Feeding my face around Sydney

Gambit and I went back to Australia in mid-March and our first stop was back to Sydney. Every time I visit Sydney (where we lived for about 6 years), I have my ‘must go-to’ places. And then I like to do a little bit of research to find out any new places which I think I would like.

It was about time for me to write my ‘where to eat in Sydney’ post. Bon Appétit.


Monday – 20 March

We landed in Sydney around 8am and the first place I went to eat at (after we dumped our luggage at the hotel, and Gambit and I went our separate ways) was Laksa King.

Laksa King
43 Erskine St, Sydney NSW 2000
www.laksaking.com.au

I used to eat at Laksa King about three times a week when I worked in Sydney, and I almost always got a Chicken Laksa with extra tofu. I was very excited when I found a Groupon voucher for Laksa King online (because getting a discount or freebie for something I already love is very much ‘up there’ in my books).

I didn’t get to eat at Laksa King during my 2016 visit, and it did worry me a tiny bit that they were on Groupon because their business was not doing as great.

I entered Laksa King around 11am and ordered my Chicken Laksa, extra spicy – however, since I didn’t have enough coins for the extra tofu (as I had just arrived) I had to go without the extra.

If I could describe my laksa in a couple of words or noises, it would be “Awww man”.

I sat in the restaurant sipping the spicy soup, slurping up the noodles, wiping the sweat off my forehead because it was a super humid day (and yes, I was STILL in the mood for a hot, extra spicy laksa so that means I am no laksa amateur), and just thought how much I missed this place and just how great the laksa was.

I left feeling so happy that one of my favourite laksa places in Sydney was still kicking butt.

Laksa King – Sydney
I spent the rest of the day running errands before heading back to the hotel to get ready to meet Frenchie.

Frenchie has some exciting times coming up for her as she is getting married in 2018. And I get to share those exciting times because she gave me this card which totally made my year.

After we were done at the hotel, we headed out for a(n unorganized) progressive dinner.

Tim Ho Wan
HSBC Centre, GD004/580 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
www.timhowan.com.au

The hype: Tim Ho Wan, a restaurant that started in Hong Kong and serves only dim sum, is known as “the world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant” since a few of their branches (in Hong Kong) received one Michelin star.

I ate at the Tim Ho Wan in Westfield Sydney food court in 2016 and thought the food was OK. When a Tim Ho Wan opened in New York in December 2016, we were told to wait 2.5 hours for a table, which we did not do.

I did want to eat at the actual restaurant in Sydney and since Frenchie and I didn’t have any plans for dinner and happened to be walking by, we popped in and were seated almost immediately.

We ordered the Vermicelli Roll with BBQ Pork, Spinach Dumplings with Garlic & Enoki Mushrooms, Mushroom & Capsicum Dumplings.

Tim Ho Wan – Sydney
Unfortunately, I thought the dumplings were good but not great, and certainly not worth a 2.5 hour wait (nor a 15-minute wait actually).

We set out for a second place to eat but per usual, Frenchie and I ended up talking and walking, and talking and walking all around Sydney before realizing it was quite late and could skip second dinner and go straight to dessert.

Funnily, we ended up going to Mövenpick which was directly underneath the Tim Ho Wan. So the hour or so long walk was essentially in a giant circle. I have always believed that great company is when the time melts away easily.

Mövenpick
HSBC Building, Shop LG/10, 580 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
www.moevenpick-icecream.com

We ordered the chocolate fondue for two and it was delicious. The two flavours of ice-cream we selected were panna cotta and mint chocolate and they were equally excellent.

Movenpick – Sydney
At the time, Groupon had this amazing deal where you got the fondue, hot drinks, bottled water, and take home ice creams. However, we didn’t go with the offer.

I would highly recommend popping into a Mövenpick café and trying a scoop.


Tuesday – 21 March

I had a blood test first thing in the morning so I skipped breakfast. After I met with Gambit for an appointment, we headed to Palace Chinese Restaurant for Yum Cha (aka Dim Sum).

Palace Chinese Restaurant
Stockland Piccadilly Shopping Centre, 38/133-145 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000
palacechinese.com.au

I like Palace despite many people telling me it’s not as good as Sky Phoenix or Marigold. Gambit and I had a good lunch, however I was shocked that the har-gow (prawn dumplings) were $11.80 per basket! What the…?

Overall, the coconut jelly here is my favourite as I love the consistency. It holds a shape like jelly but the texture is creamy and has a strong coconut flavor.

We met Frenchie and Frenchie’s fiancé (who I’ll call FF) for dinner. That afternoon it bucketed down my feet got drenched from the rain. Fortunately, my Crocs Kadees are pretty much plastic, so I was able to just empty out all the water and pat the insides dry.

We went to go to Home Thai as it is one of our fave restaurants and is one of Sydney’s Thai institutions. Home Thai is one of those places that don’t take reservations, so we had to put our name down on the list and tear off a number off.

