Australia may be a distant land but that doesn’t mean the taste and flavours of the world are lost on route to Sydney. In fact, what can be served up on your plate can take you to destinations all over, especially from neighbouring Asia. From the spices of Malaysia to the braised dishes of China, you are sure to savour a true taste of the East when you’re in Sydney — and there is no better district in which to discover these dishes than Chinatown.
With pots boiling, plates sizzling and lines shaping, these are the places you must visit if you are craving that authentic Far East fix.
Did someone say satay? Experience a trip to Malaysia without having to pay an airfare. With a namesake from the roadside stalls of Kuala Lumpur that describes mixed Indian-Malay prepared food, Mamak really takes you to the streets of Malaysia, with authentic dishes and kitchen handiwork proudly on display.
Walk past the window of this Goulburn Street establishment and you will see the roti masters at work, kneading breads right before your eyes and making for a very tempting window display that you could not possibly pass by.
Besides bringing the flavour of Malaysian street food tastes in-house, Mamak also offers a street food-like wait (read: short) with plates quickly whipped up to cater to bustling crowds. Its star dishes include flavour-bursting chicken satays, lamb curry and a generous and spectacular serving of mee goreng noodles — all with a no-frills price tag.
15 Goulburn Street, Haymarket, Sydney, Phone +61 (02) 9211 1668
This is the ultimate gem of Chinatown. An unassuming hole-in-the-wall, it’s immensely popular with locals and usually packed — and for good reason. Its onsite handmade noodles and dumplings hold the authentic flavours of northwest China. From delectable pork and chive dumplings to braised eggplant and soft noodles to dine for, this is the type of place you’ll be going back to.
It’s got a kitschy charm thanks to a questionable décor of tapestries and fake grapevines draping its walls and ceilings. The seating capacity of about 30 on mixed seats and stools keeps it intimate.
Food is served up quickly but if you have to endure a wait outside, you may be entertained by the resident violinist that plays to a waiting (and ever-hungry) crowd on occassion. With entertainment and food on the cheap, this is the ultimate bang for your buck in Chinatown.
8 Quay St, Haymarket NSW 2000, Phone +61 2 9281 4508
Paddy’s Market may be already on your ‘Top things to do in Sydney’ and may seem like a tourist trap but truth is, there is good reason for it. Besides being a hot spot for stocking up on cheap souvenirs and miscellaneous goods you didn’t know you needed (clothes, accessories and all in between), it also houses Sydney’s best place for fresh produce and Asian knickknacks.
The food market area may be chaotic but when there is an array of fresh produce that includes Asian fruits and vegetables at rock-bottom prices, it is no wonder that it’s a hit with both locals and tourists.
Come at the end of the day and you will most likely be able to grab yourself a shopping bag of goods for loose change as vendors clear their stores to make way for the next batch tomorrow.
Market City, Cnr Hay St & Thomas St, Sydney NSW 2000
Besides being an ever-so-tasty establishment for yum cha, the cream of the crop when it comes to this menu is hot cream puffs. The shopfront is akin to going to a canteen, and through a small window you are able to place your order for delicious and freshly cooked sweet puff balls.
Australia may be known for its steep prices in food but this place takes you to schoolyard prices with the donut-like balls priced at 35 cents each. And the more you buy, the cheaper they get. You most likely will leave with a bag full.
It is hard to miss this place on your walk through Hay Street, since even though it’s a small window, more often than not, there’s a queue outside it — a true testament to the joy these little puffs bring!
96-100 Hay St, Haymarket NSW 2000, Phone +61 020 9211 2135