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Cheapie Lunch (Under $20)

Hakatamon Ramen

It’s no secret that even after 4 years in Sydney, I miss Melbourne as much as I did when I first moved up. Sydney may win by leaps and bounds when it comes to the great outdoors, but frankly I’m more into the arts and culture side of things that is so much more abundant in Melbourne. Maybe that’s why I am such a fan of Darling Square, a newly opened precinct that’s a hub for all things food and entertainment. And it doesn’t hurt that the design is both modern and beautiful either. There is a myriad of good eateries located in Darling Square, and one that has caught my eye is Hakatamon Ramen. The interior is rather small…

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Chinese Dumpling Master

Sometimes all you need is a good plate of dumplings, but today I’m in a rather unusual place to be getting them – Newtown. But there’s a good reason for this; I wanted to chase my dumplings with yet another visit to my beloved MaPo. And after a quick search, I found Chinese Dumpling Master. An outpost of Chinese Noodle House, a Chinatown stalwart, Chinese Dumpling Master is your classic minimal frills, maximum thrills eatery. People pop in and out for a plate of dumplings, a bowl of noodles, and maybe a casual stir fry or two to go with their BYO bottle. The only exception to that is the fake grape vines covering every inch of the ceiling; it…

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MaPo

It was a happy day when I discovered a little slice of gelati heaven called MaPo. What was less happy was the fact that this discovered occurred approximately a week before lockdown started. And whilst MaPo stayed open throughout those dark months, I unfortunately did not live within 5km, or even 10km, and hence was forced to be MaPo-less for the entire time. But now that we’re all vaccinated and out and about, I was back at MaPo in a flash, ready to get all those gelato fixes I was denied for so long. And yes, you can consider this a spoiler to what I think of MaPo.

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Toki Italian Inspired

In between running wedding-related errands, we ducked into Toki Italian Inspired for a quick refuelling stop. Although located fairly close to the CBD, Toki is actually tucked away into a quiet side street, away from the restaurant-heavy side of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. Judging by its proximity to office buildings, polite décor, and the general lack of hubbub at dinnertime, I get the impression that Toki mostly functions as a corporate lunch spot, plus the occasional takeaway dinner for locals.

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Valentinas

I have a deep fascination with American roadside diners. Although I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, something about the classic neon-lit greasy spoon just pushes all my buttons. And whilst there are plenty of restaurants serving American-styled food around, the classic diner experience has remained elusive, as most places are just looking to capitalise on the aesthetic. With that said, Valentinas does look rather promising. Whilst it’s more of an Australian café take on the American diner, the menu is full of all the Southern American dishes that pop culture has taught me to love. The little nods to traditional diner decor are also rather charming, and I was especially a fan of the olive-green banquette…

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New Star Kebab

Like any true blue Aussie, I love a cheeky kebab any time of day. But now that I’m coming up to 30 (eep!) and can no longer eat whatever I want whenever I want without consequences, when I do eat a kebab, it had better be worth my while. And although the Strathfield area is a bit dire on the kebab front, I’m only a short train ride away from Auburn, where Middle-Eastern food abounds. New Star Kebab looks dodgy, no two ways about it. The neon sign reminds me of those pizza-pasta-kebab joints that line the streets of the CBD, and have only managed to stay around due to their convenience factor, rather than any merit of their food.…

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