The fastest way to deep-dive into any Asian city is to follow your nose – it will no doubt lead you to an open-air food court serving hyper-local and seriously good street food. What makes street food so undeniably delicious is that these recipes have been honed over centuries; grown out of the need to feed many people quickly, cheaply and well.
Sydney’s diverse Asian cultures have inspired a number of hawker-style sellers of our own, serving countless plates of Malaysia’s supremely comforting Hainanese chicken rice, silky pork-filled Chinese dumplings, and plenty more.
Jump outside your culinary comfort zone and explore a new dish inspired by Asia’s beloved street-food culture at Castle Towers.
Nyonya cuisine is a rich and comforting fusion of Malay ingredients and Chinese cooking techniques, best summed up by dishes like Hainanese chicken rice – a chicken stuffed with garlic, ginger and shallot, poached and served alongside fragrant rice. It’s dishes like these that chef Jim Yong has dedicated his 30-year career to perfecting. At Jim’s Malaysia, take your pick from a menu that calls to mind the best hawker stalls found on the streets of Penang today. “Uncle Jim” – as he’s known in the industry – says the dish that transports him to his childhood is the unrivalled char kway teow; an epic sweet and spicy noodle stir-fry.
Chalk it up to their dainty single-bite portions or the sheer variety of iterations out there, dim sum is a street food we can all get behind. Ms Dumpling is gearing up to serve up hundreds of these steamed, boiled or fried delights on the daily menu. If your growling stomach can handle it, peer into the open kitchen that offers a behind-the-scenes peek at expert chefs filling and folding each delicate parcel.
At Makanai Ramen Noodle House, satisfy an unchecked appetite with traditional, made-to-order ramen. Be transported to Japan with authentic favourites: ramen, udon, curry, donburis and bentos.
A yatai is a Japanese food stall, typically selling countless Japanese exports we’ve come to crave. Stop by Yatai Ozeki for their satisfying donburi rice bowls topped with crunchy pork katsu, succulent karaage chicken, or Japanese curry.
Take a tea break as they do in Taiwan – with a bubble tea customised by you. Freshly brewed tea, chewy tapioca balls and plenty of fun mix-ins complete the Chatime experience. With its rainbow menu of options, start with the old faithful of Premium Pearl Milk Iced Tea, then follow your tastebuds to pinpoint a favourite.
Banana Blossom gives the street food concept a healthy spin. Think vibrant made-to-order salads, spicy rice bowls and chef-approved dressings. To give you a taster, the store’s Tokyo Classic combines green tea-infused soba noodles, cucumber, cherry tomato and avocado with a white sesame and sweet soy dressing. Co-founder Nat Thomas, who was born and raised in Thailand, says, “Asian flavours make it easy to have both a delicious meal and one that’s good for you.” Naturally, the menu takes care of vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free seekers.
If you’re new to street-style kathi rolls, life is about to get very interesting. They’re essentially India’s answer to a wrap, and therefore one of the country’s most popular street foods. At ChaChu’s, the meat- or veg-stuffed rolls are layered with egg, green chutney, signature spices, lettuce, onion and coriander. Once you’ve conquered the kathi menu, explore the other equally drool-worthy Indian street foods of biryani, curries and kulcha (fluffy, stuffed flat bread).