Monday, October 25, 2010

Sydney: it's flakier than you'd think

There are subtle differences to the dining cultures in Melbourne and Sydney. Years ago a cabbie said to me “Melbourne people eat out all the time, it excels in great quality, casual eating any night of the week. Sydneysiders go for the big bang, high budget places but eat out less frequently”. I’m not sure if that’s strictly true but Sydney wins the prize for the most exalted restaurants in the country, though also more limited operating hours.

Oscillating Wildly, Billy Kwong and most of the hatted restaurants in Surrey Hills all seem to open at night only. All those weekend lunches missed. I’m struggling to think of Melbourne big name eateries operating under those restrictions. Surely Sydney invented the long lunch? All that sunshine.

Oh well. The no reservations thing still stands for many, or reservation only months in advance for the others.

Fortunately being a Melbourne-phile I like a quirky bit of casual eating and had no trouble filling my face quite amply at any hour.

What Sydney does excellently is pastry. Flaky, glutinous pockets of joy, oh how the harbour city delivered this in spades.

From the casual meandering through the pastry filled stalls at the Summer Hill Breakfast Bazaar (the only Taste of Sydney event I made it too, the other ones planned for the weekend got a tad washed out with the spring showers).

pastry nests full of raw pistachios and honey, sticky but delicious

To being lucky enough to have Black Star Pastry as my local bakery. I can’t begin to extol the wonderment to just how good this place is. The Danishes rival those I ate in France and the tarts were ridiculously good. Their sourdough is worth a detour too (and IMHO much better than the exalted Sonama in Glebe).

mango danish, I'm in heaven

But the crispy, pastry with high production values award has to go to Mamak. This is a well known Malaysian eatery in Chinatown, equally famous for it’s roti as it is for the long queues outside. The roti making being the theatrical entertainment as hungry people wait for at least half an hour, pressing their faces against the glass like urchins to watch the production going on in the kitchen inside.

It was a 40 minute wait on a balmy Thursday evening. It’s amazing how relaxed I could be about such a thing, thank goodness for being in holiday mode. A bit of a chat to others in the line and curious tourists asking what we were waiting for and then finally, we were in, menus efficiently delivered, an order taken the moment we’d decided what we’d eat and our requests wirelessly transmitted to the kitchen by the waiter who returned less than 5 minutes later with the goods. This is a streamlined operation. I’ve been seated far quicker in Melbourne joints but had to wait an hour for the whole menu/order/food arriving routine. So the Mamak oiled machine certainly compensates for time spent queuing. And it’s cheap. Not as good value as downtown Malacca but $30 for two is not to be sniffed at.

We ate nasi lemak, roti (how could we not having watched the show in the window for all that time – best marketing strategy ever) and finished with a cendol that put a smile on our face. I just wished I could have fitted another visit in while I was there.

a quick iphone snap, about to guts down my nasi lemak with prawns and a big hunk of roti

...but there's always the next trip to look forward to.

Black Star Pastry
277 Australia St Newtown
Open seven days 7am-5pm
* wear elasticated waistband or a kaftan while gorging on the pastries for guilt-free eating :)

15 Goulburn St, Haymarket
* on a warm night you don't mind the wait, honestly.

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Blogger Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

Mango danish?? Oh my that sounds delightful!

8:07 am  
Blogger Ann O'Dyne said...

Thanks for sharing - yes on the mango Danish (what do Danes call them?) and I love roti and would be pleased to see it made.
bon appetit.

9:24 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

Hey, don't forget Iku in Glebe Point Road.

Their undyed pickled ginger is heaven.

8:59 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Good question Ann, do the Danes call "danishes" Frenchies?

Lisa but sadly the home of the seasonal danish is a very long bike ride from Melbourne.

Lucy - love Iku (the old one at least, haven't been since it became a macro empire) and planned to go to the one in Glebe only it wasn't open at the time we wanted to go damn it.
PS: it's really easy to make ginger pickles - I know it's just a matter of salting the ginger, draining it x hours later and adding vinegar. Will dig the recipe out and blog it. Very nice it is without the red dye!

2:35 pm  
Blogger claire said...

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to your comment re: Sydney pastries! I too was lucky enough to chance upon Black Star Pastry's mango danish when I was up there last month, and it was just lovely.

1:13 pm  
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7:37 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Claire - almost worth a trip to Sydney for the BSP's danish alone!

8:59 am  
Anonymous Crystal said...

Sounds tasty! I might try this out for one of my holiday get togethers that is coming up.

9:41 pm  
Blogger Mark Sindone said...

Well, I guess Sydney is indeed flakier than I thought it would be. I have also heard the exact sentiments that you have described above about people having the perception about Sydney-siders being all classy on their food choices and all. However, it seems that not all those points are absolutely true. I have been to Sydney and I think there are more to be explored before we find out the real truth.

7:54 pm  

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