Directory

SONI'S NEWTOWN

Cuisine: Mediterranean

If you’ve only ever walked through this cosy little place on your way upstairs to Madame Fling Flong to scoff mojitos or margaritas, stop and sit for once. It’s friendly, well worn (like dear old Newtown) and serves some very toothsome tapas with a twist. Take roast polenta rounds topped with goat’s cheese and toasted pistachio nuts $6.50, for example, or grilled chorizo with Bella’s homemade pickles $8.50 (good on ya, Bella). It’s a very Sydney interpretation of mod Med and stylishly served as well. By all means slip upstairs for a cocktail before dinner but come down to experience the laidback pleasures of Soni’s.

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SPLASH SEAFOOD

Cuisine: Mediterranean,Seafood

How can we sum this place up? Good value, good seafood and good fun — in Newtown, already. And somebody here has a sense of history: steak Diane $34.90 and surf and turf $34.90 on the menu? Now if only they had carpetbag steak. But they do have a three-course seafood meal with prawns and grilled fish for $40 and they do have a mixed grilled seafood platter $35/$68 for two. One criticism: would someone tell them blue-eye is not cod? It’s trevalla. Grilled and marinated, it’s $27.90 and a damn fine fish, too. There’s a good selection of meat dishes for pescophobes and pasta and risotto if you want your carbs in this Greek-ish room with slick, friendly service.

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STEKI TAVERNA

Cuisine: Mediterranean,Seafood,Greek

If you’ve been to Greece you know that they love the sacred combo of food, wine, music, dancing — and wine — and here is where it happens in Sydney. Friday to Sunday, Steki is a big fat Greek party until the wee hours. And the food and wine keep coming. The way to start is with mixed mezzes $15 then the Hellenic world is at your fingertips: souvlaki $21.90, baked lamb $23.90, seafood mezze $27 or go the banquet $39.90–$49.90 a head, and just get into the drinking, dancing and music — only on party nights. Believe us, you’d have to be hungry to order the big one. What’s it like early in the week? No idea, but it might be worth trying.

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THAI POTHONG

Cuisine: Mediterranean,Seafood,Greek,Thai

This capacious, contemporary room offers an intriguing combination of Thai bric-a-brac and food — when you’ve finished your meal, browse the Buddhas, lamps, fabrics and paintings before braving the streets of Newtown. Pick up a statue of Buddha from $250 to $1800 or a cute painting of Little Mao, just $1800. You should have change after a meal of fishcakes $12.20 and a whole snapper with garlic and pepper sauce $28.90. There’s the full range of stirfries, a roast duck salad $21.90 and full menus of vegan and gluten-free meals. All accompanied by endless steamed jasmine rice, $3 per person. There are eight banquets, named after regions and cities, Bangkok, Pattaya, Samui etc $31.95–$33.95 and a vegetarian banquet $33.95. Very popular.

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THANH BINH

Cuisine: Mediterranean,Seafood,Greek,Thai,Vietnamese

There are three ways you can get good Vietnamese food. One, fly to Vietnam. Two, go to Cabramatta. Or three, come to Newtown’s Thanh Binh (there’s a less stylish but no less worthy relative in Cabramatta), where they’re keen on keeping it real. While sticklers for tradition, they often throw some experimental dishes on the menu, all made with the freshest ingredients. Is softshell crab on a green papaya salad $28 authentic? Who cares? You could start with another interesting dish, calamari stuffed with chicken mince and glass noodles with a plum dipping sauce $11. And one of our favourites is roast duck in preserved lemon sauce $22. There are five roll-your-own riceflour pancake banh hoi dishes $24 and another hot favourite is caramelised pork fillets in a claypot $21.

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TRE VIET

Cuisine: Mediterranean,Seafood,Greek,Thai,Vietnamese,Vietnamese

Crushed roasted peanuts scattered atop a green papaya salad $12.50, charcoal-grilled pork chops $17.50 and even icecream with lychees $6.50 afford crunchy mouthfuls for each delightful course. This is the place for a Vietnamese experience that assures a delicious feed without gloss or fuss. While its homely dining room ambience may be bland, what comes out of the kitchen certainly is not. Fight the urge for pho and venture to hot rock prawns $22.50: resting under a flaming bed of rock salt are nine crispy skewered whole prawns baked in spices. Fresh lemongrass and chilli don’t rob meats of their natural flavours, which come out tops here. If you arrive hungry and bored, expect to leave excited and satisfied.

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VINA

Cuisine: Mediterranean,Seafood,Greek,Thai,Vietnamese,Vietnamese,Vegan/Vegetarian

If mock meat is an alien concept to you, this casual and cheerful family-run business is just the place to get acquainted. Vina helps refute the claim that vegetarian food is boring or bland with dishes such as sweet-and-sour beancurd served with seasonal vegetables and pineapple chunks $15. No visit should pass without sampling one of the many mock meat options, though, carefully made with beancurd and spices according to very old Buddhist tradition. Passionate steak-eaters and dedicated vegetarians alike will be intrigued by the textures and flavours of the “chicken” and “fish”. Served with vermicelli and salad, build-your-own ricepaper rolls $16 are as entertaining to eat as they are delicious. Most menu items, including the savoury Vina pancake $14, are generous and designed to be shared.

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