24 December 2017

Gone but not forgotten 2017 - our annual round up of departed eating spaces

Was 2017 a better year to be in the food business than 2016, and who made it through? Our annual round up of places gone but not forgotten this year seems bigger than ever.

The changing nature of Sydney has always been fast, but 2017 seemed ultra accelerated. Sydney is under massive renovation, with large blocks in the central CBD torn down or waiting to go. This has meant massive closures of eating places or the impact of construction contributing to places choosing to shut up shop. The CBD is not the only area - strips in suburbia are undergoing enormous new developments, with large apartment blocks going up in main street Ashfield, Lakemba, Parramatta, Campsie and more.

So our list is by no means exhaustive, it was simply just too exhausting this year to keep up with everything that has gone. The next stage of course is what replaces these closed businesses? We see more and more homogenisation of food courts, chain stores in shopping districts (both local and overseas chains) and the reduction in the individual, small business owner mum and dad stores that mean fascinating and different food to try. It's the spread of an aesthetic that just makes everything look and feel the same that gets in our craw. We have also seen more older stores closing, community connections changing and the smaller places getting closed out by the demand for shiny and new. Sometimes folks just get old and the place starts falling apart (we hope the Olympia Milk Bar gets rescued or restored in some way) and they need to close.

Next year we feel a mission coming on, to visit these older, established places more and more, before they go too or get blitzed into something that could be anywhere. We want to see who's surviving, not just who is shiny and new.

So here's some of the places we've noticed closed over the year, add any others you know of in the comments below.

Sydney CBD
This year entire blocks of shops were demolished in the CBD, resulting in so many closed places. The block along Park St between Pitt and Castlereagh, including McDonalds, a kebab joint and the Old Windsor Hotel all have gone. The block of shops along Bathurst St between Pitt St and Castlereagh including Encasa Deli and Sushi Hotaru and the big pink chemist are gone, they have been resumed due to the new Metro project. Wynyard Station closed nearly every single store in its entry ways and underground passages leading to Hunter Connection, including La Vie, Little Vietnamese (which moved to Hunter Street), Hungry Jacks, McDonalds, the weird bar that used to be the Test Tube Bar, sushi stands and more.

Hard luck to location scouts who want to find a Sydney of the eighties, nineties or even noughties to film, it has all changed so much.

In the Pittsway Arcade at Town Hall Soup n Rolls is now Chloe’s Vietnamese and Vincent BBQ is now Hong Kong BBQ. Yummy Kitchen has closed and a new sushi shop is opening soon. Taste Baguette has gone outside Myer, Forbes Hotel has closed and Yummy Cuisine in Martin Place Plaza closed, apparently due to Metro work. Huang Tai Ji Jian Bing closed, we loved their half serve with a soy milk.

Along Liverpool St Mamma Maria's is now Pappa Rich and Kent Street Bistro was Belly Bao and is now Bao Taiwanese. Capitan Torres has gone (the Spanish Quarter has firmly ended). Dragon Boy has gone from World Square. Alice’s Makan in the HSBC Centre announced they were going to retire on 8 Dec but have now decided to stay open.

In Thainatown Plern Thai on Pitt St,  Mahanakhorn on Castlereagh St and the Thaitown Convenience Store near the Capitol Theatre have gone.

Construction around Chinatown and the new Darling Quarter which replaces the old Entertainment Centre has been going gangbusters. The impact of the building of the tramway along George St could be a factor in some of the closures, we haven't seen places in Chinatown as busy as they have been. Chinatown itself is in the verge of renewal with the sale of the building that housed Hingara Chinese Restaurant Live Crafts Centre Tea House which sold for close to $20M. The front facade of East Ocean Arcade is about to undergo a development, with the Norgen Vass ice cream shop already closed. We fear small operators are just going to continue to be priced out of the area.

Closures here:
Delima Indonesian
Dixon Cafe
Bamboo Village (now Xing Xing Sichuan)
Hong Kong Cafe (now Xian Grill)
T Noodle (Now Noodle Bay)
Yummy BBQ (now Singapore Raffles, complete with unused BBQ tables)
Obunmee Vietnamese (now Hari's Vegetarian)
Satang’s Thai Terrace (now Thai Terrace).
Cafe Sum
Spring River (now a mala tang place)
Twisted Noodle Bar (now Aussie Dumpling House)

We were deeply sad to see Minh Hai Famous Salted Chicken close on George street and sister store MH BBQ has also closed on Hay Street. They still have a stall in the Sussex Centre. Also sad was Podomoro, one of the only Indonesian places in the city, closed to become Noodle Pot.

