Fishball sticks $3.00 each
Although reasonably modest in size, there's still a buzz that hangs in the air over the Chinatown Night Markets. Most of the food stalls are huddled down the bottom end of Dixon Street: a mixture of fish balls and steaming bamboo baskets, caramelised squares of barbecued fatty pork and lustworthy trays of all things fried: salt and pepper squid, prawns and mud crab claws.
Spinach dumplings $1.30 each
BBQ pork buns $1.30 each
Mixed offal $5/$10
Shanghai pork dumplings
Shanghai pork dumplings $5.00 for four
We start with the Shanghai pork dumplings, thin-skinned pockets with a soupy surprise inside. They're not too bad but they leave a lingering frozen aftertaste for me anyway.
On one side of Little Hay Street is Little Japan complete with the frenzied production line that is takoyaki and okonomiyaki, as well as the sweet filled pancakes known as obanyaki.
Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki $9.00
Okonomiyaki, sometimes referred to as Japanese pizza, is a specialty of both Osaka and Hiroshima. In Hiroshima, the batter is poured onto the grill then layered with cabbage and yakisoba noodles and cooked then flipped. In Osaka, the cabbage is mixed into the batter for a flatter "pizza".
Ours is cooked to a delicious crisp, bits of hokkien noodle married with fried egg, batter, cabbage and leek, drizzled with saucy stripes and festooned with dancing curls of dried bonito flakes.
Takoyaki octopus balls $7 for 8
I let everyone else burn the rooves of their mouths on the explosively hot takoyaki octopus balls. Even after five minutes, they're still dangerously hot inside, these innocent-looking golden orbs hiding a small piece of octopus and a molten lava of batter.
Roti cooked with egg $8.50
On the other side of Little Hay Street is Mamak, where we share an egg-filled roti that comes with two different curry sauces and a dollop of fiery sambal sauce.
TenRen's taro green tea with pearls $5.50
In search of drinks, I convince everyone else to make the short walk to TenRen's Tea Time on George Street. Whilst a little pricier than most bubble tea cafes, the drinks here are made with real green tea, giving a lighter and cooler taste that isn't as sweet, gritty or as artificial as some.
We head back to the markets with drinks aloft, trying not to choke on the chewy tapioca pearls or cubes of coconut jelly as they ascend sporadically but with great speed through our straws.
Lamb skewers $1.50 each
We find a little more room for a lamb skewer. Popular in Shanghai, these are small in size but big in flavour. The cubes of lamb are fatty and juicy, dusted with cumin and sesame seeds that subdues any overpowering smell of lamb.
Emperor's Garden custard puffs 30c each or $1 for 4
For dessert it's a bag of custard puffs from Emperor's Garden. A night of snacking never was so much fun.
The Chinatown Night Markets are on every Friday from 6pm to 11pm. The markets line Dixon Street and Little Hay Street in Sydney's Haymarket.
TenRen's Tea Time
694 George Street, Sydney
(near corner of Goulburn Street)
Tel: +61 (02) 9281 7886
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9/29/2008 11:16:00 pm