Directory

KOPITIAM

Cuisine: Malaysian

This old favourite, going through an inexplicable but welcome surge in standard, is a basic Laminex-tabled shopfront cafe that’s always full of students eating hometown dishes. There’s nasi lemak $9.80, char kuay teow $9.80 and sambal prawns $15.50. Chicken satays, four to a serve $7.50, are the real downsized thing and beef rendang $14.80 ain’t half bad. We’ve fallen for tauhu bakar sumbat, deep-fried sandwiches of beancurd stuffed with bean sprouts and cucumber and served with sweet chilli sauce. This is as close to Malay hawker food as you’re going to get in the inner city. We last dined there during Chinese New Year and you shouldn’t miss their special menu, especially assam fish $28.80.

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RUMAH MAKAN IMMANUEL

Cuisine: Malaysian,Indonesian

The name says it all. This is the closest to a rumah makan — Indonesian eating house — we’ve found in Sydney: a plain white-tiled room whose only decoration is a lattice-work wall studded, for some reason, with red plastic poppies. The food, although generally delicious, is just as unadorned. A dish of ayam lunak with chilli sauce $7.50 is either breast or thigh shallow fried so you can eat the soft bones as well as the flesh. The rendang $9 was a revelation: it turned out to be a Sulawesi (where the owners come from) version — darker, sweeter, less coconutty but good. We finished with es candol and es campur, $4 each, weird but wonderful jelly and condensed milk desserts. We’ll be back — often.

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TARIM

Cuisine: Malaysian,Indonesian,Chinese

The Uighurs are coming, the Uighurs are coming — but where from? They’re a mainly Turkic people whose home is in Central Asia, between Kazakhstan and Mongolia, just north of Tibet in Xinjiang. So don’t expect fish. What you can expect is really good eggplant, pidigan kormisi $9, stirfried with capsicum and garlic. And lamb. We had the cumin lamb, qazan kawap $15, fried strips of lamb, onion and lots of cumin. Uighur food is not subtle; it is spicy, it is simple but within those boundaries it is good — as was the stirfried spicy tofu with a good hit of Sichuan pepper $8. This is, we think, the fourth Uighur restaurant in Sydney, the first this reviewer tried was in Dixon Street in 2006. And it’s the only one without plastic grapes on the ceiling.

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