Review: Ramen O-San (Sydney, NSW)

Shop F1A, Sussex Centre Food Court
401 Sussex Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 439 945 245

For the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about Sydney restaurants – after all, I’ll be moving there soon so I may as well make myself more comfortable, right? And one of my favourite things about being in Sydney is being spoilt for choice when it comes to ramen restaurants. They can be found pretty much everywhere from Chinatown to Chatswood and there will normally be a restaurant that will make the type of ramen you prefer, whether it’s a bowl of nutty miso ramen or a thick collagen-laden tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen.

I have a long list of ramen places I work through whenever I’m in Sydney and in 2015, Ramen O-San appeared on the bottom of the list. Ramen O-San is owned by restaurateur Kazuteru Oh (hence, the name O-San); the Kyushu-born O-San is also responsible for Busshari and Kujin so I knew Ramen O-San was going to be good. My Sydney friend Lawrence was also keen on checking Ramen O-San out so when I was up in Sydney for a weekend, we decided to visit. Better late than never, right?

Ramen O-San can be found at Sussex Centre Food Court in Haymarket. Here, you can often find owner Kazuteru Oh manning huge stockpots of tonkotsu broth that’s been simmering for 12 hours so that the collagen from kilos of pork bone, skin, belly and trotters can create a rich, thick broth that’s full of flavour. The broth is also MSG-free – not that you really need flavour enhancers for a broth that’s being cooked for that long anyway! O-San’s ramen noodles are also handmade, which is always a plus in my books.

Lawrence ordered the signature tonkotsu ramen while I decided go to light with the chicken soy ramen. We both added a soy-marinated egg in our ramen ($1.50 each). O-san’s tonkotsu ramen is thick, luscious and decadent. There is also the option to opt for an even thicker broth upon request, something that Gumshara fans would no doubt be up for. Nevertheless, the default tonkotsu option here does the job – and Lawrence slurped every last drop.

Tonkotsu ramen ($9.80), chicken soy ramen ($9.80)

If you feel that the tonkotsu broth might be too heavy for you, O-San’s chicken soy ramen is a lighter option but one that still delivers on the taste front – at least that’s my opinion of it. I was expecting it to taste like a Tokyo-style shoyu ramen (i.e. heavy on the soy) but instead the broth was much lighter. Think light chicken broth with a just the lightest dash of soy.

Chicken soy ramen with chashu pork

Sydney’s ramen scene might have plenty of healthy competition but I’d definitely list O-San as one of my top places along with Manpuku and Gumshara (yes, sometimes I do crave a super thick tonkotsu broth). There’s a ramen for everyone and best of all, everything is authentic right down to the noodles and well priced.

Ramen O-San Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: Doodee Paidang (Sydney, NSW)

9/37 Ultimo Road
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 2 8065 3827

I’m not sure what it is about Aussies and their love for Thai food – but when I say Thai food, I’m not talking legit Thai food that you get in the bustling streets of Bangkok. No, we’re speaking of one-dimensional green curries without any discerning flavours or heat. We’re talking pad thai noodles that’s missing the well-balanced ratio of salty-sweet-spicy-sour and the all-important wok hei. And finally, all the fake elephants and purple. Bleh!

Thankfully, you’ll find none of that here at Doodee Paidang, a small chain of Thai restaurants in Sydney. Specialising in tom yum noodle soups, Doodee is a favourite cheap eats joint for Thai international students so you know you’ll expect more than a decent level of authenticity.

Doodee has branches in Cabramatta, Bondi Junction and Haymarket; for folk that work in the city, Haymarket is the most convenient location – that’s where I caught up with fellow foodie Julie for a post-work dinner one evening.

You can choose between seven levels of spiciness, starting with the mild (albeit Thai mild which is different to gweilo mild) Doodee Monster right through to the sadistic Doodee super nova at level seven. Technically though, there really are only five levels – they omit numbers four and six as they’re unlucky numbers. I also liked that you can choose between a jumbo bowl if you’re hungry or a small bowl if you want to try other stuff on their menu, such as rice dishes or non-spicy noodle soups.


Being indecisive, I ended up going for the Dooedee duo ($14). On one side there was the Doodee vermicelli with tender braised pork, fish and beef balls and crispy wonton skin shreds; on the other side, there was the Doodee barbeque pork with egg noodles. There was no chilli in any of my dishes but on every table, there is a condiments island so you can DIY heat. (and suffer the consequences of putting way too much chilli – but my iced Thai milk tea ($4.50) saved the day.)