Home Thai
1-2/299 Sussex St, Sydney NSW 2000

We ordered the calamari, red duck curry and crispy pork belly with chilli and basil.

Frenchie ordered the Pad Thai.

FF ordered the Pad See Ew.

I enjoyed the red duck curry and crispy pork belly (I didn’t eat the calamari), however Gambit thought this visit to Home Thai was one of the worst and did not enjoy anything except for the red duck curry. I admit I was slightly disappointed but the night was about the company, not just the food – so all in all, it was a fabulous night. The next time I will most probably see Frenchie and/or FF will be at the wedding, so I will cherish that evening.


Wednesday – 22 March

I certainly out did myself on carbs on this day, starting with a croissant, then a chocolate chip hot cross bun, a meat pie, and then Chinese food.

Lorraine’s Patisserie
Merivale, 5/320 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

I found Lorraine’s online – it was listed as one of Sydney’s best places to get cake. When I stumbled into the store front with sweat pouring down my face from the humidity, I actually didn’t feel like cake at 8am in the morning (I understand how this could surprise some of you), so I selected a plain croissant instead.

The store front is tiny with a big area for the cooking and baking. I felt so sorry for the three people in the kitchen as it was humid outside and extremely humid inside.

The croissant was soft and buttery inside, with a soft crust on the outside. It wasn’t the best croissant I have ever had and I would not come back for one anytime soon (not that I could anyway, being 20+ hours away). However, I would return to try a cake, no matter what time of the day.

Lorraine’s – Sydney
Lindt Café
259 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
www.lindt.com.au/cafes-shops

There are several Lindt Café locations in Sydney but since I was meeting my friend AC for a quick coffee before work, the closest location to her was the one on George Street (which was closed off and being ripped up for the light rail).

Lindt Café had an offer on for a drink and dark chocolate hot cross bun – which was perfect because I was already going to get a Mocha, so for the sake of an extra dollar or two, I chose the deal.

The hot cross bun was delicious especially since it had been slightly heated, and the Mocha was superb. I love how they always serve their drinks with a Lindt ball on the side.

Lindt Cafe – Sydney
I have always been a fan of Lindt and I remember when I found that there were Lindt Cafes, I freaked out. I remember the time Frenchie and I went for a dessert platter which we found a coupon for on Groupon. We were so stuffed at the end of the platter with delicious chocolatey goods! I highly recommend popping in for a hot chocolate or ice-cream if you have never been into a Lindt Café before.

Gumption
The Strand Arcade, 11/412-414 George St, Sydney CBD NSW 2000
www.gumptioncoffee.com

I didn’t eat here but instead I caught up with my ex-manager for a coffee. I had a flat white and it was good.

Gumption is one of ‘those’ must go-to coffee places in Sydney. I personally think it is a little over-hyped as I have had good and bad coffees from there so the lack of consistency makes it only so-so for me.

Gumption – Sydney
Pie Face
171 Castlereagh St Sydney NSW 2000
pieface.com.au

I had a sneaky pie from Pie Face despite having two coffees and pastries in the morning. I thought I could hold out to dinner but at around 2pm I was feeling faint and popped down to the Pie Face next to the hotel and grabbed a beef pie.

Pie Face is awesome for a sneaky, fatty pie. The crust is super buttery and the filling is always great. It isn’t something you’d eat daily but it totally hit the spot for me on that day.

Mecca Coffee
67 King St, Sydney NSW 2000
meccacoffee.com.au

I caught up with my friend JH for a quick coffee at Mecca Coffee. I ordered an iced coffee and it perfect for the day since it was my third coffee by that stage.

I really like Mecca and it was one of my preferred coffee places in Sydney (which I controversially preferred over Gumption).

Mr Wong
3 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000
merivale.com.au/mrwong

The first time I went to Mr Wong was for lunch when I worked in Sydney. Our department won best department so we chose to go to Mr Wong as our reward.

Mr Wong is fine dining Chinese food located over two levels inside a brick building found down an alley way. Dreamtime Australia Design completed the design in 2012 and did an amazing job. Dreamtime Australia Design have also designed many other beautiful restaurants in Sydney (L’Aqua for example).

Now to the food!

We dined with Gambit’s Aunt and her family so there was a total of six of us. We met at Tank Stream Bar for a few drinks beforehand. I hadn’t seen the ‘kids’ for a couple of years so it was great to see them again.

We ordered the:

  • Deep-fried Dim Sum Platter
  • Peking duck pancakes
  • Barbequed honey glazed “char siu” pork
  • Crispy fried Balmain Bugs with spicy salt
  • Roasted Angus beef shortrib “Shandong style”, soy, chilli and shallot dressing
  • Kung pao chicken, peanuts, dried chillies, szechuan pepper
  • Stir fried sweetcorn and baby corn with chilli, limeleaf and tamari butter
  • Mr. Wong’s special fried rice with pork and prawn (without pork, prawn or vegetarian available) small
  • Egg noodle Lo Mein with ginger, leeks, konbu and shallot oil

Everything was excellent but the dishes which stood out to me were the Balmain Bugs and the Angus beef shortrib.


