Sydney’s best ethnic eats: a suburban adventure

Jasmins, Lakemba
By Liz Ledden. Article first published by Travelwire Asia, 26 January 2012
SYDNEY’S culturally diverse population produces no shortage of delicious cuisine from all over the world. A trip to the suburbs, particularly those in the city’s inner west, south west and west uncovers an amazing array of eats from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America and more. It’s literally the world on a plate. Here are some of the most daytrip-worthy destinations in Sydney for ethnic eats.
Home to a large Muslim population of various ethnic backgrounds, Lakemba is a fascinating place to explore and eat. Excellent Lebanese food has put Lakemba on the Sydney food lovers’ map, in particular the justifiably popular Jasmins offering the best Lebanese style grilled meats, dips, salads and breads at a bargain price. For dessert, cross Haldon Street to Patisserie Arja for baklava, ladies fingers and other middle eastern desserts of the pastry persuasion. In Lakemba you will also find Sydney’s only restaurant featuring Christmas and Cocos Islands cuisine, Island Dreams Café, with its intriguing blend of Malaysian, Indonesian and Chinese influences.
Far flung Fairfield in Sydney’s southwest is home to many new migrants to Australia, and a diverse mix of more established ones. The streets surrounding Fairfield train station are alive and thriving, packed with restaurants, cafés and food shops from Lao restaurants to an Afghan bakery and Sydney’s only Iraqi restaurant, Al Diaffah Al IraqiLao Village is an authentic, cheap and unassuming little eatery for some seriously authentic Lao cuisine – try the grilled quail and the chicken larb. La Paula is the perfect dessert spot for Chilean sweets, specialising in luscious dulce de leche creations. New on the Fairfield scene is Misky Cravings, a homely Peruvian place riding Sydney’s new wave of Latino inspired eateries.
A mix of Lebanese and Vietnamese culinary influences dominate the Bankstown dining scene, which also features Indian and African eateries and many excellent delis and fresh  produce emporiums. Pho An is a must try – a large and buzzing Vietnamese restaurant featuring nothing but variations of chicken and beef pho. The broth is fragrant, the noodles are abundant and the flavour is unbeatable amongst the city’s plethora of other pho joints. For a raucous Lebanese feast in a party atmosphere, try Summerland.
The Little Vietnam of Sydney, Cabramatta is a former trouble spot for drugs and crime come good. It is now more famous for pho than dodgy dealings and has the colour, aromas and vibrancy of a Saigon market. Bursting at the seams with Vietnamese restaurants, fruit and vegetable shops, cafes (coffee with condensed milk anyone?), seafood sellers and fabric merchants, the suburb has some of Sydney’s best Vietnamese food. There’s the perennially popular Thanh Binh for everything from roll your own fresh spring rolls to succulent seafood, and migrant success story Bau Truong among many others. If the bustling atmosphere is too much head to nearby Canley Heights for low-key but equally delicious eats, like the excellent Holy Basil for spicy Lao food dished up in stylish surrounds.
Holy Basil, Cabramatta

Haberfield in Sydney’s inner west can best be described as Sydney’s Little Italy without neighbouring Leichhardt’s crowds. Excellent old school pizza can be found at Napoli in Bocca, and there’s also La Disfida and Dolcissimo for casual Italian dining. Pasticceria Papa is a great dessert pitstop with its array of Italian biscuits and cakes, while A&P Sulfaro  is another contender in the best biscotti stakes. Haberfield is also home to excellent food shopping, with its Italian bread shop, fresh pasta purveyor and cheese shop and deli, Paesanella. Even the supermarkets have a heavy Italian bent, evidenced by the amazing antipasti array at the IGA supermarket.
Closer to the city centre, the inner west suburb of Petersham is home to a large Portuguese community and features a small but enticing array of Portuguese eateries on its main thoroughfare, busy New Canterbury Road. Sweet Belem reputedly has the best Portuguese tarts this side of Lisbon, while hungry locals queue for succulent and spicy Portuguese chicken at Frango, which is cooked flattened over coals and basted in a spicy peri peri sauce. There are Portuguese butcheries along the strip and several other eateries, such as Casa Brasil for churrasco, or barbequed meats. The local bottleshop features an abundance of Portuguese wine too, including its intriguing ‘green’ wine, Vinho Verde.
Other articles I’ve written for Travelwire Asia lately feature some of my favourite eats from my old homes Cambodia and Vietnam (miss them, miss the food!!):
Oh, and for more on Lakemba, one of my favourite foodie suburbs (in case you haven’t guessed) here’s an article I wrote for Pocket Cultures:

3 Responses

  1. Kristina February 17, 2012 / 7:36 am

    great post! will keep it for my next trip to Sydney, especially Cabramatta sounds amazing as I love Vietnamese food!!! 🙂

  2. devoured February 17, 2012 / 3:11 pm

    Thanks Kristina! Yes a trip to Cabramatta is the next best thing to being in Vietnam – the food, atmosphere and shopping… there are even old ladies on the street selling home grown herbs. Hope you’re finding some cool places in Melb 🙂

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