Meanwhile, Julie went a la carte. She divided her attention between two small dishes: the soft boil rice with prawns ($6.90) and the tom yum noodles with ribs ($6). I snuck several bites from each bowl and loved the gorgeous balance of intricate flavours that came out of every spoonful. And while I’m more of a noodles>rice person, I did find the rice dish much nicer – the rich seafood broth was beautifully infused with pork, chilli and lime.

I have to say that this was one of the best Thai meals I’ve had in Australia. All our dishes struck the perfect balance of spicy, salty and sweet – and if you happen to go for one of the spicy options, heat. The liberal use of fresh herbs such as coriander also helped to lift the flavours of each dish to another level that surpassed your average suburban Thai restaurant.

Review: Hakata-Maru Ramen (Sydney, NSW)

Shop 3, Level 3
Market City
9-13 Hay Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 2 9281 6648

Disclaimer: Libby dined as a guest of Hakata-Maru Ramen.

I seem to be going to Sydney quite a bit these days so with that in mind, let me bring out the first of my protracted Sydney posts.

A while ago, Hidetoshi Tsuboi of Chinatown’s Hakata-Maru Ramen invited me to attend a mini-tour of the then-newly established ramen eatery in Market City. He must have somehow mistook me for a Sydneysider so I told him that I live(d) in Melbourne and that as much as I love ramen, I could not accept his invitation.

Regardless, Hide was lovely enough to keep the invitation open for my next Sydney visit – which wasn’t to occur for another eight months or something ridiculous like that. So on my first Sydney visit for 2014, I hopped off the plane at Sydney airport, checked into my accommodation (after accidentally walking into a crack den full of derros on Oxford Street – omg, don’t ask) and walked down to Chinatown to meet Hide.


Hakata-Maru Ramen may have only been in business for a year but they’re already gaining a popular following. Their speciality is Hakata-style tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen, the same type that Ippudo also excels in. In fact, Hide went on to say that Hakata-Maru’s ramens were better value – ‘same thing, slightly different price points.’

After exploring the kitchen and trying my best not to drool at the big vats of stock bubbling away, Hide gave me a few things from the menu to try.

Chicken wings ($3)
Chicken wings ($3)

First up, the chicken wings. They similar to the Nagoya-style tebasaki chicken wings which are crispy as hell and glazed with a sweet and slightly sticky garlic glaze. These ones were more dry rather than sticky but I enjoyed them nevertheless.

White tonkotsu ramen ($8.80)
White tonkotsu ramen, with sesame seeds and pickled ginger on the side ($8.80)

I was then given their default white tonkotsu ramen as well as a bunch of trimmings on the side. The black stuff you see is the soy garlic sauce which, for an extra dollar, turns your white tonkotsu ramen into a black tonkontsu. Meanwhile, the fiery red stuff you see turns it into a potently spicy red tonkotsu.


Hide offered me little bowls to spoon my ramen noodles and broth in so I can mix the toppings and flavours accordingly. I have to say that the pure white tonkotsu broth was my favourite – it was a milky, clean broth full of flavoursome goodness without the nasty oiliness that you get at Sydney’s rival ramen restaurants. And even though I love garlic, I found the black garlic broth a bit too pungent and the red one was nice but only in small doses.

Is it as good as Ippudo’s ramen? It’s definitely up there but Ippudo’s broth is perhaps a little more refined. That said, I’d happily go to Hakata-Maru Ramen if I’m too lazy to walk up to Pitt Street Mall or if I want to go somewhere more chilled and casual.

Hakata-Maru Ramen on Urbanspoon

Chat Thai (Sydney, NSW)

20 Campbell Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 02 9211 1808

Melbourne may trump over Sydney in many aspects: a 24-hour international airport (curfew, my arse), coffees worth writing blogs about and an integrated public transport system (not that myki is sooo awesome but anyway). But when it comes to Thai food, Sydney wins pants-down.

There is a small section in Sydney’s Haymarket called Thai Town, where the aromatic scent of chillies and spices entice you when you’re heading into the city. Thai Town is where you can find Thai soap opera DVDs and it’s where locals queue up nightly for a table at one of Sydney’s beloved culinary institutions, Chat Thai.


