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Auburn area guide

Restaurants, shops and events in Auburn

Photograph: ELT

Auburn is a cultural melting pot, and you only need look to their supermarkets to prove it. By our count we spot 15 – we’re not including big corporates like Woolies and Aldi here, but rather local, independent offerings. The North Asian ones on the South side of the station are where to head for fresh green bunches of gai lang and bok choy, and the north side contingent are dedicated to Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Turkish, Iranian, Nepali, Polynesian and Burmese staples. This is where you want to come for bulk spices, hug bags of rice, every pickle you can imagine and a thousand salty snacks. Some sell huge tubs of yoghurt and others kaymak in a jar, plus you’ll find chilli sauces, rose water, curry pastes and religious iconography just for good measure. The huge diversity of cultural backgrounds in Auburn is at the heart of its appeal.

The best restaurants in Auburn

New Star Kebabs
Restaurants

New Star Kebabs

We’ve all been there. A late-night kebab loaded with meat and dripping with chilli sauce after a beer or three is a rite of passage. And even though New Star Kebabs is open late enough to help you kick that impending hangover to the kerb before it’s even begun (until midnight every evening), you’ll probably enjoy their kebabs even more when you’re sober. Seriously. It starts with the slowly spinning vertical rotisserie, jammed tight with chicken, lamb or beef mince. Pick your protein and they’ll carve on the spot, jamming it into a lightly toasted flat bread wrapped up with lettuce, tomato, onion and your choice of sauce. For only $8.50, you’ll score a monster-sized doner kebab. It’s as wide as a tree trunk – and that’s before you fork out the extra buck for tabouleh and grated cheese. The real stars of the show at this Turkish joint, though, are the shish kebabs, cooked on giant skewers that look like flattened swords. That’s no coincidence either. It’s said that Persian soldiers in the Medieval Age used their swords as makeshift skewers to cook meat over an open fire. Take your pick from seasoned, speared lamb mince, hunks of lamb or marinated chicken pieces. Get the mixed plate ($23) and you can watch it being cooked over glowing charcoal by the shish expert, who’s trapped in a glass booth that looks onto the street. Park yourself at a table and they’ll bring it out when it’s ready, along with a heap of salad, lemon wedges and side sauces of chilli oil, hummus

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Dervish Turkish Restaurant
Restaurants

Dervish Turkish Restaurant

Pop in to this welcoming Turkish café where they’re rolling their lahmacum pastry wafer thin, topping it with a tender mix of minced lamb, onion, parlsey and tomato and chilli and then flash baking it in the oven. It’s like an extra-crispy based pizza, and with a squeeze of lemon and a scattering of fresh parsley it really brings the dish together. It comes with simple tangy salad of lettuce cabbage red onion and tomato dusted in herbs on the side, and if you ask nicely they’ll pour out a strong black tea to go with it. 

Kabul International Restaurant and Bakery
Restaurants

Kabul International Restaurant and Bakery

Kabul Restaurant and Bakery has a little alcove where you can pop in for an Afghani naan, fresh out of the oven and dusted with white and black sesame seeds. It’s like a thin snow show, which is slightly crisp when fresh out of the oven and softens as it cools. Swipe it through anything or just eat it for the love of bread. If you need more than bread to sate your hunger, the restaurant opens at 11am and we’re told by locals it’s the place to go for fried chicken in Auburn.

Peranakan Place
Restaurants

Peranakan Place

Relax, there’s no hydrogen cyanide left in the buah keluak seed by the time it ends up in your meal here. The seed is found inside the "football fruit" of the keluak tree native to the swamps of southeast Asia – and thanks to that volatile acid, is highly poisonous. So why is it on the menu at this Auburn eatery? Here's why: they first boil down the seeds before burying them in ash for forty days. This allows them to ferment, and converts the flesh from a pale creamy colour to a midnight shade of black. Those seeds are the centrepiece of ayam buah keluak, a dark and spicy chicken stew fragrant with tamarind, turmeric and galangal. Ayam buah keluak ($29.90) is a mainstay of Peranakan cuisine. And those seeds are unlike anything you will ever taste. You’ll get a crab picker to scrape out the meat from within the partially cracked seed. The flesh is ominously black, nutty and medicinal – with an unmistakeable bitterness. You can try it for yourself at Peranakan Place, Sydney’s only restaurant dedicated to Peranakan cuisine. There’s not much signage out the front but the interiors are new and sparkling, filled with Peranakan trinkets and a smiling host who’s eager to explain everything. Like, for instance, what is Peranakan food? It’s the distinct strain of Malay Chinese cuisine which evolved in the 15th and 16th centuries in Malaysia and Singapore when Chinese immigrants integrated their food with that of the locals. Also known as Nonya food – nonya means aunty in Per

