What Y’all Can Eat in Sydney, Australia

I made it!
I made it!

For years I’ve just wanted to go to Sydney. You know, Adelaide is my home sweet home, but I couldn’t help but get a little hung up on the fact that I’d never seen the two architectural structures that people from elsewhere probably associate most strongly with my homeland. It seems silly, but it was almost like a little pilgrimage, and totally fitting that we set out on Australia Day to get there.

I made it. After my first commercial flight, I was there living a dream that begun in many moons past. I took about 200 selfies of me and The Sydney Harbour BridgeTM and The Sydney Opera HouseTM. The whole process of getting on a plane and travelling into a different bigger city was just begging for the stupid person in me to come screaming out. At one point I was wandering around thinking ‘Why are there so many advertisements for opera performances in Sydney?’.

I thoroughly enjoyed nearly every aspect. My only criticisms were that Sydney really needs to step up their recycling game, ban plastic bags and get a freakin’ bottle deposit. Getting plastic bags at the supermarket was like crazy childhood nostalgia for me, but it shouldn’t still be happening in a part of the country that is home to many sea turtles. Madness!

Sydney’s food game is strong. Except on Australia Day when everything was shut. You live and you learn, and I now know travelling on a public holiday is not a good way to get comfy in a new city. Anyhow, in no particular order, here’s a sampling of my food adventures in Sydney.

Lord of the Fries

www.lordofthefries.com.au

537 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Oh boy. This is the one I’d been waiting for. No photos, because there was no dine in area and I ate on a bench, but here’s the run down. I got:

– The parma burger: Very good vegan cheese, tasty schnitzel patty. At the time I would’ve liked it to be a little bigger, but later on in the day I realised it was enough.

– Regular fries: bloody tasty fries, more akin to what I would call ‘chips’ but I got the impression there was a kind of American theme happening, so fries be the name which they are called.

– Oreo milkshake: Tasty enough. Very easy to finish. Little chunks of oreos dispersed throughout flavoured milk.

For me, it lived up to my expectations. Greasy vegan junk food in the form of burgers and fries is something we lack a little in Adelaide. I’m no purist; gimme that faux-meat and cheese.GST was included, so I paid for my heart attack in advance.

Peace Harmony Vegetarian Thai Cuisine

44 Erskine Street, Sydney NSW 2000

First impressions was that this was very much like the Zen House restaurants of Adelaide. Just with a more Thai food focus and none of the ‘Western Delights’. I was not too far off the mark with hearty portion sizes of some tasty Asian food favourites. The stand outs for me were the satay entrée (crispy faux-meat with a wonderful satay sauce) and the seafood salad which my sister had for main. I had truly not see such a brilliant attempt at vegan seafood before, with a combination of faux fish, calamari pieces and prawns all combined with fresh vegetables and a lovely Thai dressing.

My other sister had the Pad See Ew, but unfortunately the use of soy sauce seemed to be a tiny bit too liberal which gave the dish a slightly ‘vegemitey flavour’ . I had the laksa and found it to be well balanced for my tastes (not too spicy, not at all bland) but was unable to finish it because I was still full from lunch.

Were I ever to live in Sydney for any period, I could definitely see myself frequenting this place regularly.

Clockwise: Dim Sims, Satays, Pad See Ew, Seafood Salad and Laksa
Clockwise: Dim Sims, Satays, Pad See Ew, Seafood Salad and Laksa

Iku Wholefoods

Various locations

www.ikuwholefood.com

And here’s where my jealousy really kicks in for Sydney. They have a vegan chain store, in food courts at, like, 12 locations around Sydney. We’re talking salads, curries, casseroles, snacks, muffins, cakes, sticky rice plus a million other things. I ate here a few times and sampled quite a few things off that jumbled list. All of them were good, all of them were well priced. No photos though because the nature of the place was sort of ‘eat on the run’. Or it was for me anyway. They didn’t serve coffee though. Only chai lattes.

Basil Pizza and Pasta

126 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042

www.basilpizza.com.au

La Vie Boheme! The second I got off the train in Newtown I felt like I’d stepped onto the set of a production of ‘Rent’. Sex shops and art supplies on every corner, and ‘heroin chic’ still going strong amongst a few of the inhabitants. Beautiful! And in the midst of that, pizza!

I has roasted eggplant that melted. You know how it melts when it’s cooked right? And vegan cheese. The whole faux-meat, faux-cheese party is there and it’s totally worth it to quell your vegan pizza cravings.

Garlic Bread and Pizza
Garlic Bread and Pizza

Gelatissimo

Various locations

www.gelatissimo.com.au

Old favourite from Adelaide, but so many more locations. We practically frequented the Circular Quay store, but also visited the store in Newtown where I sampled the ‘Mojito’ flavour as a partner to the absolute must have for vegans, best in the world, chocolate sorbet.

The Taronga Zoo

Nah, I’m just kidding. It looked promising with their ‘International Food Market’ thingo, but upon arriving we discovered everything was premade, nearly everything had meat in it, and we had to be happy with our hot chips and fruit salad for lunch. Game needs to be lifted here. There was nary a decent vegetarian option, never known vegan.

Advice; Pack your own lunch, or grab it from Iku on the way like we did the previous day at the Sea-Life Sydney Aquarium. Tourist spots just weren’t big on catering to vegans.

Bodhi Restaurant and Bar

2-4 College Street, Sydney NSW 2000

www.bodhi.id.au

Mmmm, award winning vegan yum cha, eh? This was some more complex food with a nifty touch of ‘attention to detail’ and a very clear aim of creating an interesting experience for the diner. Flavour was definitely not lacking. The atmosphere was slightly jarring, however; classy and relaxed just weren’t melding together how one might hope. I was really tired though, so maybe it was me.

I had the ‘mushroom, asparagus, red capsicum, soft tofu and cashew nuts tossed in a
creamy coconut lemongrass sauce in an asian pastry nest’
and found it to be quite delicious and very coconutty, which I appreciate as a flavour. My sister had the ‘bodhi vegetarian peking ‘duck’, bbq sauce, cucumber and pancakes’ which I sampled and very much liked. Just the right amount of crunch! Besides this, we had the Japanese pumpkin and English spinach gow dumplings, and the ‘Chinese vegetable steamed bread buns’ for entrées. I particularly liked the effect of the translucent skin on the English spinach dumplings revealing their dark green insides. You should be able to see that in the photo.

Left: Spring Rolls, English Spinach Gow Dumplings; Centre: Chinese Bread Buns, Japanese Pumpkin Gow Dumplings; Right: Peking Duck and Mushroom Asparagus
Left: Spring Rolls, English Spinach Gow Dumplings; Centre: Chinese Bread Buns, Japanese Pumpkin Gow Dumplings; Right: Peking Duck and Mushroom Asparagus

And that’s pretty much it. I will be back, Sydney, and when I am, ready your spatulas because I’m going to be hungry!    

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