By the end of 2016 there are expected to be around 80 permanent food, drink, and retail options at the site of Barangaroo, one of the biggest developments Sydney has ever seen. To give us a taste of what a day and/or night out at the precinct would be like we currently have the Wulugul Pop Up, a temporary (but thankfully long-lasting) waterfront food and drink hub designed to showcase the unique location and it’s dedication to curated, top quality hospitality, as part of the continual changes dubbed The Street of Barangaroo.
The team behind the pop-up have went and rounded up some of the country’s finest vendors, most notably providing a temporary location for Melbourne’s famous Belles Hot Chicken, which has been teasing Sydney for awhile now with the random pop-up here and there. In addition to Belles, huddled closely is the equally sought-after Mamak Malaysian kitchen, and The Barbershop’s new bar concept Gin & It, as well as movable carts from inner-city gems RivaReno Gelato and Edition Coffee Roasters.
Though, there isn’t any seafood (Wulugul means ‘Kingfish’ in the Aboriginal Sydney language), there are plenty of options to keep you more than satisfied here; and on the off-chance there isn’t, you can always zip to Bourke Street Bakery, which now has an outlet at Barangaroo, opposite casual dining space The Canteen.
Depending on what direction you’re coming from, the Wulugul Pop Up may be a bit tricky to find at first, but just keep in mind that it’s just up from King Street Wharf (where Cargo Bar is) and behind Macquarie Bank. Once you see that picturesque stretch of Sydney Harbour facing the sightly rows of recycled cardboard tubes, you’re in the right spot.
The pop-up was designed by Melbourne’s Foolscap Studio with a very distinctive look in mind, the cardboard in rows looking like one big woodwind instrument, mixed with native plants, a mini library cart, and a whole heap of seating. The pop-ups capacity is set at around 500 people, but don’t worry, you have plenty of time to head on down and check it all out since it’s all up until around August 2016.
Belles Hot Chicken is clearly the most popular stall here, the tiny little shopfront opposite the water, their counter constantly loaded with delicious, aromatic fried chicken and heavily seasoned fries. Their queues can grow quite quickly in the afternoon with so many workers nearby the pop-up, but you have that delicious wafting aroma of rich, succulent chicken to keep you at least somewhat satiated while you wait. Once that magical feeling of reaching the front of the queue hits you it’d be time to zone in on what you want, and thankfully the menu is nice and simple.
First you choose between wings, drumsticks, tenders, and mushrooms, then you pick your sauces heat level (with southern being mild and ‘really f**kin hot’ being the other end of the spectrum). Whatever you pick, it’ll arrive on a slice of plain white bread (for the grease), some juicy pickles, and your choice of side. For the sides you can choose between Old Bay Fries (my pick), Coleslaw, Almost Arnold’s Beans, or Mixed Pickles.
The Tenders ($16) are the way to go if you just want something simple and boneless. As with all choices, there is a very generous amount here and they are all speak to the unrivaled repute that surrounds Belles. Of course, most go for the Wings with ‘really f**kin hot’ sauce, and that’s the most common sight if you look around the pop-up; all those suits trying hard not to get chicken grease on themselves (most failing); suggestion: don’t pencil in any meetings immediately after a visit to the pop-up.
To the left of Belles is the pop-up from Mamak, and to my knowledge it’s the first time in a long time that they’ve done something like this. they have their rotis, curries, and satay skewers here, all coming loaded with those strong flavours that keep the queues at their Chinatown and Chatswood restaurants frustratingly long. Grab some Roti Telur, some Satay Chicken, and their famous Nasi Lemak and you’ve got yourself an ideal waterfront lunch (or dinner; they are open to late).
To the right of Belles (they really are the reference point here) is Gin & It, as mentioned above, it’s a concept from the champs at gin-focused bar The Barbershop in the CBD. There’s some interesting pre-bottled gin cocktails here with a variety of flavours and botanicals, all thankfully fresh and pairing up well with some fried chicken. Seasonal fruit cocktails will be found here throughout the new year and there is also a huge selection of fine Gins, including some rarities and some Whiskies for good measure.
While Belles, Mamak, and Gin & It are all right next to each other you have to walk a bit up and over to the other side of the pop-up for Edition Coffee Roasters and RivaReno Gelato. There is barely any indication in way of signage so unless you’re told that these are actually carts and not full set-ups then you might end up walking past. So, take note, these two are just small carts. First, Edition Coffee Roasters is down a bit closer to the water, with only a few treats on offer alongside their collection of artisanal coffee, both hot and refreshingly cold.
RivaReno’s stall is not just different in appearance when compared to their famed Crown Street gelato store, they have put together something a bit different for their tenure at Barangaroo. What you’ll find here is a variety of Gelato Sticks, smooth, rich chocolate encasing different flavours of their awarded, incredibly smooth and rich creations. Having some fried chicken or curry, washing it down with a bottled Negroni (or a smooth coffee from Edition) and then finishing it off with some incredibly indulgent gelato seems like the best way to do this whole thing, but make sure you leave some time to just chill and take in the whole atmosphere, because this is essential Sydney in a nutshell.
The creative space is definitely a welcome addition to Sydney’s spat of summer pop-ups, and with plans to host events there throughout 2016, it’s looking like Wulugul Pop Up is going to be hard to say goodbye to come August; luckily we should have Matt Moran’s new restaurant there soon enough, and of course, Noma Australia will be popping up there in just over a month from now.
For more information on The Streets of Barangaroo precinct head to www.thestreetsofbarangaroo.com.au. The pop-up is open from 11am to 11pm, seven days a week.