Oh, food courts. How you have changed. Once home to the dodgy kebab or watery curry, it appears vendors are answering our prayers for some awesome food-while-shopping fare that isn’t giving up and settling for a Wendy’s shake.
Hawker Lane, Chatswood’s newest dining precinct, is firmly in the awesome camp. With everything you could want while you take a break from trying to buy your mum’s birthday present or picking the perfect outfit for tonight. It’s got dumplings, ramen, ramen burgers (!!!), ice cream, and tonnes of noodles. Yeah, you’re going tonight.
Holy chicken, Batman. You have never seen anything quite like this. Picture a big-ass fried chicken… Like, really big. Probably bigger than your head and definitely at least half as long as your arm. But don’t freak out, just dig in! Get it seasoned and sauced, or by itself. Instagram comparison mandatory.
When we went along, it appeared everyone was enjoying some China Chilli goodness served out of a copper bowl. If you’re after some nibbles, though (and I was) go for the incredibly moreish zhong pork dumplings with a generous slog of chilli oil on top. If you’re feeling brave or are just a fan of the offcuts, their noodles with intestine is some of the best around.
One Tea Grill
Have you ever actually had a ramen burger? I hadn’t, and I was nothing short of blown away by it. Difficult to eat but unbelievably satisfying, it will keep you coming back for bite after bite. That will rev your engines, but be sure to stay for a serving of Peking duck fries (yeah, you read that correctly) and an ice cream baoger that is obscenely crunchy on the outside with soft, lick-your-fingers green tea ice cream in the middle. Aaaaand unbutton your jeans.
Dumpling & Co
Any place with the word dumpling in the name is absolutely fine by me. You can get your fix of these addictive little morsels by the full steamer here. Anyone who loves a soupy dumpling will go weak at the knees upon tasting the pork and crab meat xiao long bao, but be sure to grab a pork wonton soup for something more substantial.
For once, it’s not Jim’s Mowing. But a much more delicious and welcome Jim’s Malaysia. It’s hard to go past the classic Hainanese chicken rice with its moreish broth, and the soul-warming laksa is the perfect mid-shop treat. If you’re feeling dessert, go all out for one of their incredible Malaysian rainbow ice cream and jelly creations. Mind = blown.
Changing the name of soft serve as we know it, Aqua S had us at sea salt, but keep us going with their ever-changing list of innovative flavours. They don’t like to do things in halves, so add on all of the beautiful garnishes and get it up on your Insta right now.
Home to some of the best Vietnamese pho around, Madame Nhu will give you a much-needed break from your shopping and let you dive into a steaming hot bowl of pho that satisfies your soul as much as a hug after a long day. One of the better options if you’re jeans shopping (Godspeed) and need something light for lunch.
Makanai Ramen Noodle House
You can’t have an Asian food court without at least one epic ramen place, okay? And Makanai Ramen Noodle House is just that: epic. They’ve got all the usual suspects, as well as a very enticing menu of ‘volcano hot’ ramen for those that like to live life on the edge. If the delicious ramen isn’t for you (whaaaat?!) you can always indulge in a katsu curry… Yes, I know it’s your favourite.
Image credit: Federica Portentoso