It may sound bizarre, but one of my favourite go-to snacks is tom yum noodles. And although that sounds fancy on paper, the reality is that it’s barely any more involved than instant noodles. All I have to do boil up some noodles, add in a spoonful of tom yum paste from the Asian grocer, and if I’m feeling really fancy and/or hungry, I’ll chuck in some frozen fish balls or a hard-boiled egg. It may not be much, but sometimes the bold flavour of tom yum and the comfort factor of noodles is exactly what I need when I’m up studying until 2am, and as a result, feeling generally displeased with all my life decisions up until that point.
Cheapie Lunch (Under $15)
Let me put this down on record so Chris can’t weasel out of it down the track: he has promised to bring me an entire sheet of pork crackling at uni. And where exactly does one get an entire sheet of pork crackling? Mr Crackles of course, the place where the name really does say it all. Having long-since held cult status in Sydney (and probably Melbourne too before long – they’ve just expanded interstate), Mr Crackles is a takeaway shop along a main street specialising in sandwiches stuffed with crispy roast pork. The setup is very much grab and go – with just a couple of rows of fairly awkward bench seating lining the walls, eating in definitely not…
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.
I remember being mega-excited when Sydney sushi train, Sushi Hotaru, first opened in Melbourne. At the time, the prospect of a half-decent sushi train that charged a very reasonable flat rate of $3 per plate seemed like a little pocket of heaven on earth. After the novelty and hype wore off however, I have to admit that maybe a budget sushi train isn’t necessarily the world’s greatest thing. After all, there are only so many plates of deep-fried and mayo-drenched nigiri I can eat, even if the variety is large, and the prices are cheap.
Around the time I was leaving for Sydney, there was one thing in Melbourne that was seriously bumming me out – the lack of good ramen I’ve yet to eat. Though Melbourne is no longer the ramen desert it once was, following the growth of the ramen scene in real time meant that I’ve demolished every option on all the ‘best of’ lists I could find. Luckily, I was moving to a city where they had discovered the merits of good ramen long before Melbourne caught on, so my dry spell was over!
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.