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Rising Sun Workshop on Beyond The Pass

A ramen institution and, naturally, a community motorcycle workshop in the only place where such a combo could be conceived – Sydney’s Inner West.

In this episode, Nick Smith (Co-Founder & Head Chef of Rising Sun) and Graeme Alexander (Lightspeed’s Hospo Oracle) cook up a storm and deconstruct how, exactly, housing a motorcycle workshop inside a hatted restaurant somehow works.

Who are they?

Restaurant, cafe and motorcycle workshop

What do they do?

Fix motorcycles and make Japanese-inspired food

Since when?


Ramen restaurant in a motorcycle workshop tucked in a backstreet of Newtown, Sydney

When Nick Smith and his partners decided to open their own place, they could’ve chosen many paths.

They could’ve played it safe and catered to the smashed avo/bacon & egg crowd. They could’ve done what was popular with the other cafes opening up around the same time and leaned into upscaled, rustic takes on old favourites.

At the very least, Nick and his partners were expected to open a venue that could serve the community well in an area so saturated.

Thankfully, they’ve achieved this and so much more.

With a cafe, restaurant and community motorcycle workshop all housed under one roof, Rising Sun has become the type of place the locals can brag about, and we’re here to learn how this happened.

Cook up with Nick Smith, Rising Sun’s Head Chef & Co-Founder

Hiramasa Kingfish tataki salad with a 3-citrus dressing

"Kind of spicy, burnt, smokey crunch on the outside"

A perfect balance between smoke, heat and zing, this is Rising Sun’s take on tataki—a Japanese method of giving fish a seared outside while keeping the inside raw. Coated in shichimi togarashi, a brief hit with a blowtorch and then gently cured with their 3-citrus dressing, slices of seasonal Hiramasa Kingfish are then served in a salad of daikons, radishes and mizuna lettuce. Catchy menu title too.

Multi-dimension egg

"It's like three ideas, really"

Is this the best version of a scotch egg in existence? Probably. Nick takes ajitsuke tamago—marinated soft boiled egg—wrapped in tsukune, crumbs it and deep fries it to golden perfection. Served with a healthy dollop of his homemade Bulldog Sauce and a side of historical guilt for Graeme.

Fresh oysters with kimchi brine

"What’s the worst that could happen? I could stab myself?"

Rising Sun makes a lot of kimchi which means there’s a lot of kimchi brine that would otherwise go to waste. Not on Nick’s watch! Nick realised that this garlicky, spicy run-off was almost like a milder, more-natural Tabasco sauce. What else does a fresh oyster need? Bonus footage of Graeme showing why he needs supervision around sharp things.

More about Rising Sun Workshop

“We are open for everyone and for any occasion. That's in our DNA, there's a giving back.”
– Nick Smith, Founder & Head Chef

The restaurant that supports community

The idea of servicing a motorcycle when you live in an apartment is out of the question

Rising Sun Workshop is a business born of community effort, bringing passionate and talented people from across the hospitality industry together with knowledgeable mechanics and designers, it runs on collaboration.

It’s only natural that these founding principles that work so well behind the scenes be the driving force of their collective vision—to create a business that gives back.

The food

It all started with a housewarming

When Nick’s son turned one, he hosted a housewarming and decided to cook noodles. And so was born Rising Sun’s signature offering: ramen.

But Rising Sun isn’t exclusively a ramen joint. Nick uses ramen to inform a menu teaming with Japanese influence.

“There still has to be some cohesion between those ramen days and what is perhaps our future.”

What does the future hold for Nick?

I want to find a younger, fresher me

It’s not just the local residents that Nick and his team are giving back to.

Nick is keen to give back to the hospitality community too, keen to find the next young guns to take the torch and continue his legacy into the future to help the industry succeed.

“I've always been really passionate about not settling in my hospitality career. And now I want to kind of I want to find a younger, fresher me to try and nurture in this little incubator”

