In Short: Kusuka on Sussex is a polished follow up from their first cafe in Haymarket. It’s location near Town Hall makes it perfect to stop in for a quick coffee and breakfast. You will want to put aside some time to linger longer and try their Indonesian infused dishes, including the Superbowl and Kopi Pancakes.
We know a picture is worth a thousand words, and Instagram has amplified that oft-used idiom. While we acknowledge the importance of the image, we’re still drawn to the men and women who create those instagrammable dishes. We love hearing of humble beginnings and their success stories. We dropped in at Kusuka Café Haymarket in 2017, and met Mario and Liz in their little Bijou Lane foray into the Sydney café scene. Their Indonesian inspired takes on brunch wowed us. Fast forward a few short months, and we have just finished a splendid morning of dining at their new Kusuka on Sussex location. The trajectory of their success can be witnessed by their new space; it’s refined, with a bright clean aesthetic, roomier, and plush.
Liz and her team in the kitchen continue to infuse their dishes with the flavours of Indonesia, yet display versatility with quality breakfast staples that allow corporates to hurtle in for a quick takeaway. One facet of their operation that we continue to love is the service. Mario is the face of Kusuka, and continues to treat every customer like one of his mates and it’s that warmth that makes our experience so enjoyable.
Before our “light” breakfast commenced we started off with coffees, naturally. The Kusuka on Sussex team have partnered up with a Queensland roaster to create a signature blend which draws on beans from Indonesia (of course), Costa Rica, Mexico and Nicaragua. My flat white was a robust and full-bodied coffee, with dark chocolate flavours. The milk work was exquisite with a supremely smooth texture.
While I was discussing beans and roasting profiles with Mario, Mavis was enjoying a hot milo kopi. For those of you in Singapore and Malaysia, you would know the name well enough but Kusuka re-imagine the drink in the best way possible. Think toasted marshmallows, coffee wafers, whipped cream, and a syringe holding a shot of coffee. It’s fun, comforting, and whole lot of yum!
Launching into our mid-morning feast was Mo-To, fried tofu Indonesian style. Biting into these airy puffs, I was transported back to Lombok, where I tasted the best fried tofu of my life. I loved the light spicing on the tofu. The accompanying chilli matched with tamarind sauce delivered an authentic fiery kick.
Before devouring our mains, a second entree which really tingled our tastebuds was a Martabak. A dish that represents the centuries old spice route as it can be found from Indonesia up through India and into the Middle East. In Australia, we go for kebabs to round out a big night. In Asia, party goers rush to find carts and stalls to snack on martabak. If they were sampling Kususka’s version, I think WhatsApp would be going off, alerting them to flock to Kusuka on Sussex! Their version is filled with beef, spring onion, melted mozzarella cheese, and chilli sauce.
One dish that we were looking forward to was the Krispy Chicken Rendang. This is a tongue-in-cheek dish that was inspired by the furore that erupted over the elimination of a contestant on UK Masterchef. It had the whole of Malaysia whinging of the “gross” injustice doled out to the contestant.
Traditionally, rendang is slow-cooked with melt-in-your-mouth beef or chicken. Kusuka on Sussex delivers a spectacular looking dish of fried chicken and hash brown on an omelette. You could be tempted to dig straight in, but the key component to the dish is the gravy. It binds the whole dish together. It’s a MasterChef-worthy dish, that would have left hosts John Torode and Gregg Wallace speechless, finishing up every last crumb on the plate (crispy chicken included!).
We loved the Mee Goreng dishes on our first visit to Kusuka in Bijou Lane. Fear not, as the quality continues at Kusuka on Sussex. First off is the house favourite Superbowl. Mee Goreng, pork belly slices, Balinese chilli matah, sausages, corned beef, and melted cheese. A satisfying dish on many levels. I had fellow Coco and Viner Sonia sitting next to me, and as she munched on the pork belly the audible crunch of the crackling was super prominent. There’s heat, there’s protein, springy noodles, and it’s packed with meaty flavour. Little wonder it’s a house favourite!
To round out our savoury feast, we indulged on one last fried noodle dish. Campfire is all about great smokey flavours. Along with the mee goreng (fried noodles), there’s bacon bits, smoky cheese, spicy beef, corn beef, and a surprising element of fries! It’s reminds me of a supercharged Poutine. East meets west, I am totally down with this combo!
For a sweet treat, we weren’t leaving until we tried Kusuka on Sussex’s signature pancakes. Kopi Pancakes involves infusing the batter with coffee and then serving it with peanut butter, ice cream, and maple syrup. Nuttiness is balanced with the coffee flavour and sweet endings from the maple syrup and ice cream. Kusuka may be new to the pancake game but their creation shoots to the top for balance and pure deliciousness.
As we begrudgingly made way for others to enjoy the great food, I left knowing that owing to its proximity to Town Hall, that I would be back for many more visits. Kusuka on Sussex knocks it out of the park with their second cafe.