Sydney has its share of Michelin starred restaurants, though not on par with other cities like New York and London. In recent years, there have been more and more exciting food offerings, from international brands like Momofuku to Din Tai Fung, as well as famous chefs headlining places like Mr Wong’s and Porteno’s. There are more places to eat at than ever before in Sydney, and while I’ve enjoyed exploring this new landscape of momos, dumplings, Argentinean steak, etc, there are some stalwart Sydney munchies that I will always love faithfully and return to again and again.
Pho and pork rolls
Sydney’s proximity to Asia means authentic Asian cuisine. My first experience with pho, that silky, beefy, rich noodle soup spiced with star anise and cinnamon that Vietnamese slurp up daily for breakfast, was in Sydney, and it’s still one of my favourite things to eat. There are so many great pho shops around Sydney, though the best cluster around Cabramatta.
And while we’re on the subject of Vietnamese food, try a banh mi, or pork roll, from a dingy Viet bakery in an Australian suburb. Do it. The bread is crispy, flaky, soft on the inside, the meat of an indeterminate nature, the blend of coriander, spring onion, chilli, fish sauce and pate giving your mouth a full flavour hit. My favourite is Hong Ha, in Mascot, which recently made the list of Sydney’s best banh mi, but there are many other places to get your fill of Vietnamese.
The Harbour City is a great place for seafood. It’s fresh, it’s huge, it’s served in all kinds of ways, means and places, but the source of the best seafood in Sydney is the Fish Market. There are freshly caught fish, just-shucked oysters, gleaming cuts of sashimi grade tuna sitting pretty on ice. It’s not just seafood either, there are delis selling Australian cheeses, chutneys bread, wine and fresh fruit – everything you need to put together a picnic basket to eat by the waters of Blackwattle Bay.
Steak and ribs
Australian beef is world renown, and there are numerous steak houses in Sydney, but my favourite is Chophouse, in the CBD. Atmospheric, with excellent service and a vast choice – grain fed, grass fed, pasture fed or wagyu beef, all from Australian cattle, are on the menu. Carnivores also flock to Hurricanes for South African style ribs. The original restaurant was in Bondi Beach, and I have fond memories of heading to Hurricanes for a full rack and catch up with friends every time I visited Sydney.
Whether you call it yum cha or dim sum, trailing little old ladies pushing carts of steamy, delicious dumplings around is a Sydney weekend tradition. Every one has their own opinion, but the best dim sum in the city are at Zilver, Sky Phoenix or Piccadilly. Best shared in a big group so that you can order a bit of everything, dim sum is a great way of expanding your food repertoire, but if you don’t fancy Phoenix Claws (or more prosaically, chicken feet!), simply skip it and stick to the siu mai (open topped shrimp and pork dumplings), har gow (wrapped steamed shrimp dumpling) and char siew bao (steamed pork buns). My personal favourites are the rolled rice noodles, turnip cake, glutinous rice and for dessert, a fresh egg tart. If you’re a dim sum virgin, this handy Guide to Dim Sum should come in useful.
Have you eaten your way around Sydney? What are your favourite foods from the Harbour City?