I do love a good pop-up but sometimes you forget about it and then it's gone. It's even harder trying to go through the entire menu before the pop up close its doors. So imagine my relief when I heard that Patrick Friesen's (Papi Chulo) pop-up restaurant at Work in Progress has extended beyond the initial duration of March into Merivale. While it's still temporary for the time being, who knows what would happen in the long term. Just look at Cafe Paci (and I STILL haven't been there!).
Pork and Prawn Wontons, strange flavour, Sichuan pepper ($12.00, 4pc)
The cuisine served at Work in Progress has a fusion of various Asian cuisines with a modern twist with a strong emphasis on their signature Korean fried chicken (more on that later). It also operates as a noodle bar with a small selection of Modern Chinese dishes. One of these was the Pork and Prawn wontons, which was offered as a snack. It was slightly spicy thanks to the Sichuan pepper and the "strange flavour" sauce which seems to have a bit of soya sauce, spices and peanuts among its many ingredients. While the silky wontons were slippery to handle, they were plump, firm and juicy to demolish before the main dishes arrive. The only downside was that the price for $12 for 4 pieces seemed quite steep especially when you can get double the amount for cheaper at other dumpling establishments.
Shallot Pancake ($6.00)
While the shallot pancake was half the price of the dumplings, it was actually much more filling so the value for money in this dish was pretty damn good. You can easily get full on this dish if you order it for yourself. While it was nice to dig into the crispy thin layers of pastry, it was too salty than how I preferred.
Curried Wagyu Brisket Lo Mien ($16.00)
Initially a limited time only dish, the Curried wagyu brisket lo mien noodles was upgraded to permanent menu status due to popular demand especially in the foodie scene (sadly the snow crab tobiko lo mien noodles had to be removed as well. Why not keep both? :p). Gotta say that I'm really glad that this dish is now on the menu. The egg noodles were a tad thicker, which was how I liked my egg noodles even though it's harder to find compared to the thinner variation. Plus the wagyu beef was amazingly soft, tender and the broth was rich, creamy and flavoursome. Would definitely order this again.
Sichuan Duck and Tofu Lo Mein ($16.00)
Speaking of thin noodles, this popular variation can be found on the other noodle bar dishes in this limited menu. It was quite spicy but still bearable enough especially if you want a bit of heat from this crazy weather lately (urghhh). Generous serving size too.
Combo #88 - Half n Half Fried Chicken: ginger nuoc cham, and chilli with peanuts ($18.00)
And now for that crispy fried chicken! At 8 pieces, this was surprisingly easy to devour if you are super hungry and this was the only dish you order for yourself on the night. It also came with a side dish of pickled daikon and kim chi, which ended up being handy once you need more than just fried chicken in your mouth. The chilli chicken with peanuts was sticky, sweet and slightly spicy, though it was easier to manage and also milder than the one I had at NaruOne. While the ginger nuoc cham fried chicken looked insatiably crispy, there wasn't too much of that earth shattering crunch that I was hoping to expect in the batter after looking at countless photos. Despite that, the chicken was well cooked, juicy and still crispy enough to devour the entire plate.
This is a restaurant that I would often find myself after work, whether it's for the food or a drink from their extensive cocktails and wine menu. Since it is a Merivale venture, it's no surprise that the prices were on the more expensive side. With its limited range of food options on the menu, it's an ideal place to get a large group of friends or colleagues together to share and try the entire menu in one sitting.
Work in Progress
50 King Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9240 3000
Mon-Fri: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 6:00pm - 10:00pm (Bar: 12:00pm - late)