24-27 August 2015
Yes, I have been moaning about food in Sydney, after a cascade (what, too soon?) of really poor tasting menus. But Sydney is also home to a tremendous ethnic food scene, one of the very best in the world, from Asian to Middle Eastern, from Mediterranean to African. I chose to devote most of my lunch slots to exploring the Asian side, as I know the Asian food in this town is supposed to be some of the very best in the world.
After my excellent first dinner at Quay, in fact the only solid tasting meny of the 4 on this part of the trip, the next morning was the first day I got to explore. There are parts of Sydney that, if you close your eyes, you’d think you were in Hong Kong. Actually, then open your eyes and you may still think you are in Hong Kong. This is perhaps the reason I went searching for Chinese food — one of the cuisines I generally don’t eat much of (due to MSG issues amongst others).
I was told about this fabulous place called Eating World, a food court that has Asian specialties from all corners. Unfortunately when I was there it was wee early and most of the stalls were closed — most of the ones I wanted to explore. Oh well, as I had a full afternoon, I decided to just eat at one of the ones that’s open. I didn’t get the name but it was cheap and good.
This was a simple dish of eggplants with pork and salted chicken. Very tasty, and very cheap. If this food court was near my house I’d be here all the time…cheap, excellent, and tasty. If I had known my 3 forthcoming and very expensive tasting menu dinners were going to be so crap I would have just retired here every evening instead, checking out the dozen different places…damn…
After a long and productive afternoon, then the disappointing dinner at Rockpool and wading through the floods of Sydney’s CBD, the next day I moved a bit slower. I was wandering around looking at some flood damage when I got hungry early (time change issues) and decided to do dimsum — and found Marigold.
Supposedly one of the best dimsum in town, it’s a huge place that reminds me of Hong Kong — both in appearance and in service, as well as in aroma. A bit chaotic but I sat down and soon the carts headed towards me. I start with 2 sets of steamed items.
The shumai was very typical, good but normal. The shrimp and chive steamed dumplings were juicy and good, but again like every other good dimsum place. Time to go further with some different items.
The turnip cake was tasty, and pre-seasoned. It didn’t come with sauce, which was different. But it really didn’t need it. Not as oily as usual and was solid in consistency. Nice. Then the large dish…well, wasn’t that large. It’s mostly rice underneath (didn’t see that), but the ribs were tasty as was the chicken feel. I kept most of the rice.
I was still hungry and didn’t see the item I wanted to close things off but didn’t see any carts for it, so asked someone — and they were surprised and asked, “red or white?” Okay, they got me, so I said both!
Yep, tripe! Awesome stuff. The white is the steamed version with ginger, the one you usually see. Full of flavour, it was awesome. Then the “red” version was spicy, which brought a new dimension to these excellent pices of tripe. Fabulous end to this lunch! Probably the best thing I ate in Sydney all trip!
I had another productive afternoon though I feel my energy being zapped…and that terrible dinner at Sepia didn’t help. I was out of energy the next day so just explored the Surry Hills area — which zapped more energy. The bad lunch at Nomad just sealed the deal, and I just headed to my hotel to decompress… Then getting the worst dish of the year at Tetsuya’s that night…
If it wasn’t for my 2 friends that night and having a great night out drinking, Sydney would have been an utter disappointment. But they cheered me up, and I woke up the next day tired and hungover but in a good mood. I had a little time to have a quick lunch before heading to the airport, so I headed to do dimsum again (the only things you know that would be quick), this time at the more upscale Zilver.
It was quiet at this very early hour (10am) but they obliged me and brought out the carts. The first set were for steamed goods…
A nice selection. The chive dumplings were especially tasty, almost bursting at the seams. They seemed to have combined a few different vegetables inside them, and it was a total treat. The shrimp dumplings on top were also excellent and juicy. The shumai on the right were interesting, with a quail egg in each of them. Excellent stuff.
Since I won’t be eating until late after the flight I did another order to keep me going…
The ribs were excellent, full of flavour. Good pieces too, not overly bone-ridden. Then the shumai, the more “normal” version but still excellent. This will keep me going until I get to Tasmania!
To be honest, these lunches were the best part of eating in Sydney. If I ever get back to this town again, I am going to just hit the ethnic foods, and give all the haute cuisine places a miss. It’ll taste better, not drag 3-4 hours out of my evenings, and won’t destroy my credit.
Off to Hobart!
25-29 Dixon Street, Haymarket
683-689 George Street
477 Pitt Street, Haymarket
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia