[LAST UPDATED MARCH 2015]
Sydney Foodie Station appeared a couple of months ago in Gumshara's old spot. The menu is a mix of many styles of Chinese food, a bit of Shanghai and a lot of everything else. There's a whole bunch of dishes we've never tried before so we're in heaven, there's nothing we love more than a culinary lucky dip.
The real 'wow' dishes for us were the braised pork with cardamine bean sprouts, deep fried cumin lamb and the deep fried finless eel. We also loved the veggie and veggie/meat dishes, we'll be back for the dry pot vegetable with mushroom whenever we feel like a big fresh tasty vitamin hit.
We were surprised when the front counter folks said the stall is their first food business, they serve and cook like seasoned pros. We just hope that they can hack the Chinatown foodcourt lifystyle: twelve hour days, seven days a week, it's a tough grind that few folks are cut out for.
And that's why you have to get down to Chinatown's food courts as often as you can, you just never know how long stalls are going to be around, these folks could be here for two months, two years, or two decades. Some of the best, most intriguing dishes are to be had when joints are new and working out the menu. Get on down...
Country style fried pork - $9.80. Sliced roast pork stir fried with a bunch of different vegies and a few different types of mushroom, with a little bit of sweet brown sauce. The veggies are a welcome counter to the fatty pork. A huge serve with bowls of rice and soup on the side. Very happy.
Deep fried lamb chop with cumin $9.80 - crunchy fried lamb ribs (not really chops) coated with plenty of cumin, the cumin coated onions are nice and sweet and the roasted chilis pack a fair wallop. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Tofu with Yolk mince $9.80 - Soft tofu stir fried with veggies, pork and mushrooms in a plain, gloopy egg sauce. This plain, wet dish goes well with the dry spicy cumin lamb above. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Dry pot vegetable with mushroom - $12.80. A big bowl of stir fried veggies in simple sauce of (we guess) soy, sugar, garlic, perhaps some cooking wine and generous dash of salt. We are huge fans of the humble vegetable and this dish had us grinning. There was enough here to well feed two people, if you are on a budget you could get this and an extra rice and have a good veggie feed. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Steamed chicken with chilli and sesame - $11.80. We thought steamed chicken would be a healthy option, but it came swimming in super hot, tangy sauce, with a hint of peanut and a liberal slosh of oil. An acquired taste. (Since we ate there, this has now dropped in price to $9.80). Served with rice and soup on the side.
Vegetarian glutinous balls with veggies - $8.80. A big plate of mixed veggies, mushrooms and hard tofu in brown sauce with brown gelatinous of blobs of gluton. Another good vegie hit, the glutous goo gives it some extra substance. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Braised pork with cardamine bean sprouts - $10.80. Many slices of roasted pork belly braised in a simple dark gravy, with some Chinese greens for balance. The magic of the dish is cardamine bean sprouts, pickled veggies that give the dish a salty zing. Trying this dish for the first time was a life affirming moment for Mr Shawn. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Whole fish - $9.80. The menu offers fried fish in sweet and sour sauce but they will cook it up however you want. We go for steamed fishy in ginger and shallot. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Stir fried clams - $9.80. Pippies in a sauce that reminds us a little of XO, but more garlicky and flecked with more spice notes. Yay. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Deep fried finless eel - $12.80. Little freshwater eels fried salt'n'pepper style. We thought these would be like white bait and we weren't far off, the eel just has a little more oofm in the flavour, it really works. Highly recommended. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Nanjian ramen - $10. A whopping big bowl of noodle soup. It is very plain at first slurp, but the flavours meld as you eat halfway through the bowl, by the end it is wonderful. Contains mushies, veggies and various kinds of pork in including shredded pork, fried skin, Chinese sausage and some slightly spicy Spam kinda stuff that is far nicer than it should be. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Spicy pork chop - $10.80. Deep fried pork chop pieces in a spicy goo, a little sweet and a little chili-hot, but not too much, a nice base note of black bean or the like. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Stir fried cabbage - $8.80. This simple dish is an excellent counter to the lardy deep fried pork chops. Western cabbage with garlic and (we guess) a little stock and pepper. And quite a few chillis. Served with rice and soup on the side.
Sauteed shredded pork & Zongzi with soy bean paste - $12.80. A most interesting dish - sweet shiny stir fried pork on a bed of shredded shallot or leek. On top is like a sticky rice croquet filled with sweet bean paste. It didn't make sense at first. Then we chopped the croquet thingy up and mix it all together - the crunch of the fried sticky rice together with the pork, shallots and sweet bean sauce worked a treat. Served with rice and soup on the side.
There's a range of Shanghai style side dishes ready to go, most around $3.80. We go for spicy pork tripe, recommended after the stall person overheard us deliberating over the pork intestines dish on offer.
Other fridge options include pickled cabbage and peppers, chicken feet with pickled peppers, Spicy bamboo shoot, braised wheat gluten, spicy duck gizzard, braised beef.
[BACK AGAIN JUNE 2013...]
The menu has changed a bit and there are different folks at the front counter.
#1 on the new menu - duck & chestnut casserole - $12.80. A bunch of ducky bits on the bone, chestnuts and veggies in a dark, thin sauces, a little sweet with occasional happy notes of star anise, ginger and roasted chili. It's the duck's nuts as they say. Yum.
Back again for country style fried pork. This is quite different to the first version we had here, but it's still a favourite, a nice mix of lardy pork and fresh veggies.
Seafood with fried bread - $10.80. Chinese bread sticks cut and fried so they are light and super crispy. The crunchy bread sticks are a nice counter to the plain seafood and veggie stir fry. The bread sticks are so yummy but the seafood'n'veggie stiry fry is ho-hum, we reckon Neil Perry could tweak this into smash hit. It was fun to try.
Spicy tea mushroom with squid and veggies - $12.80. Loads of fresh veggies and with a mushroom flavour boost, the squid complements the dish nicely. It is perfectly cooked and the juice at the bottom begs to drunk straight from the bowl. Healthy and delicious. Mr Shawn is over the moon with this dish.
[BACK AGAIN SEPTEMBER 2013...]
Spicy tea mushroom with veggies - $12.80. This dish is insanely good - perfectly cooked veggies and mushies with a beautifully balanced mix of chili and cumin. Awesome. The menu has changed yet again, we're glad the tea mushroom dish is still here, though the version with squid is sadly no longer...
[BACK AGAIN MARCH 2015...]
The menu has changed yet again, it's more conventional but there's still some interesting stuff to try, and it's still one of our first picks when we feel like some foodcourt Chinese after a couple of beers. The two neighbouring stalls would have to be our other foodcourt Chinese favourites.
The spicy tea mushroom with veggies - $12.80 has survived the menu change, though the dish itself has changed quite a bit. There's less veggies and more tea mushrooms, and the sauce has changed too, it tastes more like Chinese style satay sauce now. It's not the dish Shawn fell in love with but still fantastic.
To balance the spicy tea mushroom dish we get this plain tofu dish which turns out to be a bit wonderful. Shame we can't remember the name of it... Hunks of soft silken tofu in a plain homely sauce, it's like something you'd got to nanna's house for.
Sydney Foodie Station is at Eating World, Shop 209, 25-29 Dixon St Chinatown.