JUST an hour’s flight away from Melbourne is Sydney – home of beautiful views, impressive landmarks, and some delicious food! Diane Leow takes you on a culinary tour of New South Wales’ capital city.
Melbourne may be known as the food and coffee capital of Australia, but Sydney offers an array of international cuisine and delightful cafes too. Best of all, it’s just a short flight away.
Here, I’ve narrowed down a couple of cafes, eateries, and restaurants I think are worth going to in Sydney. Most of them are pretty accessible either on foot or by public transport.
27 Commonwealth St
Sydney, NSW 2000
If you’re in Sydney and miss the convenience of grabbing your favourite coffee on the go, head on to Joe Black. With its industrial chic interior, it is a little reminiscent of Melbournian cafés, but with quirky service. Their signature logo is a ‘tache, which is oh-so-hipster. Also included is a short menu of toasted sandwiches, yoghurt muesli fruit cups, and pancakes. Try the roast beef and roma tomato sambo, or the muesli cup for a quick brekkie.
90 Hay Street
Haymarket, NSW 2000
Sometimes, comfort food is a piping hot bowl of noodles in soup. And in Sydney, ramen restaurants are all around, especially in Haymarket (Sydney’s Chinatown). My pick would be Ramen Kan, which has an amazing lunch deal: $13.80 for a bowl of ramen, and a small donburi (rice topped with chicken, fish, or other meats of your choice) on the side. If ramen’s not your thing, their homemade gyozas (Japanese dumplings) are delightful too.
Bourke Street Bakery
633 Bourke Street
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
There are bakeries, and then there’s Bourke Street Bakery. It is a Sydney institution. And they have the best pastries around. From a beautifully rich, flaky pork and fennel sausage roll to a meltingly delightful lemon curd tart, Bourke Street Bakery can do no wrong.
Drop by for breakfast, or grab a salad/soup for lunch. Take away some tarts and cakes for dessert and a loaf of bread for the rest of the week. They do decent coffee too.
Darlinghurst & Pyrmont
Ever played Super Mario and wanted to know what the mushroom tastes like? The Messina Gelati Laboratory in Sydney tries to bring that to life… sort of. Messina Gelato has been crowned the best gelato by the Sydney Morning Herald – and it is well-deserved. Here in Melbourne we have Freddo’s and Helados Jauja, but Messina is – in my humble opinion – the closest one can get to trying authentic Italian gelato without actually flying to Italy. You have two options: either grab an intricate ice-cream creation, be it an edible mushroom or an ice-cream burger, or go old-school and just have plain ol’ ice-cream in a cone. Both are equally yummy.
91 Riley Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Street food aside, Food Society is the place to go if you’re after something a little fancier – minus the snooty waiters and uncomfortable silence. Inspired by traditional Eastern European recipes, Food Society transforms goulash, risotto, and other slightly unfamiliar dishes into great masterpieces. Try the squid ink risotto – velvety smooth, super flavourful, with a tiny hint of the sea. Just enough for you to go back for another bite.
If risotto and seafood aren’t your thing, order the crispy roast duck. This is not your typical roast duck from your favourite Hong Kong joint – but crispy, tender duck that almost melts in your mouth.
Desserts are also a highlight here. Their signature is the ‘pashka’ – a light cheesecake w fresh strawberries and a slightly buttery base. Unlike most cheesecakes, the pashka is super light and not at all cloying. Which also means… one may not be enough.
Opera House Tour
Need a break from all the eating? If you’ve only seen the Sydney Opera House from afar, it’s time to take a tour of its gorgeous interior and understand a little more about its tumultuous history.
The iconic Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, put Sydney on the world map. His vision for the Opera House was pulled out of a pile of designs that were initially disqualified. The curved arches that we see today that subtly glow in the day and come alight at night caused many difficulties for civil engineers who strived to make Utzon’s design a reality.
The Opera House tour is about an hour long and is incredibly informative. You’ll also get to go behind-the-scenes and take a peek at some of the theatres and concert halls, with an experienced guide taking you around.
Tours are available daily, and run every hour from 9am-5pm. Advanced bookings are not essential, but if you are super excited, you can book online here.
433 Liverpool Street
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Bill’s Surry Hills
359 Crown Street
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Brunching in Sydney is incomplete without a visit to Bill’s. The Sydney Morning Herald‘s chief restaurant critic Terry Durack once said, “Bill’s cafe is just like Sydney – sunny, fresh, energetic, modern, and forever young.” A visit to Bill’s is a little like experiencing Sydney on a plate.
Choose from creamy scrambled eggs with sides of house-cured trout and avocado salsa, or go with their signature ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter and bananas that are super light and fluffy. In my opinion, coffee’s not as good as Melbourne – but I’m a spoiled coffee snob so you may beg to differ. Instead, I like to go for a sparkling rosehip and mint punch that reminds me I’m on holiday. The lunch menu’s equally exciting, but it’s the brown sugar pavlova with yoghurt cream that really gets to me. There’s nothing quite like it.
299 Sussex Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
Sure, everyone’s abuzz about Chat Thai, Sydneysiders’ go-to Thai chain, and I like Chat Thai very much too. But Home Thai is a gem I accidentally came across on Sussex Street that had many locals queuing outside at 7.30pm on a cold wintry weeknight. That itself was enough to convince me to give it a try, and boy was I blown away. Their tom yam soup comes with succulent prawns and a fiery kick of chilli, and the Thai-style steamed fish is steamed to perfection. Craving something sweet to round off your meal? Pick the mango sticky rice – the rice comes in three flavours. One plate just isn’t enough.
698 George Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
The bubble tea craze is well and alive in Melbourne, but if you do want something different – try Happy Lemon in Sydney. A Hong Kong chain that has gone global, Happy Lemon is serious about their tea. They have a range of toppings too – kaiten jelly and caramel pudding are my favourites.
Are there any other places you’d recommend in Sydney? Share with us in the comments box below!