Sydney chefs share their dining secrets

We find out where some of our favourite Sydney chefs like to eat when they're done behind the pans
Secret Sydney__Hugh__ Happy Chef
Photograph: Supplied
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You know the big players, the swanky restaurants and the hot-to-trot dining spots – but where do the chefs from these not-so-secret eateries go for a meal when it’s their choice? We spoke to Hugh Piper (Dear Sainte Eloise and Love Tilly Devine), Danielle Alvarez (Fred's), Jack New (Edition Coffee Roasters), Eun Hee An (Paper Bird) and Sam Young (Queen Chow and Ms.G's) to find out their secret Sydney go-tos.

RECOMMENDED:  The 50 best cheap eats in Sydney.

Sydney chefs share their dining secrets

Danielle Alvarez at Fred’s
Photograph: Daniel Boud

Danielle Alvarez

Head chef at Fred’s
Banh Xeo Bar

“Ben Sinfield, the head chef here, used to work at St. John in London and so he is extremely good with offal, and is just a great cook in general. I would always go for one of the bánh mì and the pig’s head nuggets.”
Hai Au Lang Nuong
“I go here for classic Northern Vietnamese street food. The best thing to order here is anything coming off the impressive barbecue set up. Fish or chicken crispy from the grill with sticky rice and dipping sauce are great. And the grilled black pepper beef and lemongrass cigars wrapped in betel leaves is delicious too.”
Emma’s Snack Bar
“I love this place for classic Lebanese food with friendly service, nice beer and BYO wine. I love seeing the family in the kitchen preparing everything so you know it’s going to be good. The Moorish chicken is a must, as are all the dips with extra bread.”
Chatkazz
“Go here for the papri chaat, samosas and pani puri. It’s all vegetarian and the food comes out at fast-food like speed, but it is very delicious.”

Secret Sydney__Hugh__ Happy Chef
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Hugh Piper

Head chef, Dear Sainte Eloise and Love Tilly Devine
Happy Chef

“I’ve been going here since I was kid. My parents and I would have laksa before going to see a movie on George Street – it’s always been consistently delicious. The chicken laksa is my go-to dish – always the perfect balance of creamy and spicy.”
Faheem Fast Food
“Super tasty Pakistaní/North Indian food. Open late, great price. Their tandoori chicken and naan is so good.”
Wok and Noodle
“I go there for lunch while I'm at work – and way too often – everyone that works at DSE does! Their mazesoba and spicy tonkotsu ramen are my go-tos.”
Christie’s Seafoods
“If you're ever in the mood for a whole mud crab and you can’t afford to go to Golden Century I’d suggest Christie’s at Sydney Fish Markets where they sell live crab and lobster cooked to order. It's still not cheap but you can get a whole mud crab cooked in the sauce of your choosing with a big ol’ pile of noodles for somewhere between $100 and $150. You can also BYO there, so bring a good bottle, grab a table in the sun and smash a crab.”

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Jack New Chef
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Jack New

Head chef at Edition Coffee Roasters
Can Cava
“I’m not down at Bondi as much as I wish could be, however whenever I am I always drop in here for some Spanish snacks and a glass (or four) of cava (basically Spanish Champagne). The chef, Dan Rocha, is always doing something pretty cool. Last time I had a sous vide, pan-seared mackerel with baked baby gem lettuce and turmeric vinaigrette.”
Café Hernandez
“I first went here in 2010 after I’d just moved to Sydney and it’s been a place that I’ve revisited many times. It’s one of the only truly 24/7 venues in Sydney – and thank god for that, because sometimes all you want at 4am is some churros and a hot chocolate so thick it defies gravity.”
Big Poppa’s
“I feel like this isn’t so much a hidden gem as somewhere in need of more praise. Despite some insane lockout laws and restrictions, this place is always open till 3am for some ridiculously good cheese, lamb rags and funky natural wines. To be honest, they’re probably sick of me and my friends terrorising them a few times a week but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop.”

Paper Bird – Eun Hee An - credit - NikkiTo.jpg

Eun Hee An

Head chef, Paper Bird
Shi Gol Jip
“I go to this unassuming barbecue spot in Belmore for their Korean Chinese dishes, in particular the fiddlehead fern japchae and the sweet and sour pork made with glutinous rice flour batter.”
Yang's Dumplings
“A dumpling chain from Shanghai. The shen jiang bao is very good but I always get the pan-fried pork and shepherd's purse dumplings.”
Kimsakat
“Make sure you come here and order the kalguksu [Korean hand cut noodles] served with clams. Also their mandoo [Korean dumplings] are very easy to overindulge in.”

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Crab at Queen's Hotel
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Sam Young

Chef at Queen Chow, Ms. G's
BCD Tofu House

“I love Korean food and this place hands down, does the best soondubu jjigae [soft tofu soup] in Sydney. The banchan selection is awesome – the kim chi is especially good.”
Wakana Yakiniku 
“This place is my go-to Yakiniku joint. It doesn’t have a fancy dining room and they only take cash, but the meat quality coming out of the kitchen is incredible. Plus it’s BYO.”
Ho Jiak
“I find it hard to get good Malaysian food in Sydney, but here they do a hectic lobster stir fried instant noodles. And you know the duck egg char koay teow is legit – they use heaps of fried lard in it. Also round the corner you can find Do Dee Paidang, which is another place I love.”
Eaton Chinese Restaurant
“When I first started to work at Mr Wong, I asked my head chef Jowett what his favourite restaurant in Sydney was. He laughed and replied, ‘Eaton Chinese’. They do live seafood, but [it’s] cheaper than other big names in Sydney. Easily the best spot for chefs to gather for a great meal.”

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