17 December 2012

Gone but not forgotten - Sydney food court and street food closures in 2012

Street Food salutes all the places lost to us in 2012. Just like the dead people bit in the Oscars, only with food.

Running a street food joint is a hard job, keeping long hours and turning out consistent food to hungry punters day in day out, lunchtimes, dinner times, in between times - sometimes it must get too much and a place closes down. When a favourite place closes, there's some sadness. Then the realisation hits a new place will be opening in its place - what will it be? Will it be a new food style we haven't tried, something from a favourite region we've travelled? Some big name closures this year caused a campaign to save Sydney restaurants, while these closures hardly rated a mention.

So here's to all those places gone in 2012, some already replaced with new delights, others still waiting to reopen.

Daily Noodle Fast Food (8 Quay Street, Chinatown). One of the last real hole in the wall joints in Chinatown. Alison tried her first 'Peking Pie' here. Mr Shawn sat down in here in early December without looking, noticed it was suspiciously clean, the menu and faces were different and walked out with a tear in his eye. Replaced by an trend hopping dumpling joint.

Silk Road (2/203 Thomas Street Chinatown) was one of the first northern Chinese style places on the block. First located on the corner of Quay and Thomas St (now Pinangsia Noodles) it moved further down Thomas St and widened the menu and number of seats. Now occupied by the wonderful Spring River, a Yunnan style soup and noodle joint.

Happy Lemon, Broadway. Our post on this tiny drinks store was one of our most viewed ever. This store was located in such a perfect spot for us, halfway between home and Chinatown just when we needed a drink. The drinks aren't as sweet as Chatime and the rock salt and cheese was special. Still on George St in the City. We spied some building activity taking place here mid December, our guess is a froyo bar.

Quite a few places changed or closed on Broadway before we got a chance to get our mouths into their menus. Epic Yum Cha became Bling Bling Dumplings then Malay on Broadway and then closed (still unleased), Skewers is waiting to be reopened as Soul Origin, Hot Wok Master is now Vrnda's Vegatarian Indian and Spice King is now a new Chinese joint waiting patiently for us to visit.

Sabbaba (King St, Newtown). The Sabbaba empire extended to Newtown in 2010 after a major conversion of the shop space into a funky falafel bar. A friend to vegetarians, students and pita lovers, it closed down overnight without a peep. At the time of posting, nothing yet has claimed its spot.

Chennai opened in Newtown in the large space left by the long running Rosalina's Italian. It closed after a few months after opening hour changes and one time when we arrived for lunch, chef problems. Still nothing in its spot, it's a large space which would be hard to fill.

Asian supermarkets closed in Newtown with Mr Chengs (Eat Asian, Stay Slim) and Q Mart closing their doors. V Plus Supermarket in Marrickville Metro closed, replaced by a sparkling new Miracle Supermarket. Tang Flaming in Enmore also closed before we got a chance to try it, it was a mix of different asian cuisines that didn't seem to gel. There's a 'leased' sign on the front as of December 2012. Vale also Garlo's Pies in the Civic Video Enmore store, one of our favourite late night snack places. World record closure for the King St fish and chip shop that opened for about four weeks, 'For Lease' signs in the window now. El Bhasa has recently reopened as Hayat Lebanese.

Marrickville continues its march toward change, with Thuy Huong Coffee Lounge moving down the Illawarra Rd strip to a bigger shinier shop. In 2011 there was major movement of all these pho shops and the little stretch continues to alter its once gloriously shabby (and affordable) feel.

Kaki Lima (Shop 3, 343 Anzac Parade Kingsford). One of our absolute favourite places in Sydney for nasi lemak and smiley service. Briefly became Warung, then changed to Indo Cafe@ Kingsford. We believe this business is now also for sale or has sold so who knows what might be in this spot soon.

Alice's Thornleigh (262-264 Pennant Hills Road, Thornleigh). Next step for this Malaysian favourite which started as a cake and catering business is a new shop in the city CBD. Stay tuned at http://www.aliceskuih.com.au/

Daikichi Ramen (Shop 5, 209 Thomas Street, Haymarket/Chinatown) opened and offered much to ramen devotees, then closed and robbed them of their excellent soft boiled eggs and chewy noodles. Replaced by another Japanese noodle joint, Hana Hana.

