Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Australia/New Zealand >
Oct 10, 2011 09:25 AM

Visiting Sydney from New York City

I am traveling to Sydney, Australia for work in November and staying for 3 weeks. I live in Manhattan and am an avid chowhound of all genres of food- more into the authentic than the fancy. Can anyone please recommend some serious eats in neighborhoods around the city? Many thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hi there, I think you will find lots of answers to these sort of queries on other threads - be it Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese etc.

    In addition if you have a mobile you can download one month subscription to the SMH Good Food Guide 2012, just published. It will point in the right direction for the best dining at all levels.

    1. I lived in New York before moving to Sydney, so I've done a lot of reflecting on things you can get here that are better than what is available in New York (or at least worth trying for the sake of comparison). One thing that is indisputably better here is Thai food. My favorites are Spice I Am and House, both in Surry Hills right across the street from each other. Definitely not fancy - no reservations, bare bones decor, casual service, but great food and an amazing value. Spice I Am has more common Thai dishes, but will make them very spicy, and House does northeastern Thai street food, also spicy and something different.

      If you don't get out to Flushing for Chinese, there are also many good regional Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. Spicy Sichuan is good for Sichuan (obviously), Superbowl for a down and dirty congee experience, Din Tai Fung for dumplings, Marigold for dim sum (or yum cha as it is here).

      There is also good Malaysian around the city, which is something I was never able to find in New York. Mamak is great for Malaysian style rotis and curries, as well as delicious fried chicken. Another very casual but very good spot is the Malay/Chinese Restaurant on Hunter Street in the CBD, which has probably the best laksa in Sydney.

      I would also recommend going to Harry's Cafe de Wheels in Wooloomooloo for a tiger pie (pie, mushy peas, mash and gravy). It's kind of daggy, but a Sydney institution and does a good pie. Don't bother with the hot dogs, though, unless you're desperate for the novelty of a Hot Dog de Wheels - the hot dogs are definitely better in New York. Also well worth trying are the pies and sausage rolls at Bourke St Bakery if you're in or around Surry Hills (I think they also have an outpost under a different name in the CBD).

      Another new favorite of mine is Pink Peppercorn on Oxford St Darlinghurst. Very friendly service and an interesting menu of Laotian and Burmese dishes. I had a Groupon type voucher when I went, which made it a good deal, but I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed the food.

      Hope that helps get you started.

      1. I back jdmetz on Pink Peppercorn. A Singaporean/Malaysian seafood coconut curry soup that one can find is called seafood Laksa. There are 2 easy to find places: "Laksa House" is at the lowest floor northernmost part of the Queen Victoria Building known as the QVB(Market Street & George). The other is called "Jimmy's Recipe(closes at 2:45pm) at The Galeries in the atrium on George just north of Bathhurst in a modern complex ground floor towards the back. If you are a coffee drinker, refrain from Starbuck's & learn the lingo. They rarely have filter drip. It's all by espresso machines. An Americano becomes a "long black". A coffee with steamed milk is a "flat white"(meaning no foam). Capucinno is the same. Many restaurants let you bring your our wine. A wine store is called a "bottle shop" & are often open to midnight. Don't tip like in the US. Round up. If a cheque is $46. Leave $50. They & New Zealand have eliminated the penny. If you want a good breakfast, a little pricey, but everything is organic"Two Good Eggs" on Goulburn & Brisbane(near a Travelodge on Goulburn & Wentworth). A more central place is "Fresh Baguette" in the entranceway to Myer on Market & George. The scrambled egg with smoked salmon & rocket(arugula)on a fresh baguette is amazing. You HAVE to try Australian yoghurt. It can be found several places but I like the food court basement of the department store David Jones(think an Australian "Bloomingdales"). This is at the fresh fruit juice yoghurt stall entrance on Market St north side a few yards between Pitt & Castlereagh. I like the mango-passion fruit. Think of fresh Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit on top The restaurant at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in the Domain is great for lunch(a bit upscale)& is accessible by going straight to the rear of the main floor(most museums are free). It's called "The Restaurant". You HAVE to go to the glitzy 5th floor(food court) of the Westfield Mall on Market Street between Pitt & Castlereagh. You have never seen such a posh food court. I could go on & on..bon appétit from a west coast Canadian(raised in Montreal)& a frequent visitor to Manhattan.