Episode transcript

Full transcript

[00:00:00] Nick
How do you. How do you go with spice?
[00:00:02] Graeme
Yeah, pretty good, mate. I think. I think I'm okay with it. All right. Is that a warning?
[00:00:07] Nick
No, I just, you know, I just know you're from Liverpool. And the spiciest thing I don't want. I don't want you choking on the floor at the
start of. At the start of our meeting.
[00:00:39] Graeme
The. And what are we making today? So I thought.
[00:00:48] Nick
We would do something with some really seasonal fish. At the moment this hiramasa kingfish is is delicious. You can see how much
fat content it's got through the belly because the fish is at a stage of the year where it's working hard against bigger currents and it's
looking to it's looking to get it on and and and and mate. So this thing is amazing right now. We're not I don't want to do too much with
it so I'm going to get it you to do. Yep. Is cut down here because we're going to use the the we're going to use the loin for one
preparation today. And then tomorrow I'm going to use the belly on another dish, a traditional Japanese breakfast that we do here.
Okay. But your job for for now we just want to remove that loin and then we're going to take the skin off. Yep. And then we'll get to the
next bit then. And while you're doing that, I'm going to work on the vegetables that go with this salad, which is a couple of types of
daikon. This is some mizuna lettuce. I got it easy. I'm giving you all the hard work, too.
[00:01:45] Graeme
Yeah, that's a lot of trust in me, Especially because the belly is going to be used for tomorrow. Yeah, that's like this is for people that
will have no idea that my hands have touched their food.
[00:01:54] Nick
So now neither of us are very professional. So yeah, we. Shall we begin?
[00:02:05] Speaker3
Yeah. Yeah.
[00:02:06] Nick
So rising Sun workshops, I guess, broadly speaking, made up of three parties. There's myself more on food, Dan Cesarano, more on
the bar and the coffee side. And then Dan's brother in law, Adrian, and his partner Helena. For us, it was about creating a commercial
enterprise, which is the restaurant that supports a social enterprise, which in this iteration is a motorcycle workshop where men and
women can come and for a subsidized amount of money, an affordable sum of money can access space and tools. And then with
Sydney property prices being what they are, we're living in smaller and smaller places. Even the idea of servicing a motorcycle when
you live in a Chippendale apartment is out of the question. So what would happen if we gave people that opportunity? And there was
an old servo that's been abandoned on King Street for many years. It's like an art deco period service station. It was called the Rising
Sun Service Station, and it was one of the first properties that the guys went and had a look at and it fell through. But the working title,
while that property was in the was in the mix was what are we going to do about Rising Sun? And so to make this manageable your
next step right Yeah this is a mixture of chillies and sesame and hemp and citrus and all sorts. It's called Shichimi Togarashi, which is
like seven flavored spice.

[00:03:36] Graeme
And that's from Woolworths. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
[00:03:38] Nick
Get that at your local 7-Eleven. Yeah. So you're going to roll these pieces of loin in there really like all over. So it's all covered and
start rolling that here and then we're going to get you on the blowtorch. That's it's good fun. What we're doing is making a tataki,
which is we're essentially going to keep the fish raw. Yeah. Um.
[00:04:04] Graeme
I've just felt a bone in this, by the way. Bloody hell.
[00:04:07] Nick
To your left there, there's a blowtorch. Well, you know, to do him.
[00:04:12] Graeme
I. I never use the blowtorch. I wasn't fancy enough.
[00:04:15] Nick
Now we're giving it smoke. And this is kind of like the rising sun workshop twist on a straight tataki, which where we would probably
just maybe, maybe, maybe a touch of oil, maybe a little salt, and then just a sear. Yeah. To leave the raw. To leave the center raw.
But it seems like an opportunity to introduce flavor. Yeah. And we can give it this kind of spicy, burnt smokey crunch on the outside.
Also, you can.
[00:04:42] Graeme
Play with fire and kind of talk to as a kid, I guess.
[00:04:46] Nick
That's right. And how cool do you feel right now?
[00:04:48] Graeme
I feel as cool as Nick Smith.
[00:04:52] Nick
The Japanese thing is kind of all accidental. My son had just turned one and I had a house warming at the house and decided that
we'd we'd have people over and I'd cook noodles. Yeah. And because of the long life, kind of the longevity of the noodle in Eastern
Ideas and that went over really well. And I thought that that was something that we could kind of bring in to bring into a two month pop
up, which actually ended up being six months and, and somewhat surprisingly kind of blew up and took on got, yeah, got picked up in
the media, picked up in the local neighborhood and we became stuck with ramen. And so then bringing ramen across to a permanent
space like this meant that that Japanese influence was again going to further influence everything that sort of sat around it on the
menu. Yeah, without being a Japanese restaurant. But it still has to there still has to be some cohesion between those ramen days
and what is perhaps our future, which is a little more uncertain in terms of style. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:06:01] Graeme
Just not uncertain. It's not shutting down.
[00:06:03] Nick
No, no, we're good. We're good.
[00:06:05] Graeme
Yeah, it's fine.
[00:06:07] Nick
And what I want is six slices that are about. I don't know. Yay big. What's that? Two millimeters. Three millimeters. Skis? No. A
skinnier. Skinnier.
[00:06:18] Graeme
Yeah. Yeah. The magic of the kiwi knife.
[00:06:20] Nick
Will the the kiwi. A brand new kiwi is going to cost you anything. So what have we got? Yeah, this is a dressing that we make from
three Japanese citrus fruits. Yuzu you've heard before. Yep. And then we have two others which maybe you haven't heard. There's
one like a grapefruit, which is called cybozu. And then a. What's the other one called? J. Caboose or something? Let me get that
[00:06:43] Graeme
Okay, hold on. Just if you look at the camera and just go and then we can get it in post. I'll do that. And it'll just be something I always
forget. Lemon. That's it. And so we got that.
[00:06:55] Nick
We got some white soy sauce in here, which is like a first pressing of soy sauce.

