went along - it's a vegetarian restaurant after all. Now the photo below does not do this dish justice. CC is a big haloumi fan and she was disappointed by some versions of this dish in the past. Until now. She took only one bite and went into haloumi heaven - it's like having foodgasm actually. I tried it as well and thought it was really good too. Wasn't very salty and the squeaky texture was just right. In addition, the beer batter gave the haloumi a light crunch. It was also delivered with a pomegranate salad and lemon wedge for some added flavour once the cheesiness takes over the palates. Maybe it was the beer batter that got us nuts about it but CC literally fell in love with this dish.

Beer Battered Haloumi with Pomegranate Salsa and Lemon Wedge ($13.50)

I really enjoyed trying the steamed leek and ginger dumplings. The nicely shredded filling gave it a fairly strong flavour but it didn't matter since I got quite addicted to this. Really liked the dumpling skin which had a bitey texture and matched well with the well-cooked filling. The plum sauce was lovely to have for a bit of tanginess. Also great with soy sauce too (like always :p).

Steamed Leek and Ginger Dumplings ($12.50)

In a continuation with the Asian-Vegetarian fusion, we also tried out the edamame and coconut money bags. These were crispy and moreish thanks to the thin pastry and the rich filling. The inside filling was very crumbly and sweet though I personally thought that the coconut flavour and texture was quite strong. The pineapple sweet chilli sauce actually gave it a more savoury taste which was nice.

Edamame and Coconut Money Bags with Pineapple Sweet Chilli Sauce ($12.50)

Initially we were planning to get our usual round of Gelato Messina since it's a few blocks away. When looking at the desserts, we remembered the heavenly sticky date pudding at Jones the Grocer and immediately had cravings. Unfortunately this wasn't the case. The pudding was richer and the coconut ice cream melted way too quickly. It didn't have that soft or moist texture that made us loved it so much at JTG. I think it's because it's catering for the vegetarian/vegan market so the cakes will most likely be flourless hence the different taste that we're familiar with. 

Sticky Date and Pecan Pudding ($11.50)

Apart from the ice cream, CC and I almost couldn't tell which dessert belong to us. Seriously it looked sooo similar! I was very surprised at how big the chocolate brownie turned out to be. It wasn't bad but it didn't impress us too much either. While it was soft, the texture was also quite heavy and the cake was stuck to my teeth very easily. It was complemented with the strawberry ice cream which tasted quite nice and not too rich though it also melted too quickly.

Double Chocolate Brownie with Strawberry Ice Cream ($11.50)

Despite the crazy, hipster vibe, the service remained polite, attentive and they're not afraid to let you know if you have over-ordered. While it may not be exclusively vegan, you can request the staff to make it vegan or order from a separate menu. The dishes took a while to get out of the kitchen. This is a good thing as it lets your stomach settle down rather than dealing with too many dishes on your table at the same time. A major bonus is that the prices are quite affordable with every menu item listed under $20 - the most expensive being $18.50 for the mains. Since everything is made to share, you can try as much as you want and still not do too much wallet damage. Even though we ordered 4 entrees, we were surprised at how full we were. Will definitely be going back to try more savoury dishes from the entree and main menu (very keen for the zucchini flowers, rice paper rolls and crispy quinoa cakes) as they were very satisfying for us meat eaters. 

417 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9319 6609
Mon-Wed: 5pm - late
Thurs-Sun: 11:30am - late
Yulli's on Urbanspoon


  1. I went to Yulli's when I visited my sister last year and loved it as well! As a vegetarian it was so nice to be able to order everything from the menu!

  2. Have heard good thing about Yulli's so keen to check it out soon! I definitely feel for veggo friends when we go out, so having an entire menu of options is definitely a welcomed novelty!

  3. ive been actively trying to eat less meat and it has gone well, i love my protein but vegetarian can sometimes be far more tasty!

  4. It was lovely meeting you over the weekend. I hope you had a great time at the high tea.
    My workmate raves about Yulli's, I must definitely go in for a visit soon.
    All the best.

  5. Good to see that Yulli's is still going strong. We really enjoyed our meal there and it's amazing that something similar hasn't come along because it's clearly popular.

  6. Been meaning to check out Yulli's, especially since my wife is vegetarian! Looks great, we both love haloumi

  7. Classic Surry Hills eating right there! It's an oldie but a goodie!