Chatswood restaurants serving the best cheap eats
Order the: Fried chicken with rice, $9.90
In the corner of the stark, neon-lit Lemon Grove food court is this Korean fast food joint. While the bibimbap and kimchi pancakes are tempting, you need to order the fried chicken. The special is $9.90 and comes with a hearty serving of black and white rice, salad, potato noodles and kongnamul (sesame seasoned mung bean salad). On the sauce front, our pick is the sweet and spicy, but you can get hot spicy, soy or honey butter mustard too. They change the oil here every day, making for a clean tasting, extra crisp fried batter, and they use a mix of boneless dark and white meat.
Order the: Beef pho, $13.80
On any given night you’ll find Phood packed out with families gathering around the wooden tables sharing fried pork cutlets, grilled lemongrass chicken and barramundi fish cakes. When you walk into the Archer Street restaurant the first thing that hits you is the aromatic scent of pho coming from the kitchen – star anise, citrus and coriander mingle in the air. It tastes as good as it smells.
Order the: The King, $13.80
This Melburnian burger joint has found a welcoming home in Chatswood. The King’s juicy meat patty is topped by a puck of deep fried mac’n’cheese. It’s a tall order to get your mouth around, but a mighty tasty challenge. The secret burger sauce is like a Big Mac sauce, with hits of mustard, onion and zippy pickle through it; the meat is cooked just past pink (which is a rarity for any shopping centre burger) and tomatoes are fresh and juicy.
Order the: Chicken katsu curry with rice, $4.90
This has to be one of the best value meals in Chatswood, with a small serve costing less than a fiver. If your hunger is huge, no worries – you can upgrade to a large, or double up your crisp katsu. But if you really want to roll away try the special (or better yet share with a mate or two). A long wide platter of rice, four palm-sized pieces of sliced chicken katsu, and what looks like a litre of curry sauce come with bright red pickled radish, shredded cabbage, mayo, sweet teriyaki sauce and some bonus fried katsu prawns – and it’s only $20.
Order the: Baodoa pork sauce with rice, $7.50
Make a beeline for this busy Taiwanese kitchen on Anderson Street. Their version of lu rou fan (which literally translates to stewed meat rice) sees scraps of braised pork gently sweetened by Chinese five spice – it’s almost like a Taiwanese ragù. It comes with sour, pickled Chinese greens and a soy-seasoned hard boiled egg. If you want even more bang for your buck pop outside and see if their street stall is set up, where you can get a takeaway bowl for just $6.50.
Order the: Two meet with rice, $11
You’ll be drawn to this tiny shopfront by the glistening ducks hanging in the window. Inside, you’ll hear customers haggling over the loud thuds of the meat cleaver hacking up whole barbecued ducks. The two meat and rice option means you can choose from roast duck, seasoned roast duck, pork belly or pork sausage. The char sui is tender, however the fat isn’t quite rendered down enough to make it crisp. The duck is the surefire belter here – it’s ultra-unctuous with auburn skin seasoned so it’s salty and crisp. Bones and cartilage are left in, making it a messy mission, but the succulent meat is a reward well worth the greasy fingers. You can also get whole ducks, roast pork and sausage by the kilo.
Order the: Roti canai, $7.50
The North Shore iteration is just as good as its city sister, and usually without the queues. Roti canai here is a must – tear away bite-sized bits of the fluffy piles of pastry and alternate dunking it between the three curries. Start with the gentle, nutty hum in the lentil curry, then step up to the fiery, fishy sambal before rounding it out with a rich, red chicken curry.
Order the: Betel leaf beef, $15
You know that moment after you eat a spicy thing, when it manages to get even spicier? Your lips tingle, your nose is sniffing and you’re reaching for another futile sip of water. And yet, it’s so good you go in for another bite almost immediately. That’s the level of heat this Northern Thai joint is packing. A feisty beef stir fry has dozens of diagonal slices of chilli, wilted betel leaf, mini green baubles of pea eggplant and glossy chilli oil through it. It’s redonkulously hot, but worth it.
Order the: Lamb skewers, $8
The namesake of this venue is a hot item for good reason. The lamb is skewered and grilled over white hot charcoal until the caps of fat are rendered down like slices of butter in between the meat. The meat ranges from crisp to juicy and comes dusted with cumin (both seeds and grounded), a gentle hum of chilli and sesame seeds. Add in rice for $2.50, or flat breads to make a meal out of it, or eat straight off the stick when you’re on-the-go.
Order the: Pork crackling roll, $7.50
Oddly enough, Chatswood has been without a great banh mi spot for years now. Saigon Rolls have arrived to eradicate this problem. Get the pork with crackling for loud, crunchy crackles, sweet pickled carrots and lean-to-fatty strips of pork. Ask for extra chilli for extra kick (it’s not super spicy). Not so hungry? Go for the mini, which is only $5.30, or go breadless with the summer noodle bowl.