Saturday, November 17, 2012

Food in Sydney: the good and the disappointing

I spent last week in Sydney and when I'm there it usually means going out at least a few times to restaurants and other eateries. Just thought I'd put down a few comments about the places I went to, many of which I've been to before but which don't necessarily provide the same experience each time!
First, the good:
No Name, in Stanley St, Darlinghurst: first time at this Italian eatery which we found has a good, very reasonably priced lunch menu($10) of fresh pasta dishes and risotto as well as more expensive mains and a range of entrees. Very good value. We shared an entree of deep-fried pork terrine with remoulade sauce--not as weird as it sounds, because actually inside the deep-fried crumb crust was what I'd say was more like rillettes, or pulled pork, rather than chunky terrine. The remoulade sauce was good too, tangy and very moreish. Excellent value for this entree at only 6 bucks--between 3 people!Then we had various fresh pastas and a risotto--they were all nice, but my ravioli were voted the best.
Menya Noodle Bar, in Chinatown,  was also a firster for me, recommended by my foodie younger son, and it was terrific. Large steaming bowls of wonderful ramen noodle soup with rich stock, and various kinds of other ingredients, mostly pork or chicken, and eggs. Totally delicious and satisfying! And very cheap too.
Maki Maki, Californian roll house on Broadway(between Mountain and Wattle sts) is a place I've come back to several times and never been disappointed. The food is fresh, tasty, served fast and very well-priced. We went there for dinner and ordered combos of different main dishes--featuring salmon, pork, eel or chicken-- with cold or baked sushi-style rolls(such as dragon rolls, tiger rolls, etc)and miso soup, and it was all really nice and came to about $15 a head.
Petaling St, a Malaysian hawker-style restaurant on George St(just up from Hay St)
 is another one I've been to several times and always enjoyed. It has an extensive menu from which we ordered Hainanese chicken rice(which of course I had to order--become quite obsessed by this dish!) wonderful steamed whole fish with Assam sauce, beef rendang and roti to begin with. Very delicious and satisfying.
The big disappointment for me was the Spanish Club(at least its restaurant, Iberico, upstairs in the Club premises on Liverpool St). I've often been here to meet friends and family for lunch as it's very central, has a nice, big quiet space, and has a cheap and cheerful lunch special of $12 for several simple but usually good dishes(plus a longer regular menu of delicious tapas and main dishes). This time I chose a paella Valenciana as this was a new addition to the lunch specials menu(the rest of which I've sampled at different times and found perfectly acceptable, as my Russian friend Sasha would say!)And I've always loved a good paella. But this one wasn't one of those. To be frank, it was awful. The rice was dry--and there was far too much of it--and the other ingredients were utterly paltry--a shrivelled mussel, a prawn that had seen better days, an overcooked clam, and some mingy bits of roast capsicum and a stray pea or two. Pretty much inedible. Now I've heard there are rumours the Spanish Club is to be closed, and sold, and maybe this was the dejection of the place showing in this miserable meal--but it didn't make the feeling of being thoroughly disappointed and unsatisfied any the better. Such a pity, because other times the food has been really nice, fresh and tasty.
Another disappointment, though of a much lesser kind, was the supposed Toulouse sausage sandwich I had at another lunchtime, at the gourmet sausage stand in the Westfield Centrepoint Plaza food court(fifth floor.) It was a nice enough sandwich, with the sausage, mushrooms and 'aioli' mayonnaise in a brioche roll: but it wasn't a Toulouse sausage or anything like one, and the 'aioli' mayonnaise also had only a passing ressemblance to any real aioli mayonnaise(why, why can't they make their own instead of getting that goopy white stuff out of a jar??). Toulouse sausage has become very fashionable in Australia but the only trouble is that butchers here do not know how to make it. The meat and fat are always minced much too fine, there's never enough pepper, and it simply does not have the right consistency or taste. So--though the sausage was definitely better than the thick or thin abominations that are sold as regular sausages in all too many butchers' shops, and though I quite enjoyed it as an upmarket sausage sandwich(with associated expense of course!), it simply didn't fit the description that had me drooling at the menu board. But then that's my fault. I ought to know by now that I'm never going to find a good Toulouse sausage 20,000 kms from Toulouse!


  1. I always order Hainanese chicken and beef rendang when I can. I love them - and they're a very good way of testing the quality of a place.

  2. That'll learn that sausage place to try fobbing their "Toulouse sausage" off on someone who's been there! ;-) In one of Melbourne's lane ways there's a baguette place where they make their own baguettes, mayonnaise,etc. and what a treat for the mouth! Only had it once and can't forget the taste!

  3. Sounds most delish, Sue! Must check out when next in Melbourne. And I agree, Gillian,those dishes are indeed the litmus test when it comes to Malaysian/Singaporean food. They are both so simple yet so totally satisfying, when they're properly done.