        16 Replies
        1. re: YVR flyboy

          If you want to try a unique seafood & like lobster. try Moreton Bay Bug or Balmain Bug. It looks really ugly like a blown up prehistoric fossil but so delicious. It's hard to find but it's available at the Sydney Fish Market(closed on Mondays)& open until only 3 or 4. If you cross the pedestrian Pyrmont Bridge which is the extensiion of Market Street, continue as the street curves to the left to the Fish Market. It's fast food style but avoid the stuff under the heat lamps and either select what it freshly made or choose what you want then have them made to order cook(for a fee).Peter's has Balmain & Moreton Bay Bugs. Halfway from the pedestrian bridge to the Fish Market is a street called Harris. Veer right & find Pasta Vera. They have Moreton Bay Bug ravioli(not always on the menu, but they sell them frozen). On the side of Circular Quay towards the Sydney Opera House, there is an outdoor patio bar that has Moreton Bay Bug.(before one reaches the Opera House.

          1. re: YVR flyboy

            "Laksa"...I forgot to add....if you order laksa, request "sambal" when you order. It's a south east Asian chili paste one adds to your laksa. It's potent, so use sparingly!

            1. re: YVR flyboy

              Mini glossary: rocket = arugula; pumpkin = squash; capsicum = green or red pepper; skinny = low fat

              1. re: YVR flyboy

                Thank you thank you thank you all so very much. I have printed all of your amazing feedback and will be armed and ready when I get to sydney. My mouth is already watering. This new yorker is very very appreciative. Will let you know how it was when I return. Cheers!

                1. re: merisulcer

                  Enjoy the reverse seasons as they head into summer! Here's Aussie 101 continued: Cabernet Sauvignon = CabSav ; cookie = bikkie(short for biscuit);breakfast = brekkie ; dinner = tea

                  1. re: merisulcer

                    I forgot the most quirky Australian can replace the word "chicken" with the word "chook"(rhymes with "book") ie-" I had chicken in a bun and a cookie" can be said" I had a chook in a bun, an a bikkie"

                    1. re: YVR flyboy

                      VERY helpful. I was just going to ask about slang and food terms! Thanks

                      1. re: merisulcer

                        "entrée" is like in France or Québec-an appetizer, "Main" is exactly that. The main course.

                    2. re: merisulcer

                      I don't want to dampen YVR flyboys enthusiasm but I am afraid he is really underselling Sydney. There is a really fantastic food scene here and this really desn't represent it at all, a couple of food court Laksa's may be good but (as an example) it is nothing compared to the amazing Thai food scene with Chat Thai and Spice I Am branches popping up. Good Malaysian can be had at Malaya and Mamak.
                      There are also lots of small independent restaurants in the inner suburbs like Potts Point, or Surry Hills that deliver great cooking.

                      Lots have been mentioned in the past here, and as Fergal recommends it I really worth getting a copy of the SMH GoodFood Guide in book for or as an app. It is a real guide and quite critical, good food reliable can be had at the 14/20 level or the one "hat" level - maybe not the most radical cutting edge food but the guide is pretty upto date and gets it right more than not - it is the guide us Sydney locals use.

                      As to learning the language - cute but not really required. And if you can find many Sydney places still doing BYO then you will be lucky, there are a few but it is far less common than it was and quite unusual in the city, nearly everywhere has a wine list and when they do will charge quite a lot fr BYO.

                  2. re: YVR flyboy

                    You'll see that often a bottle or carafe of chilled water plopped on your table at some restaurants. If not, don't hesitate to ask. It won't have ice unlike France where it won't be chilled.

