30 December 2020

Gone but not forgotten 2020 - our annual round up of farewells in the year

This year we've been dreading writing this list of places closed over 2020. While it feels like the last thing you want to read, we feel it is important to reflect and remember on what has passed over the food retail rainbow. 

We've hardly been into the CBD or outside our own bubble this year, like a large majority of folks in Sydney. When we did get out, there were walks around the eerie, quite Opera House and Botanical Gardens, down the calmness of George Street and the stillness around the Convention Centre. King Street and Enmore Road, our main local drags, got awfully quiet at times. On the flipside, the park at St Peters and the walk along the Cooks River got crowded when people realised there were green spaces to enjoy rather than staying shut inside, you couldn't avoid the gangs of families on shiny new bikes.

Chinatown bore the early brunt of the pandemic, a victim of a pile on including the origins of the virus in China, racist attitudes, the cancelling of student visas, the lockdowns, greater competition from nearby developments and a decrease in CBD workers as they worked from home.

Dixon House, soon to be demolished

Food Court life in Chinatown is in danger of becoming extinct. In what brought genuine tears to us, Dixon House Food Court has rolled down the shutters with a DA proposed for demolition of the existing building and the construction of a multi story student accommodation centre, Won Ton Noodle House and Phnom Penh Teo Chew Noodle House were the last stalls standing. We hope the neon sign at the entrance gets gifted to the Powerhouse Museum and saved for posterity. Sizzling Hot Pot moved out to Thomas St earlier but has now closed. Eating World has been redeveloped, more than halving the original size and the number of stalls and leaving a dark and uninviting space. GumsharaPondok SeleraAt Thai, Taste of Home, Confectionary Corner are left. At the rear Red Chilli Sichuan is now Long Time Hunan Cuisine. Sussex Centre has fared a lot better, but sadly Wide Alley is closed. In Market City, Kaedama Ramen Bar and  Lao Dong Taiwanese Beef Noodles closed and the stalls are yet to change over.

Along Dixon Street Superbowl seemed to be an early casualty but returned with great happiness. The mall desperately needs a sympathetic refresh, with outdoor dining in favour this could really hum if done well. Three Lanes Seven Alleys has closed. In the north of Dixon St Charcoal Fish and Kura 3 are closed, Da Long Yi Hot Pot is Gotcha Tea and Kara Food Fried Skewer is Song Tea. Mao Pai Dishes of Hotpot moved across the lane. Old Town Hong Kong closed but appears to be trading as an online takeaway called One Dim Sim.

Closures elsewhere in Chinatown - Mamy Snack on Harbour St; Dodo Souffle on Sussex St, Yummy Pepper House, Haodilao Malatang, L'Oven Bakery on Thomas St; Gao Kitchen and Oregano Express on Bijou Lane; Thai Terrace reopened as Thai Sing, Hari's Vegetarian, Spicy Memory on Quay St; Spicy Company Zen on Ultimo Road. In the still shiny new Darling Square Wafu (where we had some of the most carelessly made and uninspiring Japanese pasta ever), 8-Bit Burgers, Rice Fields and Rey’s Junior are already gone.

BBQ King closed after many years of trading. It had moved from Goulburn St to Liverpool St in recent years. Also on Goulburn Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea and Jinang is now Zhong Yi Claypot. On Liverpool St Chongqing Street Noodle, Bambini Espresso closed, Kao Kao moved to Darling Square and the Sir John Young Hotel is under renovation. Crown Hotel on Elizabeth St seems to be under renovation. 

Renovations inside the Sir John Young Hotel

On George Street the light rail is now running and it is a breeze to get up the street but there are still closures. The Coffee School, Teddy Tea Brew, Lantern by Wagaya, Chinese Noodle Bar, Dunhuang Lou Restaurant, Palete Drinks, Make Your Mouth Water, Amazing Fry, Hanshin Pocha, Beef Life Hot Pot, Fusion Asian Cuisine closed, Do Dee at Scruffy Murphys became Air Abb and Lord of the Fries is now North Indian Flavour.

Around Central Station, The Asian School Cafe, V8 Rolls over on the eastern side, Little Caesar pizza closed. Many people mourned Ding Dong Dang Karaoke nightclub. On Broadway Little Taste Restaurant was Mr Noodle and now closed, Saigon Delight is no more, Mad Mex is gone and Pho Mumum is now Sesame Street. In Central Park La La Malaysian closed in the food court.

