Tucked just off Campbell Parade is where you’ll find The House of Luis Tans (Luis Tans for short), shaped into a space that formerly hosted contemporary Japanese spot PaperPlanes, ditching the Asian pop art for a mature dip into Peruvian chic, a stylish 70’s pastiche helped by vintage posters and stripes of colour. The restaurant takes its name from a ridiculously wealthy Peruvian hustler (Lui) and the luxurious estate he built with his wife (Akemi Tan), daughter of the boss in the largest yakuza syndicate since the mid 20th century. The menu however focuses on the actual union between these two characters, the blending of South American and Asian cultures which is mirrored in the distinguished fusion (yep, that word) food and drink, resulting in some very strong, well done flavours.
For the more cynical it’d be easy to write off such an exaggerated fusion, especially when it’s located in one of the hottest tourist spots in Sydney, using two of the trendiest cuisines in town. Cynics are often wrong; Luis Tans is well worth a visit, especially now that they have refined their menu to focus on the favourites, and add a few new ones thanks to the recently appointed chef duo of Leandro Legname (ex-Bridge Street Garage) and Sean Andrews (ex-Tetsuya).
The right start would be with a serving of colourful Plantain Chips ($9) which come with a side of really rich chipotle mayo. These shouldn’t be the only thing on the table for long; the food comes out rather fast, impressive given the quality and depth of flavour most of these servings bring, like the busy san choy bau style Yellow Fin Tuna Ceviche ($16) which is balanced with cucumber, shallots, grape tomatoes and tiger’s milk in baby cos, or the simpler order of Char-Grilled Corn, big and juicy with a smothering of chipotle butter, parmesan and lime.
For starters, the biggest flavour comes from the rich White Pepper Prawns ($18), simple tiger prawns swimming in a sweet and sour white pepper sauce.
A worthwhile main is found with the Crispy Skin Pork Belly ($28) with ginger, coriander, black vinegar and Asian greens, however the two best orders are first the Chicken Karaage ($16) with kewpie mayo, and the larger dish of Chicken Anticucho ($26) (feature image) with bok choy, ginger and chilli. The karaage is the biggest surprise, far from your average serving; soft, moist and dripping with flavour. It’s the kind of dish you might order again and again while ignoring almost everything else, but overlooking the chicken anticucho would be a mistake. The traditional Peruvian street food is served with a thick, peppery Korean sauce and even though it adds a lot to the flavour, devouring this succulent chicken just as is seems like the way to go.
If those don’t sound enough for you the kitchen is also offering a new signature Tomahawk Steak ($45pp) with sesame greens, jasmine rice, chumichurri and chipotle butter. It’s a shoe-in for my next visit; that or I might just end up ordering several servings of the Chicken Kaarage with some Japanese whisky or Grape Pisco Sour ($18) to pair.
Dessert options are modest. There’s the expected LT Churros ($12) which is ideal for sharing, but the better choice is the slightly bitter, and surprisingly not sweet, Dulce de Leche Brownie, a simple flavour you’d be thankful for after all the strong savoury dishes.
Address: 178A Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
Contact: (02) 8021 8891
Hours: Tues-Fri 5pm-12am; Sat 12pm-12am; Sun 12pm-10pm