10.30pm in downtown Sydney. While other parts of the city are gearing down and restaurant kitchens are shutting after service, the Haymarket is bustling with vibrant activity. A light chill hangs in the night air on an unusually warm October along with anticipation.
Located just a short walk from Sydney’s CBD, a world of cultures and cuisines is dotted within Chinatown, Thainatown and Koreatown. To the tourist or first time visitor, even to many locals, the choice of eating venues can be daunting at best of times. Dan Hong, Executive Chef at Mr Wong and Ms G’s leads a midnight tour of the Haymarket, an area that was once the city’s cattle and hay market in the early 1830s.
Chefs and hospitality staff are renowned to frequent the Haymarket for late night dining and in this tour, Dan Hong reveals some of his favourite eating haunts with an exclusive insight into the dishes he enjoys, along with some of his chef mates.
Located at the Liverpool Street end of Dixon Street, you’ll find Arisun, a family-owned Korean beer house and eatery with a vast outdoor seating area. Arisun is famous for its spicy Korean Fried Chicken which you wash down with mega jugs of beer (4.5 litres) or sip on a soothing lemony Soju cocktail.
As tasty as the fried chicken is, a popular dish among chefs, the hot and spicy Pork Bulgogi is equally irresistible and hard to put down. At the time of visit, the venue was about to undergo renovations and will reopen on on 14/11/2013 with an industrial vintage look.
Mamak is a Haymarket institution that brings a taste of Malaysian street food to Sydney. Since it first opened in Chinatown in 2006, it has become famous for its roti and the long queues snaking around the intimate venue at all hours.
Roti is made using a paper-thin dough that is stretched, slapped on a bench, fried then rolled and served with curry. Roti Canai ($5.50) is the original roti, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Roti Telur ($6.50) is the classic egg roti and Roti Planta ($6.50) is rich and buttery.
Go there for affordable staple food such as charcoal satays, spicy curries and shaved ice cream desserts.
What does $10 million look like in Chinatown? Waitan, the newest addition to the district brings luxe Asian dining to Sydney. The two-storey venue includes luxury fourteen private rooms upstairs, the O(pium) Lounge and a dedicated Peking duck oven with bricks imported from China.
Pigs tongue, jelly fish, heirloom tomato and smoked paprika dressing is an example of the style of cuisine you can find but the star of the menu is the sensational Peking Duck, wood-smoked in a special oven.
Ask Sydney chefs where they go for a good late night feed and they invariably end up at Golden Century Seafood Restaurant.
Wall to wall seafood tanks are the highlight of the split-level venue that serves the best stir fried pippies with XO sauce and an array of live seafood. The King Crab is the signature dish said to be ordered by celebrities and royalty, cooked to order after an obligatory showing at your table, deep fried with salt and pepper. Give the hot and sour soup with crab roe a go in cooler months. It’s delicious, filling and comforting at any time of the day or night.
When it comes to Asian desserts, the menu at Chat Thai is difficult to resist, particularly the dessert platter that strikes a balance of sweet and savoury.
Whether it’s the Woon Gati (young coconut and pandan jelly), a selection of candied egg yolk infused with jasmine syrup, Khanom Dtom (steamed glutinous rice dumplings filled with caramelised coconut in palm sugar), Khao Niew Mamuang (coconut sorbet sundae with sticky rice and mangoes) or the cooling and refreshing Waan Yen (iced dessert soup of house made candied lotus root, pumpkin and pineapple in an aromatic coconut milk), there’s something to satisfy that sweet tooth late at night.
Chat Thai is set to open Jaren Chai, an Asian grocer with a Thai-style café, by late December. The shop will supply fresh produce as well as imported Asian products and ingredients at 1/425 Pitt St, Haymarket.
With over 22,000 seats in restaurants, cafes and alfresco dining, Sydney’s Haymarket is the go-to destination for late night dining.
The Secret Chef’s Tour with Dan Hong was held on the evening of Friday 25 October 2013.
Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
1 Dixon St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9264 1588
15 Goulburn St
Ph: 02 9211 1668
405 Sussex St
Haymarket, NSW 2000
Ph: 0468 579 978
393 Sussex St
Ph: 02 9212 3901
Chat Tai Haymarket
20 Campbell St
Haymarket, NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9211 1808
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