There’s more to Sydney’s dining scene than avocado toast, which Bill Granger made famous at his inner-city Darlinghurst cafe in 1993. This breakfast staple has ricocheted around the world, but the dish is just one chapter in the story of a city with extraordinary culinary scope. Today, the food scene is shaped by internationally famous chefs (Kylie Kwong, Josh Niland) and names to watch (Leila Khazma, Kei Tokiwa, Anu Haran), while different ingredients fill plates, from native saltbush to Lebanese lamb confit.
Some of these items, brought to Sydney by waves of migration, now rule local tables, like burrata and haloumi introduced by Italian and Greek migrants. Australian dependence on flat whites is world-famous, but day-old coffee was standard here until Russian refugee Ivan Repin freshly roasted beans at his Sydney cafes during the Great Depression. That long-brewing interest in coffee has led to a brunch scene that’s gone global: Soul Deli’s kimchi-topped avocado toast wasn’t inspired by Granger’s original Bills cafe, but the Seoul outpost of the chain. Today, the incredible brunch options range from Turkish tomato-swirled eggs at Malika Bakehouse to Filipino omelet rice at Takam. Sydney now has a successful Thai Town, gözleme in every neighborhood, and ultra-regional Chinese restaurants like Taste of Shunde and the Hunan-hot Chairman too.
Australia is also home to the oldest continuous culture in the world, and First Nations cuisine keeps gaining momentum. Chef Mark Olive recently began serving bush pavlova at the Opera House, which sits on a significant gathering site for Sydney’s Aboriginal clans, along with bush teas by Indigiearth’s Sharon Winsor, who often hosts First Nations dining pop-ups and has her own forthcoming restaurant. Meanwhile, at Lucky Kwong, Kylie Kwong arguably presents the quintessential Sydney eatery, combining her Chinese cuisine with Indigenous ingredients from horticulturalist Clarence Slockee.
Whether you’re seeking man’oushe in Guildford and Granville, looking for idli and pakoras in Harris Park, or following the wood-fired heat of pizzerias, you’ll notice how Sydney’s dining scene constantly crosses borders and its chefs constantly enter new territory. Even the avocado toast keeps evolving.
Lee Tran Lam is a Sydney-based freelance journalist, podcaster, and editor of the New Voices On Food books.Read More