submitted by Saint George Leader on 30.07.2014
By Callan Boys
St George Leader, July 29, 2014
Photograph: Pork power: Chef David Tsirekas of Kefi.
GREEK street food is having its time in the sun, with the arrival of some game-changing new eateries in St George and across Sydney.
Talented chefs such as David Tsirekas (ex Xanthi and Perama) are injecting integrity, technique and quality produce into Greek street food, and Sydney can't get enough of it.
"In Australia, there's burger joints everywhere but in Greece its all about the souvla houses," Tsirekas says.
"They're always at street level, so people can grab something quickly."
Tsirekas has brought his love of Greek street food to Kefi, a new tavern and souvlaki house next to the Kingsgrove railway line.
After the hatted-Xanthi shut its doors in March, Tsirekas saw Kefi as a new challenge.
"Fine dining is a confined style of eating where people are only concentrating on their own plate," he says.
"The idea of Greek food is that it's all about sharing. You want to cut into a big piece of braised meat and pass it around the table. I was trying to incorporate some of the street food elements at Xanthi. I had the meats on the spit and I was doing wraps at lunch but it wasn't popular enough."
St George Greek street food:
Greek street food is all about the pork.
"Pork is the most-eaten meat in Greece, contrary to what everybody thinks, which is lamb," Tsirekas says.
"Lamb is only eaten on special occasions and holidays."
The pork at Kefi is flipping amazing.
"I'm here at 8am every morning," Tsirekas says. "Rather than pressed and processed meat, we slice our own pork and leave it to marinate for a couple of days in rosemary, sage, garlic and paprika."
Tsirekas marinates all Kefi's meat differently. Lamb becomes good mates with fresh thyme and oregano, and chicken spends quality time with basil and tarragon. The best part about all these marinades is each meat has a unique flavour and there's none of those confusing "is it chicken or pork" conversations when you get a takeaway of mixed souvla.
It also means Kefi has the best gyros (see panel right) in Sydney, hands down.
Kefi Souvlaki Pizza Bar is now open for trade.
The menu also features less traditional soft-shell crab wraps and very traditional kokoretsi (lamb offal wrapped in caul fat wrapped in lamb intestines).
It is at 1/231 Kingsgrove Road, Kingsgrove, 9554 4442.
If you've driven down Forest Road in Bexley any time since April, you might have noticed a queue of people snaking down the street.
Folks are flocking here en masse to worship at the altar of the gyro.
Gyradiko was the first of the new wave of gyro joints to open in Sydney.
Each night you'll find soccer mums, track-suited couples and barking old Greek men lining up for their choice of lamb or pork wrapped up with red onion, tzatziki, tomato and chips.
Take a lead from the regulars and grab your gyro to go.
Co-owner Kostas Giannakaros is not surprised by Gyradiko's early success.
"You need the right ingredients — quality pork, red tomatoes, onion, right amount of parsley and tzatziki done just the right way."
It is at 307 Forest Road,
Bexley, 0452 543 202.
ALL GOOD THINGS EATERY
Kritharaki of Queensland spanner crab, calamari, dashi, smoked kasari and squid ink skordalia, anyone? Or kurobuta pork neck with Cretan honeycomb, miso, salt and vinegar chicharron and leek ash? It sounds like there's a Japanese influence at All Good Things — because there is.
"We source the best meats NSW has to offer through Feather and Bone and use Japanese methods and ingredients to create a Greek menu," says head chef and co-owner Phillip Lakis.
Currently on a research trip in Greece, Lakis is set to launch a souvlaki-meets-yakitori menu in August.
The menu will feature stavros peppers with kefalograviera (sheep's milk cheese) sauce, octopus with ouzo salt, and wagyu tongue with stavros pepper salsa.
I shudder every time I hear "fusion" and in the wrong hands, this Greek-Japanese crossover could go awry.
However, Lakis was accepted for a stint at Noma (aka the world's best restaurant) before opening the restaurant, and if that's not a sign of good things, I don't know what is.
It is at shop 9-11, Mashman Avenue, Kingsgrove, 7903 0198.
GET YOUR GREEK ON
Souvlaki: (pictured) Small pieces of meat, usually on a stick or hand-held in a pita.
Kontosouvli: A short, sword-like skewer threaded with larger hunks of meat than a souvlaki.
Souvla: A whole carcass on the spit or simply larger portions of meat.
Gyro: Traditionally a coronary-inducing pita filled with pork, tomato, onion, parsley, tzatziki, chips and mustard.
Yeero: Same as above but written as such to stop Australians rhyming gyro with biro.
Spanakopita: A spinach and feta pastry. One of those great foods that works equally well for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Loukoumades: Sweet, honey-drenched doughnut of the Gods.
What is your favouriate Greek food?
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
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