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Alison Byrne

Alison Byrne

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The best regional Chinese food in Sydney

The best regional Chinese food in Sydney

For a long time, “Chinese food” in Australia didn’t venture far beyond shiny fried noodles, sticky char siu pork and dumplings, dumplings, dumplings. Delicious as they are, reducing the wildly varyied cuisine eaten by 1.3 billion people from 56 ethnicities to a few usual suspects was selling us all short. Fortunately, lately we've seen an exponential boom in the depth and diversity of what’s available, with myriad options for both cheap eats and sprawling banquet feasts now on the table. Cumin-dusted lamb skewers from Xinjiang, dazzlingly spicy hot pots from Sichuan, and steamy breakfast baos from Tianjin – here's how you can eat your way around China (and neighbouring Taiwan) with nothing but a loaded Opal card. If your tastebuds need a change of region, why not try Sydney's best Malaysian restaurants, or our best Korean fare? Or tick off something from the list of the 50 best restaurants in Sydney.

Listings and reviews (10)

Swagath Biryani House

Swagath Biryani House

3 out of 5 stars

If the sight alone of pyramids of tandoori chicken pieces, slow braised pieces of goat on the bone and deep fried green chillis in batter doesn’t swell your eyes with spice infused tears, then the house special Hyderabadi chicken biryani at Swagath Biryani House will certainly finish the job. A favourite of the royal kitchens from the 16th century Mughal empire that ruled across the Indian subcontinent, cinnamon and clove infused rice is layered over pieces of chilli, cardamom and turmeric marinated chicken, then slow cooked until the flavours merge together.This Western Sydney house of rice might be a long way from those regal dining halls, but they’re still serving up fluffy hollocks of basmati, which after a little digging through the layered rice reveals pieces of fragrant cardamom scented chicken hiding underneath. Don’t skimp when spooning out the nutty mirchi ka salan, a mild peanut sauce, and the cooling onion and yoghurt raita sauce, both served as extras. Chicken not your meat of choice? The options extend to mutton, fish, lamb and vegetables.If you are lucky to nab a table at this popular Southern Indian establishment (they’ve only got five), start off with ordering a cold salt lassi, the usually sweet yoghurt drink is extra refreshing when a touch saline. In it for the sugar? There’s the sweeter mango option too. The most popular entree is the curiously named Chicken 65, a dish with multiple origin stories, from the year it was invented to the number of chillis in

The Noodle Pot

The Noodle Pot

3 out of 5 stars

Chinese noodle styles and flavours are as varied as China is wide. While Sichuan is as fiery as possible, the eastern part of the country loves their noodle soup on the lighter side. The Noodle Pot in Chinatown specialises in this more subtle and sweeter Shanghai style soup and Jiangsu-style specialties from the neighbouring province. You’ll find it sitting alongside the barbecue duck and fresh seafood stores on Ultimo Rd, where you can perch along the front counter seats and watch the traffic flow in and out of Paddy’s Market across the road.The menu has two speeds: there are the dishes that make up the core of either a bento-style rice box, or as a topping for the popular noodle soup. Braised pork chop balls are simply meatballs cooked in a tomato based sauce but added to a bowl of noodles they rise above their humble station. The finely diced mince in the balls is a little salty, almost like ham, and the coating of the slightly sweet, barbecue-flavoured sauce adds breadth to the light broth. The noodles are wheaty, wiggly and plentiful, a large portion laid neatly down the middle of the bowl with meatballs on either side.Pork ribs are small cuts of soft bone pork braised in the same slightly sweet sauce, or pork intestines can be added for an intense offal flavour. Vegetarian styles mix textures with mock chicken (soft discs of gluten that often stand in for meat options), soaking in the vegetable-based soup with crunchy-yet-slippery wood ear mushrooms.The more traditional

Hammoud 1

Hammoud 1

Sometimes a simple menu is a good menu. At Hammoud 1 the main options are straightforward: falafel, foule, houmos and fateh. The entire menu is stretched to about eight different dishes, with or without meat options. And while the crunch of deep fried falafel and the smooth creaminess of houmos are common fare around kebab bars and Middle Eastern restaurants, they’re not the traditional dishes that makes this small, plastic tablecloth-topped restaurant a go-to for the Lebanese community in Liverpool. Located along the busy Macquarie St eat street (Jasmin 1 and Al Barakeh Chicken are within falafel-throwing distance) prepare to rub shoulders with tables of large families with of food covering every available space. Breakfast usually starts with a bowl of foule. Fava beans and chickpeas are slow cooked until soft and creamy, then roughly mashed with garlic and lemon juice. Tahini, a sesame seed paste that adds a roasted nuttiness to the finished bean dish can be added for extra flavour. Topped with fragrant olive oil and fresh mint leaves, the result is a thick porridge of a bean dip you spoon up with torn pieces of warm pita bread.Fateh is considered just as essential to a Lebanese breakfast, made with the same chickpea base as houmus but with the addition of  yogurt and pine nuts, giving the legumes more creaminess and a nuttier flavour. Small pieces of broken pita bread are piled into the bottom of the serving bowl to soak up the sauce, and the smooth fateh is topped with fr