                    1. re: YVR flyboy

                      Adventurous? The Australian Hotel , above the Rocks, one can sample 3 things you won't find elsewhere. You can order a pizza with half croc(crocodile) , half roo(kangaroo) with a side of emu wings. Kangaroo is best as a steak or in a Chinese restaurant with black bean sauce & tofu(I forget where)

                  3. re: YVR flyboy

                    Thank you for the lesson on coffee terminology. I've been enjoying my flat whites very much here! I checked out David Jones department store and went to the food court in search of the yogurt! It blew my mind. I am going to check out the good court of the Westfield Mall tomorrow. Have many more things to check out on my "to eat" list. I ate some serious miso ramen last night at Wagamama on Darling Harbor. I am not sure if that place is a chain but it put most of the NYC ramen houses to shame. I walked by Laksa House yesterday. I will try to hit that too!

                    1. re: merisulcer

                      My favourite ramen restaurant is Ramen Kan. The address is 1st floor up 90 Hay Street, but the entrance is at a very easy to miss entrance facing Harbour Street. One has to take a very slow, claustrophobic elevator(that I always pray never gets stuck). Once up and one has entered, you find a huge, boisterous, mostly Asian clientele. My favourite ramen is a hard to find Tan Tan Ramen( a sesame based ramen that I have only found in Honolulu's Gomaïchi Ramen a block past the KFC beyond the Ala Moana Mall). Tan Tan Ramen is based on the northern Chinese Tan Tan Mian, but I prefer the Japanese adaptation way better). Add to this ramen, I order Wasabi Tofu plus an order of prawn gyoza.

                      1. re: merisulcer

                        FYI- Ramen Kan is right beside a chicken chain called OPorto & one can also find Wagamama in London England.

                        1. re: merisulcer

                          Wow - Wagamama in Sydney: yes it is a big global chain, originated in London and founded by a Hong Konger. Sounds like you need to hunt down some of the Ramen at the more hardcore places if you want to see what it's really about.

                          1. re: merisulcer

                            If you like Ramen, try Gumshara in one of the food courts in China Town (just off Goldburn St at the far end from the Chinatown Gates - I think). Get there early to grab one of the pork spare ribs and choose the "thick" broth.

                        2. I'd just like to add, that Australia has to import little. Almost everything grows here, therefore everything is fresh. With the large immigration from Italian. Greek & South-East Asia. Olives & grapes produce amazing olive oil & wines. Since traveling to Australia, I favour Australian olive oil over Greek or Italian

                          1. Some restaurants I really like:

                            Buon Ricordo in Paddington - good rustic italian, old school service & style.
                            Red Lantern in Darlinghurst - great Vietnamese
                            A Tavola in Darlinghurst - extremely fresh authentic Italian
                            Billy Kwong in Surry hIlls - authentic modern chinese
                            Icebergs Dining - Bondi, a bit fancy but good 'experience' type dinner. Beautiful ambience and stunning views.
                            Spice Temple - Interesting Chinese
                            Wa - Bondi Junction, little restaurant that serves best Japanese I've ever had in Sydney

                            Lemon cafe in Surry Hills - great breakfast and service
                            Pizza e Birre Surry Hills - great pizza
                            Mad Spuds - interesting twists on the potato

                            I'm obviously an eastern suburbs gal... :)

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: yvettem

                              Thank you! I am so excited to try everything!!! I am not sure about that half croc/half roo pizza!

                              1. re: yvettem

                                No disrespect to yvettem, who has made some great general suggestions, but I wouldn't recommend you go to most of the places she recommends. For example, I love (LOVE) A Tavola, but don't waste your time with Italian food unless you're really craving it. Considering how spoiled for choice you are for Italian food in NYC, I wouldn't fly 10,000 miles and go out of my way for it. It's there if you want it and it can be damn good, but there's a lot of stuff out there that's not as accessible in New York, so you might as well wait until you get back and go to Babbo, Lupa, Al di La, Scarpetta, Locanda Verde, and on ad in finitum. Ditto with Japanese, unless you're going to Tetsuya's, of course. Also, do not under any circumstances get pizza. The pizza is almost always ultra-thin crust, small, expensive and, in my opinion, not worth the money, time or trouble. If you're into that kind of thing, go for it, but I have yet to find anything that didn't come out of my oven that comes even close to being as satisfying as the most mediocre slice of New York pizza.