Saucepan Cafe (Shop 6/ 245-249 Abercrombie St Darlington) opened briefly as a mixed hamburger joint / Indonesian food cafe. We were sad to see it closed but elated when it was replaced by Jap's Table.

Central Korean Butcher

Central Butcher (332 Elizabeth St Surry Hills). This actually closed in 2011 but it's worth adding as the new store to replace it has been advertising for months and still not opened. Once the best source in the city for large ready prepared containers of pork bulgolgi.

This year Dixon House Food Court had a major run on places closing and reopening (with some even turning over once again). Asian Style Cuisine is now Wing Shing; Yangs Asian Cuisine became Kimchi and Sushi House (run by two impossibly friendly folk who we will miss) and is now Hungry Bob's K Food; Kisaragi Ramen briefly became the strange Alex Kitchen, now is home to Fat Bird Express; Perfect Sichuan Style Cuisine is now Xian Kitchen; Pondok Satay 888 is now a drinks and dumplings bar, Bijou China has become Anna's Kitchen and PK Thai is gone with the space still empty. The large Taiwanese stall of mystery has opened a new store on George St below TenRen's Tea. Through all this change, Dixon House has managed to stay with its wonderful retro disco decor, although there are new tables and chairs.

Most other Chinatown food courts have remained unchanged, Gumashara has moved a few stalls down in Eating World with nothing yet in it's place.

We will miss these small guys, and look forward to trying whatever comes up in their place. Get out there and get back to that place you haven't been to in ages, it might not be there when you want it.


  1. Oh noes, Makan @ Alices is closed? I never got there but it's on my list..sad sad sad. And I'm said about Silk Road....really enjoyed our meal there *wipes tears from eyes*

  2. It's amazing at the turn over of different places within such a small timeframe of months. I've been to a few listed as closed and seen some that's re-opened. They shall be missed!

  3. Silk Road's closure was a kick in the gut for me. I was told by the waitress at Spring River the previous owners moved back to China. Sigh. They had the best Xinjiang style 'big plate chicken'. It's off to discover a replacement.

    1. Agreed - Silk Road was special, very sad. Loving Spring River though, a few visits so far...

  4. Thanks for this post. Very interesting to see what's in and what's out and what to look forward to for 2013!

  5. Cool idea for a post! It's amazing how you guys keep track of this. I would have liked to go back to Chennai - had some good roti there

  6. I tried that new juice and dumpling bar in Dixon House today, I strongly suggest you guys try it. Sure, the menu isn't big, but they serve mean pork buns.

    Another place you guys should try is Sydney Best Dim Sim on Thomas Street in Chinatown (it shares a shopfront with Chatime). They sell great pork buns for $1 a pop.

  7. The old asian supermarket in Marrickville Metro was replaced by a very similar new one but there's one important difference: the old one stocked tubs of May Ploy curry paste which I rely on for my quick Thai curries, the new one doesn't, as far as I could see.

  8. It's a bit sad to read about so many closures, but good to hear some of them have been replaced with new eating establishments. Looking forward to you reviewing the new ones in 2013.

    Alison and Shawn, I wish you all the very best for a wonderful festive season and another super year of blogging to come.

    My kindest regards,
    Robyn Little.

  9. Love your work!!!! I woke up dreaming about the baklava at Sababa this morning and can't believe it's closed down! I'm heading for Newtown now to see this for myself and be dismayed.

    Thank you for a wonderful website. So good to learn about the cheap and tasty underground food in Sydney.


    DAILY NOODLE IS GONE?!?!?! me and my gf literally lived there for most of 2011/12...I saw it 'renovating' once in december and didn't know they were actually packing up. so sad.

    the best value, and some of the best noodles!

    1. It's a sad day for noodle lovers indeed. Shawn was visibly distressed when he found out it was closed, we loved that place too.


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).