Komaru

Komaru

4 out of 5 stars

After squeezing inside this 20-person Japanese restaurant in Neutral Bay you might hear a bit of Patsy Cline or Kenny Rogers drifting out from the kitchen along with the traditional ‘irasshaimase’ greeting. Chef Nagashima likes to prepare his sashimi to the sounds of the local country music station. He’s been making sushi in Sydney for over 20 years, originally at his popular stall in Hunter Connection food court, and now in his restaurant north of the Bridge. Ducking through the traditional Japanese curtains at the front door, you’ll leave behind the noise of busy Military Road, settle in at one of the small blond wooden tables, and get ready to eat. The specialty of Komaru is hako sushi, and this is one of the few places in Sydney to get it. Hako sushi was created in Osaka during the Meiji era as a different way of preparing raw fish and sumeshi (vinegared rice). The fish, usually mackerel, is sliced thinly and layered alternately with vinegared rice inside a wooden box and then compressed with a lid. It’s cut into bite-size cubes and laid out on a lacquered tray so that the striped layers are visible. Pour soy into a little dish, mix in your preferred heat level of wasabi and then dip, fish side down. It’s even OK to use your fingers to pick up the cubes. The shiny, silver-skinned mackerel is the traditional fish of choice (the vinegar balances out its strong oily ocean fish flavour) but you can order it with bright pink salmon as a pretty, and milder flavoured alternative

Xi'an Biang Biang

Xi'an Biang Biang

4 out of 5 stars

In Xi’an, they like their noodles thick. Really thick. This northwestern Chinese city in Shaanxi Province is the home of biang biang – fresh handmade noodles three fingers wide and as long as your arm. When tossed in oil mixed with roasted chilli, they make a fast, warm and filling bowl of cheap street food. The name is thought to come from the sound the noodles make as they are pulled out and loudly slapped on a flour dusted counter to stretch them further. Bang! Bang! Down in Sydney’s Chinatown, Xi’an Biang Biang is dishing out bowls of these pappardelle-like fat noodles topped with either hot chilli, stewed pork or tomato and egg. For purists, choose straight chilli oil, a simple slick coating that dresses the noodles and pools just slightly in the bottom of the bowl. The chilli is a warming, roasted style with a slight vinegar edge – you won’t need a fire extinguisher. There’s a lot of noodle choices, but to get the real, fat version make sure you choose from 13 to 16 on the menu board – other numbers result in a thinner wheat noodle, usually served in soup. Other northwestern noodle classics are liang pi – starchy, jelly-like cold noodles served in three styles, either with a simple chilli and vinegar coating; a hot and sour sauce; or with a garlic sauce that should not be consumed before an important meeting. Liang pi is a popular cold side dish, along with small snack plates of steamed fried chicken or pork, which are, as the name suggest, twice-cooked meats served sli

The Burman Kitchen

The Burman Kitchen

4 out of 5 stars

You can count the  number of Burmese restaurants opened over the last few years on one hand, but the Burman Kitchen, a narrow store opposite the train line in Granville, is setting the bar for the rest to follow and leading the way in opening up an unfamiliar food to a new audience. You’ll recognise a bit of Thai in the citrus, chilli and herbs, some Chinese in the stir fried noodles and Indian influences in biryanis and curries – it shares borders with all your takeaway favourites.If there’s a dish that unites the Burmese, it’s mohingha. This revered rice noodle soup is dense with cooked, shredded white fish and a little flour to thicken the seafood broth. This soup is eaten any time of the day or night, top yours with additions that ramp up the chilli heat or add citrus sourness depending on your taste. It’s a weekend-only special, and one of the most popular dishes on the menu.Bolder flavours, mostly from fermented fish sauce, are found in ngapi yea, a pungent dip that is eaten with a platter of fresh and cooked vegetables and mint and coriander to counter the strong, salty, taste. On the flipside, some of the curries run mild: try the spicy lamb and split pea curry touched with cumin and coriander to give it a warmth, not heat. Pair it with a bowl of buttered steamed rice, and the overall effect is similar to Persian-style braised lamb and rice dishes, while the chicken or goat biryani special is a nod to the influence of the subcontinent.The influences of Chiang Mai and

Kapamilya Grocery and Eatery

Kapamilya Grocery and Eatery

4 out of 5 stars

Located on the quiet side of Rockdale train station, Kapamilya Grocery and Eatery is a family run business serving up home-cooked meals, Manila-style. Filipino (or Pinoy) food is influenced by a long history of trade and colonisation, so you’ve got Spanish-inspired dishes like adobo (a saucy stew rich with vinegar and soy) and the tomato-based afritada with chicken and chilli. The Chinese influence comes through in pancit (rice noodles), soy and fish sauce, and then you have those classic island flavours of coconut, peanut and banana. It’s a lot to take in, so start with a couple of skewers of barbecue pork coated in a tangy vinegar and tomato sauce, then move on to Kare-Kare, a beef and pork combo stew thickened with ground peanuts and given a full on fishy kick with a spoonful of shrimp paste. The menu changes daily but it’s always a bargain – you get a couple of selections on a single plate for under ten dollars, or you can share four or five dishes served up in smaller bowls and a pile of fluffy white rice.  Pork is not just a favourite meat but also a national food obsession, with most dishes featuring at least one part of the animal. Lechon paksiw mixes crisp roast pork pieces into a sweet and savoury pineapple and soy sauce, while sisig is a mix of chopped cheek, crisp skin and egg to give it a creamier sauce base. Dinuguan – cubes of tender stewed pork in a blackish braised sauce – gets its colour from the blood used in the stew, similar to a Thai boat noodle soup, bu

