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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.