The ultimate neighbourhood in Sydney? For me, it’s Chinatown or, to be precise, the area that covers Chinatown, Thai Town and Koreatown. There are about four square blocks that make Sydney a great place to snack and dine on fantastic Asian food. This zone is also one of the few places in Sydney where you can rock up to a restaurant after midnight and find it open. It’s crazy to think that 50 years ago there were only a few Chinese restaurants scattered across a couple of streets. Now it’s a teeming metropoliswith myriad offerings. Here’s where I like to go…
These days, Din Tai Fung is a multinational but the World Square restaurant is the Sydney original and the xiao long bao’s thin wrapper and juicy pork filling really live up to the hype. I also love the water spinach with garlic.
For yum cha
The dumplings at Marigold are pretty good but I come here for the squid legs and the honeycomb tripe with spicy sauce. The Eight is also worth a visit. It’s a massive space and offers a lot of choice. I like the rice noodles, most of the dumplings and the pork ribs with black bean sauce, which are super-succulent and juicy.
Go for the spicy stuff at Dainty Sichuan Noodle Express at World Square (644 George Street). The Chongqing noodles are the signature dish – the sauce is super-spicy with plenty of chilli oil and Sichuan pepper, which is both hot and numbing. Happy Chef in the Sussex Centre (Shop F3, 401 Sussex Street; 02 9281 5832) is also a great place for a bowl of noodles. Yes, this is a food court but it’s a terrific way to spend $10. Order the dry noodles and wontons with spicy beef tripe; the soup comes on the side with lots of chilli. This is as satisfying as a bowl of noodles gets. It’s also incredibly hard to go past BBQ King (76-78 Liverpool Street; 02 9267 2433). I love the egg noodles topped with barbecued pork or roast duck. Accompanied by plenty of chilli, soup on the side and a cold beer, it’s just an amazing bowl of food.
Golden Century is without peer for live seafood. Abalone, pipis and mud crab – you can eat the best Australia has to offer right here.
I go to Danjee, Madang (371a Pitt Street; 02 9264 7010) and 678 Sydney Korean BBQ; they all do Korean barbecue so well. For Korean-style fried chicken, it has to be NaruOne (373 Pitt Street; 02 9261 2680) and Arisun. Both are open fairly late and do the chicken in different ways. You can also have a combination at both places – I usually get the extra-spicy boneless and crispy boneless. It’s such a fantastic way to eat chicken.
There are several places but Chat Thai and Home Thai (299 Sussex Street; 02 9261 5058) are my favourites, with Chat Thai just getting its nose in front, thanks to the sour sausages and the greens with pork belly. At Home Thai, try the pork belly with holy basil and chilli, along with the duck larb. Get a side of sticky rice with them as well. Both restaurants offer all the classics, too. Settle in for a spicy ride…
For something else
Chinatown is also home to Mamak, the Malaysian joint that always has a queue out the door. Best to go at odd times of the day or expect to wait. The satays are worth it, though, as are the curries. And the team makes the roti right at the front of the restaurant (which makes queuing less of a chore as you can watch all the action). Don’t even think about missing out on the freshly made flatbread to soak up all the wonderful sauces on offer.