Abie's Vegetarian Takeaway

Abie's Vegetarian Takeaway

4 out of 5 stars

Pendle Hill, a small suburb in the western suburbs, lives large as a busy hub for the Sri Lankan community. The neatly packed Sri Lankan and South Indian restaurants and grocery stores along Pendle Way are busy with shoppers and diners stocking up on dried goods, curry spices and something readymade to take home for dinner. The most popular choice is a curry plate, and the place to get it is Abie’s Vegetarian Takeaway. Here, you’ll find all the colours of the edible rainbow in the 20 different all-veg curries on offer. Tropical island flavours mix with Subcontinental spice. Cardamom, clove and cinnamon are repeat performers in fare from the ‘spice island’, with black pepper and chilli for kick. Coconut, curry leaves, tamarind and coriander provide freshness and balance the sweet and sourness found in sambols and soups. You can pick-and-mix five choices onto a super-sized tray with rice so contemplate your choices while standing in the queue. Will it be a dark eggplant curry, tar black and slick from slow cooking? Or a bright orange, comforting dhal – the motherly hug of soft lentils? Green drumstick here is not the chicken leg kind but a hard skinned vegetable with a sticky okra-like inside; and purple beetroot might seem an unlikely contender for a curry base, but the root vegetable transforms from its slightly sweet base to a warm and deep spiced dish when sliced and braised with cinnamon and curry leaves. A vibrant red devilled soy meat (a gluten meat substitute coated in

Ayam Bakar 7

Ayam Bakar 7

3 out of 5 stars

This Indonesian cheap eat in the quiet, southern suburb of Penshurst is well camouflaged. There are still signs for a fish and chip shop visible on the hoardings and brickwork, but a closer look reveals a friendly family place making classic soups, snacks and grilled chicken, Javanese style – not a battered sav in sight. Where the Chiko Rolls and prawn cutlets once lay waiting there’s now fried tempeh, tofu, beef rendang and vegetable dishes. Ayam Bakar 7 Saudara specialises in Indonesian-style grilled chicken and the pasa bakar – thigh and leg pieces – is the juicier order, with skin that’s crisp and charred from the grill and meat that’s fall-off-the-bone tender. Go for the extended chicken experience with small grilled skewers of liver or giblets. Though they’re full of flavour, they are often overlooked – more fool those who pass up a chance to have at these tasty little snacks. Go all out and make up your own dinner set from the ready-cooked options with turmeric yellow rice (nasi kuning) for something extra special, or the coconut rice (nasi uduk) for something sweeter. Chicken might be their priority, but their beef game is strong. Order a side dish of empal, an Indonesian take on homestyle sliced meatloaf made using shredded and spiced beef, or there's a slow-cooked, sticky-sauced rendang. And you have no reason to fear the soup filled with tender slices of tripe. Those wobbly and frilly pieces of meat have a texture close to calamari and absorb whatever flavour hits

Kebab Al-Hojat

Kebab Al-Hojat

4 out of 5 stars

Afghan-style grilled lamb loin chops flavoured with salt and sumac, their tiny tails tender with juicy fat, are the tastiest bites you’ll get in this small barbecue shop in Merrylands. Make no mistake, tikka kebabs of tender lamb backstrap or minced lamb shami kebabs carefully shaped around a skewer will also fight hard for your attention. These kebabs aren’t the cut-off-the-rotating-meat-stick kind you’ve scoffed after a big night. Each kebab is made from meat carefully pinioned onto a sharp metal skewer and cooked over blistering hot tubes of glowing charcoal in the front window. To accompany your meal, a white hot tandoor oven is lined by hand with flat rounds of bread dough, baked to order. Each flat bread looks like a mini lunar surface, raised and pocked with bubbles, and it is the vehicle for the juciy meat, grilled tomato and green chilli on your plate. It's a simple set up at Kebab Al-Hojat, both in the prep and the eating. All the skewers are prepared fresh and ready to choose from an inside counter. They're taken across to the coals to be charred, tended with more concern for the lamb than for the grillmasters bare hands. Take a seat inside at a brown wood laminate table that has room for two or a compact family unit and wait for your sides to land; plates of hot bread, small individual pots of mint flecked yoghurt, chutney, a thin chilli sauce, and a simple salad of lettuce, onion and red cabbage. Shaker jars of sumac, a lemony spice, sit on each table to add extr

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