[Updated April 2015]
We tried to come up with a 'top 5' but it ended in tears, there's just too many to choose from. So here's a list of our all time favourites in no particular order...
- Sydney's most underrated gems are the suburban Middle Eastern joints where Middle Eastern folks eat. Our favourite food in Sydney right now is Kebab Al-Hojat in Merrylands, closely followed by all the other Afghani joints in Merrylands. Fresh, simple food cooked perfectly. Darband in Aurburn is our current fave for Persian, and Al Diaffah in Fairfield for Iraqi.
- Life is too short for faux-Japanese food. Eat where Japanese folks eat. We love the fun pubby snacky vibe of Daruma in Chinatown, and the healthy soul food of Komaru in Neutral Bay.
- We've been revisiting Ayam Goreng 99 a bit of late, we're re-addicted to their ayam bakar, Indonesian grilled chicken
- Chinatown's food courts are Sydney's most overlooked treasures. We've been to every stall and continually revisit favourites and sniff out new ones. The choice can be overwhelming so check out some of our favourite dishes at: Dixon House, Eating World, Sussex Centre and Market City.
- For Japanese ramen our faves are Ramen Zundo in the city (World Square), Ryo's Noodles in North Sydney/Crows Nest, Gumshara in Chinatown. No surprises there...
- Albee's Kitchen in Campsie (now also in Kingsford) is our fave for Malaysian, or Mamak if we're after roti, or Alice's Makan in the city for ice kacang and sweeties.
- Taj Indian Restaurant and Sweets ~ Harris Park (Parramatta) - this joint popped our vegetarian Indian cherry, we love it to bits. For similar goodness closer to the city, Maya in Surry Hills is good though not with the same magic.
- Every Lebanese Bakery in Arncliffe - super fresh, super cheap Lebanese pizza whipped up by tops ladies. They just seem to do them extra yummy in Arncliffe.
- Alison digs the congee at Super Bowl in the Chinatown Dixon Street mall, sitting outside with fried bread and xo pippies. Mr Shawn prefers the congee and surreal other-worldly late night atmosphere of Golden Century. He also likes watching the fish.
- Pondok Buyung ~ Anzac Parade, Kensington - Nasi Padang, as close as you can get to eating in Sumatra, run by lovely Indonesian mammas. Love it. Also check out Warung Ita in Lakemba for more goodness from Padang.
- $4 Boat Noodle Soup at Chon Siam ~ Campbell Street Chinatown/City - Chon Siam does an amazingly tasty and true $4 boat noodle soup. Lot's of Thai folks frequent this tiny little place, 'nuff said.
- Faheem's Fast Food ~ Enmore Road, Enmore - Amazing naan bread to soak up amazing Pakistani curries, a legend amongst Enmore\Newtown locals, Pakistan expats and taxi drivers.
- All the Turkish grill joints in Auburn - Auburn is our favourite cultural melting pot, it has a great vibe on a weekend afternoon. Follow the smoke and crowds to any of the Turkish grill joints such as Sofra, New Star Kebab and Gozde Cafe - follow it up with amazing Turkish desserts at Mado Cafe. Sultan's Table in Enmore is excellent if you're the inner west.
- Jonga Jip - there's a ton of Korean joints in Eastwood but we keep on going back to Jonga Jip. Works out super cheap with a group of four people or so.
Classic joints in the city for visitors
Some of Sydney's best budget feeding holes around the city, beware, you may have to queue.
- Mamak - excellent Malaysian street food classics, most likely the best roti in town. Fun busy and cheap - www.mamak.com.au
- Chat Thai - want to eat where Thai folks eat? Head to Thainatown! Chat Thai has been going for twenty years and is superb and cheap. We like to go late at night when the queue is down and the dessert action is in full swing.
- www.chatthai.com.au. There's lots more great Thai joints along Campbell and Pitt Streets if Chat Thai is full.
- Laksa for lunch at Hunter Street Malaysian - many folks suggest this joint does the best laksa in town. It is super packed and buzzing at lunchtime, a real hoot if you're in the mood for it. It can get packed but tables turn over quick.
- Menya Mappen - this tiny little joint is a big piece of Japan, it's super popular and super cheap. If you're on a budget and want a quick lunch this place is awesome.
- Pasteur Vietnamese - a wonderful classic old style Vietnamese joint that's being going over twenty years, normally you would only find a treasure like this in the burbs. Great pho.
After something a bit different?
- Malacca Straits in Broadway\Ultimo for BYO Singapore chili crab, it's fun buying your own crab and Chef Tan is a master.
- Chin Yip Coffee Lounge - wacky Hong Kong cafe food and eighties decor upstairs in Dixon House. We love it!
- Kung Fu Ramen - tacky name but amazing noodles, freshly hand pulled in front of your eyes to order, the beef skewars are also very popular. We've been revisiting here quite a bit of late.
- Ashfield Cafe - a classic old Aussie hamburger joint on the inside, a great Malaysian street food joint inside.
- Fiesta Filipino - feast Philippines style in Blacktown.
- El Jannah - Granville - Lebanese charcoal chicken with uber garlic sauce, deservedly one of Sydney's most popular chicken joints.
Best Japanese ElectroPogoPunk Band.