Musings on missing Asian food in Sydney

Since coming back to Sydney, I’ve been devouring the cuisine that I’ve been craving the most whilst travelling through Latin America: Asian. I didn’t realise how much I’d miss it and not a day went by when I didn’t think about a nourishing Pho Bo, spicy laksa, comforting chicken rice or a refreshing noodle salad. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate a steak in Argentina or Tacos in Mexico, it took a an extended trip away from Australia to realise that I missed the food that I spent the best part of my life eating. The fragrant soup broths, fresh herbs, crunchy textures and the pungent smell of fish sauce is what I craved all the time.

beef noddle soup

My first bowl of noodle soup when I came back to Sydney in December. Pho Dac Biet or Combination beef soup with fillet, brisket, tripe and tendons at Pho Pasteur

You can eat it every day

I’ve been fortunate enough with my previous job to have eaten at some fine restaurants in Sydney. However, I’ve never associated Asian cuisine to be that of something that should be over the top and seen as something that should be elevated to three hat/star quality. Of course there are many restaurants who have achieved such success in modernising their cuisine and fusing traditional traditional flavours with foams, gels and stabilisers whilst having it served from a bowl of liquid nitrogen by a gentleman wearing white gloves. However, like most high end cuisine, you just can’t eat that kind of grub everyday.

It’s communal

Call me old fashioned but I enjoy slurping away at my bowl of noodles inside a restaurant or a food court that’s brightly light up in a fluorescent haze and seated on a portable fold up chair at a table with a plastic table cloth.These down to earth places do not discriminate as. From trendy teenagers with spiked fringes to high rolling bankers, you’ll see them pile in during lunch breaks or after work, hunched over their bowls or plates of food before or after a post work drink. On many occasions I’ve taken my friends to foodcourts and they’ve been blown away at the selection of food from all over Asia. Prior to leaving on my trip, I was having all of my farewell catchups here for the same reason as to why I still come: The cost. They even have a bar there serving cheap alcohol for the budget conscious.

noodle soup

Bun Bo Hue at Dong Ba. A spicy noodle dish with congealed pigs blood

The perfect sandwich

Earlier last year, I spent the best part of a month travelling all over Sydney finding where the best Vietnamese pork roll is. I was searching for the perfect combination of the perfect crunchy bread roll, meat to pickled vegetable ratio as well as the seasoned soy sauce. My search took me to 10 hot bread shops and over 100km across four weekends. I only told a few people about it but now, I make no qualms about hiding the fact that I am addicted to these bad boys. Some people travel across cities to pick up drugs. I’d go for a sandwich.

 

Vietnames pork roll

Marrickville Pork Roll. My favourite pork roll shop in Sydney

pork roll

Hi my name is Jimmy and I am addicted to pork rolls. It’s been two days since my last one AND IT WAS DELICIOUS!

It should be fun and exciting

I love to hear the slurping of noodles, the sizzle of the wok and smell of pork belly over a bbq at the table. I didn’t come for fine dining service or a romantic occasion. There is no language barrier because you can always point to the picture or the corresponding number on the menu, it’s so simple. Despite the numerous dishes on the menu, more often than not I will refer back to of favourites. Dishes that made you fall in love with a particular place in the first place . All that matters is that it’s hot, delicious and comes out within a few minutes of being handed a raffle ticket stub or an electronic beeper to let you know when it’s ready. Yes, sometimes it may have some MSG in it, but YOLO!

Korean BBQ

YOLO’ing it up at O Bal Tan Korean BBQ

Waste not, want not

Over the years I’ve fallen back in love with eating all different parts of the animal. As a kid I’d happily eat anything including the animals including chickens that we raised at home. I can still recall holding onto my feathery friend whilst the hairs around its neck were plucked, throat slit and then the blood drained for use in my parent’s “Vietnamese Pizza”. All of a sudden I stopped eating those cute little chickens from home at around 17 years old. It’s only now that I’ve come around and have a deeper sense of respect and appreciation for all parts of the animal. From the head, to the blood jelly, brisket, tripe and tendons. Not much is wasted by some of these crafty chefs but it’s these parts that I find inject texture and carry the most flavour.

So my friends, next time you’re hungry and with some friends or even by yourself. If you walk past a food court or a pokey hole in the wall establishment that only serves a couple of things with a long queue out the door, or a restaurant just soberingly lit up in fluorescent lighting with occupied by an eclectic mix of people, just walk in your appetite and a sense of adventure. You tastebuds won’t regret it.

Do you share the same enthusiasm about Asian food as I do? Which foods do you miss the most from home when travelling?

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Comments

Musings on missing Asian food in Sydney — 16 Comments

  1. That is so good to know about the pork roll!! Mascot had been my previous favourite but now I must try marrickville. Breakfast isn’t too early to have one ?

  2. Amazing. I can’t wait for a pork roll when I get home.

    And pho. And pepper pork. And peking duck. And dumplings.

    ALL OF THE FOODS. ALL OF THE THINGS. ALL OF THE TIME.
    Ally recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

  3. I really miss eating asian breakfasts when we are back in Australia! There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating a big bowl of beef noodle soup or grilled pork and rice for breakfast 😉

  4. Yup, one of the reasons we are so reluctant to leave Asia is absolutely because of how good (& how cheap!) the food here is. It’s hard to imagine us enjoying our meals more anywhere else on the planet, and I have to admit, the uninspiring food scene of South America & Central America have definitely bumped a visit there down my list of priorities. I can be inspired by photos of mountains and sea lions and colorful buildings, but it’s really the pictures of food that pique my interest in a destination!

    One thing I’ve definitely learned, however, is that it’s not good to pain all of Asia with a broad brush. Some countries I’ve been able to eat the local food for 60 days straight without craving anything else, but some of the countries have less dynamic, less diverse food scenes that made me missing how varied food generally is back in the States and Canada. It may not be 100% authentic, but it was nice that I could get dim sum or a chicken korma or a papaya salad or fancy French food or Mexican (and so much more) while at home. That kind of variety is really uncommon over here (I think you might be able to get a laksa here in HCMC but I wouldn’t hold my breath) and I do miss that on occasion. I’m not sure how the travelers going through South America eating corn and potatoes (or beans & rice!) every day manage it!

    (I do miss Mexican food, though. I suspect that’s another place where I could just eat the local food every single day and never tire of it.)
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Mini Budget Breakdown: Brunei Travel CostsMy Profile

    • We’re spoilt in a way over here where I can drive no more than 20minutes to get any cuisine as it’s such a multicultural society here. I did run into a lot of people in South America who could easily eating meat and potato fries each day, but I don’t think food is high up on the priority list for them. Agree with you on Mexico. The food was so different in each region and delicious. Defo the bes food I’ve had on that trip
      Jimmy recently posted…Musings on missing Asian food in SydneyMy Profile

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