Rocking up to Chat Thai at 7pm on any given night would result in a lengthy wait so it’s best to come after the dinner rush. We were sweet just before 1am, our appetites worked up after a crazy night at the Black Keys concert. As far as I know, there aren’t a lot of places that open until very late in Sydney so we were glad to see that Chat Thai doesn’t shut its doors until 2am.


We were going to pull all-nighter that night so we decided that we needed assistance from caffeine. We had a 7am flight to Auckland and figured that we could wing it by hanging out the city for a few hours before heading back to the airport where we would kill time using the free wi-fi facilities at the international terminal before our flight. However, this was before we found out that Sydney is not a 24-hour airport so in the end, we ended up bumming around Sydney’s CBD as we didn’t have a hotel booking – not my finest idea and something I’d never do again. You can therefore imagine how tired we were that morning when we boarded the plane and how relieved we were when we finally arrived at our lakeside hotel in Queenstown the following evening.

I digress.

I had a hot Thai coffee with caramelised milk ($4) which was made from ‘Arabica beans originating from Northern Thai regions’ while Marty had a sweetened iced tea with caramelised milk ($4). Both our drinks were delicious and tasted very much like their Vietnamese equivalents. On a side note, I don’t know if ‘caramelised milk’ is just another term for condensed milk but hey, I’ll happily take it if it’s this good.


We shared a few dishes. Chat Thai’s menu is so extensive that it was difficult to narrow it down to just a few dishes. In the end, we chose three dishes. First up, we had the spicy chargrilled beef salad (nahm dtok nuea, $13). Our waitress warned us that it was really spicy and we were like, ‘nah, we’ll be right.’ She wasn’t kidding though. It was so spicy that we both started sweating and our noses ran like crazy. I’ve only started liking spicy foods in the last couple of years so my reaction was fair enough but Marty has liked spicy foods for as long as he could remember so to see him struggle was kind of amusing.

Nevertheless, the salad was delicious. Everything was fresh and the beef strips were so tender and full of flavour and heat, ramped up by lashings of fish sauce and lime juice. It’s a dish that I’ll definitely be trying to replicate at home – but I’ll be going easy on the chilli.


I wanted pad thai (call me a gweilo but I really do like my pad thai) but Marty insisted we try something different. We settled on another noodle dish, something neither of us had heard of before, the sukho thai ($12.50). I later googled the dish, only to find nothing on it which led me to believe that this was a Chat Thai creation (correct me if I’m wrong though). The menu said that we were going to get thin rice noodles but we got egg noodles instead. The menu also said that we’d get fish dumplings and minced chicken. We got shredded chicken instead. We also got bits of char siu pork. I’m not sure if it was a translation barrier or whether they ran out of thin rice noodles and minced chicken though if the latter were true, it would have been nice to be told.


Never mind, the dish was still nice. The noodles were dressed in a sweet soy-like dressing and mixed with the fish dumplings and chicken along with some peanuts and dried shrimp for a bit of texture. The dish come with a chicken-based broth and you either had the option of having it served as a noodle soup (wet) or with broth on the side for you to adjust accordingly (dry) – we chose the latter. It was a decent dish but in hindsight, I’m kicking myself for not ordering pad thai – or anything wok-fried.


Our final dish was the marinated pork loin (mhu daad diew, $11). These sweet pieces of pork were air dried before being fried and served on a plate to us with chilli sauce on the side. It was almost like eating jerky, but they were more tender and less dry.


For dessert, we wanted sticky rice and mango ($8) but we were told that the kitchen ran out of mangoes (well, it was almost 2am…). In fact, a lot of the desserts were no longer available. In the end, we ordered the black sticky rice and coconut cream pudding with taro and young coconut flesh (khao nieaw daam bieak, $5.50). My parents make black sticky rice with coconut cream desserts from time to time so I was keen to see if Chat Thai’s version would be just as good.

Sorry mum and dad, but theirs was better. The warm dessert was homely and soothing, with bits of fresh taro, coconut and palm seeds to make things interesting. The serving might have been small but it did fill whatever space we had left in our almost full tummies. And the best bit? It was sweet enough for Marty (who does like his sweets) but not too sweet for me (I’m a potato chips and savoury kind of gal). Win-win.

