Los Angeles Chowhounder visiting Sydney in March
I'm going on vacation to Sydney in the latter half of March and would like to know any places I can check out some great food...especially any sort of cuisine I can't find here in the US. Send me some tips so I can check em out during my visit!
Personally, im quite unfamiliar with what you can and can't get in the US (and im sure it varies from city to city... So what CAN'T you find over there? And what would you like to try? Answer that and im sure heaps of people can help you out!! PS. From what ive expereinced in Aus, stay away from Mexican, that is one thing im sure you guys do much better!!!
Well I'd like to try anything uniquely "Australian," and that would include any fusion or version of Asian or European fare. Here in the US, our only knowledge of Australian cuisine is vegemite (and I haven't even tried that either), but I'm sure there's more to it than that! So that's what I wanna find out.
I understand that Sydney is a rather diverse city with a lot of cultural influence from European and Asian immigrant groups. Los Angeles is similar, our city has a similar sized population (4 million). The most prominent cuisines here are Mexican/Latin American, Asian and Middle Eastern.
but one Asian cuisine that's not very common here in the US is Singaporean food. I've been to Singapore and love the food there. So I'm sure Australia's relative proximity to Singapore might yield some places.
And don't worry, I'll stay away from the Mexican food in Australia :) Even if it were good (hypothetically speaking of course), I'm sure it would be ridiculously overpriced anyway Generally the rule here is that Mexican food from any state in the US that does not border Mexico isn't worth it.
re: Normal Garciaparra
There isn't much to Singaporean food, it tends to reflect other cuisines in the region. However, that tells us you like Asian food, of which there is plenty in Sydeny and surrounds.
Top of the tree for Asian fusion is Tetsuya's but many top end restaurant are Asian-influenced. I think you would enjoy a meal in this kind of restaurant.
re: Normal Garciaparra
I love Singapore food too - die die must try - anyway, I think Sydney has good laksa which I had a hard time finding in the US.
I like Mamak.
Also good lebanese food a train ride away at Jasmin
Also like Strangers with Candy - I think it is very Australian. and Adriano Zumbo in Balmain for an amazing bakery.
so many good places for you to try...
Longrain is considered a benchmark Thai restaurant in Sydney. The food is up there with the best, the service is strong and the room is also really impressive. They dont take bookings but have a cocktail in the bar while you wait. Its a fun place to eat. Its in Surry Hills (5 minute walk from the CBD)
Mr Gimlet (above) mentions Tetsuya's - it is considered the best in the country and highly regarded around the world. Book early if you're interested and expect to pay around AUD$400 per person with decent wine and including a 10% tip. The food is Japanese using Australian produce and french technique. They only offer a degustation menu.
Universal (east sydney) - I am yet to eat here but am going later this month. The chef Christine Manfield is someone quite unique as her menu travels to asia, north africa and europe while using the best Australian ingredients. You'll hear many chefs describing their food as 'contemporary' in Aus, and Universal is probably one of the best example of that style.
Red Lantern - again in Surry Hills is supposed to be good Vietnamese but is quite trendy and im sure you'll find better examples of authentic vietnamese in the outer suburbs of Sydney. Im not too familiar with those so cant help too much there!
A restaurant i always recommend is Pier. In my opinion its the best restaurant in Sydney. The highest quality of seafood, prepared and presented beautifully. Service is professional but not always perfect. Its certainly not cheap but i can justify it once or twice a year!!
Also, have a wander around Chinatown. There is some really great stuff to be found. I like Golden Century. Its a safe option with consistently good live seafood which they bring to the table and show you the price before they cook it, so you know what you're in for. try a white fleshed fish steamed with ginger and shallot. awesome!! Service is abrupt and sometimes seems quite rude. Coming from the US you might be put off because your service culture is excellent. I just laugh it off and order more beer.
Hope these help a little. When you get here, head to a book shop and buy a "2009 Good Food Guide" Its $29 but then you will have most of the good restaurants in one book!
You should have a great time dining out in Sydney. Longrain and Universal are both really good suggestions - Longrain doesn't take bookings for dinner, but there's a great bar you can wait in until a table comes up. Other unique or quintessential Sydney restaurants to seek out are:
* Billy Kwong (no bookings)
* Bentley Bar & Restaurant
* Sean's Panaroma
* China Doll
* Spice Temple
* Harry's Singapore Chilli Crab
* Wharf Restaurant
Not uniquely Australian but I'd like to add
a tavola to the list as it offers good value for money and great food.
I always add Bird Cow Fish when this question crops up as it dishes up honest fare using fresh local produce. It's a good example of Australian Bistro food without getting stuck in the fusion zone.
I can't think of singaporean food standing on its own here but Mamak and To's are great for Malaysian...
Please don't miss Prasit Thai on Crown Street in Surry Hills (make sure you get a table upstairs) and order the Moreton Bay Bug curry. I think it's a perfect fusion of a native Australian crustacean and Asian cuisine. While I haven't been to Sydney in a while, I used to really enjoy Uchi Lounge for its fusion of Japanese, French, and hint of Italian. After eating there head down to the Hollywood Hotel for a drink (ask the waiter for directions. It's across the street from Longgrain) Another great fusion place is Rize (Japanese/French) in Darlinghurst. A bit hard to find, but worth the search. I think on Tuesday or Wednesday nights they have a seven course tasting dinner for like $50 AUD. Very small and intimate. And I've heard the chef was a protege of Tetsuya himself.
As for typical Australian fare, stay away from Doyle's at Watson's Bay. That being said, I strong;y encourage you to go to Watson's Bay for the scenery, just skip the below average fish and chips. For great seafood, head to the fish market in Pyrmont. Keep an eye out for the grilled baby octopus. Very tasty. I don't know too many places for Mod Oz (fancy Australian food), but if you want to eat kangaroo or emu in a great setting, I would suggest the Australian Hotel (really a pub) in The Rocks. Pretty good pizzas with kangaroo, emu, pepperberries and a fantastic selection of beer. Every guide book will tell you to grab a meat pie at Harry's Cafe De Wheels in Woolloomooloo. They're ok, but with the surrounding scenery included they become ten times better. After make you way over to the Tilbury for a drink (if it's a nice day, order a jug of Pimm's).
One of my favorite stand-bys and a Sydney institution is Una's on Victoria Street in Darlinghurst. It's German/Hungarian food with massive portions at cheap prices. There's a cool little bar upstairs where you are encouraged to drink while you wait for a table.
The last recommendation I'll make is Yellow on Macleay Street. The Croque Madame there is hands down the best breakfast sandwich in the known world (I will argue this with the best of them). The other food there is very good (as is the coffee), but treat yourself to one of these sandwiches and you'll be hooked for life.
You might want to scout out Tetsuya. Dined there when we were in Sydney a few years ago and had an amazing meal.