Photography : Justin Donnelly
Photography : Justin Donnelly

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Photography : Justin Donnelly
Photography : Justin Donnelly

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Photography : Justin Donnelly
Photography : Justin Donnelly

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Photography : Justin Donnelly
Photography : Justin Donnelly

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Kusuka: A Unique Sydney Cafe

6 February, 2020

Liz grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia before immigrating to Australia. One of Mario’s parents is Lebanese, one is Belgian. He was born in Belgium, but grew up in Australia. The couple met at Church, in Sydney. Keeping up? Both are innovative people, passionate people. As a couple, they are a personified cultural kaleidoscope, with creativity in stacks, which they have combined and channelled to form perhaps Sydney’s most inimitable eatery, Kusuka Cafe.

Opening Kusuka was a was a natural move for Mario and Liz, “we just felt like it was our next step in life, something to do together, something new that would allow us to connect with people”. The theme of ‘connecting’ infiltrates every aspect of Kusuka. The eatery is a manifestation of the couples cultural backgrounds and collective personality, an instrument to enable others to be partake in their life experiences “a lot of the menu is inspired by Liz’s childhood, and her as an Indonesian living in Australia. I also come from a very mixed background. It is the idea is of bringing our past and future together, and connecting it with the world around us.” The objective for the couple is an environment where customers feel the familiarity and touch of home.

'the pastel colours are a tribute to the nostalgia of Congee'

Kusuka is Modern Indonesian dining and coffee culture, with a Western element, and so are a lot of other Sydney restaurants, but they are not Kusuka. Kusuka is Kusuka. The statement is daftly nondescript, but if you have ever visited, it will make sense. 

The venue is a small, densely concentrated space of visual enchantment, a feast for the eyes. The pastel colours of Kusuka are a tribute to the nostalgia of Congee, the traditional Indonesian rice porridge eaten by Liz throughout her childhood. Bright tones and floral arrangements are always within eye-shot, and permeates every aspect of Kusuka, from the décor, through to the colourful array of lattes, cakes and main menu listings. Today, more than ever before, people ‘eat with their eyes’, and Kusuka is visually charming, but ironically, the real charisma is in the dining.

Whatever the element of Kusuka is that is Indonesian, is Indonesian at its very best. Rich and intense flavour combinations of spice, the savoury, sweet and bitter. Wagyu Kuey Teow, Krispy Randang and Nasi Goreng are regular draws, but it is the Superbowl which the pair are most proud of. The Kusuka signature plate is an eclectic fusion of Mi Goreng culture, modern Indonesian and Western contribution. Is it comprised of house-roasted crispy pork belly, Mi Goreng noodles and spices, topped with Western-style vegetables and melted mozzarella. If ever there was a gastronomic representation of the Kasuka identity, the Superbowl is it; a unique and heartfelt dish of creativity, influenced by life experiences, respectful of past traditions whilst maintaining a focus on progression.  

“our dream is to create a brand that has unique flair and represents what we are about – a home away from home"

When asked about what the future holds for Kusuka, Mario says “our dream is to create a brand that has unique flair and represents what we are about – a home away from home. Our dream is that we will be able to have many Kusukas, throughout Australia and the world, operating on a simplified scale but maintaining its charm and character.”  Kusuka’s culinary creations are always bright and exciting, and it would seem its future is no different.

Kusuka Cafe

MON TO FRI : 7AM - 8PM

SAT: 8AM - 8PM

12/339 Sussex Street, Sydney

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