Who would have thought that American cuisine has a home right near Manly Ferry Wharf. You'd be forgiven for thinking that you've just stepped foot into an Australian Restaurant. Ah yes, Merivale you've done it again. Welcome to Papi Chulo at Manly.
The foodies who I worked with before setting up Sydney Food Lovers gave this place a pretty low score. They honestly tried so hard to love this place but couldn't. Thankfully, I liked it. I (on the other hand) tried my heart out to love this place but I couldn't. I still liked it.
There were a few people waiting for lunch service. The timing was perfect. I just got off the Manly Ferry from Circular Quay at midday, and I was starving. Having just arrived at midday, I nabbed a good spot with water views ahead.
The person serving me at first was helpful. No wasting time, I worked out what I wanted straight away. Although American fare, there was a Vietmanese Banh Mi dish that I just had to have. This is even coming from someone who is not much of a pork person.
So glad to have ordered the Smoked Pork Belly Banh Mi ($18) with fried bologna, chicken liver pate, pickles, coriander, cucumber and sriracha mayo. For drinks, I went for the Lemon, Lime and Bitters ($4).
The waiter asked if I wanted some water. Logical to not pass up on a hot day, and especially when you're set to order a spicy dish. An abundance of staff had to man this place. For lunch service, come right on the dot at midday. From 12:30pm, this place is packed out.
My Banh Mi arrived, and the presentation was impressive. The colour of the mayo looked interesting. The pickle standing by itself looked sad, yet points to them for trying to make the dish more presentable.
The pork and the pate were just divine. I adore Miss Chu's Banh Mi's - yet not to make any comparisons, this one was divine. Way better than a pork bun you'd buy at any Vietnamese bakery. So filling. The sauce blended in beautifully with the pork and then the vegetables. The Lemon, Lime and Bitters to drink was just perfect. Wasn't in the mood for anything too alcoholic otherwise.
Although I loved the dish, I am not sure why it constantly brought on a consistent cough. I was full, and definitely did not need anything afterwards until dinner time - not even an ice cream.
It was time to pay, and this was when my favourable opinion of Papi Chulo dropped. Firstly, they have the nerve to charge a 1% surcharge if you pay by credit card. Although their food is delicious, you will receive better value elsewhere. I find the surcharge a little bit rich, considering how much you're paying for the food. Secondly, that phone call from the person who served me when paying the bill could have waited. Her whole time was on that phone call and not on me. I am a paying customer, and that was rude.
Even though I loved the food, I would not return unless someone offered to pay to have lunch or dinner with me here next time.
Where: Right at Many Wharf, right next to Max Brenner.
Why: Good views and great food. The waiter that served me was excellent.
Cost: Including the paltry credit card surcharge, my bill came to $22.22.
When: Lunch time, right on 12.