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10 April, 2013

My Top 10 Places to Eat in Sydney (Inner City)

Something occurred to me today.
As big as I am on food, I've never really imparted information that conveys as such on this blog.

I was putting together some recommendations for some colleagues today and thought I should probably chuck this here as well. Most of this list is quite affordable and it works even better when you go as a large group (minus Almond Bar).

Bon appetit!

Enjoying a brekkie bloody mary

Darley Street Bistro
King St, Newtown (near St Peters Station)
Contemporary Australian with a broad range of food to sample within most price ranges. Predominantly pub fare and contemporary Australian, my favourite with the lamb with mash and haloumi. Consistently good, and is so good at what they do that a chain of them has started.

Haymarket, in Dixon Court
A little gem nestled within Dixon Court, the service station doesn’t look like much. This is the best ramen noodle you can find in Sydney. They use bone marrow for the broth authentic-Japanese style and you really need to prepare yourself if you’re going to heat the whole soup. My favourite is the pork tonkatsu with a chilli bomb.

One of my Sydney favourites in action

Excellent place for group-bookings (book well in advance), if you don’t mind eating a bit later they’ll stick you in a private room without extra charge. This is a touch-screen menu ordering system, and I’m not joking when I say that the food comes instantaneously for most dishes. Not traditional Japanese fare (avoid the pizzas) but for sheer variety alone this is a fantastic place.

Chilli Cha Cha
Move on to the next item in the list if you don’t like spicy food. This is authentic Thai (unlike King St, Newtown). Most dishes will obliterate your taste buds if you’re not prepared. If you do like spicy food - this is one of the best in Sydney. I personally really enjoy the larb moo, but it’s hard to order something that’s not great. There is a chilli scale on the menu, which should be adequate for most foodies (they do spicier on request though).

Yok Yor Thai Food Factory
CBD/Surry Hills
Authentic Thai fare without the spiciness of the above. Really great variety of food (I like the fermented fish) and is BYO and open late. This is often a place I go to after a night on the drink and encourage you to do the same. Also has Thai banana desserts which you won’t find much elsewhere.

Liverpool St, Darlinghurst
Really enjoyable Middle Eastern fare that’s mid-price range. I like to go as a couple and grab a mixed platter that’s very reasonably priced for what you get. Strong range of options and the tabouleh is very fresh. My favourite tip? Skip dessert and head around the corner for gelato at the heaving Messina Darlinghust.

Holy Basil
CBD, inside the Shark Hotel
This is not a restaurant that you’ll find just by stumbling in (the Shark Hotel is a dive). But nestled at the back of this hotel is a restaurant with Laotian cuisine. I’ve never been to Laos, but my friends vouch for it’s authenticity and I find it similar to Thai. You can’t go past the Quail and flattened pork for entrees and every main is a winner. They will ask how spicy you want the dishes (you’ve got to push them for it if you want really spicy) and they are very attentive at refilling your glass of water (you’ll need it for the spicier dishes).

Sea Bay Restaurant
Just near the Civic Hotel is a restaurant that’s great for groups and excellent Chinese cuisine. The place is BYO, affordable, and has just enough variety to warrant returning. We regularly order the pancakes, dumplings (pork and pumpkin), and some greens. The pièce de résistance however is the pepper pork. So deliciously evil that you’ll have your crew fighting over the last piece (and ordering another dish).

This is probably as close as you’re going to get to affordable tapas in Sydney. Bookings are essential as it’s usually pretty busy. Chorizo is a mandatory order, and I really can’t go past the woodfired blue cheese pizza - so good. Caters for larger groups when warned in advance, staff are pretty friendly, and if you feel like making a night of it I recommend getting the extra special Sangria.

O Bal Tan
A place that always seems to be busy, yet always finds room for our group without a booking. Three-levels of Korean BBQ goodness. Safest bets are to get one of the combination platters and wash it down with a Hite. As a larger group we like to extend the experience with a beer tower. Great drunken noshing. I love this place after Friday night drinks.

07 April, 2013

Something's in the Air

I've just got back from a huge week in Las Vegas. Much was learned, much was lost, and I was constantly told not to use the city as a barometer for the rest of the country. Thank goodness - because it was the first time in a long time that I felt overwhelmed in a foreign country.

I still managed to look good., you'll be pleased to know

Prior to departing I read and re-read a blog entry from my friend and mentor, Marie. The entry was called 'For those of you out there and it can be read here. It's a great tale about Marie and how she has succeeded on breaking out of the grind and striking out on her own to do things on her own terms.

I really enjoyed the piece and it set some thoughts in motion regarding my own projects.

With that in mind I did some more reading and came across another piece that I had bookmarked but never got around to absorbing. Chris Guillebeau's A Brief Guide to World Domination - what a piece of work. With the ever-growing proliferation of information available to us, it's even more relevant to us today than it was when it was written.

Chris presides over the notion of non-conformity, and it really resonated with me and my desire to go out and do some epic shit.

A snippet from my expanding list of notes on my 'Virus Project' - a huge idea I want realised one day

The bread-crumb trail continued. I've been reading a lot about notification addiction lately and after being inspired by these two pieces of writing I literally searched for: how to increase your focus. The first result came and I discovered a short article on exactly what I wanted.

The article (and the subsequent book I purchased) are written by Leo Babauta and it was a perfect next-step for me to get a move on. I'm guilty of having too many balls in the air and the book does a great job of stripping down what I need to do in bite-size chunks to increase my efficiency. It's amazing how distracting the Internet, your phone, and others can be.

So I feel like something's in the air.

At the start of the year I listed some things I want to achieve and a quarter in, some are looking easier to achieve than others. Fortunately, I'm beginning to see what tasks I want to prioritise and can morph into something I can be proud of.

In the interim, I'm going to keep focusing, chipping away, and getting in shape.

I've got this.