Chat Thai is a place where I’d visit again and again just to try every single dish on their menu. The food is of great – even the noodle dish that didn’t exactly thrill us made us want to come back. The service was efficient and friendly, despite a (surprisingly) large crowd at this hour on a Monday night and we weren’t rushed even though we stayed until almost 2am. There is something like five stores in Sydney and I’m hoping that they’ll follow Mamak’s footsteps and open one in Melbourne. Because I think I need good Thai food more than I need to hear about yet another issue with myki.

On that note, I’ll be covering my New Zealand foodie adventures in the next few weeks. So if you’re keen to hear about burgers in Queenstown, mutton birds, moronic fish and chip shop workers in Picton and amazing, amazing seafood chowders in Wellington, then my blog’s the place to be in December!

Chat Thai Haymarket on Urbanspoon

Harry’s Café de Wheels (Sydney, NSW)

Capitol Square
Corner Hay and George Streets
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 2 9281 6292

Once the lukewarm dumplings had settled in Marty’s stomach, we decided that a late night walk around Sydney’s CBD was in order. We pretty much covered all of Haymarket on foot and subsequently worked up an appetite. Sometime last month, we watched yet another repeat episode of Bizarre Foods on Foxtel. This episode featured Australia (yay) and in one scene, host Andrew Zimmern visits Harry’s in Sydney (presumably the Woolloomooloo one) to gorge on some of Australia’s ‘strangest’ foods. Yeah, like meat pies and pasties are so ‘bizarre’, man. Anyway, since then we’d been eager to try Harry’s supposedly awesome pies and hot dogs. And if there was ever a perfect opportunity to try them, then 1am on a Saturday morning was it.

Established in 1938, a guy called Harry Edwards opened up a caravan near the Woolloomooloo naval dockyard and started serving pies to the hungry masses. Called Harry’s Café de Wheels (because it was a café on wheels, DUH), it attracted everyone from servicemen to cabbies to Colonel Sanders. In the 70s, the business then started serving hot dogs to appease the (presumably hunky) American sailors in town and some even go far to say that the hot dogs at Harry’s are better than the pies. Since then, Harry’s has appeared in the National Trust register and eight more cafes have opened up around Sydney. Not bad, huh?

Zimmern got to enjoy his culinary delights by the bay, but we weren’t so lucky. It was late and all the rats were out. And by ‘rats’, I don’t mean just the club variety; I’m also referring to the rodent ones – yep, we literally saw a rat as big as my dog Vega scurry across an alleyway around the corner from Capitol Square). But just because Haymarket-ers don’t get waterside views, it doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy a hot dog at Harry’s.

Marty ordered a hot dog de wheels ($6.30), Harry’s house special and what we’d probably call their hot dog ‘with the lot.’ The bun encased a continental Viennese smoked frankfurt, chilli con carne, mushy peas, garlic onions, cheese sauce and chilli sauce. To be honest, it was a bit too much for us. While I can understand its popularity, I do believe that a hot dog should be kept simple and if it needed a bit of sprucing up, then a sprinkling of onions, cheese and mustard (‘and sauerkraut,’ added Germanophile Marty despite the fact that he actually doesn’t like sauerkraut, the idiot) should suffice.

The plain hot dog ($4.20) was MUCH better. All it contained was a Viennese smoked frankfurt, a bit of tomato sauce and a squirt of mustard. Simple and fantastic. Unlike the first hot dog, you could actually taste the sausage’s smokiness, too, which made all the difference. There was no need for fancy trimmings; this was BOSS.

We were about to leave but Marty wasn’t going to budge until he tried one of Harry’s famous pies. Sigh, why not. We ordered a tiger pie, another Harry’s signature. We watched the server take out a pie from the warmer, scoop a huge chunk of mashed potato on top using an ice cream scooper before topping it with lots and lots of mushy peas and gravy. It looked pretty epic. Taste-wise, it was alright. While I personally didn’t mind the pies and the mashed potato, I did think there was too much of it so I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I expected.

The plain beef pie, however, got two thumbs up from us. Just give us a simple crusty pie stuffed with a lean beef and gravy filling, top the whole thing with tomato sauce and Bob’s your uncle who did your mum. It may not have been the best pie we had, but it was nevertheless still great – and no doubt it would hit the spot after a hard night at the club better than a greasy kebab would.

