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Traveling to Sydney for work for two weeks. Unusual restaurant suggestions?

Hi everyone:

I'm going to be in Sydney for about two weeks and I'm trying to put together a list of places to eat. Ultimately, I've seen the boards here, and checked the top ten lists, so already aware of places like Rockpool and Quay. Although I'm sure I will end up eating at places like that, I'm also looking for places that are a little less obvious. Something that's not quite so....elaborate, I guess. Partially because we can't eat like that every night, but also because my schedule there is going to be fluid, so it's difficult for me to make reservations weeks ahead of time and actually have any certainty that I'll be able to make them.

Would love suggestions for places that have excellent food in general, but would also be curious about anything somewhat unusual. I'm lucky to live in a city with tons of great restaurants, so anything that would be a bit unusual or Sydney-specific would be terrific. Also, I'll be traveling with someone who LOVES offal, so any place that specializes in that would be fantastic. (For instance, something like Josie Bones in Melbourne seems perfect. Unfortunately, it's in Melbourne.)

We'll be staying at the Sheraton on Hyde Park, but obviously willing to travel for any recommendation. (Although, that said, we'll be there for two weeks, so any places that are walkable from there would be great to know about.)

Excited to visit! And thanks in advance for any advice you all might be able to pass along!

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  1. If I were going back to Sydney (haven't lived there for a year, so this might be old info) - I would go to gumshara ramen:
    http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/70/148679...

    and l would have to have laksa, probably at malay chinese:
    http://www.malaychinese.com.au/

    and Sydney does great Thai food - probably Spice I am or Chat Thai and/or House
    http://www.chatthai.com.au/haymarket/...

    oh and I might have to visit Zumbo pastry and Black Star bakery.

    oh and an old favorite has been listing some great meals - Atelier at the beginning of Glebe Pt Rd.

    1. Second all of DebbieAnn's suggestions, I rarely make it out of the Thai restaurants.

      Near your hotel is FixStJames and the Westfield centre which is home to an upmarket foodcourt. Becasse and all it's spinoffs are here.

      Within easy reach (sometimes walking, sometimes a taxi ride) are basically regional Chinese restaurants covering the whole of China. It is my aim to eat all twelve provinces of China. Some of these will probably fulfil your offal craving. You can also have top notch regional Chinese at Spice Temple (I assume your employers are paying).

      There is good Malaysian, from the posh Malaya on King Street Wharf to the scruffier yet still hatted Mamak (be prepared to queue).

      If you told us where you are from, and maybe any favourite places, it would help narrow it down. Your profile is empty.

      5 Replies
      1. re: mr_gimlet

        Thanks DebbieAnn and mr_gimlet. Just finally registered here, so that would explain the complete lack of profile. That said, great suggestions so far anywa. I live in Los Angeles, but also lived in NY for quite a while. So I think these listings for Chinese and Malay foods are really helpful. I'd say, generally speaking, I have little interest in ambiance. Really want to go to places that have tremendous food I couldn't get elsewhere. And if I'm eating off a linoleum counter, so be it. Actually, speaking of that, I'm having some difficulty judging what dress code is for many of the more high-end restaurants. When I was in NY, I watched most restaurants go from, I guess, at least business casual to "wear whatever." In Sydney is it similar? Are there any places left where I should be wearing a jacket? Or is buttoned shirt and jeans acceptable at this point.

        Apparently my food recommendation request has suddenly turned into a style question....

        1. re: davidgarf

          I consider the dress code to be wear whatever. Plenty of people do enjoy dressing up, but in my experience the restaurant doesn't really care.

          ohyes, Mamak, mmm roti canai, late at night.

          I haven't tried Malaya - love Malaysian food, so will add it to my list.

          Sydney also has some good coffee - Mecca, Single Origin, Tobys . Also Bourke St bakery has some tasty food.

          1. re: davidgarf

            Our top restaurants are generally smart casual, but I'd say it's more down to how comfortable you feel. Plenty of people will be on work functions so will be wearing suits, and others will be on a night out. Generally, people dress up a bit for a 'special' but it's not going to be a suit and tie.

            Since smart casual means different things to different people, in Sydney at the top end the minimum standard would probably be shoes (not sneakers), chinos and a collared shirt (polo shirt is fine). Jeans are not normally considered smart casual. In all the casual places above, you can wear anything.

            For the cheap and cheerfuls, you are looking at the suburbs or high turnover Asian - simply because rent has to be built into the price - and it is often cheaper to travel out of the city and eat cheaper but this chews up your evening.

