The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry | A Sydney Food Blog

Santa Barbara, Potts Point

December 4th, 2012  |  Published in Restaurants


The Santa Barbara you find in Potts Point is not like the one that appears in maps of California. The latest venture for the Drink N Dine group (Queenie’s, The Carrington, The Abercrombie) audaciously redirects American cuisine by taking left-turn swerves into Asian territory.

So there’s Char Sui Ribs ($18), Salt N Pepa Crab ($16), and “Bings” (think Chinese pancakes) filled with Peking Duck, Kung Pow Chicken or Korean Short Rib ($5.50 each). There’s even popcorn sprinkled with Japanese furikake, sesame, bacon, pineapple, coconut and Parmesan as an appetite-kickstarter. (You can get it bacon-less, too, if you’re vego.)

Appropriately enough, given Santa Barbara’s location under a certain neon-bright cola sign, there’s Coke Can Chicken with Sesame Slaw and Sweet Potato Fries ($18), which is Will’s pick of the menu. My favourite is the awesome K-Town Pizza ($12). It was schemed up by Drink N Dine’s Jaime Wirth and the group’s executive chef Jamie Thomas and it’s genius. The dough, made by The Forresters’ pizza chef, is crisply grilled on a barbecue. Then a paint-bomb of flavour is detonated over the zebra-like char marks – you’ll see generous squirts of jalapeño salsa, queso cheese, red dragon sauce, black sesame and mayo all over the slices. It’s really about the high-contrast overload of toppings. I learnt Jaime’s intention was to create something “kinda fiendish” that was inspired by LA street truck food. Think of something you’d find in a pub in that city’s Koreatown – even if you haven’t been there – and you’re mighty close.


Like the other Drink N Dine venues, the interiors at Santa Barbara are wonderfully “out there”. There’s a brazen excess of decorations that I last saw at Chinese family weddings attended in the ’80s, while all the neon signage is as colourful and loud as the food. And, at the entrance, there’s a seven foot taxidermied bear to greet you. Welcome to Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara, 1 Bayswater Rd, Potts Point, NSW (02) 9357 7882,

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Hi, I'm Lee Tran Lam. When not blogging with my mouth full, I'm usually writing, presenting Local Fidelity on FBi radio, making zines, producing podcasts or continually breaking promises about how I really am gonna get through my book pile one day.

All the good pictures on this blog are by photography ace (and patient boyfriend), Will Reichelt, (all the dodgy ones can be credited to me)!

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This site redesign was made possible by the next-level generosity and expertise of Daniel Boud, whose code-tinkering ways are only outranked by his seriously inspired way with a camera.

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This is a blog I do for pure fun and zero influence – there's no sponsorship, sneaky advertorial or advertising. I pay for all the food mentioned, 'cos it seems the ethical thing to do.


This is a blog about eating and drinking in Sydney, Australia (with the odd cross-border or off-topic detour). BYO appetite.

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