13 June 2013

The Chinese Stall With No Name at Chinatown Market

Chinatown's Friday night market is the most street food-y experience in Sydney. Nothing else comes close to capturing the vibe and tastes of an Asian night market. We've been trying one stall in particular that gets the food find chills multiplying (it's electrifying).

The stall has no name that we can see, except for a sign that says 'Deep Fried Tofu'. The stall is usually found next to the side entrance to Eating World, right next to Red Charcoal BBQ's stall (also recommended).

When this stall gets busy, which is often, it becomes a symphony of well orchestrated chaos, it's really something to watch. The lovely boss lady takes your order and barks it out to the three cooks. For each different dish you get a separate numbered ticket. When each order is done the lovely big lunged boss lady yells out your ticket number. In Chinese.

If you don't speak Chinese just stand by the boss lady with your ticket number visible, she'll look after you. Or fellow customers in the crowd will help you out. One night a lovely, lovely Chinese-Australian lady interpreted the Chinese numbers for us, she even stayed with us after she collected her order just to make sure we were ok. What a nice lady!

This sense of having no idea of what's going on, standing confused in a crowd, then being rescued by a kind random stranger made us feel like were back in China on holiday again. Love it.

Watching the chefs is half the fun, it's all out in the open. Here we have a 'Chinese hot dog' under construction. Pancake-like batter is cooked on a single fry pan, then coated in hoisin and chili. Add a hot dog, a fried bread stick and some green shallots and you have the perfect breakfast or late night snack. Chinese dude food.

Squid on a stick under preparation. Half a squid tube is skewered and laid on a hot BBQ plate. Once it has cooked a little, the cook cuts small incisions down each side so the squid curls up on itself. It's then lacquered up with a sticky chilli sauce and ready to go.

Deep fried tofu in it's final stages of cooking. There's so many elements going into this dish, pickled chilli, a darker fermented chilli sauce, a sprinkle of something else, a squirt of more of this and a mean creamyish greenish garlic sauce squirted on the end.

Tofu knots being dished out to the masses.

Man we love tofu knots. They are in a chilli/Szechuan pepper sauce that gives a nice warm kick on a cold night.  $5 for a warming pot.

Thin clear flavour soaking noodles in a thin soupy sauce similar to the tofu knots above. $5. These have the flavour a waitress once called 'crazy tongue', that tingly sensation that Szechuan pepper can only give.

Quail eggs on a stick, we tasted five spice, googie and yum.

Deep fried tofu with chili and eleven secret herbs and sauces. Miss Chicken raved over this one. We had to wait some time after we ordered to get this one, it seems to be their most popular dish. They take some time and care to prepare it. Its worth the wait.

We were surprised that the squid on a stick tastes as good as it looks, grilled seafood rarely is, especially squid on a stick. When we eat squid on a stick we must sing to the tune of PJ Harvey's Sheila Na Gig. (Squid-on-stick, Squid-on-a-stick - You exhibitionist!). Or is that admitting too much?

Cut through of the Chinese hot dog. It was soggy by the time we ate it but still fantabulous. Note beers in background: you can eat your goodies in the little punter's pub above Eating World, or outside at the Covent Garden Hotel at the end of the street. Just make sure you spend some money there and take all your rubbish with you (ie don't spoil it for the next person).

The Chinatown Friday night markets are on, um, Friday nights in Chinatown, along the main strip on Dixon St. They start around 3 or 4 ish in the afternoon so you could beat the crowds if you got in a little earlier, and it does get really crowded, especially if John Farnham or Barnsie is doing another comeback show at the Entertainment Centre.


  1. I just came across your blog yesterday when trying to find a Menu for one of my fave eateries - El Amigo. Since then I ran down to the night market in Chinatown tonight to try ALL THE FOOD. Mmmmm it was just as good as it looked in your pics. Thanks for the articles x

  2. Thanks, El Amigo is such a gem, isn't it? The Night markets are really wonderful too, glad you enjoyed all that great food.

  3. OOh, the Deep Fried Tofu stand actually says stinky tofu in chinese! I think you guys just ate stinky (deep fried) tofu and fell in love with it =D

    1. Oh man this is nothing like the stinky tofu we had in China, that stuff was hardcore. The best comparison I can think of is natto.

    2. Oh gosh, natto (yuck for me)

      I haven't had stinky tofu in China, but the ones I've had in HK are quite mild and looks like a very similar texture to the ones you ate here.


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