The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Casual Sydney eats: Curry Tiger, Asian Bakeries, Bánh mì & Kebab

Taking a break from writing about our restaurant eats during our trip to Australia, here are some of the food we ate on the go, on the streets and at a food court/cafe.

Curry tiger @ Harry's Cafe de Wheels, Haymarket

I first read about the place and the pie on Perth blogger's site, thefoodpornographer, and was surprised that I haven't yet encountered this Harry's Cafe de Wheels shop in the familiar territory of the Haymarket area in Sydney. However as we approached this little streetside eatery late one morning during our Sydney trip, I realised we had indeed walked by this pie shop many times on previous Sydney trips, but never had any reason to take notice of it. Until now, that is. Although meat pie is a very popular and even iconic Australian food, the concept of a savoury pastry pie is still foreign to the Japanese (and Americans, who make up the majority of the expat population in Japan), so we haven't had much opportunities to eat meat pies in the past 4 years. I wouldn't say I'm a pie person, but reading about it on TFP a few months ago during Tokyo's coldest spring in 41 years conjured up a craving for a hearty hot meat pie. As it turned out, our trip to Sydney was to be during its winter season, so a hot meat pie would be very welcomed.

We shared one Curry Tiger Pie between us because as there were many other food we still wanted to eat elsewhere. It is a bit of a sight to behold, with the pie sitting underneath a pile of mashed potatoes and mushy peas, complete with a pool of dark gravy. I wish I could have taken a shot of the pie centre, but it got pretty messy once we dug into the pie. I remember the meat filling to be peppery but that it did not taste much like curry. I liked the chunky pieces of beef, which is a nice change from the minced beef with gristly bits that is usual in meat pies. The curry tiger was tasty and very filling.

Asian Bakeries, Haymarket

There are a number of popular Chinese bakeries along the main street of Sydney's Chinatown (Dixon Street) selling delicious cakes, pastries and bread, but I like going to the bakery facing Sussex Street in the East Ocean Arcade, a little shopping alley that connects Dixon and Sussex. I don't even know what the bakery is called, but I do know that the baked goods are pretty good and a little cheaper than the bakeries on Dixon Street which can be a bit of a tourist trap. This little bakery is very popular with a pretty high turnover, so there's always something fresh from the oven. On this occasion, we got a couple of new seasonal items, a Chestnut-flavoured Crepe, and a Glutinous Rice Ball with Black Sesame.

We came across another Asian bakery on Sussex Street in Haymarket, called Barby's Bakery. This one looked more commercialised and had better presentation than the unnamed bakery in East Ocean Arcade, so it was not surprising to find that the baked goods were considerably more expensive. We got a Durian Tiger Roll and a pack of Mini Pandan Chiffon Cakes, which were quite tasty but the flavours were very subtle. It was hard to detect the durian and pandan flavours. Nevertheless, it made a lovely accompaniment to our afternoon coffee at Starbucks.

Bánh Mì @ Phuong inside Eating World Food Court at the top end of Dixon Street

Almost a decade ago, my eldest sister used to live in Haymarket when she first moved to Sydney (hence my familiarity with the Haymarket area). The first time we visited her, she introduced us to this delicious Vietnamese Sandwich from Phuong Special Vietnamese, a tiny shop hidden inside a food court at the upper end of Dixon Street in Chinatown. It was really cheap - around AU$2 at the time - and made for a filling snack for a couple of uni students on holiday (wow, that feels like half a lifetime ago!). Although we've been back to Sydney a few times since then, we had actually forgotten about that bánh mì until we started thinking about what we wanted to eat during our stay in Sydney. We went searching for this food court, wondering if that banh mi shop was still operating - fortunately for us it was still running, and popular as ever even though prices had hiked up in the last 7 or so years. There were a few options available, including chicken, vegetarian and meatballs, and I got a Shredded Pork Roll for a little over AU$4. It was really yummy, with crusty baguette, fresh vegetables, and the nicely seasoned shredded pork (skin?).

Kebab @ the Eastgardens Shopping Centre food court

We spent half of our final day in Sydney doing last minute shopping for supplies at Eastgardens Shopping Centre before our night flight back to Tokyo. The shopping centre was of course well-equipped with a food court, where we had lunch with my sisters, brother-in-law, nephew and niece. It was nice to get together one last time before we left Sydney. We all have such different tastes, and our meal choices ranged from a 12-piece bucket from KFC (my sister, who's breast-feeding her 4 month old baby, polished off 8 pieces of chicken on her own! I don't know where it goes because she's naturally very slim), to a rice bowl from a Japanese shop, to our doner kebab from a kebab place. Our Mixed Kebab (chicken and lamb) with sour cream and garlic sauce was simply delicious.

I still have a couple more posts about our Sydney eats before I'm done with writing about the trip, so stay tuned!

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