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars

The best things to do in Auburn

Auburn Gallipoli Mosque
Things to do

Auburn Gallipoli Mosque

The most striking thing about the Auburn skyline is the white dome of the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque, flanked by two slender minarets rising out of a shallow valley along the railway. It’s a classical Ottoman style mosque that was designed by Turkish architects, constructed from marble shipped over from Turkey and painted according to Turkish designs. Sadly the call to prayer can only be broadcast inside the building due to noise restrictions, but even without it, when you stand in the beautiful gardens of the mosque you feel like you could as easily be in Istanbul as Auburn. Thanks to both community curiosity and the ongoing HSC Religion module tours of the mosque are popular and happen every day except Friday when the grounds will be filled to capacity for the congregational prayer. Tours are taken by volunteers and on our visit it’s a quietly spoke young pharmacist who walks us through the history of the mosque, the community around it and the five tenets of Islam. It’s an excellent opportunity to ask questions about religion, and also one of the most peaceful educational experiences you’re likely to get outside of a guided meditation.

Auburn Botanic Gardens
Things to do

Auburn Botanic Gardens

Tranquility might not be the buzzword that springs to mind when you think Auburn, but it’s the right word for the 9.2 hectares lush greenery inside the Auburn Botanic Gardens. The gardens are broken down into themed areas that include a Japanese garden, complete with a pond, waterfall and ornamental bridges. Past the Japanese garden is the Reflection Pool, then the scented garden, the sunken rose garden, a billabong, native rainforest and a playground that has full wheelchair accessible equipment, including a liberty swing. There’s also a fauna reserve and aviary where you can commune with peacocks, Cape Barron geese and red necked wallabies. Each year the Gardens also hosts two major flora festivals, the Cherry Blossom Festival in August and the Autumn Colours festival in late May. 

Peacock Gallery
Art

Peacock Gallery

Auburn’s community art gallery might be tiny, but it’s worth a visit when you’re in this quiet, leafy corner of Auburn. The Peacock Gallery is made up of two small rooms that host six to seven exhibitions each year, and importantly, it is both free to visit and free for artists to exhibit there. The gallery also has a shop where you can buy handmade items from local designers and artists. For the 2016 program they looked to the Auburn Botanic Gardens (located directly opposite the gallery) for inspiration. It included Object in Space: Artists in the Garden that featured ceramics by Keiko Matsui, sculpture’s by Cameron Williams and Christopher Hodges, photography by Garry Trinh and textile arts by the Makers Circle and Berala Nick Nack Knitters. From Oct 28-Nov 27 the gallery’s new exhibit will be Indonesian Design Emerging, followed by the Auburn Arts Showcase and Arts Market in December. 

Flavours of Auburn Cooking Classes
Things to do

Flavours of Auburn Cooking Classes

Flavours of Auburn are doing social enterprise right. In 2007 four small cultural groups approached Auburn Council and created the Auburn Small Community Organisation Network (ASCON). Membership grew and in 2009 they began hosting food events as a part of the annual Good Food Month. The classes and tours became so popular that in 2013 they began running Auburn tours year round; in 2014 they got the small business on board to open up to visitors; and in 2015 they began a full time program of tours and cooking classes. The classes not only allow visitors to experience food from around the globe, but also provide employment and training to newly arrived migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Flavours of Auburn have joined forces with House of Welcome, a transitional housing provider for people seeking asylum in NSW, and together they host regular cooking classes at the Auburn Centre for Community. The Iranian classes are some of their most popular. They keep the class sizes small so that you participate and keep a close eye on the production of a celebration chicken and rice dish, a Persian salad, a Middle Eastern dal and Iranian samosas. It’s an informal setting in a commercial kitchen and allows you to chat to your hosts and the trainee teachers about their lives and cultures. At exactly the point where the smell of cooking is driving you mad everyone retires to the dining room which has been set for dinner and shares a feast. It is delicious, educational and social and will l

Best sweet treats in Auburn

Real Turkish Delight
Shopping

Real Turkish Delight

This elegant shop in Auburn is where they make those white boxes of Turkish Delight you see in shops around Sydney. Load up on sweet, sticky squares of vanilla, hazelnut, rose, pistachio, almond and coconut Turkish delight, and if you want to really double down on the sugar high, opt in for a selection of their handmade chocolates too. 

Mado
Restaurants

Mado

You could probably stop at the dip plate with some of their spectacular ice cream for dessert if you were feeling derelict but then you’d be missing out on manti (they’re like a little ravioli) with yoghurt and tomato sauce or lamb ribs with rice and chick peas. The fit out is a tad exotic while the service is consistetly attentive.

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