In Short: Paper Bird delivers an exceptional dining experience. If you come here and don’t try the fried chicken, you have missed out! A range of snacks, with Korean and Japanese techniques and flavours, run through the menu.
There were pangs of disappointment when Moon Park closed its doors; I had missed out on trying the city’s favourite fried chicken. When news that the Moon Park gang were re-forming and opening at Potts Point, I made a note that I was going to get in early and check out Paper Bird. The site would be familiar to locals as it was a Bourke Street Bakery until recently. There’s seating outside under the trees, or you can go down into the all day diner and sit in the spectacular green wood-panelled space. It’s minimalist, with an intimate, chilled feel. Waiters and waitresses move around with efficiency, delivering food and coffee. To me, it just felt like a well oiled machine. There is one thing though, that needs to be explained if you’re dining at lunch time. The left side of the menu is composed of a selection of small eats; the right side of the menu are more substantial offerings. Pick 2-3 from the left or just pick one from the right. As well, allow a little time for the fried chicken to be cooked, perhaps “borrow” one of your fellow diner’s small eats. I am sure they’d happily chomp one of the five pieces of chicken in return.
Small eats are quick to roll out, and the first to hit our table is a Bocconcini Katsu Smoked Eel Glaze. They make for easy eating. Crispy balls with a mild flavour, but really elevated with the smoked eel glaze. It adds that almost indescribable umami food flavour. Quite simply, four is just not enough!
From memorable bocconcini balls, you will never look at prawn toast the same way after sampling Paper Bird’s Menbosha. Two golden, dainty pieces of golden fried croutons are filled with slivers of prawn, and a slaw featuring green chilli. There’s sweetness, richness, heat and, while tiny, punches way above its weight.
Continuing with the East-Asia-meets-Europe feel, is a Scallion Pancake with Jamón and Shiitake Mushrooms. A crispy pancake (which reminds me of roti) with mild onion flavour of the scallions. Meatiness comes from the generous topping of jamon, with smoky salty flavour. Shiitake mushrooms adds yet another smoky dimension of taste. I demolish it with a few bites, wishing for more! A familiar pattern you’re probably guessing by now!
Breaking up the stream of fried delights, is a Fresh Tofu, Double Boiled Chicken Broth, Enoki and Black Sesame Oil. The soup is handled delicately, and there’s that unmistakable flavour of chicken and sesame. The tofu is silky smooth, with mild sweetness and firm textures from the enoki mushrooms.
Completing our tasting of little snacks is a cheeky take on an Osaka favourite takoyaki. Taco-yaki is a rice flour tortilla with octopus and bulldog sauce. Rather than slicing up the octopus that’s the norm with takoyaki, Paper Bird has retained the perfectly grilled octopus tentacle in a single piece that fits nicely inside the rice flour tortilla. It is then topped with the sweet Japanese Bulldog sauce, creamy Japanese mayo, and delicate pink bonito flakes wavering slightly as they react to the warmth from the dish. It’s definitely a dish that messes with your mind – Mexican presentation with distinct Japanese flavours.
On to the pièce de résistance, the Shrimp Brined Fried Chicken with Soy and Syrup. I could go on a superlative-laden run of describing how good the chicken is, but I will spare you. Quite simply, it’s fried chicken perfection. Crispy, moist, and filled with flavour. Before our visit to Paper Bird, the chicken from Dirty Bird Food Truck from the Paddy’s Night Food Markets stood above all others, now Paper Bird joins Dirty Bird at the top, as our favourite fried chicken in Sydney.
After a sublime food experience, I sampled a Cappuccino. It too hits the mark. Beautifully presented with latte perfection. The Single O beans are extracted perfectly, and it’s an exemplary interlude before a sweet treat.
The sweet menu is brief with three selections. In keeping with the Japanese and Korean themed menu, I chose a Japanese Cheesecake with Preserved Kumquats. It’s minimalist in its presentation, with an elongated slice of cheese cake and a side of shiny kumquats. The method of baking is the bain marie technique, which maintains a uniform heat during the baking process. The end result is a cheesecake that is delicate and light, like a scuffle. The preserved kumquats are a revelation; sweet with that characteristic tartness in the background.
I walked out justifiably impressed with Paper Bird and its offerings. Each of the dishes are well thought out, and unique in many respects. With a separate breakfast menu, and all day dining, there’s scope to keep coming back. I look forward to returning and trying their breakfast menu.