No matter how much cash, spare time, friends and acquaintances you have to rekindle with, you can NEVER completely keep up with Sydney’s ever-evolving food scene. Try to, I dare you. You’ll be eating peanut butter and bacon burgers with rose-infused milkshakes for brekkie, izakaya-style grilled meat with sake for lunch, squid ink-tinted ravioli with truffles and a dark, mysterious red for dinner and don’t forget the latest dessert craze – whether that be soft serves with measly toppings or custard-filled cronuts with chocolate glaze.
It’s exhausting, and this is coming from someone who would want nothing more than enough time and money to explore it all. It’s tricky because living in Sydney is not cheap, and eating out is like a vacuum which is switched on every time you go to pay your over-the-top bill at the latest joint. What I’m saying is, sometimes it’s nice to just go out on a limb. That hole-in-the-wall that’s been there for years but you’ve never made the time of day for because there are no striped shirts or men with greasy beards and nose rings. Your local Thai restaurant that is always packed out with people but you tend to avoid because ‘I’ve had Thai before, what’d be different this time?’ You could be missing out on something phenomenal and you wouldn’t even know it.
I’ve stopped chasing the list – I’m still constantly adding to it – but if the place doesn’t shut down in the next 3 months I will find time for it one day. There’s no rush; after all, eating out should be pleasurable and exciting. A few weekends ago, my two pals who live out in Rosebery and I felt like greasy, westernised Chinese food. We drove off to Kingsford where we expected to come across something dodgy, but still decent enough that people were filling up tables. The nearest restaurant, named Hong Ching, seemed the perfect fit so we got a table and started trawling through the menu. Greasy Chinese, greasy Chinese! One look at the pages and we smiled silly little grins thinking we had found the jackpot for the odd cravings we were having. Quickly, the waitress cleaned up the table and provided us with a big pot of steamy hot Jasmine tea. Oh goodie.
First came the Sweet and Sour Pork, but hang on, where was the pool of oil and gluggy, bright orange sauce? Nowhere to be found. The dish was fresh, the pork covered ever-so-lightly in a perfectly balanced sweet sauce with tangy notes and crisp, just-cooked capsicums and onions. Um okay, that was unexpected.
Next up was the Pineapple Fried Rice, surely this was the most Australianised item on the menu? Nope, yet again, it was superb. Fluffy rice with tender pieces of omelette and cabbage with a dainty amount of fresh pineapple. Again, the balance was amazing and the subtlety meant there was definitely an expert in the kitchen. After that second dish, it was clear that we had uncovered an all-together different kind of lottery. It only went up from there. The Beef with Oyster Sauce and Broccolini was tender, just saucy enough and the vegetables cooked really well. Dish of the night for a veg freak like me was the Tofu with Vegetables: silky smooth sauce, an abundance of plump shiitake mushrooms and bok choy with wobbly, skilfully cooked tofu pieces. Another highlight would have to be the Chicken with Three Cup Sauce – although a tad heavy on the salt factor, the chicken pieces were coated in a thick, addictive paste and numbed your mouth with heat and spice to keep you going back for more. So good.
Before we left, I went to the upstairs area to use the bathroom and when I came back down, I happily told the waitress that that was hands down the best Chinese I’ve had in Sydney. She gleamed and quickly pointed me in the direction of the kitchen, excitedly saying, ‘It’s run by mum and dad!’ I was amazed. One look inside the sparse but bustling kitchen and all that appeared in front of me was a middle aged man manning the woks and throwing food items into different plates while his wife was busily preparing fresh ingredients. That was probably one of the most amazing sights I’ve encountered within a restaurant and I told the chef how awesome his cooking was and what a great job he was doing. That seemed to make him smile and his modest thank you made this place grow even bigger in my heart. Please go try this one out, it’s a one-off, I am sure of it.
Note: Apologies for the lack of pricing, I don’t seem to have written any of it down and they aren’t listed on Google at all! This is also why I can’t give directory listings below the review. Forgiveth me.