The ground rule for our Sydney food trail was pretty simple— delicious meal and delightful hot chocolate!
A thriving city with an estimated population of 5 million, Sydney has a cosmopolitan dining scene that reflects its international citizenry. It’s not a surprise to find an Italian gelato shop next to a Malaysian eatery, with a Japanese restaurant down the corner. Choices were aplenty, as my travel buddy and I discovered during our recent trip to Australia.
At the backpackers’ heaven on the southern end of Pitt Street, we were spoiled with the options of at least four Thai restaurants. We ended up in the more budget-friendly 3 Mama Chefs, to try out their special lunch sets priced at AUD 10 together with a drink. Options include steamed or stir-fried meat (chicken, beef or pork) with rice or noodles. I was pretty satisfied with my Pad Thai. The portion was so huge, I struggled to finish the last few beef strips. I highly recommend their Ice Cream Scrolls, a toothsome infusion of any three ice cream flavours of your choice, that are then smashed, rolled, and diced with added mixers (your pick of Oreos, peanut butter, M&M’s, fruits, etc).
From there it’s a 10-to-15-minute walk to the up-and-coming district of Chippendale. Gallery-hopping is a must-do around here, with so many hip art galleries emerging in recent years, including White Rabbit and aMBUSH. The vivid graffiti that adorned Zigi’s Art, Wine & Cheese Bar piqued my interest, and so did its cheese and wine menu. Unfortunately, it is closed on Mondays so I couldn’t go in.
Also located in Chippendale is Kopi-Tiam Spice Alley, a hawker-style joint that was recommended by everyone, from the hotel concierge to people at the tourism office. There are four different stalls offering Southeast Asian dishes but my tummy was hungry for something that’s different from home. Since I’ve never tried Brazillian fare, I went for Fogo Brazillia in One Central Park. I greatly enjoyed my Mojo Lamb Specialty Plate—which consisted of grilled lamb slices, bread, salad, and fries—within the al-fresco dining area, observing office workers playing ping-pong on their lunch break, college students having a giant chess match, and random people walking around.
Opposite Fogo is a must-visit for any chocolate lover—Max Brenner’s for a cup of hot chocolate! My utterly decadent mug of milk chocolate topped with crispy rice balls was a wonderful respite from the cold Australian winter. They have a few branches in Sydney including George Street, Pitt Street, and Oxford Street.
For dining with a view, Darling Harbour offers plenty of options, from the famed Hard Rock Café to Nick’s Seafood Restaurant, and Baia the Italian. At Blackbird Café, I was torn between their Australian Gourmet Crocodile or Crab & Avocado burgers. Thanks to the Spongebob Squarepants theme song that spontaneously rang in my head at the mention of crab patty, I opted for the latter. I was not disappointed—the crispy patty went well with mashed avocado, lettuce and bread, whilst the fries tasted excellent with house-made aioli sauce.
Downstairs, we made a beeline for another chocolaty indulgence, this time at Lindt Chocolate Cafe. Though it was nearing closing time, the queue was still pretty long but it was totally worth the wait. Lindt’s hot chocolate tasted exactly the same as their classic sphere chocolates—heavenly! I bought a boxful to bring home, as there were a lot of options not found on the normal pre-packaged boxes, like salted caramel, orange cream, tropical fusion, dark chocolate mint, and coconut.
Fans of seafood might want to visit the Sydney Fish Market, a fishing port with a fresh seafood and vegetables market, restaurants, and even a cooking school! Take your pick from a variety of fresh salmon, barramundi, squid, crab, prawn, and scallop, and have them cooked to your liking. You can also go for fresh oysters for only AUD 1.5 a pop, or assorted sashimi and sushi at the world’s third largest fish market. Open daily from 7am to 4pm, it is best to head here before the lunch hour rush.
Resist the temptation to buy yet another koala keychain as a souvenir and treat your friends and family with locally-made edibles instead. At Carriageworks Farmers Market that takes place every Saturday in Redfern, you can sample awesome stuff including cheese, hummus, coffee, tea, and even a variety of sambal! If we didn’t have a big breakfast prior to coming here I would’ve definitely gorged on a tantalising bowl of Pho, noodles in a clear soup, a Vietnamese staple.
As luck would have it, our trip Down Under coincided with National Burger Day, and we chanced upon Smashed Burgers that were offering burgers for only AUD 5! From the outlet in Woolloomooloo, it was a 10-minute walk to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a perfect sunset spot to gorge on my takeaway pack of Beef Brisket Burger, a yummy mix of beef patty, beetroot, lettuce, swiss cheese and aioli mustard.
If you’re looking for something that is quintessentially Sydney, then a date at the Opera Kitchen should be in the cards. There is also a variety of restaurants around the Circular Quay area which offers great views of the CBD as well as Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. We decided on Buckley’s for its fun atmosphere and appetising food selection that include share plates and grilled specialties. My friend ordered the Vegetarian Pizza that was big enough to feed two people, while my plate of Chicken Schnitzel was a nice combination of crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Afterwards, what else but hot chocolate! Takeout from Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café just a few steps away was the perfect companion to our final night enjoying Vivid Sydney 2016. The hot chocolate itself was rich and yummy, but at an AUD 9 price tag, I would sooner return to one of the other two chocolate establishments to get my cocoa fix.
Here’s a bonus tip: a holiday in Sydney is not complete without a visit to this legendary establishment—Pancakes on the Rocks. The mouth-watering menu offers combinations of savoury options including the Potato Au Gratin which are potato and onion pancakes topped with melted cheese and served with grilled banana, hollandaise sauce, and sour cream, while those with a sweet tooth might go for Blueberry Heaven or Strawberry Patch. My Vanilla & Chocolate Surprise was beyond expectation, melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk pancakes topped with ice cream, chocolate sauce, and powdered sugar. Literally and figuratively a sweet memory of my food trail in Sydney! ☕
GETTING THERE AirAsia X flies to Sydney from Kuala Lumpur. For lowest fares and flight info visit AirAsia.com.