Harry’s is a worthy Sydney institution that needs to be visited at least once. For a proper Sydney experience, I’d tell you to go to the Woolloomooloo branch but if you’re in the city and don’t wish to travel too far out, then the Haymarket kiosk would do just fine (just pray that you don’t run into any rats on the way, though!). Our recommendation, however, would be to stick to the simple stuff such as the plain beef pies and hot dogs rather than the house specials – unless you happen to love peas or chilli con carne with your sausage.

Harry's Cafe de Wheels on Urbanspoon

Gumshara Ramen (Sydney, NSW)

Eating World Foodcourt
Shop 209, 25-29 Dixon Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 410 253 180

I will dedicate the next fortnight to a bunch of Sydney eateries. Why? Because I need to clear this backlog and because Sydney are currently sitting on the top of the AFL ladder and therefore, deserve a nice little tribute. While Adam Goodes and co are not very likely to care about a handful of Sydney restaurant reviews, I know a lot of you are anxious to read about my lovely weekend in Sydney all these weeks ago… or maybe not. Anyway.

One Friday morning, I hopped on a morning flight to Sydney which was a silly mistake on my part because my flight was delayed by 45 minutes. Now, delays are usually inevitable but given that I knew the Sydney-Melbourne route is the fourth busiest flight route in the world and given that it WAS the morning peak, arriving in Sydney on time was not going to happen. I didn’t have any breakfast that morning so when I finally landed in Sydney, I was STARVING.

After train-ing it to Museum Station and dumping my bags at my hotel, I power-walked several blocks to a non-descript foodcourt on Chinatown’s edge. It was just after 11:30am when I arrived – just in time for Sydney’s best ramen eatery, Gumshara, to open its doors for the day. Yep, what kind of a freak would run straight to a ramen joint as soon as she lands in Sydney instead of chill in her room for a few hours, especially after a hectic morning at Tullamarine? Yeah, me.

I had first heard about Gumshara from Dave who, in turn, had heard about it from his friends. According to them (and about 10 billion Sydney bloggers), Gumshara serves the best ramen in the country – and beats anything served as a ramen in Melbourne. I’m more ramen girl than Brittany Murphy ever was (RIP), so how could I not give this place a go?

Sydney’s bloggers love Gumshara’s signature pork spare rib ramen ($14.50), a dish that one can never find in Melbourne. Apparently Gumshara only makes 20 bowls of this particular ramen so I didn’t want to miss out. Luckily, I was one of Gumshara’s first customers that afternoon so I was successfully able to order a bowl.

120kg pork bones go into making a batch of that rich gravy-like pork broth that Gumshara is famous for. It then takes about seven days for the broth to reach the customer. This gives the bones ample time to produce a lovely rich flavour and enough time for a decent amount of collagen to be realised, essential for ‘maintaining smooth skin’ (says the board above the menu). In fact, there is so much flavour in the broth after seven days of soaking and simmering that no MSG is ever used to boost the soup’s flavour. Awesome.

I wanted to like this ramen. I wanted to madly fall in love with it, like countless others had done in the past. And I wanted to tell Dave that his mates were right. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way. The broth was full of amazing flavour, yes, but I felt that it was way too thick and tasted too pork-y. Is the latter a bad thing? Not necessarily for most, but it didn’t really go down well with me. Secondly, the pork spare rib was dry all over, inside and out. And salty, too. On the other hand, I did love the springy, doughy noodles which felt and tasted like the way ramen noodles should be. They were amazing. Finally, I was looking forward to trying their soft-boiled egg so I was disappointed to see that I didn’t get any in my bowl – idiot (i.e. me) should have read the menu carefully for eggs attract an additional $1.50. Boo.

Although I wasn’t completely enamoured with my ramen, it’s not to say that I wouldn’t be back. In hindsight, I should have probably gone with a chashu ramen in tonkatsu broth so I can make a fairer comparison to a Melbourne ramen. I probably should have requested a thinner broth, too. Ah well, next time, next time.