Further up towards Wynyard Hero Sushi on King St and York closed. In the Hunter Connection Bangkok Wok, Yu Yee Fast Food, Sodam Kitchen and Manna Healthy Way have closed.

Now down Parramatta Road...

On Broadway, the neon lights are no longer bright for Chuan Town, Broadway Convenience Store, Upside Cafe is now Inspiration Coffee, AK Hong Kong Kitchen (still at Wolli Creek), Storm Village, THK Chinese, Into Noodle, Master Chicken, Three Lanes Seven Alleys is now Little Sichuan Canton. 

In the Glebe, Bombay Street Kitchen is a cafe, Clipper Cafe is temporarily closed, Shenkin is now Sultans Restaurant and gone are Well Connected Cafe, Ahgora, Subway, Bhoomi, Cafe 171, Bollywood Hut. 

Heading up towards Newtown now via Camperdown where The Corner McCafe next to RPA has closed. Hopefully something suitable for a hospital precinct opens there.

The Corner McCafe at RPA is no more

And it's on to King Street in Newtown, starting off with the sad closure of Rowda Ya Habibi after 40 years. Green Gourmet has been closed after a fire with their St Leonards store still open. Azzuri Cafe at Uni of Sydney closed. Asakusa Japanese became Taste of China and is now closed. Xie Bay is now Longs Flavour. 

Now closed: Tandem Bar, Sandwich and Co, Burger Doctor, Gelatissimo, La Roche Lebanese, 2t Bar and Dinning, Winsome Cafe, Deep Groove Bar now Beirut Bite, D Right Cafe, French Tacos, Sir Braxton Chocolate Bar and Broaster Chicken tried to take on Clem's and lost. Goodbye to T2, Newtown Pies, Rose Sunrise Bakery, Boonchu, The House Dining, Lou Jacks, Fresh Fusion Hub and Hearth and Soul. Blossoming Lotus moved to Vegan mile where Indian Butter Chicken House was,  Japone Sushi is now Neko Neko and Hot Box is now Hot Dogs.

Farewell from Lou Jack's Cafe

Enmore Road has kicked it's once shabby heels up and turned into quite a busy strip over the last few years. The large Caltex site has closed, most likely a new development in the new year, the land is too valuable to stay empty. Similarly the old Simplicity Funerals site. Defiance Gallery shifted to Paddington and the closure of Creative Bikinis makes us wonder where we will get them from now?

King Curries is now Enmore Steakhouse, New India Times is Xin Chao Vietnamese. Chinese Dumpling Master closed their shop next to Azuki and opened a new store in Banks Thai site. Cafes Scrambled, The Vintage Cafe and Lidz closed, packing up it hats. Khave and Friends is now Pasha's Kitchen. Colourful Bun became Tonia's Kitchen and is now opened as a Turkish grill. We tried to order direct from Tonia's for a pick up of pierogi and found they had no phone number listed, it was delivery by paid sites only. Could it have meant more business for them, who knows. Nozomi Japanese didn't last very long.

Pubs and bars had an up and down ride. The Duke closed for many months, opening back up in October under new management. The Hideaway Bar closed and just reopened as Hiway. The Sly Fox closed, was thoroughly revamped and is back to being the Enmore Hotel.

The Cat Protection Society op shop closed, the last op shop on Enmore Road. John Kennedy released Peter Says (The Cat Protection Society Song) in 2018 with the lyrics "Peter says, that Enmore Road, ain't what it used to be." How true.

In the inner west in Marrickville Jun Teng Ge Chinese, Marrickville Hotel, Take Cafe are closed, Mekong is now Marrickville Kebab, the Paris Bakery became Butter and Soul then closed. Oven Bake, Reuben Empire and Banana Joe's is now a Woolworths. Dulwich Hill lost one of its old time fruit shops in Country Fresh Fruit & Veg's Shop. In Burwood a branch of Biang Biang closed. In Canterbury, Bon Japanese closed about a week after we ate there. Dancers Cabaret at the Illinois Five Dock Hotel closed, wherever will we go for our light entertainment?

Over the southern side in Redfern the Lord Raglan poured a last craft beer and the wonderful Thai Thai closed. In Mascot Wallaby Thai and the cafe next door have closed when the building was deemed unsafe.

