The first time we dropped into Papi Chulo on Manly wharf, we got addicted to their aptly named Smoked Hot Wings with Comeback Sauce and vowed to return for more. To share the love, the next time we went back with a bunch of our friends to celebrate a few birthdays together and ordered the 9 course set menu for $65 per person (which of course, includes a course of the hot wings!).
Because we were a large group of 10, they seated us in a small booth which had a lovely view of the water off Manly wharf, enhancing the breezy, nautical vibe of the restaurant. To kick off the meal, we shared a bowl of Pea Guacamole with some crunchy tortilla chips. The guac didn’t look particularly impressive at first glance, but was much tastier than we expected thanks to the hints of onion blended in – so tasty that we mopped up the rest of the bowl even after the tortilla chips were all gone.
Pea Guacamole with tortilla chips
Next up, we had some Hiramasa Kingfish Sashimi, which was jazzed up with some zesty turmeric juice, creme fraiche and sprigs of dill to bring out the freshness of the kingfish slivers.
Hiramasa Kingfish Sashimi
After the first two light courses, it was time to move onto the more substantial part of the menu – starting with a basket of those glorious Smoked Hot Wings. The wings were cooked to perfection, with crispy skin and succulent chicken meat on the inside, taken to the next level when dunked in that spicy, creamy Comeback Sauce that we just couldn’t get enough of.
Smoked Hot Wings with comeback sauce
I was a bit sceptical about the next dish, which was Roast Cauliflower with romesco sauce and parmesan cheese, as I’m not a fan of cauliflower since it’s usually quite bland. But the mix of all those elements worked well to complement the softened cauliflower, encrusted with brown butter crumbs.
We dipped back into the seafood side of the menu with some Jumbo King Prawns, butterflied and grilled beautifully, coated in an exotic Asian lemongrass and coconut dressing.
Jumbo King Prawns
The masterpiece of the set menu is definitely the massive Papi Chulo BBQ Platter, which showcases the best of the restaurant’s grill and had all the carnivorous males on the table salivating. There’s something for everyone on that platter, from the moreish marinated lamb ribs, to the sliced wagyu beef brisket cooked “low and slow”, intensely flavoured pulled pork slathered with Papi Chulo’s BBQ sauce which evokes the American Deep South and juicy cheese kransky, paired with some very soft rolls (my friend loved them so much, she ordered another plate of rolls).
Papi Chulo BBQ Platter
For the best of both worlds, the BBQ Platter is served with a side of Vietnamese Coleslaw and also a basket of delicious curly fries. No prizes for guessing which side I preferred to accompany all that meaty goodness!
Dessert was a mix of 2 options among the table – one was a delectable Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie which melted in your mouth, served with a generous scoop of vanilla malt ice cream which was drizzled with a sticky butterscotch sauce and macadamia brittle for extra crunch. The other option was the #Chrishogarth Mango Surprise (named after one of the head chefs), which was plated up quite prettily and had all sorts of interesting textural elements like juicy pearls which popped in your mouth, a coconut sorbet, shards of airy meringue with dried coconut flakes and of course, chunks of fresh mango. Our only complaint was that we were only served with 2 of each dessert to share between 10 people – the menu had noted that there would be 1 dessert to share between 2 people, so we asked for an extra Mango Surprise to make sure that everyone ended up getting a bit of dessert in to cap off the meal.
Warm Chocolate Cookie
#Chrishogarth Mango Surprise
The set menu is pricey for lunch (particularly when you add the 10% service charge for groups over 8 people), but it is a very satisfying meal and allows you to veer between surf and turf with American Deep South BBQ flavours, peppered with Asian fusion elements to keep things interesting. Service was a bit patchy in our booth as we were a bit tucked away from the rest of the restaurant, but you can still see what is going on in the rest of the restaurant through the wooden beams which frame the booth.