17 December 2013

Gone but not forgotten 2013 - our annual ode to closed food treasures

There's a pile of letters and the tell tale sign of unswept leaves and dirt at the front door. The glasses are still on the table but there'll be service here no more. Our annual ode to food treasures lost to us in 2013.

You know that sinking feeling. Your favourite place has shut up shop. If only you went back there that one last time, you could have had one last meal. What will take it's place? Closures are sad and we will miss these places, but we take heart that something great might open in it's place.

Sushi Nagashima has to be the greatest sadness of the year. We had only just discovered the fantastic and most varied chirashi in the city and he closes down. A classic lesson learnt in not taking these places for granted, it had been open since 2008 and we left it too late. You can still get Sushi Nagashima food if you decide to use him for catering. There is another Japanese stall in it's place in Hunter Connection.

Cafe Joy was a wonderful Indonesian cafe in a sea of Chinese and Japanese. Replaced by a Japanese restaurant. They did a great bakso and a mean nasi tim.

Dixon House continues it's run of closures, with quite a few empty spots still to be filled. Xian Kitchen closed in August 2013. One night we wandered down to Dixon House to get some of their fine noodles and there they were, packing up and sweeping out the stall. Heading back to China after the expiry of their lease. Tears shed by us.

With the closure of the Kimchi and Sushi House, Hungry Bob's K Food took it's place and only lasted a few months. Korean food can't seem to get a good go in Dixon House.

Fat Bird Express opened and it seems Hainanese Chicken Rice couldn't sustain this stall alone. A real shame, they made good bird. Mekong Eating House is the new stall here.

Wing Shing offered some BBQ duck and pork options but again couldn't make the cut.

Anna's Kitchen was another blow to our favourites list. The Dongbei style of cooking was generous, spicy and addictive. The stall owner always had a smile and we miss her cheery cry to try her lamb skewers.

Sussex Centre wasn't immune to some closures. We loved the croquettes at Kitchen OEC and their pork or chicken tonkatsu was a winner. Now a sushi joint called Aijisai.

Taiwan Dumpling King was replaced by Ramen Ikkyu. Lost to the Sussex Centre were railway boxes and special braised pork and noodles.

In Eating World, the only change seemed to be the Smoyo Yoghurt Bar shutting up shop.

Taiwan Yes, now Penang Kitchen, was another Taiwanese place that closed in 2013. They did a good job of taking over from Ten Ren Tea but the upstairs spot is a hard one to get punters up to.

I Heart Taiwan also closed, to be replaced by the just as good if not better Taiwan Ganbei.

Ton Ton Ramen (now Tenkomori) went when they refurbished the space in the Regent block. A good ramen joint that we haven't seen Tenkomori replicate. Ajisin Ramen (Hay St branch) also closed.

Shibuya Delicious (now Tapas Joint) just couldn't survive for long selling $3.50 bottles of Asahi.

Pinangsia Noodle House Chinatown closed and has been swallowed up by the ever expanding Chinese Noodle Restaurant. The Kingsford store has reopened so their fine bakmi ayam can still be sampled.

Shalom (Broadway branch) closed, with nothing yet to take it's place. It still has other branches around the city.

ATL Marantha (Ultimo and Kensington), famous for it's soft bone chicken, closed both of it's stores, apparently after the owner broke his leg. A shame and another Indonesian joint lost in Chinatown.

Fujian Gourmet in Little Hay St closed, a sadness for us. We enjoyed the dayglo orange decor as much as the food.

Thai Time Express in the Broadway food court has still not reopened after the fire that saw this little food court closed for some time.

Mamak Village Glebe closed (still have Malay Village and Mamak Village in Met Centre). Glebe Point Road also lost The German Bakery, Nest Burgers and Salad and Saigon Saigon. Guerilla Bar became Archie and Betty's, Roll Cafe (Vietnamese rolls) became a regular cafe, and Roxanne's is now The Little Cobbler. Cafe Otto has closed again, apparently after another fire.

Tasty House Chinese Ashfield was one of our favourite spots, it appeared to be closing down last time we were there. There's been some significant change along the Liverpool Street strip, this place is probably a victim of increased renovation and pressure for shiny new looking places that loose all their soul and character.

Gozde Cafe Auburn appears to have change hands and while still a turkish style kebab place, we haven't tried the new variation yet.

The Recipe (which was Jimmy's Recipe) underneath World Square facing Goulburn Street has also gone, replaced by Abba Ai, a Thai food place.

Laksa at the Golden Barley is no more, replaced by an expensive bistro. The Barley has also lost some of it's family crowd to the excellently redone Henson Park Hotel. Summalee Thai also closed at the Bank Hotel in Newtown.