On the outer edges, Hawker is now a Korean fried chicken place, Square Noodle is a T Plus Taiwanese, and the old time Haymarket Chinese Restaurant is undergoing change. My brothers took me there in the eighties for a cheap meal before concerts at the Entertainment Centre.

Chinatown Food Courts
Our hearts are closest to the food courts of Chinatown, and this year has seen quite a few closures.
Eating World
Hong Kong King's Chef Kitchen became Yunnan Style Cuisine which has also closed and is now a classic Cantonese joint called Yummy Cuisine.
Sydney Foodie Station and the short lived mala tang stand closed.

Dixon House
Zhou Mum, such a great Hunan style and homestyle Chinese, will be sorely missed by us.
Mum's Kitchen (now Penang Hawker)
Tomo's Washoku Japanese, we loved their chirashi bowls.
Face To Face, closed, opened then closed again.

Market City
With the closure of the entire third floor foodcourt there were a number of closed stores and a shiny new food court opened on Level 1.
We lost:
Thai Thai Thai
Ugly Bob Stylish Korean Food
Bo 7 Mon Thanh Tam (moved to the Mountbatten Hotel)
Eastern Experience
Hakata Maru (still open in Chatswood)
Top Choice Sizzling Hot Pot
and 100% Juice, Market City Food Court Bar, R&S Flavour of North India and even Leonardo's Sandwiches.

Other places next to the food court also closed like Takaru Poporo and Nandos, while some stalls on Level 1 also closed in the renovation include Asakaze, Pho TK, and Rotikon, and the fish shop and butcher.

Sussex Centre
Fung Shing Gourmet
Oden House has changed over to another Taiwanese style place.

Central Station
Dulcis Domus (now Fusion 16)
Harry's Cafe de Wheels (now Metro Pita)
Holy Shake under Broadway


As usual, Newtown continues to churn through restaurants. Some seem to be opened for around six months or less. Closures this year include:
Linda's on King (now Golden Lotus Vegan)
Newtown Social Club, to become Holey Moley golf bar.
Nordic B (now Deep Grooves)
Dinnings, then Sushi King (now closed)
Newtown Thai 2 (now Baan Kanom Thai Chanok, Thai sweets)
Superfood Sushi (now Venezuelan arepas)
Chargrill Charlie's (now Ballero)
Honey and Bear Dessert Bar (now Stochastic Cafe)
Planet Italy, then Barbi House (now closed)
N2 Extreme Gelato (now Belly Bao)
Half of Asakusa (now Four Seasons)
Kingston Public (now Jamaica House)
Crispy Inn (up for sale)
GRK (now Jimmy Grants)
Coriander Garnish, then Mexicali Cafe (now King Buffet)
Da Munchies
Dear Cafe (now Hong Pho)
Crumble Top
Jacks Burgers (now Loaded by B L)
Strings (now Table 9)

Also, hang in there Goulds Book shop.

The change continues along Enmore Road. Most of these closed places had been opened for barely a year or so:
Azzuri Pizza Enmore (now Taste of Turkey)
The Mussel House (now Chinese Dumpling Master)
Saigon Now, then The Mexican (now Ha Long)
Fish 2 Dish (now Charcoal Chicken)
Bauhaus W
Sadhana Kitchen
Zheng Hao Chinese
Bake Kobo (now Azuki)
Su&Mo Japanese (just opening as Vietnamese place The Alley Duong Hem)
Collective Roasting Solutions

We weep for the closure of New Addison Chinese Takeaway. It sustained us when we lived close by many years ago.

Chills n Grills (now Sek Fun BBQ Noodle House)
Waterloo Hot Bread (whole block has gone)

The cheap hamburger joint has become a felafel bar
Sweeties (now Malaysian / Chinese cafe, good laksa)
Buon Gusto is up for auction


Bombay Street Kitchen
Thai Space (now Ramen Bar Goku)
Almustafa Lebanese
Doughnut Time
Hopper Kade at Tramsheds, news on a new location for 2018 coming soon.
Alfie & Hetty
Sushi Garden
Mr Falcons
Nags Head pub had a makeover, opening up the whole back area and improving the upstairs.

