Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
I once came across a question in one of those online dating profile questionnaires – do you prefer fancy restaurants or hole in the wall places? My answer was emphatically “hole in the wall”. I love exploring the city and ferreting out those tiny gems with mouth-watering food; the places that only locals know about and jealously guard for fear it becomes overwhelmed with the Instagram crowd. Hole in the wall places are definitely my favourite, not least because they are good, cheap eats.
Which is why I look forward to the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide list of Sydney’s top 50 cheap eats every year. Once an eatery has made it onto this list, it becomes the worst kept secret in town, but boy are they worth the trek.
To make it easier for myself in my quest to track down all of these places, I’ve put all the SMH recommendations on the map above. Finalists (marked in red) include Belles Hot Chicken for their Southern fried chicken, Boon cafe for their Thai curries and sandwiches, Bovine and Swine for their BBQ meats, Do Dee Paidang for their chilli-loaded tom yum noodles, and Trunk Road for their loaded rotis. Green dots are the ones I’ve been to, and blue ones are upcoming adventures.
Highlights so far include:
Oregano Bakery is famous for its scrolls sold at markets and stalls around Sydney. But their savoury dishes are pretty awesome as well, particularly this roast lamb zaatar wrap. For our next visit, sujuc (spicy sausage) pizza topped with assorted cheese is at the top of the list.
Braving Sydney’s most dangerous suburb to try crunchy fried rice at Lao Village. Verdict: Delicious and filled with so many crunchy bits that the chef must have great skill to get all that rice stuck to the bottom of the pan for long enough to make it crunchy, but not so long that they’re burnt.
Dropped by Manupuku after a stroll around Coogee Beach one day. The texture of the handmade ramen was amazing, but I’ve had better broths and the spice ball was puny. The Manupuku printed on the sheet of nori (in calcium, in case you’re wondering) was a nice touch.
My favourite ramen bar on the list is definitely Ryo’s Noodles in Crows Nest. It’s been a while since I’ve been back, but the perennially long lines are a testament to its continuing popularity.
I didn’t know what burek was before I visited the Balkan Oven Bakery Cafe. Then I discovered it’s basically like Greece’s spanakopita – creamy cheesy spinach goodness sandwiched between two layers of gorgeously flaky pie crust. Comes with a mince meat filling too, and they also do dessert burek!
Pastizzis at Newtown were an unexpected and yummy find. And so cheap too!
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