Who is Daniel Mark? I’m the owner and head chef of My Sabor pop-up restaurant in the city-centre Verity Lane Market.
Best recent dining experience: eightysix in Braddon. On the tasting menu, the black chicken, buttermilk coleslaw and walnuts was my favourite dish. The chicken was cooked just right – moist and with good flavour, which is sometimes lacking at other restaurants.
Most embarrassing pantry item: Canned sardines in tomato sauce – perfect for a late-night snack with toasted sliced white bread (from Woolies).
Must-buy ingredient: Shrimp paste. It’s a staple for any Asian dish, adding a different kind of saltiness. It also helps bring out the flavour in meat. Add a few pinches to your egg fried rice and a simple dish is transformed. Just make sure your exhaust fan is on full blast as the smell is not for the faint-hearted.
Next big thing: Locally sourced produce cooked with wood fire. Conventional kitchens generally use gas, which reduces the intensity of the flames. Using wood adds flavour and depth, giving dishes an extra oomph. The true test of a chef’s skill is to assess when produce is ready to be removed from the fire and served.
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: Penny University in Kingston. Order the Pialligo Hash – Pialligo Farm pork, fennel and chilli sausage with bacon, confit potatoes and vegetables and a house-made Szechuan chilli sauce. It comes with a fried egg, but I always add an extra one.
My Canberra food secret: Ming’s Pantry in No Name Lane, City West. When I’m craving street style/hawker noodles cooked in a wok, there’s no other place that can satisfy me. Dishes are cooked individually, even though there might be four orders of the same thing.
Biggest culinary influence: My two “mums” (my own mum, and my babysitter who looked after me when I was young and treats me like part of her family). They both instilled a passion in me for great-tasting food. One taught me the intricacies of Portuguese and Chinese cooking; the other the uses of South Indian herbs and spices.
Favourite cookbook: Spice by Christine Manfield. It’s a perfect base for me to explore how a single spice can excite an individual’s tastebuds.
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: The team behind Pilot restaurant in Ainslie. I like how they don’t have a set menu. They use local produce to create new dishes and fully utilise the skills of their chefs. It’s exciting for me as a diner to go into a restaurant and not know what’s going to appear on the plate.
What’s on the menu this week: Prawn and pork tortellini with tom yum consommé. A hot dish in both temperature and spice to warm you up in the freezing Canberra weather.
Where I’m going next: Firedoor in Sydney. With my belief that cooking over wood is the next trend in Australia, I’d love to experience a restaurant that doesn’t use any gas.
Death row meal: Nasi kandar – a classic Malaysian dish consisting of steamed rice, four types of curry sauce (squid, fish, beef and goat), slow-cooked beef, two fried eggs, a medley of vegetables (beans, cabbage and bean sprouts) topped off with fried white poppy seeds.
My COVID-19 response: Using local produce to reduce my dependence on products and ingredients sourced from other states. QR codes that link to the menu on my website so customers know exactly what they want to order before they even step into the restaurant.
My really simple recipe tip: Egg omelette with onions, garlic, spinach, potato, chilli, a spoonful of shrimp paste and my secret spice mix, served with a bowl of steaming white rice and Lao Gan Ma chilli sauce.
My Sabor is located at Verity Lane in the city-centre Sydney Building. It’s open for dinner from 5:00 pm Tuesday to Saturday, and lunch from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm Thursday to Saturday.