Image credit: Tanya Lee
Eating, drinking and socialising are vital and distinctive parts of every culture. In fact, they’re integral to every travel experience, and it’s these special moments that always seem to conjure up a rich stew of stories from the people you meet along the way.
Unfortunately though, the nomadic lifestyle for the majority of us doesn’t last forever. At some point we have to lose the fisherman pants, stop wearing our undies inside out and cover up the outrageous tattoos in accordance with ‘office rules’.
Fear not, fellow travellers! Did you know that many of the kicks we get from exploring the variety of cuisines and cultures from around the world can be re-lived right here in Sydney?
Tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Sydney’s foodie scene lie a treasure trove of immersive eateries that will take you straight back to your travelling days, without having to fork out your entire savings on a flight to the other side of the world. Here’s our selection of a few of our favourite restaurants in Sydney that do just that…
Lebanon: Hannibal Lebanese Restaurant
As the live sounds of the lute and wafts of barbequed lamb kofta fill the Persian room, it’s only the lack of belly dancers that prevent you from being transported to the exotic world of the Middle East. Oh wait… There are belly dancers! Established over 40 years ago, Hannibal has stood the test of time and is now an institutional restaurant in Sydney.
Britain: The Traditional Chip Shop
Salcombe, Brighton or Blackpool? Many an Aussie has visited a quintessentially English seaside town on their European travels and will have noted the two things in common with all of them: it’s NEVER warm enough to wear a pair of budgy smugglers, and secondly, you’re never more than stone’s throw from a local ‘chippy’. The Traditional Chip Shop opened its doors six months ago, and have done an impressive job in succeeding to wrap the heavily battered north atlantic cod and the salt and vinegar laced chips with that wonderful sense of nostalgia.
Vietnam: Thy Vietnamese Eatery
Anyone looking to re-live their backpacking travels through Vietnam needs to head to Chapel Road in Bankstown. There are many authentic eateries to choose from, all sharing one common theme – basic décor but fantastically fresh food. For us, there’s one that gives the injection we need to satisfy our yearning wanderlust and tastebuds: Thy. If you close your eyes for a moment while devouring their signature dish – banh cuon – you could easily be on a street corner in Ho Chi Minh.
Harris Park in Sydney’s western suburbs is an authentic adventure into the variety of Indian food styles. The restaurants that line the pretty streets are sandwiched between sweet shops, spice bazaars and sari makers. The North Indian Mughlai flavours of Ginger has always remained etched on our memory – the butter chicken and gulab jamun for dessert is tough one to beat!
Mexico: Flying Fajita Sistas
Stepping into this humming hive of a Mexican restaurant is guaranteed to shake your maracas. Flying Fajita Sistas is cramped but a whole lotta fun and the immersive décor will slowly transport you back to Mexico (with the help of their punchy margaritas). Its infamous Wall of Pain offers an array of aptly named chilli sauces, one of which guarantees to ‘kiss your ass goodbye’.
One of the greatest things about travel is how affordable local food is. One of the worst things about travel is returning home to pay four times the price for a dish a quarter as good. Daruma is a little Japanese student-izakaya tucked away in the Prince Centre at Haymarket. It’s a family run place that is about as welcoming as it comes. What’s more, the prices here will astound you almost as much as the food itself (e.g salted squid at $2.80 a pop!).
Turkey: The Sultan’s Table
Great hospitality is such an important cornerstone to travel through Turkey, and The Sultan’s Table is the perfect advocate. It feels like one great big family-run eatery, but despite its mayhem the staff always find time to the cast a smile your way and make you feel welcome. The real bonus of course is food - our dreams are regularly filled with images of the mixed dip plate and juicy lamb kebabs.