Gumshara Ramen on Urbanspoon

Mamak (Sydney, NSW)

15 Goulburn Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 2 9211 1668

Taking the train out to Allphones Arena and back on a Saturday night can often be an exhausting experience. And I’m not even including the three or so hours spent in between, singing and dancing to Prince. Naturally, by the time we were back in the city (close to midnight), we were famished. Now, because I’m not from Sydney I’m not too familiar with the late-night dining scene here. Hell, Sydney is arguably not known for its late-night dining scene, if my Melbourne friends are to be believed. However, I’m pretty sure they don’t know about Mamak, this humble Malaysian eatery that has taken Sydney by storm.

Melbourne may have Cantonese stalwart, Supper Inn, with its long queues forming up the stairs that lead to the second level dining room, but Sydney’s Mamak has even longer queues snaking out along Goulburn Street at its busiest hour. Thankfully, we saw no such queue when we rocked up but we did have to wait for a free table. Because of Mamak’s efficient service, though, we didn’t have to wait long – less than 10 minutes.

Although Mamak serves all manners of Malaysian food, most people come here if they crave a good roti. On the menu, there is one page dedicated to roti dishes while other Malaysian dishes such as mee goreng et al are shoved somewhere close to the back. There is a good selection of Malaysian cold and hot drinks, too.

We started off with two roti dishes. The savoury roti dishes here are served with two different curry dips (one that’s used for Mamak’s chicken curry and one that be dished up as dhal if this were an Indian restaurant) and a spicy sambal sauce. I ordered the roti canai, which was advertised on the menu as ‘the original roti.’ At $5.50, this was a massive steal and given how delicious it was, I would not hold back from ordering two of these next time for a cheap late-night dinner. While the curry sauces were nice enough, the star of the show was obviously the roti. Presented like a scrunched-up tissue paper, the roti was just as delicate. It was crispy on the outside, while the inner folds were soft and fluffy. I know the photo doesn’t make the roti look terribly fantastic (silly me, bringing the wrong lens to Sydney) but trust me when I say that it’s the best roti I’ve ever had.

Meanwhile, Marty had the roti planta ($6.50). The curries and the sambal sauce (which I thought was too sweet) were the same, but the roti was different. Instead of delicate, he got rich and buttery. His roti was slightly heavier than mine, but because of all the butter (or should I say, margarine) in it, each little bit melted in his mouth.

We each ordered a non-roti dish. The nasi lemak here starts off at $8.50 and comes with a neat mound of coconut rice, sambal, peanuts, fried anchovies, cucumber and a hard-boiled egg. You then have the option to add one or two extra things for a complete meal. I requested a side of sambal cuttlefish ($4) which, in hindsight, was a bad idea for they used the same ick-y sambal as they did with the roti. Ick. I knew I should have gone the fried chicken ($3) instead, d’oh! It wasn’t the best nasi lemak I’ve had, but save for the sambal cuttlefish, it wasn’t too bad.

Marty’s mee goreng ($11.50) fared a bit better. Although it wasn’t the best mee goreng I’ve ever had, it still did the job. A generous serving of Hokkien noodles was tossed in a wok along with shreds of fried egg, prawns, fish cake slices and bean sprouts. Although it lacked wok hei, the whole thing was spicy enough to render it a decent dish according to Marty.

When we were placing our order earlier on, we asked for a serving of ais kacang, one of my favourite Malaysian desserts. As our waitress was clearing our table, we told her that our ais kacang was coming. She told us that the restaurant had unfortunately ran out of ais kacang and suggested we order something else so we decided to go with one of the sweet roti options, a roti kaya.

At that point, the waitress asked me if this was my first time at Mamak (yes) and if I was from Melbourne (errr… yes?). Then she asked me if my name was Libby. At this point, I was getting a little freaked out because I had no idea who she was. Then she told me her name: Jess. Turns out she and I used to be xanga buddies (haha, remember that site?) from way back. The funny thing was that I knew she worked at Mamak but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me that this would be the xanga buddy who I first met all these years ago. How awesome is that!

So anyway, what was also awesome was that the initial waiter who took our order actually saved one portion of ais kacang so we did end up getting it after all. And that point, our roti kaya had already been made so both desserts came at the same time. Instead of sending the roti kaya back, however, we decided to share the two desserts – I mean, why not, hey? Our ais kacang ($6) was the smallest I’ve seen but at $6, who’s complaining? Instead of the lovely pick rose syrup I normally get, we got a brown palm sugar syrup – probably because they ran out of rose syrup. Regardless, the whole thing tasted lovely and refreshing. All the components – the red beans, corn kernels, grass jelly cubes, condensed milk and shaved ice – all came together with the syrup to draw a great meal to a close.