The Vic on the Park sold to Merivale, wait and see what happens there.
Two small time fruit shops along Illawarra Rd near Warren Rd have closed, more small business unable to compete.

Ocean Blu (now Chefs BBQ Korean)
Palace Trader, the business inside the renovated skate rink now a cafe.

Thai Buri
Oriental Royal Kitchen

Hijazi's Felafel, this one is a really sad closure. Oh those cauliflower rolls.

Pinang Bistro
Curry House


Fuska House, we loved the liver here.
Happiness Time

North Sydney
To's Malaysian Gourmet

And overseas...
Hong Kong
We heard about this long time restaurant but too late to visit: Sammy's Kitchen

New Caledonia
Mr Boeuf
L'Astrolabe (and Jaguar the pussycat)

Finally, our furry friends
This year we lost some very fine four footed friends. Indy was a lovely boy who loved a great bushwalk and a grand adventure just like his namesake.

Dave the pussycat had a good innings, he was truly a loved cat. Watching the Bulldogs with wine and pizza just isn't the same now.

Flynt, well Flynt was more like a furry nephew than just a golden retriever. If they ever allow dogs to be recognised as family members he would be legalised in an instant. May you be getting all the constant pats, toast ends and attention you deserve Flynty boy. I'll miss our cuddles on the lounge.

Finally, finally, people we're sad to see leave
Grant Hart (Husker Du) was a sad loss, memorably announced to us via the noticeboard on the front of The Mosh Pit (thanks guys, we appreciated that). Holger Czukay from Can was another sad loss, we've had a Can fascination for some time that keeps growing.

Lastly, this whole post is dedicated to one of my best mates, Kathleen, who never got a chance to tell all the stories she wanted to share. If there's been any better motivation to get out and do what you love 'cause life is short, then thanks for that inspiration. I'm sorry we never made it to Kebab Al Hojet together.

See you all in 2018.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, just thought i'd share this about a non-closure and as tip yall to maybe check out...

    I moved to Ashfield in mid-2017 and soon got to trying all the amazing Chinese places (not to mention old fave Ashfield Cafe). A tip from a friend of a friend pointed me to Sky Mountain - the last restaurant on the busy strip away from Parramatta Road. It wins! Seriously, all the things yall love and i do too. Unglamourous decor, an aunt cooking out back with a friendly niece taking orders and payment, unrestrained chilli hits where needed, intestines, fish heads, deep-fried cumin dusted lamb ribs, veges done many interesting ways and well, dishes you don't really find elsewhere. I could go on, but i'm not a food writer and my vocab on these things is short. (One note: the dumplings here are good but i would say there are better dumplings elsewhere in Ashfield, such as at New Shanghai Night.)

    Anyway, in the last week of 2017 i thought i had lost this place forever. They occasionally close a bit early and sometimes have been closed for a whole day but there has always been a friendly note. But this week there was nothing, just the haunted, ghostly feel of a place that had once been lively now empty for no apparent reason. I quickly tapped it into google and the dreaded words in red 'PERMANENTLY CLOSED' appeared.

    I got angry. I felt like walking the short 100m back up the road to where the line of people waiting to get into New Shanghai clogged the footpath as usual and berating everyone for not being adventurous enough to risk trying any of the numerous smaller places in the vicinity and instead just queuing at the shiniest one. But i didn't and there seemed no point. I would just have to live with the memories.

    The upshot is Sky Mountain in fact had not closed down, they were taking a well-deserved break back to China, and no-one knows why Google was playing tricks on us. But despite a solid core of regulars they are struggling comparatively and admit as such. And it's sad when you see the crowds just a little up the road (not that i have anything against those places). So i resolved to at least tell the one food blog i read about it (as well as invite a bunch of my fam to spend their money there - which is happening tomorrow). There's a balance between keeping a local secret and seeing that local secret be such a secret that it can't survive...

    ps- i'm writing this on work time so if it seems excessive, it's mostly to kill my own boredom on a dull Saturday arvo.


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).