When it comes to food, the premise of ‘the more authentically ethnic, the better’ has never yet led me astray. Frankly, nothing excites me more than walking into a suburb and seeing a bunch of family-run, hole-in-the-wall ethnic eateries. So when I got out of the car in Lakemba and saw all the grocers and bakeries selling food I had never even heard of, I knew that I was in for some seriously good food at Jasmin Lebanese Restaurant.
Before moving to Sydney, I had heard my share of horror stories about the city, along with the accolade for the beaches, weather, and Asian food. ‘The rent is so expensive!’, everyone would say upon hearing about the move, before following up with ‘and the roads are just awful!’ In my naivety, I wrote the warnings off. I mean, it’s not like Melbourne is exactly cheap, and I’ve seen the M3 at peak hour – I figured Sydney could only be so different. Oh how wrong I was.
In Melbourne, charcoal chicken is something you get when the fish and chip shop next door is closed. In Sydney however, it seems to be so much more. Instead of second-rate takeaway, charcoal chicken is serious business. Like other cheap ethnic eats – such as banh mi and dumplings – everyone seems to have their opinion on where to get the best version, and the most popular places have what can only be described as cult followings. But no matter who you ask, the name El Jannah is bound to pop up in the list of favourites.
My love for Miznon needs no introduction. Ever since my very first visit, I have been absolutely smitten with this powerhouse of Israeli street food – a love that’s only grown with (many) subsequent visits. I just can’t get enough of their pillowy pitas, packed full of scrumptious ingredients, and their amazing take on fresh produce – whole head of roasted cauliflower anyone? And let’s not even let me near the self-serve station of tahini, pickles, and pita. So it goes without saying that I was absolutely delighted when Miznon released a brand-new dinner menu, taking their ingredients out of the pita pockets (though you can still get one if you want to!), and plating them up to share.
After my sensational meal at Miznon last week, I’ve been having ongoing cravings for Middle Eastern food. Unfortunately I also had self-imposed blogging obligations, so instead of just heading back to Miznon to have some more of their amazing pita pockets, I decided to check out Tahini, a self-titled Lebanese diner in the CBD that Chris’ co-workers frequent. As you’d expect of a lot of city eateries aimed at a quick turnaround for office workers, Tahini leans more towards the food court restaurant side of things. To get to it, you actually have go to into the building at 518 Little Bourke Street, and you’ll find it all the way at the back. Still, their menu seemed perfectly legit, featuring an impressive selection of wraps, mezza, salads, and grilled meat options.
As much as I love George Calombaris (at least up until the whole scandal with him underpaying his staff), I had to admit that celebrity chefs are not exactly my cup of tea. Although I’m sure it’s not always the case, often it feels as if the only chefs that end up as celebrities are the ones who spend more time selling their brand, rather than cooking. So you have to understand my mixture of apprehension when I first heard earlier this year that Miznon was going to make an appearance in our very own Hardware Lane.