A short flight across the Tasman lands you at one of the top food cities of the world – Sydney. Along with boasting a plethora of world class restaurants – both Tetsuya and Rockpool have made the world’s top 50 – Sydney has something for everyone, no matter what your taste or budget.
Sydney is big, and traffic can be busy, so with a long weekend food experience in mind try finding accommodation somewhere around the central city area where you will be able to explore many parts of this food capital easily by foot. Darling Harbour has a huge number of hotels and there is also a good selection around Woolloomooloo and Potts Point. If you do decide you want to venture further then the public transport system by train or bus is very efficient.
One of my first stops in Sydney is Chinatown in Haymarket – a stroll down George St from the city centre will get you there and once the shops become predominantly Asian you will know you are in the right place – Chinatown. In Goulburn St you will find Barbecue King – a very affordable award winning restaurant. Glistening amber glazed ducks hang in the kitchen window alongside slices of succulent barbecue pork. The moist and tender barbecue duck is an absolute must with a favourite of mine being the duck and noodle soup (the salt and pepper chilli squid is a great starter).
Satiated, you should go for a wander through Paddy’s market for an enormous array of cheap and cheerful trinkets and gifts. The Capitol Theatre in Haymarket is well worth checking out for discounted tickets to world class shows. On a Sunday morning, yum cha in Chinatown is a must. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from with Marigold being one of the best, it is huge, extremely busy and has fantastic yum cha. Make sure you are there around 11-12 noon to ensure there is a full selection of steaming trolleys with taste delights such as meltingly soft pork buns, crispy duck and steamed scallops with black bean sauce.
A trip to Sydney must include the infamous Sydney fish markets. While there is something going on here all day long, for those having trouble adjusting to the time difference and who are awake before the birds, then head to the fish markets and watch the buying. Empty trucks fill the carpark and coffees steam in the early morning sun, with conversations in Greek and Italian as common as they are in English. Huge bins of glistening fresh fish are auctioned and sent all around Sydney to service a customer base who demands the best – and they are seldom disappointed. Sydney is known for having extremely good seafood. Shopping will be slightly tricky as obviously most hotels do not welcome guests boiling prawns in the electric kettle, but there are cafes at the markets and at weekends you will find vendors sizzling prawns and other fishy fare.
A Farmers Market is always a place to go, even if just to see the produce and products from the immediate surrounds. The Good Living Growers Market is worth planning a weekend around. It is on the first Saturday of every month and is located at Pyrmont – once again, a stroll from the city centre and just past the Star City Casino. It’s worth arriving hungry and hopefully in time for a breakfast of freshly squeezed juice, pastries and coffee. If your dates don’t suit Pyrmont then catch a bus or cab up to Fox Studios just beside Centennial Park. Every Wednesday and Saturday the farm comes to town to the Fox farmers markets. You can browse the stalls, eat your fill and walk it off by strolling around the park.
The central city is not just for business – the shopping is great and for a food focus make sure you head to David Jones foodhall in the basement of their Elizabeth Street store. DJs foodhall has just about every food product available in Australia. It is extraordinary in its size and also for the choice available. For lovers of good chocolate you simply must head into the Max Brenner chocolate bar for the hot chocolate experience and perhaps a Belgian waffle drizzled with pure melted chocolate.
In choosing a restaurant in Sydney you are simply spoilt for choice so it is probably best to think of the style of food you want and start from there. With a rich multicultural heritage it is possible in Sydney to eat the best of so many of the world’s most interesting cuisines such as Thai, Cantonese, Greek and Italian. Being a fan of Thai flavours I always go to Jimmy Liks (Potts Point) and Longrain (Darlinghurst). Longrain now has a canteen as well which means you can squeeze in lunch instead of dinner.
Doyles at Watson’s Bay is famous for its beachside fish and chips and Bills in Darlinghurst was of course the launch pad for Bill Grainger – still the current owner.
Fratelli Paradiso and Yellow in Potts Point are well worth a visit as is Bodega in Surrey Hills. For a truly authentic taste of Spain try Iberico at the Spanish Club.
Aria, Rockpool, Bel Monda and Tetsuya are a few of the high end dining experiences and will require bookings (in Tetsuyas case that may need to be weeks in advance).
There are plenty of restaurant guides available, notably the Sydney Morning Herald Good food Guide.
In between eating you should of course visit the Sydney Opera House – even more impressive by water if a harbour cruise strikes your fancy. Bondi and Bronte beaches are of course always popular for swimmers, surfers or people watching.
The Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley are there for those with more time but then that is a whole new story….
To enter into a draw to win a copy of Helen Jackson’s Kitchen email your name and address to [email protected] with Eat Sydney in the subject line.