I’ve just returned from a lovely long weekend in Sydney. It’s been a while since I’ve visited Sydney and it was R’s first visit, I think it’s safe to say that we both enjoyed this trip a lot and are a little in love with the beautiful and fun city.
Before I bombard this post with Sydney pics, here are some palmiers that I made for our workplace afternoon tea before I left for the long weekend. I used frozen puff pastry and a brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon filling, it was a crowd pleaser at work (I work with a hungry bunch).
Back to Sydney, I loved their extensive city rail network which was easy to navigate. Not that it isn’t easy to navigate in Perth but we don’t have much choice here because our stations in comparison to Sydney’s are sparse and few! Funnily enough, our train line was closed for trackworks during the weekend so for a couple of days I traveled solely by free replacement buses which were well coordinated and frequent.
R was really there for a professional development course while I tagged along for some foodie/shopping/coffee time. But the course didn’t start till Saturday so we still had the Friday free for some couple exploration time. One of our first stops, the Queen Victoria Building right in town (TownHall train station). QVB is a gorgeous building of history which in recent times has been restored into its original design as a shopping mall.
In fact, a lot of the shopping malls and lanes in the CBD are housed in picturesque old buildings. I’m glad to see that Perth is starting to embrace it’s heritage buildings as well and places such as The Terrace Hotel, The Trustee etc. are being put into good use and being enjoyed by the public.
From QVB, we walked into the neighbouring Haymarket suburb where Chinatown (Dixon Street) is located. Chinatown was a lot smaller than I expected but I suspect that satellite Chinatowns have emerged in suburban Sydney and am determined to visit some during my next trip to Sydney.
By this time it was getting close to noon and we were famished. I didn’t have much time to do foodie research before my Sydney trip, but because R is a big ramen fan, I did google ‘best ramen in Sydney’ and came up with a few must-go ramen stalls with no.1 on the to-do ramen list being Gumshara Ramen of the 120kg pork bones per day tonkatsu ramen fame.
Ta-dah, the famous tonkatsu ramen with perfect soft boiled egg. The charsiew (bbq pork) slices were very tasty and well done, ramen were of a delightful ‘bite’ texture (not too hard) but it was really the thick, sinfully rich porkbone soup that hit the mark with R. He thought about it every day after this meal and has confirmed that he will visit Gumshara for his ramen hit every time he visits Sydney. In all honesty, the porkiness and heaviness of the soup was too much for me and I could barely manage half a bowl (this is why every girl needs a ‘finisher’), next time I will ask them to dilute the soup for me.
Eating World Harbour Plaza
Shop 209, 25-29 Dixon Street
(enter from Goulburn Street or Factory Street)
Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
By the time we staggered out from the food court, R was very very full. I however, still managed to have a few of the popular custard puffs from Emperor’s Garden bakery ($1 for 4). Even thought it was past lunchtime, there was still a short queue for the puffs, on another night when I visited Chinatown, I spied a tremendously long queue for the puffs.
Are the puffs worth the queue? Not really. They are a great snack mind you, I love anything custard and these puffs were freshly made and still hot with creamy custard filling, I’m just not sure I would queue for so long to eat these puffs which were nice but not amazing.
Market City in Haymarket.
The bottom level of the building is the Paddy’s market which is a wide array of stalls selling everything from wigs, souvenirs, bags to clothes. The upper levels is the Market City shopping mall which is very Asian and makes you feel as if you’ve been transported to a local suburb shopping centre in Singapore.
This young girl got quite a few stares when she started doing pushups (one hand too!) in the middle of the busy city streets. What was she doing?
It was an Amazing Race challenge! Throughout the day we spotted Amazing Race participants racing around the city doing all sorts of different challenges, in fact, we were roped into one because one of their challenges was to take photos with random groups. Haha, so I might be on tv soon.
I told R that we had to take a picture of him in front of this bus stop to Birkenhead Point because we spent quite a bit of time trying to find the right bus to get to Birkenhead Point which is a factory outlet quite near the CBD but not easily accessible via the train. The bus stop is located on Druitt Street (near the Town Hall train station ) and you have to take the 500 series buses to Victoria Rd, Drummoyne, alighting at the first stop after Iron Cove Bridge. Follow the signs to the factory outlet which is a 2 minute walk away.
Hooray for shopping galore!
Time for dinner! And it was a special one at Rockpool Bar and Grill which I had pre booked a couple of weeks earlier. Rockpool is one of those famous restaurants in Australia that everyone raves about. While some have commented that it’s overrated or not worth the hefty price, it has been very popular since it’s Perth branch opened up in Crowne casino. Many colleagues and friends have raved about the food but I’ve always been a bit skeptical.
Despite the steaks being Rockpool Bar and Grill’s claim to fame, I was actually most impressed with the wide and lovely range of sides and starters offered by Rockpool. Everything sounded amazing and yummy so it was quite difficult to choose the steak tartare with chips ($25) as our shared started. But it was a good choice because the steak tartare was very tasty, appetising and well seasoned.
Friends have prewarned me that Rockpool’s famous steaks come with no condiments but is literally just one lone piece of meat .My Cape Grim grass fed 250 gm fillet ($55) was cooked a perfect medium rare and was definitely one of the better steaks that I’ve ever had. I’m not sure that it was a wow flowers coming out of head moment though.
R’s 350g grass fed rib eye on the bone ($66) with bearnaise sauce. Also well cooked, R wasn’t too impressed with the cut of the meat and preferred my fillet finding it more tender.
Our sides of ‘Mac and Cheese’ ($9) which is Rockpool’s decadent version of the simple mac and cheese and was rich and packed with flavour. It was very tasty but again, I’m not sure whether it was worth all the accolades. Probably not something I would order again especially since there are so many other yummy sides to choose from.
Sauteed mixed mushrooms ($25), such a simple dish but so delightful. We loves this side. The sides were all of a generous portion so I would suggest that small feeders should probably choose just one side to share between two.
We had a nice dinner at Rockpool and it’s definitely worth a visit but probably doesn’t rate as high in terms of wow factor for me. Would I return again, I’m not sure, the other sides all sounded fantastic so I wouldn’t mind going just for the sides. But with so many other restaurants to try in Sydney, I think it will be a long time before I go back.
All in all, a wonderful first day in Sydney.
Rockpool Bar and Grill
66 Hunter St
Sydney NSW 2000