Cuisine: Indian

It’s a treat to have an open kitchen in an Indian restaurant. Chef Gaurav’s presence adds to the already warm and airy atmosphere in this retail-surrounded eating house, created by curry-coloured walls, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and the swoon-inducing aromas of cumin, garam masala and cloves. The menu changes every two to three months and features dishes from all over India, some familiar, many not. To begin, sadabahaar tikki, beetroot and kumara patties $11, makes a nice change from the more usual bhajis. The mains selection is small but enticing. If it’s on, try bafat, a diced leg of lamb slow-cooked with cloves and tamarind $18.50, or marinated barramundi fillets in a mustard-seed and tomato base. Sunday is buffet $19.50 night, focusing on a single region of India.

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Cuisine: Indian,Eastern European

Dining at this relaxed, casual bistro is the stationary equivalent of a Eurail pass, the menu drawing inspiration from Spanish, English, Italian and French cooking. Before you board, begin with a drink or two in the small bar — which also serves small plates — then settle in to sample some of what the Burlington does best: bistro fare with a twist. First stop is shareable seafood paella loaded with Crystal Bay prawns, squid, mussels and sofrito $17, followed perhaps by confit lamb shoulder $29 or pan-fried king salmon with squid ink gnocchi, cuttlefish, peas and aioli $30. Switzerland gets a look in with dessert in the richer-than-rich Lindt chocolate pannacotta $16. Cheapest foodie Euro trip ever.


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Cuisine: Indian,Eastern European,Japanese

An inconspicuous street frontage says nothing about the rainbow pot of Japanese-cuisine gold to be found inside. Ju-Rin means “mountain forest” but it’s more a busy city diner than tranquil retreat (hot tip: make a booking). The sashimi, from $14.50, is always fresh — the assorted plate is speckled with dots of coloured creams and mayonnaises. Counter the healthy sushi habit with deep-fried morsels, from $9.50, such as tofu dumplings or spicy softshell crab. Grilled snapper stuffed with minced scallops and vegies $12.80 is big on taste, while roast duck with a housemade orange and plum sauce $15.80 is sweet enough to finish on. Keep an eye on the ever-changing specials board for something new and fresh.


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Cuisine: Indian,Eastern European,Japanese,Indian

All aboard the Last Train to Bombay, stopping in regions all over India before arriving in culinary heaven. There’s another Last Train in Manly but don’t hold that (ie that it’s part of a chain) against it. The menu is varied and extensive. Raj kachori, described as a “volcano of nutrients and minerals”, of hollow bread shells filled with yoghurt, tamarind, dates, mint and coriander sauce $10.90/$14.90, packs a punch. Try jungle chicken on the bone, cooked with mustard oil and whole spices $18.90, or goat aloo curry $17.90. Nehari gosht $18.90 is an aromatic pleasure and, for a big night out, banquets starting from $25.90 offer very good value. The best thing is tickets are free.


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Cuisine: Indian,Eastern European,Japanese,Indian,Indian

Malabar in India is a southern region located between the western Ghats and the Arabian Sea; Malabar in Crows Nest sits in a restaurant/retail strip on the busy Pacific Highway. Authentic south Indian cuisine is what this eatery is all about and, judging by the number of locals you’ll find tucking into a meal here on any given night, it’s certainly doing something right. As this restaurant is the self-proclaimed “Dosai Palace”, these crispy rice and lentil pancakes $8–$18 have a reputation that precedes them. For mains, hoe into the famous chicken biriyani $16 or, for a taste of the sea, a mild konkan prawn curry $22.50 will satisfy your tastebuds. Spicy Goan fish curry $22.50 is another unique and well-executed dish that’s well worth a try.


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Cuisine: Indian,Eastern European,Japanese,Indian,Indian,Chinese

A lot has changed in the world since this restaurant opened its doors in 1975, including the decor of this room, but it has never stopped serving high-quality, authentic Cantonese to the masses. Run by well-known restaurateur Mathew Chan, his eponymous restaurant has a very loyal following. Furnishings are a few notches up from your typical Chinese, with blond wood and sea-blue chairs, white tablecloths and golden curtains with tasselled tiebacks. The food is better than standard as well. The ever-so-light san choy bow $9.20 (serves two) is a house special and chow sam see, shredded chicken, pork and mushrooms $15.60, is perfect rolled in pancakes. Spicy mustard king prawns $24.80 may have you dabbing your brow and whole Peking duck $60, marinated in herbs and spices for 12 hours before being cooked, is divine.


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Cuisine: Indian,Eastern European,Japanese,Indian,Indian,Chinese,Japanese

Is this Sydney’s best ramen? Possibly, according to more than a few online foodies and a regular peak-hour queue of hungry noodle lovers. The small garish-orange shopfront with its cramped interior and view-obstructing Japanese banners might not welcome you with open arms but pan-fried gyoza dumplings $6 and softshell crab $6 served with its form still intact will. Noodles are obligatory: the spicy flavour with roast pork, eggs and shallots in a rich, salty broth $11.50 is spot-on, while the sour chicken version with prawn mince balls and vegies $13 is tasty, too — but pick whatever number suits you and go with it. Efficient service means customer turnover is pretty quick but get there early if queuing is not your thing.


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Cuisine: Indian,Eastern European,Japanese,Indian,Indian,Chinese,Japanese,Seafood,Japanese

Sakana means “seafood” in Japanese, so you can expect lots of it in a menu of traditional homeland dishes. North Sydney’s Japanese community and locals alike flock here for fresh sashimi and authentic meals such as deep-fried flounder $28 in which the flesh is cubed, fried and served atop the fish’s wholly edible, crispy skeleton. At the top of your taste-test list should be softshell crab tempura fritter $16.50, fried with colourful strips of vegetables, and deep-fried eggplant with miso sauce $12.50. As you might expect, the sashimi and sushi mixed platter $29 is not bargain-basement but it’s as fresh as it gets. The signature bara-sushi, a gift box of shredded omelette dotted with salmon roe, prawns and cucumber over rice $29, is excellent. Service is friendly and discreet.


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Cuisine: Indian,Eastern European,Japanese,Indian,Indian,Chinese,Japanese,Seafood,Japanese,Japanese

This narrow restaurant is one in a domino line of near-identical shopfronts on Willoughby Road and, if it weren’t for the steady stream of customers causing a glitch in the flow of pedestrians, you could easily miss it. Take a seat at the namesake counter — a long sushi bar — and enjoy the free entertainment of the sushi chefs going about their theatrical business. The sashimi is why your fellow counter-sitters are here. Start with sashimi moriwase $14.50, a small mixed plate, and deliciously plump prawn gyoza dumplings $8.80. You could continue with a softshell crab roll $15 or teriyaki beef $22, or — if a higher spend is on the cards — opt for omakase $75 from the outset, where the chef is entrusted to serve several courses of his choosing. It will include the best cuts and most delectable tastes.

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