A place that divided opinion was the now closed El Cuervo Cantina in Enmore. We think they were trying to do something better than just sour cream and cheese topped corn chips, others thought the service was terrible. Along Enmore Rd we saw Hot Relish Cafe close,Vian Vietnamese on Enmore Road replaced Tang Flaming and closed down quickly, (we tried it once and it was fine, real friendly folks) and Thai Ingredient has become the lauded Russo and Russo. We were sad to see Notes go, it was a great music venue. Ocean Vietnamese on Stanmore Rd closed it's doors as well. The famed Art Deco style hot pink and purple Marie Louise Salon has sold, bought by the Porteno team so watch that space.

Even overseas we faced closures of beloved places. It's not often you get to travel back to a city you love and return to a favourite eating spot. On our trip back to Tokyo we couldn't wait to hit up the noodle man at Shinjuku station. Alas, he was gone, packed up and replaced by a shiny new store. Very sad travellers. Next time we go Tsukiji Fish markets will be gone as well.

Some we didn't even get a chance to try. In Chinatown Nonya has been replaced by the New Hong Kong Cafe and Dixon Restaurant has closed for a major building redevelopment. North Dixon Street also saw some change with Miga Korean and closing and Deep Fried Stall becoming Bejing Style. On George St Daily Bento is now Satang Tuck Shop, an offshoot of the popular Quay St eateries. Burma Star (which replaces a Taiwanese place) in the Pittsway Arcade has closed before we got around to it. Tin Hong Chinese Cafe on Oxford St in Darlinghurst closed, a real old time place lost now. The Spanish Club on Liverpool Street is being renovated, what next for the lacklustre 'Spanish Quarter'?

There was lots of movement in Newtown: Arzy Bar offered Lebanese pizzas but just didn't seem to find the right groove (nothing in it's place as yet), Hiyat Lebanese closed and was replaced by Taste Chicken which has also closed awaiting reopening. Peasant's Feast closed and is looking for a buyer. SSAM Korean has been renamed Gokee. Guzzle Tandoori closed again, after a brief stint as Khan Baba. The Wine Plate (now Nothing to See Here), Madame Fling Flong (now Iberico) and Jester Seeds (now Viu Vu Say) small bars bit the dust. The Sandringham Hotel reopened as the Newtown Social Club and still doesn't have bands.

We are wishing with all our heart some more yoghurt places might make this list next year, we've heard Yogurberry in Newtown has closed it's doors. Zwirl has advertised itself as a business for sale. Praus and Smoyo in Chinatown have also gone.

Pie Face also closed in Newtown, another chain that seems to have expanded and contracted quickly. Is it franchise creators who make all the money while the franchisees lose it?

We make this list each year to remind us to get back out and try the places we love. If you have a favourite place, make sure you get back there and support it. You'll be sad the day it closes. Bring on 2014!


  1. Almost brings a tear to the eye, the reminder of some of these closures. My saddest closure was Lisa Kitchen, in Carlingford Village food court. Great value and something for everyone in the family, perfect for a lazy Sunday dinner. And being in the burbs, there is nothing quite as good or cheap to replace it, unlike in the city where we have so much choice.

    Happy Christmas and look forward to reading your blog in 2014.


    1. Is there an Asian food court in Carlingford? I must try it, seems there's quite a few Chinatown style food courts hidden in the 'burbs.

  2. Wow, so many places! Do you think Otto in Glebe are just setting themselves on fire when things don't go well. Sad about Mamak Village...

  3. Wow, what a complete list - a poignant reminder about rising rents in the inner city, and the shitty deal that those food court tenants get. One wonders what level of success would be required to sustain themsleves? Some of the ones you have listed were pretty busy, but maybe they were poorly run? Who knows, it's sad nontheless.
    By the by, I saw a shop front of a thai restaurant on Glebe point road that suggested that they had the Summallee Thai chef working there (owner?). I forget the name of the restaurant though.

  4. Saddest restaurant obituary list ever! I almost shed a tear :/

  5. seeing all the restaurant closures makes me so sad. especially fujian gourmet which wasn't even around for long :(. guess you gotta expect the unexpected.

  6. You guys really know Sydney's eats better than anyone else! So many sweet cheap eat memories - sad to see them go.

    I feel like this post needs a sad song to accompany it, a la In Memorium at the Oscars. Elliot Smith's 'A Fond Farewell'? Semisonic's 'Closing Time'? A minor key cover of 'Turning Japanese'?

    1. Maybe next year we'll do it like the Oscars with a little film! Then we can have some sad song as well in the background, great idea.

  7. Hey, do you know the address of the new pinangsia noodle house in kingsford? Because their old venue is now a shihlin (taiwanese snack) kiosk. Thanks :)

    1. Not sure, will have to investigate. We are keen to get back there.

    2. It's called 'Pinang Bistro' now. Just opposite of Ayam Goreng 99 if I am not mistaken. I don't think it's as good as when it still retained its old name tho...

  8. I love this article. Nostalgia tolook at the recent history of sydney food places. One of my favourite Syfney food blog articles ever.


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).