Sunday, January 17, 2010

Memorable Meals: Sydney

One of the most surprising aspects of Sydney was how international the population is, including the dining scene. Walking through the lower downtown area we saw whole blocks dedicated to particular populations, such as Thai, which had a few city blocks with Thai restaurants, bookstores, internet cafes and grocery stores. We came upon a street near the backpackers' area with a row of Vietnamese restaurants and we dined in the Spanish quarter where the streets were lined with tapas bars and Mediterrean restaurants. With our 4 month adventure coming to an end, we were feeling the financial strain, but Sydney proved to be a great place if you ever find yourself on a limited budget with local fast food stores selling great pizzas and the best savory pies at local chain Pie Face.

One of the local business we visited was burger chain Burgerlicious. Their open-style fast food restaurants were everywhere in the city center area. With the terrific weather Sydney gets a majority of the year many fast food restaurants didn't have doors, the whole front facade would be open, like a garage door. So just a few steps and you were inside a fast food restaurant And the Burgerlicious signs were hard to pass up after walking pass them everywhere. Their burger selections is extensive and their vegetarian burger selection is very impressive. We debated whether the name came after the Destiny Child song, either way their grain fed Aussie beef was delicious. We simply had a classic burger, memorable, but nothing like our burger from the Nexxt Cafe in Miami - that was a classic burger we won't soon forget.
The Nexxt Cafe Burger, MiamiA decent burger representative, the Classic at Burgerlicious, Sydney
We're not sure what traditional Australian or Sydney food would be, probably similar to what Northwest Cuisine or New Californian cuisine would be - lots of seafood and influenced by Europe and Pacific Rim. So needless to say we simply walked around, checked out menus and prices and basically ate whatever we were craving, including Mexican tacos in the Kings Cross neighborhood, which was interesting to listen to a description of carnitas from the Russian server.We had fish & chips in Darling Harbor. Unfortunately we arrived at the Sydney Fish Market too late to eat in the market, which we heard was the best fish and chips we'll ever have. But we did find a cafe around the corner which served a pretty mean fish & chip plate.While walking around the city center area of downtown we came across the Din Tai Fung Restaurant in the lobby of one of the financial buildings. This was the same restaurant chain we had the fantastic dim sum in Singapore and we were immediately ready to go back for more! The usual suspects from our last experience of dim sum in Singapre was there - pork dumplings
steam dumplings in spicy soy saucecrispy bean rolls salt pickled cucumbers
We tried their amazing hot and sour soup. We were seriously dueling it out for the last sips of this soup. An excellent representation of umami with the distinct sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes coming through perfectly. This time we had their silky and delicious mango pudding with a shot of cream on the side, which we didn't quite get the shot of cream. The silky and mildly flavored mango pudding was good with just the whipped cream. But we couldn't leave Sydney without trying kangaroo, they eat that right? Well we didn't know that kangaroo was readily eaten until we heard a woman on the bus asking her daughter to pull the kanga meat from the fridge for dinner. We walked into several restaurants and bars and were promptly told no they didn't serve kanga, but each establishment did say "it's got to be served some place around here." That's when we came across Rock In Burger, an wall-less, open-area burger joint right in the heart of the Rocks neighborhood.We quickly found Kanga available on their menu board and decided to have burgers for an early dinner one night. The open area style restaurant was always packed when we walked past it so we decided they must have some great burgers. Anne opted for a regular beef burger, for comparison reasons. And Mike decided on the kanga burger. With much of the kangaroo meat probably coming from the legs and tail the meat was somewhat dry compared to a beef burger, but delicious nonetheless and not as gamey as we thought it may be. Compared to Burgerlicious's burgers mentioned earlier, Rock In Burger's burgers were definitely more "gourmet" with double the price. But each burger came with it's own distinct relish or chutney and worth the visit.We can definitely say we came away from Sydney with some serious Buddha Bellies menu contenders.

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