Food. The only other stuff that gets me all excited. What’s the other one? I’m not entirely sure. Isn’t it obvious that we love to eat? See Eat Lists HERE. In fact, even before I do my research on where to go and what to do during a trip, you can be sure that I’ve already listed down restos and delicacies to try above all else. Anyway…let’s talk about Australia. It’s the land down under famous for meat pies, steaks and other meats, and best of all…COFFEE. But coffee is a whole other post. Let’s focus on food.
We spent two weeks in Sydney and Melbourne plus a side trip to Canberra, but I’m doing just two food posts because we were fortunate enough to have a friend who took us under her wings. Thank God for friends all over the globe, nearly all our meals were prepared and cooked at home. And while all were extremely delicious and prepared from scratch (which is a rare one for me especially as my family often eats out), I will be focusing more on those times we ate out as I’m pretty sure my friend’s cooking will never be accessible to anyone else but us (wink, wink). Anyway, it’s more practical if I focused on food you can enjoy too thus, the restaurants below.
SIDE NOTE: Actually it was the husband who cooked most of our meals. He makes delicious Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Masala and Kare Kare, the latter being the stuff of dreams. It’s really good. My friend is a lucky woman. She gets to eat good food everyday.
In Sydney, I didn’t really plan anything and just relied heavily on my friend’s recommendations. For once, I let someone else do the planning. No research, no googling on my part. We instead ate at random restaurants. I do think we could have done better but we didn’t do too badly.
PANCAKES ON THE ROCKS
Straight from the airport, we went here for our first meal in Sydney. It was lunchtime when we arrived so we still had to wait before we could be seated. It took awhile because we were a big group and available ones were only tables for 2 and 4.
We had spareribs, beef ribs, pancakes, and salad. The servings were huge. My daughter and I shared a plate of ribs. I wouldn’t consider it as the best ribs I’ve tasted but it surely made us full as there was also a huge serving of chips (Aussies refer to fries as chips) on the side. I guess the reasons why people flock to this restaurant are for its family style service and huge servings.
THE GROUNDS OF ALEXANDRIA CAFE
Another family friendly place. The Grounds of Alexandria used to be an industrial precinct from the 1920s. The whole site is close to an acre and holds a coffee roastery, cafe, sustainable garden, flower shop, artisan bakery, as well as an animal farm with very friendly, very “farm-y” and very hungry creatures.
We met with friends from high school at the cafe. It’s weird that we decided to meet up in Sydney . Why? Coz we couldn’t get together in Manila as we all got busy with work, family and life basically. And now we all have kids and partners. Well, they have partners and children while I have an adult, a “pre-teener” (is there such a word?) and this blog. #truth
It felt good to catch up. Between the lives we chose, it’s good to know that we’re all doing great and that we still have this friendship that started when we were just teens. Some of us didn’t even get along during those hormone-infused years but look at us now. So proud that we have outgrown our insecurities and differences.
And you thought Australia would be all about burgers, steaks and meat pies! Well, not at all. What I instantly noticed is a good selection of Asian restaurants in Sydney as well as in Melbourne. Aussies enjoy Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Korean, and even Filipino cuisines the same way they enjoy their local meat pies.
We had lunch at PappaRich in Canberra. It was actually a toss between Nando’s Kitchen and PappaRich but obviously, the latter won. When you have kids in tow, chicken is the most likely meal of choice and Nando’s Kitchen serves Peri-Peri chicken. But this time around, the adults wanted something other than chicken. It’s a good thing PappaRich has an extensive menu covering almost all cuisines including American. So the kids still got their chicken.
NIGHT NOODLE MARKETS
So glad we had a chance to experience The Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park. After a full day of being tourists visiting the Sea Aquarium, Sydney Eye Tower, Madame Tussaud’s, St. Mary’s Cathedral and downtown Sydney, we were really craving for a good meal.
The Night Noodle Market is reminiscent of an authentic Asian hawker market but with a general vibe of an outdoor festival. I love this type of markets and we really try to visit some during out of town trips. Enter Penang where every district has some sort of night market but minus the bands and festivities.
So this long-running Sydney institution happens every year if I’m not mistaken and it showcases food from Sydney’s favorites such as Mr. Bao, Mamak, and Hoy Pinoy. What makes this event even more festive is the presence of dragon dancers as they entertain the crowd with acrobatics, dance and lights.
HARRY’S CAFE de WHEELS
Oh meat pies, you don’t know how much I miss you! And for good reason and Harry’s Café de Wheels is partly to blame. I actually first had a taste of authentic Aussie meat pie here in Manila. Bondi & Burke, as far as I know, is the only Aussie restaurant that serves meat pies, steaks and lamington and I don’t know how much more authentic you can get than with dishes prepared and cooked by an Aussie chef so there.
Back to Harry’s, would you believe it has been around for over 70 years now! According to their website, the pies were originally supplied by Sargents Pies of Darlinghurst, then McKay & Boys of Granville and today by Hannah’s (Harry’s) pies of Ultimo.
Harry’s was my friend’s first job in Sydney. So if you’re ever in Sydney, don’t ever pass up on these iconic meat pies from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. They have branches all over Sydney. A bit cliched, perhaps, but when in Australia…try the meat pies!
HANDMADE NOODLES & DUMPLINGS KITCHEN
This resto is strategically situated right on the promenade of Bondi Beach. In fact, a lot of locals and beach goers just order food here to go and they eat on the grass/garden under the sun picnic style. But we Asians like to eat in a traditional manner with proper plates and utensils as we are un-adventuruous like that. #Boo
The resto specializes in handmade noodles and dumplings which they make fresh as you order. Food is actually quite good and authentic tasting and big enough to share. Dishes are also very affordable.
MRS. C’S CUPCAKES
I don’t even know what’s so special about this shop especially when they served me a Banana Cake or bread slice that had molds. The lady at the counter even had the nerve to pass it off for coconut shavings. Gosh, I’m from the Philippines. I should know how coconuts look like and in whatever form. Wish I had taken a picture before I returned it and had it replaced with a cupcake.
Sad to say, the good reviews on Facebook didn’t change my opinion. The cupcakes, the shop’s specialty, were sickeningly sweet and not even moist. I’m pretty sure they weren’t freshly baked either. But the coffee was good. That’s the only thing I liked about this shop.
Other Aussie musts are Fish & Chips, Avocado on Toast, Doughnuts (read my post here), and Kangaroo meat.
I found Australia to be expensive and that’s a given for someone coming all the way from Southeast Asia. Meals can set you back 10-20AUD even for fastfood joints like Maccas (aka McDonald’s) and Hungry Jack’s (aka Burger King).
Not fond of DIY tours? You can join one of these tours, and don’t forget to compare hotels, vacation rentals, rooms, or even homes for your trip before you go. And never leave home without Travel Insurance!