In the mystical east, in Surry Hills we lost the fine Burman Kitchen, Essenza Italian, Bargain Bazaar, Nourishing Quarter and Marshallah Pakistani. In Darlo it was the Beacham Hotel, Coco Cubano in Taylor Square, the long running Cafe Belgenny, Bellocio, the wonderful Malaysian Jilat Jilat, and Everything Malaysian became Bengal Tandoori and is now closed. In Paddington the Imperial Hotel seems to be shut up, in Bondi Junction Filipino joints Pinoy to atb moved across the road and Takkam Cafe closed. 

Should have bought one of these t-shirts while we could

In the north in Chatswood Tawadang and Momoya Taiwanese closed, we've not been on the northside for quite a while so there are surely more.

Overseas in New York, this article featured over 200 businesses closed due to the pandemic and this one in L.A lists 35 notable ones. Pok Pok in Portland closed as well.

In regard to the impact of humans, here are way too many people on this list this year.

Tim Brooke-Taylor was a crusher for us. The Goodies shaped so much of our sense of humour. Terry Jones from Monty Python as well. It was a bad year for Seinfeld - Richard Herd (Mr. Wilhelm), Reni Santoni (Poppie) and of course Jerry Stiller (Frank Costanza). Also Fred Willard (Best in Show), David Lander (Squiggy), Barbara Windsor (Carry On) and Jeanne Little. Ken Spears, the co creator of Scooby Doo, also died.

Country, blues and Americana was hit hard this year: John Prine (so glad we saw him in 2019), Justin Townes Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker, Johnny Nash, Charlie Daniels, Charley Pride, Kenny Rogers (who will run the Roasters?). Other musicians and singers we lost include Dave Greenfield (The Stranglers), Little Richard, Richard Lane (The Stems), Helen Reddy, Eddie Van Halen, Spencer Davis, Bones Hillman (Midnight Oil), Juliette Greco, Margarita Pracatan,  Phil May (Pretty Things), Toots Hibbert.

Keyboardist Richard Lane, on far right.

Actors Linda Manz, Diana Rigg, Hana Kimura (Terrace House), Dave Prowse (Darth Vader), the saviour of much of heritage Sydney Jack Mundy, designer Kenzo Takada and beat poet Michael McLure.

If we've missed anything or anyone, let us know in the comments below and a big thank you to everyone who fed us and read us in 2020.

Have a safe holiday period, see you in 2021!


  1. So sad about Dixon Food Court. I went there overtime I journeyed to Sydney and became a weekly regular when I moved to Sydney 25 years ago. Won Ton Noodle House and Phnom Penh Teo Chew were my go to places for noodle sups and the Aunties put my regular order in upon approach. My last visit was when COVID restrictions were eased last year but hardly anyone was there - a sad event. I hope they open up elsewhere.

    1. Same same. Hopefully somebody who knows the super ladies from Won Ton Noodle House and Phnom Penh Teo Chew will give us an update on their wellbeing, they are a much loved part part of Sydney's culinary history. One of Mrs Wonton's kids left a message here once, hopefully we will hear she has her feet up and taking it easy. They made some hardcore Cantonese dishes that we discovered twenty years too late...

    2. Phnom Penh stall used to sell good value laksa and fried rice noodle. It will be sorely missed. I also will miss the Lao Dong Taiwanese Beef Noodle in Market City, not only for their good beef noodle soup but also for their pork lardy rice. Covid 19 really is terrible for Syd food industry.

  2. This was an insanely heavy post (so sad I didn't go to Wide Alley before it closed)!! Grape Garden in Chatswood Lemon Grove has also closed :(

    1. Yeah I notice Grape Garden Chatswood was also closed down. So sad, they used to make best northern Chinese noodle dishes in Sydney. I think they lost to competition with recent opening of Chinatown Noodle Restaurant branch nearby.

    2. Oh no, not Grape Garden! Loved that place.

    3. Kicking myself for not revisiting Grape Garden...

  3. This is great and terribly sad work.

  4. Manna Healthy Way still there and smiling and sold out at 1.25pm on a Monday. :)

    1. This demands a revisit - thanks heaps for the tip!

  5. Sizzling Hot Pot has now relocated to Newtown under "Best Gourmet Restaurant", same owners, and same amazing cheap sizzling dishes!

  6. Good news! Wallaby Thai has not closed. It’s behind the scaffolding. Access is on church ave. The IGA next door is also opened. I hope they are still getting good business.

  7. Great news Wallaby Thai Mascot is still around behind the scaffolding. I hope they are still getting the business. Very sad what has happened to the residents and shop owners at that tower.


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).