                                In addition to the suggestions above, Sydney is undergoing a major pub grub revolution at the moment. There are many that I still haven't tried, but the Four in Hand is high on my list for nose-to-tail eats in a pub setting. I'm also interested in trying the Carrington, which has started doing a tapas-style menu. You may also want to check out the neighborhood Waterloo, which has sprouted up some good, casual places. Danks St. Depot seems perennially popular, but I recently had a very good meal at Orto, especially their entrees and desserts.

                                If you want to go further afield, Cabramatta is worth a train ride. It's the main Vietnamese hub west of Sydney and great for cheap eats and a stroll around the produce markets.

                                1. re: jdmetz

                                  "Do not under any circumstances get pizza"?!?! Twaddle!

                                  Don't eat anything when you travel just in case it isn't the same as back home!

                                  Absolute twaddle!

                                  1. re: kersizm

                                    I agree with Kersizm, you may get something in NYC but it doesn't mean Sydney's version isn't worth trying. My limited sample of Italian food in NYC was disappointing with far too much tomatoto based saucing swamping ingredients. To me Sydney top end Italian food is truer to Italy than my experience of NYC. Pizza is the same, there I some very good Pizza in Sydney, and it is usually the ultra thin crust as it is in Naples and many other Italian city - so why I that a problem?

                                    Japanese food in Sydney is also very good, especially the small Ramen places and some of the hole in the wall sushi bars (Sushi Yachiyo in Kirkton Road in Darlinghurst across the road from King Cross is very fine) .

                                    I do agree the Four in Hand is great, Duke is also fantastic but more modern, the Bellevue is nicely traditional, and District Dining are all restaurants in pubs that deliver great food and are worth trying.

                                    Some good Italian recs to which I would add Pendolino in the CBD. Red Lantern is OK but I think Xage is better Vietnamese and also BYO. Cabramatta is OK but s mainly Pho based - and I think that undersells vietnamese.

                                    icebergs is lovely as is it's sister restaurant the more casual North Bondi Italian - again both Italian but the location won't be bettered. Billy Kwong and Spice Temple are great but slightly safe options. There is lots of innovation in Chinese food around Chinatown with new modern places that serve really great food. I tend to avoid the big traditional ones especially the dim sum places as I don't rate them. But the smaller places like Chefs Gallery are great.

                                    1. re: PhilD

                                      PhilD - there's no question that you have an excellent knowledge of Sydney's food scene and are a great supporter of the increasingly terrific restaurants we have here. My take on the OP's question was to approach it from the perspectives of where I would generally tell someone to eat with a limited time in Sydney and what might help the decision making process if choosing between several options, which we are lucky to have here.

                                      Because I knew a lot of restaurants in New York and continue to follow the food scene there, I was trying to recommend places that are something a little more unique and experiences that are not as easy to find in New York. For example, New York's Italian scene has grown far beyond the red sauce joints in Little Italy and the list of restaurants I named are as authentic as anything I have had in Italy or Sydney. For that reason, if the OP is choosing between going to, say, Spice I Am (or, say, Longrain) or A Tavola, I would say go for Thai, either or both of them or even more, because it is something that is much more difficult to get in NYC. Or go to both Mamak and Malaya. Same thinking goes for Japanese - if there is someplace using good local fish and serving up great sushi, then of course it is worth trying. But New York has some world class sushi and is going through something of a ramen boom at the moment, so maybe it's not worth prioritizing. In my opinion, it is not. I would prioritize someplace serving good Australian lamb, which is not always available in America. NYC also does not have a large Vietnamese population, so Cabramatta may be worth a trip for the overall experience as much as for the food.

                                      As for my opinion on pizza, the hyperbole was meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek, but I stand by my opinion that Sydney pizza is not very good, no matter how "authentic" it is and seeking out pizza here would be a waste of time even if New York didn't have good to excellent pizza in every square inch of the city, but it does. Personally, I wouldn't go to New York and have barramundi unless someone told me that someone was doing something particularly interesting with it. Since I don't think there is any reason to go out of the way for Italian or pizza here when coming from New York, I steered the OP away from those choices. With that stated, I of course respect your right to disagree and to defend your recommendations and opinions.