The Hunter Connection Foodcourt is a little gem. Pretty much all of your Asian food groups are represented here: Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Japanese and Korean. At lunchtime this place is a hoot: jam packed with office workers with an hour for lunch and a few bucks in their pocket. It's like a crowded Asian market in a shopping mall.
During the lunch rush it's mayhem. There's an art to keeping your food tray upright as you do the 'Hunter Hover', circling around through the crowd looking for a spare seat, cursing those blockheads who have finished their lunch and just sit there staring at their phones, hogging precious horizontal arse space. Seats are easier to find after 1.30pm or so, if you can wait. And at this time of the day there's some killer end of day bargains. A ready-to-go takeaway can be had for $3.50.
Mr Shawn hasn't been to the Hunter Connection in years and enjoys being overwhelmed with options. He picks the stall with the biggest queue, Yi's Kitchen. Folks are clammering for the bain-marie lunch deals: $5.50 to $8.50 for two to four choices on rice. Around 2pm the price drops to $5 for three choices on rice.
Yi's Kitchen caters for Asian tastebuds so the food is pretty good for bainmarie Chinese, it's not art but it's good cheap tucker. There's some more interesting Northern looking dishes on the signboard but they don't seem to be cooking them all, if any, probably due to a change in management. Kudos to the manager and staff who always smiley and welcoming even under pressure.
The $5 late lunch deal: excellent fresh veggie stir fry; fish in a Malaysian-ish coconut curry; pork in sweet mystery brown sauce. The meat dishes are ok but man-o-man the veggies are top notch: fresh, lightly seasoned and retaining a little crunch.
Another $5 three-choices-on-rice deal. Soy roast chicken is excellent. Have two serves of Chinese veggies with mushrooms instead of more gloopy meat dishes and you have a healthy $5 feed. Yi's has become Mr Shawn's city go-to joint for a cheap healthy veggie hit.
There's also a printed list of cook-to-order "chef''s specials" on the counter. Even in the midst of a crazy rush hour they'll happily cook you something a-la-carte, such as Spicy sour beef noodle soup - $8.90. Plentiful chunks of braised beef in a broth that is as much sweet as sour and all the more delicious for it. A good handful of spaghetti-ish noodles and Chinese veggies. A little different, a lot yum. A happy lunch.
Yi's Kitchen is in the Hunter Connection Food Court, 7 Hunter Street Sydney.
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