Thank goodness we kept the roti kaya ($7.50). The roti, which was filled with kaya spread, was soft and fluffy with pockets of crispiness all over. It came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which went well with the pandan and coconut-flavoured spread. The whole thing was sweet but not heavy, thus making it a perfect dessert to end the night with.

And of course, no Malaysian meal is complete without a glass of teh tarik ($3.50).

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and the hospitality very much. And to make the night even better, Jess told me that they will be opening a Mamak restaurant in Melbourne by the end of the year. How awesome is that? Now we all enjoy post-clubbing roti instead of running to McDonalds or Stalactites!

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Marrickville Pork Roll @ Paddy’s Markets (Sydney, NSW)

Market City
Ground Level, 9-13 Hay Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 420 966 368
+61 479 000 445

Also at:
236a Illawarra Rd
Marrickville NSW 2204

So I just realised I will be heading back to The State That Fails At State of Origin Competitions very soon and with that, guilt that comes from not having finished my Sydney reviews from two months ago. Oops. I was planning to push my Sydney reviews aside in favour of writing about various Melbourne blogger dinners, new city eateries and the time Dave  and I had dinner at Mr Mason and watched an entire wine shelf collapsed mid-way through dinner, almost injuring a poor diner who was sitting just below the shelf. However, I thought I’d get them done this week because my NSW readers rock. So first up, Marrickville Pork Roll: the Haymarket edition.

Marty and I were wondering around Haymarket one Sunday morning and serendipitously came across Paddy’s Market in Haymarket. The famous market was not on our list of places to visit that weekend (well, it initially was but we had to sadly cross it off our list, thinking that we wouldn’t have time to visit). However, as luck would have had it, one minute we were walking off our post-Din Tai Fung dumpling coma and the next minute we were staring at rows of Ugg boots, heavy metal CDs, soft toys and hot dog stalls.

But wait! What was this?

Did I just see a sign saying ‘PORK ROLL’?

Oh, I think I did!

Marty was quicker than I was, however, and before I knew it, I saw the idiot running up to the stall with his wallet out of his pocket. ‘Never mind the dumpling coma,’ he thought, ‘I have  to get a bánh mì!’

This stall is an offshoot of the original Marrickville Pork Roll stall which is in, surprise surprise, Marrickville. From what I know, there is a lack of Vietnamese dining (or snacking) options closer to the CBD so this stall is filling in the gap. I also liked the fact that while the stall offers your typical market snacks such as dim sims and chips, their main focus is on creating the perfect bánh mì for hungry market-goers.

At $4.50, the bánh mì here is more expensive than the most expensive bánh mì in Melbourne (my ex’s mother, for example, stopped going to Footscray’s Nhu Lan  as soon as they jacked their prices up from $3.50 to $3.80). It is also slightly larger too, almost as big as a slightly deflated Sherrin.

Marty loved his bánh mì, saying that it was packed with all the pickled carrot-y, pâté-y, coriander-y, spicy chilli and deli meat-y goodness. The warm, crusty bread roll tasted exactly how a fresh bánh mì from a bricks and mortar Vietnamese bakery would taste like but (thankfully) lacked the sugar content that Nhu Lan’s breads are sometimes guilty of having. That said, we both agreed that the pork rolls at Nhu Lan, like the Maroons last night, nipped Marrickville by just one point. Nhu Lan’s rolls have fillings that are slightly tastier, but only because the Marrickville version were stint on the pâté and the mayonnaise was a bit bland. Therefore, while Nhu Lan represents better value for money, we’d be very happy with a Marrickville pork roll whenever we’re in Sydney.

On that note, if Sydneysiders know a good place that makes decent Vietnamese pork rolls in or near the CBD, then please let me know below!

EDIT (23/07/2012): We went back a few weeks ago and had a completely different experience. The truck was run by a completely different person who gave us a pork roll that was filled with lettuce (WTF) and a mayonnaise that was water-y. The bread was verging on stale too. ‘Tastes like a glorified ham sandwich’ said Marty. After this experience, we will NOT be back.

Marrickville Pork Roll on Urbanspoon