Thursday – 23 March

I only had a breakfast on this day not because I am on a diet or for any religious reasons but for medical reasons. I had to make this ‘last’ meal count.

Coffee Pitt
365 Pitt Street, Sydney, 2000
www.facebook.com/pages/Coffee-Pitt/165033066841343

I met my dear friend TM for breakfast. She works across the road from this café and suggested it for us, and it did not disappointment. I ordered a flat white with a full breakfast that had everything.

Coffee Pitt – Sydney
I became quite hangry by the end of the night since I was not able to eat or drink (besides ‘clear’ fluids).


Friday – 24 March

I couldn’t eat until 2:30pm so by that time I was famished.

I quickly grabbed some fish and chips from the seafood place in the Myer Sydney food court. I wolfed that down quickly because I had an appointment at 3pm and was meeting Frenchie and my other friend AH.

Once the three of us got together, we headed to the David Jones Food Hall where Frenchie grabbed a salad, and I grabbed a yoghurt.

I can’t really report back on the fish or the yoghurt because I ate the fish so quickly it barely registered on my taste buds. And the yoghurt was just the typical super sweet, full fat kind.

The food highlight of the day was going to Mamak where Gambit and I met my cousin, her boyfriend, and my Aunt and Uncle to have dinner.

Mamak
15 Goulburn St, Sydney NSW 2000
www.mamak.com.au

Mamak is one of our absolute favourites in Sydney. It serves Malaysian food and I sometimes truly wonder if I am not part Malaysian. The line is always long and you need to stand and wait but it is worth it. The food is probably worth a 30-45-minute wait.

I should also note that once you order, the food comes out whenever it wants to and comes out fast. If you’re someone who likes ‘fine dining’ with food served according to starter and mains – a) you’re stale and stuck and should be ashamed of yourself and b) should go elsewhere. I read an online review recently where someone complained and these were their points and rated Mamak down … OMG. The price of the food is one of the most affordable in Sydney for its quality. And this person must not have waited the minimum 15 minutes outside because every time I go, even if I am not hungry, by the time it’s my turn to enter, I am starving. Yes, I got a bit angry writing that because I am writing this hungry. OK – to the food….

We ordered:

  • Roti canai – The original roti. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside
  • Chicken Satay – Grilled over flaming charcoal for that authentic Malaysian flavour. Served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce
  • Kari kambing – Spicy lamb curry slow-cooked until tender
  • Ayam goreng – Malaysian-style fried chicken. Marinated with herbs and spices and full of flavour
  • Nasi goreng – Malaysian-style fried rice with spicy sambal, eggs, prawns, french beans, assorted veges, topped with fried shallots
  • Roti bom- A truly indulgent roti served thicker, richer and sweeter
  • Roti tisu – Paper-thin, extra crispy and served tall
  • Roti pisang – A popular roti with freshly sliced bananas

The full menu can be found here and I am getting hungry just remembering how great the food was. Everything on the menu is excellent and on the night we went I particularly liked the lamb curry, fried chicken, chicken satay, roti hom, roti tisu and roti pisang.

I might make a mental note to make sure I go to Mamak at least twice next time.

Oh, and it was great to see my family, too. Ha ha. They know how much I love them.


Saturday – 25 March

Marigold
Citymark Building, 683-689 George St, Haymarket NSW 2000
www.marigold.com.au

Marigold is one of the go-to places for Yum Cha / Chinese. But because it is situated down in Chinatown (about a 15-minute walk from where we lived in Sydney), I just went to Palace.

We had Yum Cha with my Aunt and Uncle and ordered a variety of dumplings. I also got a lesson on a cow’s anatomy because my Uncle ordered the tripe stew. I also wanted to quickly note that Gambit is not fond of Chinese food and Yum Cha is one of the few Chinese foods he eats so he especially loved learning about the parts of the cow my Uncle was munching on ha ha.

I loved the Char Sui Cheong Fun – rice noodles filled with BBQ pork. I guess it is the nostalgia it gives me as it was one of the dishes I remember my mum ordering when we went to Yum Cha.

We left our Aunt and Uncle to head back to the hotel. Our flight to Brisbane was at 2pm so we grabbed our bags and headed to the airport.


Summary: You may have noticed that I ate a lot of Asian cuisine. This is primarily because I now live in New York, so the last place I want to get Mexican or ‘American’ is back in Sydney.

I loved eating my way through Sydney and hitting some of my favourite spots, and the below list includes my recommendations if I were to do it again right now:

  1. Mamak
  2. Laksa King
  3. Mr Wong
  4. Palace or Marigold
  5. Movenpick or Lindt Cafe
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