My high school friend (Hi Michelle!) was visiting from Boston and I haven’t seen her since first year uni so we had a meet up in Sydney. She said her boss who was Australian had recommended Red Lantern to her so we decided to try it. Red Lantern is opened by Luke Nguyen, a celebrity chef in Australia. They serve high end Vietnamese food with some new twists. Generally when I think about Vietnamese food, it’s usually a giant bowl of pho or pork rolls at affordable prices so I told myself to be open minded towards fine dining Vietnamese food. Bear in mind, I’m not much of a fine diner (yet)!
Aqua S is a soft serve ice cream shop that serves new flavours every 15 days. You can check their Instagram to see what their current flavours are. I went to their store in Regent Place after dinner to get some dessert. The ice cream comes in pastel colours that are really photogenic and insta-worthy. The shop is quite small and doesn’t have much seating so you’ll probably have to take it to go. On this particular occasion, they had Manuka Honey x Sea Salt or Lime Cheesecake x Sea Salt available. I believe the sea salt flavour is always available and the other 2 flavours are changed frequently.
I’m a huge fan of salted caramel ice cream so I was excited to try the sea salt flavour. I love cheesecake as well so I went with the Lime Cheesecake x Sea Salt swirl. They only accept credit/debit card if you buy $6 worth of food and since the ice cream was $4.50, I was short of the minimum spend amount so I was forced to add a topping for $1.50 so that I could use my card. Also my friends were waiting and I was too far away to ask if they had cash and I didn’t want to go get cash after I made them wait. Toppings include popping candy, fairy floss or a toasted marshmallow. As you can see, I went with the toasted marshmallow.
Despite how pretty it looks, especially against their aquamarine coloured wall, the taste fell short of my expectations. I thought the sea salt would be much saltier and the lime cheesecake tasted artificial. Also it melted too fast for my liking. I like my ice cream cold and hard. The best thing about this turned out to be the toasted marshmallow which was thick and fluffy. I was told by someone else that Aqua S doesn’t taste as good as it looks but it seemed quite popular and I had to try it for myself because how bad could ice cream be? Maybe I just picked a bad flavour?
Needless to say, I don’t feel the need for a re-visit anytime soon.
I’ve noticed that banh mi sandwiches or “pork rolls” are fairly common in Sydney. They’re commonly sold in shops with signs that say “hot bread” as the name of the store and there’s one in every neighbourhood. In fact, these hot bread shops are open super early in the morning like at 5am and close early around 4pm. I discovered this as I had to get up at 4am for a flight to Melbourne and the shop I passed by was getting ready to open. Banh Meats & Co are stepping up the game for banh mi sandwiches with exciting protein options like soft shell crab, fried chicken and fried eggplant for the vegetarians. They are located in a side street next to Burwood station.
Banh Meats & Co is probably more popular as a lunch spot than a dinner spot as it was pretty quiet during my dinner visit. I noticed the gigantic slab of roast pork right away and I knew we had to get it! For their sandwiches, you can choose from a long bun or a round bun. They also serve the same proteins as salad bowls or rice bowls for the same price in case you don’t feel like eating a sandwich.
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There are plenty of restaurants to choose from along Church Street in Parramatta but I was craving some Malaysian food and came across Pak Hailam Kopitiam. It was located just before Parramatta river. It was also Easter Friday so the place was dead. We were the only people there at 6:30pm which is prime dinner time.
On a side note, it seems like Australia is really big on Easter as well as hot cross buns. I’ve never seen so many hot cross bun related food items before. So far I’ve seen hot cross bun flavoured chocolates, hot cross bun French toast, hot cross bun ice cream, hot cross bun donuts as well as hot cross buns in different flavours like milk chocolate and apple with cinnamon! I barely noticed any hot cross buns in Vancouver except around Easter but here they started selling them in January already. I actually started buying them because they were pretty cheap at the grocery stores and I’m a girl on a budget. Turns out they were pretty good since they were light and fluffy as well as sweet. Sorry for the long digression but onwards to the food ->
Da Jian Chen serves up a popular Chinese breakfast street food that is essentially a crepe or pancake with various fillings. I’m not actually sure if I’ve had this before, maybe once at the Richmond Night Market back in Canada? I’ve only been to China twice so I’ve never had it there. It looked delicious though so I was definitely going to give it a go. Da Jian Chen is located on Golburn Street just off George Street.
I still remember the first time I ever had a banh mi sandwich. My aunt picked up my brother and I from Chinese school on Saturday (who else went to Chinese school?!) and then we went for lunch. She introduced us to banh mi sandwiches and I was sold because I loved how there were pickled vegetables! I don’t eat them often though and sometimes I find the baguette to be on the harder and scratchier side but they are cheap as far as sandwiches go. In Australia, they usually call them “pork rolls” instead of banh mi probably so that they will appeal to more people. Destination Roll has a location close to my office near Wynyard station and they always have a line up during lunch hours.
I’ve always been a huge fan of donuts (hi Cartems!) but since that’s more of an American thing, there aren’t many donuts around in Sydney. Speaking of which, I also miss Tim Hortons and how cheap they are!!! There was Doughnut Time but it recently went bankrupt and all their stores seem to have closed now. I came across Donut Papi on Instagram and I’ve been stalking their page since. They close early on weekdays so I could only make a visit on the weekend. Basically all cafes close around 3 or 4pm here so unfortunately popping by after work is not an option.
My boyfriend suggested we get burgers so he took me to Burger Project in Parramatta. Since he’s a student, he’s been taking advantage of their student special from 3-6pm where you can get free small chips with your burger. Since we went for lunch though I couldn’t mooch off his discount this time. Their motto is fast food with slow food values. We were their first customers of the day so the restaurant was empty. It was actually a very spacious venue for a burger joint.
Did you know the Aussie’s like putting beetroot in their burgers? It actually tastes pretty good. The Aussie Burger had grass fed beef, beetroot, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce & secret sauce. Not sure what the secret sauce was but it complimented the juicy burger.
They had a limited edition burger called The Korean with Samjang Mayonnaise, Onion, Lettuce, Kimchi & Bulgogi Glaze. I decided to be healthy and order it as a burger in a bowl so instead of having buns you get lettuce instead. I found the patty to be too salty from the bulgogi glaze so it might’ve been better if I had ordered it as a regular burger with buns instead. The patty was also juicy but I think they could’ve provided more onions since there were barely any. Also, I expected more of a spicy kick to it but that was not the case.
Here in Oz, they don’t usually serve burgers with fries (or chips as they call it here) so they need to be ordered separately. The Chips (large size) were perfectly fried, fluffy on the inside and seasoning was spot on.
Lastly, we ordered a Coffee Milkshake but it was disappointing as the texture was super watery and it was more like a latte… I would’ve sent it back but my boyfriend had already gulped half of it and he’s not a fan of sending food back.
Have you ever sent food back?
Thai Riffic is a chain restaurant located outside of Westfield Parramatta and it’s in a great location for quick eats. I love Thai food and Sydney has Thai food in abundance. They were pretty busy at dinner time but the wait was short.
I came across Mr. Stonebowl on Instagram (aka the best way to discover more food) and despite reading about the long lineups, I decided to brave them on a Sunday night. Luckily we only had 2 people so we got in after 10 mins! Way ahead of the various other people standing around. Stuff like this just makes my day since I hate waiting! We went to the Mr. Stonebowl location in Burwood and it’s a few blocks from the train station.