Sydney: home to the Sydney Opera House, humid weather, men in short shorts, Bondi Beach, seagulls (mine, mine, mine), surfers, and solid Asian food. It’s also the place where top chefs from around the world choose to set up shop. Instead of spending too much money on a bed for the night, I’m staying in hostels – that way I get to eat the world (my priorities are right).
Kensington Street Social
Chef Jason Atherton is one of my favourite UK-based Chefs, with the Blind Pig being my all-time favourite bar with quirky, well-made cocktails. So when I heard he’s recently opened up in Sydney, breakfast was a no-brainer. The Brit in me ordered the bacon and fried egg roll with HP Sauce, plus a dairy-free breakfast smoothie – a solid breakfast in the heart of the city.
3 Kensington Street, Chippendale, Sydney, NWS, 2008
(02) 8277 8533
Restaurateur, Kylie Kwong had me in tears during her personal and though-provoking MAD SYD talk. Straight after the symposium I made a reservation to try her Chinese-Australia food at Billy Kwong. Substituting ‘traditional’ Chinese ingredients for those native to the Australian bush, I quickly saw how each decision had to ‘make sense’ for Kwong. The salt bush cakes with fiery chilli sauce were crisp, savoury, full of flavour and light in weight. Unfortunately they had sold out of the red-braised caramalized wallaby tail with black bean and chilli just as I ordered it, but the kind gentleman next to me let me taste some of his – more gamey than beef, but the flavours were bright and intense. The stir-fried native greens with ginger and shiro shoyu was filling with thick homemade noodles and bursting with colour. So, as you can see I really went hunting for the dishes that embraced Australia’s native ingredients. Billy Kwong’s food represents its land and its people, and it was a refreshing change to high-street Chinese food.
1/28 Macleay Street, Potts Point, Sydney, NSW, 2011
(02) 9332 3300
Flour and Stone Bakery
‘Made from scratch’, ‘baked daily’, ‘local where possible’ these are things you should expect from bakeries, but even in big cities they’re so hard to find. Flour and Stone is a favourite amongst locals. From plain croissants and pain au chocolate that make a big mess (that’s a good thing), cinnamon buns, hazelnut torte, lemon drizzle cake, to the salted caramel and chocolate tart, and boiled egg and soldiers, it’s really hard to choose. Then there’s your choice of Rabbit Hole Tea, Coffee Alchemy and Real hot chocolate to keep your breakfast company.
53 Riley Street, Woolloomooloo, Sydney NSW, 2011
(02) 8068 8818
Thai street food with a relaxed vibe, served from an open kitchen. Recommended by chefs in Melbourne, this place didn’t disappoint. As one of my most affordable meals in Sydney, I went a little overboard and tried one chicken satay, the fancy sounding ‘emerald duck’ (with 5-spice, which had a deep anise-type flavoured broth), the grapao gai sub (spicy stir fried chicken mince with chilli and holy basil), and then there’s the sticky rice. Cheap eats, so order more than one main like me (I sat there for a long time trying to finish it all – too good to think about wasting it).
20 Campbell Street, Haymarket, Sydney, NSW, 2000
(02) 9211 1808
Ok, so I paid $30 a night for my hostel and had a $185 15-course tasting meal at Momofuku. As I was heading into the Australian outback the next day, I was treating this as my ‘last supper’ (for the record, I lived). Sat facing into the kitchen, this really is what you mean by a ‘dining experience’. Each course carefully crafted, described by the chef, and mindful of the pace that you’re eating, Momofuku served up mainly seafood creations with Asian and global influences. The 1-minute blanched, then grilled marron with young coconut and koji butter and served with roti was my favourite bites, as well as the cured scallop. The wine pairings would have taken me way over the top, but the gentleman next to me thought they were spot on. If you’ve been before, they’ll automatically change up your tasting menu for new items. And yes, it is really hard to find this location in the mall.
The Star/80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, Sydney, NSW, 2009
(02) 9777 9000
4 nights in Sydney – done! I will always choose food over a pillow.