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April 4, 2024

A Southeast Asian fusion wine bar is coming to Flinders Street

Expect experimental dishes and wines you probably haven't tried before at Makan, set to open at the end of the month.

  • Words and pictures: Claudia Dichiera
  • Above L—R: Karl Tang and Ben Liew

Fun and experimental flavour combinations attracted both Ben Liew and Karl Tang to open up their own wine bar.


Level 1/116 Flinders Street, Adelaide 5000

Opening Friday, April 26


The pair met while working at Paper Tiger and while the duo will continue to work at the Rundle Street spot, they knew it was time to do their own thing.

“We’ve been talking to each other forever,” Ben says. “[Karl] always wanted to open a wine bar.”

Makan — meaning to eat in Malaysian and Indonesian — will be Southeast Asian-inspired and is set to open at the end of this month.

This “passion project” will have food options that go far beyond the regular choices seen at many Westernised restaurants.

“It’s things that take more time to make,” Ben says.

Ben gives the example of the stuffed chicken wing gyoza with Thai fish and scallop cake, as the lengthy process requires deboning and packing the protein with their fillings.

Other experimental dishes include crispy capelin, pickled mussels, Szechuan grilled eggplant and smoked Shacha cauliflower.

Plates are set — very organised for an end of month opening


Dry aged meats will also be on the menu.

“I’ve been playing around with this thing for quite some years,” Ben says. “That’s one of the parts I love.

“For example, back four or five years ago, I used to dry-age beef with bees wax and honey, I dry-aged beef with chocolate.

“It sounds a little bit funny over here, but that’s a thing that I’ve been doing — I went to China, I saw many things, and I learned from other chefs. That’s also the thing that I want to bring here and show people.”

The menu will follow a sharing style menu, for as Ben says: “It’s a wine bar, I think that’s just a more comfortable way to enjoy our time, especially with friends.”

Although the food style follows unusual combinations, there will be something for everyone on the menu.

“I told you, this is my passion project!” Ben laughs. “I just want to do something I like.

“A chef loves to eat, I want to introduce that to the customers as well.

“But I always think of both sides — what I want and what the customers want… I think a little bit of risk but not too risky.”


The duo say lots of neon, different colours and a rustic style will fill the space, with an outdoor balcony fit for large groups.

The alcohol offering is an important piece of the wine bar puzzle. Much like the food, the alcohol choices will not follow the norm.

“I’m a big fan of something that’s not easy to find,” Karl says.

“So like, if someone tells me to have a Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc, I will say that I don’t want it, I will never want to see it on my list.

“I love local heroes. I love small batches and I love the story behind the wine. I love to talk with the sommelier and winemaker to see what’s the story behind it.”

With a 60-label wine list, mostly from different producers, Karl says there will be a mix of natural and sweet choices specific to South Australia.

“Because I’m from Sydney, and then since coming to Adelaide, I think natural wine is way bigger than where I was in Sydney,” Karl says.

“If I told someone to drink a natural white wine [in Sydney], it’s like ‘no what’s that? What’s this?’ But in Adelaide, people are keen to try most of them, especially when it’s a local.”

There’s also a specific section for Japanese wines. Karl admits they’re “not easy to find”, but relies on his connections within the wine industry to introduce him to these labels.

Karl says there will be ample opportunities to pair interesting combinations with the extravagant dishes as he wants to “bring some ideas to people”.

“One of the foods that’s really surprised me is chef’s prawn doughnut —that’s quite a heavy thing,” Karl says.

“What [people] usually think of is classic chardonnay… but for me, I think to pair something crazy.

“For me, I’d love to match with one local hero called Travis Tausend located in the Adelaide Hills… it’s like a carbonic shiraz, which is something you’ve never heard of.

“It’s actually light, refreshing and sometimes you think ‘ohh seafood might not go with red wine but I love seafood and red wine.

“I want to match those wine people with things that they might think won’t actually go well and make them feel. like ‘wow, this actually works.’”

Makan is located at Level 1, 116 Flinders Street and is slated to open on April 26.

Connect with the business on Instagram for more.

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