Sunday drives – Benzin Cafe


Justin Narayan


Good cars, good roads, and good coffee together form the holy trifecta. It’s what car culture is all about.

You can replace coffee with food if you want. Either way, enjoying your car with friends and family is a fantastic pastime that many indulge in, including myself.

We’re not alone. As Australia’s population has grown and expanded massively, so has its car culture, and so too the venues that support and give it life. Heaps of fantastic businesses have popped up – surprisingly through the pandemic – in places that are naturally aligned to some PG-rated grand touring.

This series aims to drive the roads to make sure they’re okay, try the food and coffee of course (we paid for it), and then provide you with a drive route to try for yourself next time you’re free.

We start our journey over at Benzin cafe in the pretty and ritzy suburb of Dural, NSW.

A far cry from the big smoke, Dural – like most rural and once remote areas – was originally rich farming land. The suburb and its surrounds grew most of Australia’s citrus at the turn of the 20th century.

In the 120 years since, it’s undergone radical transformation; however, it remains largely rural. Other than a few suburban streets in its Round Corner district that came in the 1970s, the suburb is home to plenty of acreage property and rather beautiful estates.

So, as a place where urban sprawl slowly dapples into rural delight, the roads are great.

But first, we should eat. Benzin Cafe is a small family business owned by four friends: brothers Daniel and Tim Karjadi, and friends Calvin Leung and Yif Yu. The boys are all locals, with the Karjadis moving to the Sydney Hills District from their native Jakarta in the late 1990s.

Their native locales are with vibrancy, colour and amazing food, and this Asian heritage stems right through the decor and cuisine.

They are massive car people, too, with Tim Karjadi running an Audi dealership nearby, and Daniel Karjadi running a successful creative media company called Monday Made. Calvin and Yif have their roots deeply seeded in Australia’s hospitality industry and bring years of experience.

The family of four wear their hearts on their sleeves, and love the local community. Benzin’s menu flips the usual ‘Asian fusion’ fanfare on its head by approaching things differently.

“Most usually throw an Asian ingredient into a western dish; however, we built our modern menu by starting with authentic Asian base dishes we know, love, and cook at home,” said Daniel Karjadi.

Calvin Leung was quick to add, “We love our heritage, whether it be the Australian-Vietnamese community inspiring our Pandan waffles, or the other typical flavours typically found in the heart of Tokyo”.

We indulged in the Rendang nachos that were all-and-more than we hoped for, and the Pandan waffles – with their mochi base and coconut jelly – reminding me personally of the numerous things I’ve eaten in Cabramatta on late-night drives to the old ‘natio’.

The cafe is always buzzing, usually has a unique vehicle parked inside, and the car park out also front full of fantastic metal.

For example, our 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge was quickly bookmarked by a tasty 2002 Nissan 200SX, a new and turbocharged 2021 Suzuki Jimny with wild G-Class inspired body kit, and lovely 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX tuned by STI edition.

On the topic of cars, there’s a reason why we also picked the Rolls-Royce for this one. The brand claims it’s the driver’s car, so it’s perfect for the road ahead.

The route sees travel up through the nearby Galston and Arcadia – known for its favourable equestrian conditions – and across the ferry to Berowra.

Naturally, a 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge was the perfect partner. It’s the brand’s ‘driver’s car’, and one that makes sense in Australia given our elite actually like to sit in the front and drive their rollers themselves. Legends.

Its 441kW, 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 comes alive when set to sport mode – by pressing ‘low’ on the column gearshifter – propelling us up and over the Hills District in sheer opulence.

From here, you can either pop up the Pacific Highway as an extension to continue the fun, or nip back down the new M7 Westconnex to head either east back to Sydney, south to Campbelltown, west to Penrith, or wherever home is.

The roads can be quick and flowing even within the speed limit, but they are public roads so abide by the speed limits, and watch for cyclists who are obviously welcome to use the roads as you are too.

To try the drive, click here to open the route in Google Maps, project in your car via Apple CarPlay, and enjoy the food!

We recommend the waffles.


Justin Narayan

After more than a decade working in the product planning and marketing departments of brands like Kia, Subaru and Peugeot, Justin Narayan returned to being a motoring writer – the very first job he held in the industry.

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