[00:06:58] Graeme
I don't even know it came in white. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:07:01] Nick
So the reason I separated them and dressed the dress the fish first is because then while I'm kind of going around and getting
everything else done, this is going to slightly cure the fish and firm it up a touch, which is should give us a better mouthfeel. And then
the last thing is a little bit of this mizuna, which is a Japanese leaf. Yep. It's kind of fresh and juicy. A little flaky salt. Yeah. And I like
to. There is lemon at the end, which is.
[00:07:34] Graeme
Some zest. And.
[00:07:40] Nick
And always just about always a tiny bit more olive oil.
[00:07:44] Graeme
[00:07:45] Nick
And that's. There's the.
[00:07:47] Graeme
Dish. Hectic. What's the official name for this dish? I think we.
[00:07:52] Nick
Call this Kingfish Tataki salad. Okay. Yeah. With three citrus dressing.
[00:07:58] Graeme
That's all on the menu. Yeah. I don't know. Great. It's good, you know? Yeah.
[00:08:03] Nick
Yeah. You know what? We've been open here almost six years. Six years in July. I think in my way, I'm now really interested in
helping the hospitality industry succeed because it's been dealt some really heavy blows, and it's getting really, really difficult to find,
to find fresh legs to take to sort of carry the torch forward. I've always been really passionate about, you know, not settling in my
hospitality career, that is. And now I want to kind of I want to find younger, fresher than me and, and try and nurture that in, in this in
this little incubator.
[00:08:47] Graeme
Right on. Yeah, man. Yeah.
[00:08:50] Nick
It's like three ideas, really. Inside is the Tsuki Tamago, which is the ramen egg. And then around the outside is is the Sakuna, which
is a Japanese chicken meatball. And then we've crumbed that, like, scotch egg. And so I'm going to chuck that in the deep fryer for a
few minutes while we shuck these guys. Yeah. How do you go with the Shuka?
[00:09:13] Graeme
Um, we'll find out, I guess. You guys got 000 on them on the ready.
[00:09:19] Nick
I mean, what's going to. What's the worst that can happen?
[00:09:21] Graeme
I can stab myself.
[00:09:22] Nick
A firmer grip, I think. Graham.
[00:09:24] Graeme
Like that. Yeah.
[00:09:25] Nick
And then twist and wiggle. Twist and wiggle. Wiggle toe. Yay! Oh, you really did nearly stab yourself in the palm, though.
[00:09:32] Graeme
So close. Oh, okay.

[00:09:37] Nick
I think we've done something that even if we were to walk away from, they're still going to be a page in in Sydney's little you know,
roadmap. That Rising Sun Workshop has made a mark at some point and and is now a reference point for something more. So I
think that's success. One of the briefs for me anyway was that we were open for everyone. Yeah, yeah. And for any occasion. And I
think at times we hit that note. Yeah, yeah, definitely. That's our that's in our DNA that there's a giving back and that there's a
learning from it. Yeah. But so this we make all of our own kimchi in house. Yeah. And at the end, at the bottom of the fermentation
vessel you've got all of this runoff, all of this kind of like cabbage y, spicy, garlicky chili brine. Yeah. Which we didn't have a use for,
but I started squeezing it on oysters and it kind of feels like to me, a milder, more natural Tabasco sauce. Yeah. Jeez, you're not shy.
All right, that's fine.
[00:10:50] Graeme
Is that too much.
[00:10:52] Nick
As you.
[00:10:52] Graeme
Feel? I feel that's. I feel.
[00:10:55] Speaker4
That's good.
[00:10:55] Nick
So here's a scotch egg. And look at that timing. Just as we finished.
[00:11:00] Graeme
Everyone will think it's edited for TV. But that was real. That was real. This is a type of.
[00:11:06] Nick
Japanese barbecue sauce called.
[00:11:07] Graeme
Tonkatsu sauce or.
[00:11:09] Nick
Bull-dog sauce. It was actually your lot that English when they moved to Japan and they wanted their HP and and the Japanese were
like, Well, we'll have to just make some.
[00:11:19] Graeme
I apologize for my people.
[00:11:21] Nick
Hey, look, we made three dishes.
Yeah, that's pretty.