What they say is true — you really don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. At least, that’s how I felt during lockdown earlier this year! I love cooking and all, but after a while it was inevitable that I craved restaurant food. Everything tastes better when someone else makes it for you, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so. While I’m definitely not eating out as often as I was pre-pandemic, I’m slowly easing back into it. Now that we’re allowed to go out freely in Australia, it’s more important than ever to support our local businesses to make sure they survive.
Anyway, I’m excited to bring you another instalment of Sydney Snacks, a series where I document the things I’ve been eating lately! We’ve got a lot to catch up on in this department:
Miso Japanese Restaurant
Miso is a restaurant that does teishoku, or Japanese set meals, and they do it well. The branch in Sydney CBD has actually been there for years, but it’s definitely been awhile since my last visit! I don’t find myself in the city often these days, so opportunities to eat there are few and far between.
Anyway, I was excited to discover that Miso recently opened a new restaurant in Green Square, right by the station. Their signature tonkatsu, or deep-fried pork cutlet, was just as good as I remembered — satisfyingly crunchy on the outside, and juicy on the inside. I usually opt for their most popular meal set, which is served with rice, miso soup and an array of side dishes. While it may sound simple, the combination is something I’ll never get sick of. I think I just love the novelty of eating from a lot of tiny dishes!
While tonkatsu is my forever favourite, I’m still determined to taste the entire menu at Miso. I recently tried their katsudon (pictured above) and it’s honestly one of the best I’ve tried. This delightful dish is only elevated by the amazing tonkatsu, which stays crisp despite being soaked in egg and broth.
If you’re talking Thai food in Sydney, Chat Thai will be one of the first places anyone mentions. While we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Thai food here, Chat Thai is probably as close as you can get to the real deal. From grilled pork skewers to curries and papaya salad, it’s the best place to visit if you want to try something beyond your average pad thai. Plus, when a restaurant grows produce on their own farm like Chat Thai does, you know it’s gonna be good!
One of my favourite things to get here is tom yum goong, a Thai classic. Even though it’s a soup, Chat Thai’s version might as well be a full meal on its own. It’s flavoursome, thick and rich, overflowing with that addictive tanginess I love so much about tom yum. It’s also generous with the prawns, usually with a few prawn heads thrown in for good measure!
I’ve eaten at Chat Thai so many times it’d be impossible to list everything I’ve tried, but a few favourites I can recommend include pad prik king, red duck curry, crab meat omelette… or if you’re game, try the whole fried barramundi with green mango salad. Just make sure you visit with a few hungry friends to help finish it off!
This hidden secret is one my favourite discoveries of late. Azuki is a bakery in Newtown that sells every type of Japanese cake you can think of — matcha roll, mont blanc, and strawberry shortcake, just to name a few. However, what keeps me coming back here is the curry bread. I’ve been searching all over for a place that does them, and Azuki’s version really hits the spot! The bread’s panko crust encases a piping hot beef curry filling, which I suspect has a hint of cheese in it. They even do a veggie version too, if you’re so inclined.
Sadly they only do takeaway right now due to the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped me from going back to pick up a cake (or five). Paired with a houjicha, or roasted green tea latte, it’s pretty much my idea of a perfect afternoon snack.
Okay, my pictures for this place never turn out great. But even though the lighting’s trash, the food at Belly Bao is seriously good! As the name suggests, bao buns are the main star at this quirky Newtown restaurant. They’re not traditional by any means, but with fillings like pork crackling, crispy tofu and soft shell crab, it’s hard to pick a favourite! The steamed buns are pillowy soft, and act as the perfect vehicle for soaking up any sauces. Not to mention, they’re pretty darn fun to eat.
Bao buns on their own aren’t that filling, but luckily Belly Bao has plenty of other dishes on the menu to make up for it. Recently my friend and I tried the fried chicken with salted egg sauce, and while she wasn’t a fan of all the crunchy bits that’s exactly why I loved it. We also ordered the battered king oyster mushrooms, which we agreed were amazing.
The Baogers here also deserve a special mention. Swapping out regular burger buns for steamed bao may sound a little strange, but the results are heavenly. The toasted bao buns are super soft and squishy, but still somehow manage to hold the burger contents together. I shared this one with my sister, and instantly regretted it afterwards!
Black Star Pastry
Considering it’s the most famous item on this list, it’s hard to believe I haven’t featured this place before. Black Star Pastry is home to the cake that spawned a thousand rip offs — the famous strawberry watermelon cake. If you didn’t already know, this delightful concoction is layered with almond dacquoise, rose-scented cream and an entire layer of fresh watermelon, before being topped with strawberries and dried rose petals. Besides being gorgeous, the cake itself tastes pretty good too! It’s light and refreshing, and each element combines to create the perfect balance of sweetness.
Of course, there are plenty of other cakes you can also get at Black Star Pastry. My friend always goes for the orange cake, which I can confirm is pretty good. Just recently they also opened a store in the city, so now it’s easier than ever to get your sweet tooth fix. Anyway, if you ever visit Sydney this one’s definitely a must try!