            1. re: mr_gimlet

              Great info all around - thanks. I'm now just realizing how close I am to the Westfield Centre, and looking at their website it seems like there are a tremendous number of good restaurants in there. Should I be wary of this? (I think I'm just overly conditioned to being nervous about fancyish restaurants located inside of malls.) Or are these actually good restaurants?

              1. re: davidgarf

                Many of them are good restaurants. The centre has only recently opened and so Westfield has spent a lot of time and money luring big name restaurants to open there. Becasse and its offspring were anchor restaurant tenants. Best is to look online for reviews to separate the good and the bad.

        2. SPICE I AM!

          Cool place, great food, would have never heard of it without Chowhound. Was there in late July.

          Mmmmm.....

          1. I've just moved back to Sydney after several years away and have found many of my small, hole-in-the-wall favourites are either gone or not what they once were. So I am trying to re-discover the Sydney food scene myself.

            I would also recommend Spice I Am on Wentworth Street in Surry Hills for really wonderful, authentic Thai. It can be difficult to get a seat, but if you are alone, it is easier than with a group. I haven't been yet, but the same owners have opened up another place around the corner called House, which specialises in NE Thai regional food. Former is BYO, latter has a bar.

            Also in Surry Hills,
            There's Billy Kwong, a boutique asian place that is at the higher end of the price scale (though you can eat affordably with careful ordering). Truly some of the best food I've had in Sydney. The trick with this place is that it doesn't take bookings, and you have to show up close to the opening time at 6:30 and put your name in. If you make it onto the list, they'll send you across the road to the pub and call you when your table is ready. I've also had luck going by there late evening and scoring an empty table, but this is not a sure strategy.

            Erciyes, at Cleveland and Crown, is a good Turkish restaurant, very family-oriented and unassuming. Notable for having what is probably some of the best pide (soft, long, pizza-like breads) in Sydney. If you don't want a full meal, you can stop by and pick up a bread hot out of the oven for $3. I never make it home without tearing off a few chunks to eat along the way. Ambrosia.

            There's an interesting Nepalese restaurant called The Nepalese Kitchen (481 Crown). Great atmosphere, and it's BYO (wine/beer shop down the street).

            Also, along Cleveland Street, just east of Crown, is a southern indian place Maya Indian Sweets. In addition to desserts, it features dosa (big fried crepes made from lentil flour and served with chutneys and sauces) and thali (a sort of tapas-style presentation of many little dishes with bread). Worth a try if you've never had it. I recommend the spicier South Indian version over the Punjabi version. No alcohol here, just softdrinks and lassi.

            In the CBD, there's a few Asian places that I can suggest:

            Seoul Ria, Level 2, 605-609 Cnr of George and Goulburn Street
            If you like Korean food, this is one of Sydney's best. The range and quality of food is outstanding. It's a big noisy room, full of families and large groups, but you never have to wait long. Many menu items cater to 2 or more people, but there's still a fair selection of entrees or mains to serve a single diner.

            Another great Korean place is Madang, in the alleyway at 371 Pitt Street.

            For Japanese/Ramen: Ramen Kan (90 Hay St.). This is very close to the Paddy Markets and the Convention Center. I'm not sure if this place is quite up to the same quality it used to be, as I've only been once since returning to Sydney. The tonkotsu ramen is good. Low key and very affordable. A bit tricky finding the elevator entrance from the street.

            For Japanese udon/soba and tempura, Menya Mappen at 537 George (just inside the shopping center) is a fun little cafeteria-style place where you choose items a la carte on your tray (noodle bowls prepared fresh in front of you), pay at the cashier, and then scramble for a seat in a crowded, communal dining area. They don't make their own noodles, but everything is prepared fresh and they do a good onsen tomago.

            Also, do make sure you do the laksa at Malay Chinese on Hunter St, as debbieann noted.

            One last thing I wanted to mention, since you're staying nearby and already considering the food court at Westfield is the Food Halls in the basement at David Jones (the department store at 65-77 Market Street) It's a great place to get a picnic to take back to your hotel room if you don't feel like eating out. Or, take your picnic to the Botanical Gardens and eat al fresco. In addition to counters for cheese, meat, olives, seafood, pasta, pastries and fine groceries, there are a number of food bars, including an oyster bar, sushi bar, pasta bar, sandwich bar, and a noodle bar where you can grab a stool and have a hot meal and a glass of wine. They fill up quickly during the meal hours, but it's often easy to fine a single spare stool if you're on your own.

            1. I like Lord Nelson's Pub in the Rocks for great beer and pub food..
              Sailor Thai and a pint or two at Fortune of war on George street..oldest bar in Sydney.
              Love love love Sydney and have a great time!