Egg hopper $3
The crispy bits are always the best part. That's what makes the hopper — a popular Sri Lankan breakfast or dinner — so delicious. It's nothing but crunch, a thin batter that is delicately lacy around the edges. The batter is fermented from rice flour and coconut milk, giving a slightly sour taste similar to sourdough. Hoppers can be cooked as plain or sweet, but we like ours with a runny yolked egg resting patiently at the bottom.
Kammadhenu dining room
Kammadhenu is a vision of purple walls and green neon, serving Sri Lankan, Indian and Malaysian cuisine to hungry locals. There are two branches along King Street, Newtown, but we've stuck to the northern end.
Service is notoriously slow here, mostly due to the skeleton roster of staff. Thankfully the food is worth the wait, although by the tail end of today's lunch, we notice that every table is cluttered with uncleared dishes.
Masala dosai $8
Apart from egg hoppers, masala dosai is my favourite dish here, a huge South Indian pancake that is the size and length of a trumpet. The dosai comes with a range of fillings, but I've always like the plain masala the best, a simple huddle of curried potato cubes hiding in the centre.
The dosai is also made using a fermented batter, and we tear off shreds of the crispy pancake and dip into the accompanying sauces.
Plain dosai $5
Plain dosai is made without ghee or oil, and it shows in this healthier version. Although the pancake still has a lovely golden colour, it lacks the crispness that comes from sizzling in oil.
Rose lassi and mango lassi $3
Beef korma $12
We suck down thick drinks of rose and mango lassi as we move onto the curries. Beef korma is a little on the bland side, with perhaps too much cream and not enough almond and coriander.
Mushroom matter $11.90
Mushroom matter is much more satisfying, thin slices of mushroom cooked with peas in a spicy sauce that is aromatic with cumin, ginger and chilli.
Plain roti $5
Plain roti is light and fluffy, best eaten with a quick dunk in curry sauce.
I've saved the best for last. The fried. We'd tried to order gobi pakoda but were told that due to the cost of cauliflower at the moment, this wasn't currently available. We settle instead for the onion pakoda, curls of onion slices dipped in chickpea flour batter and deep fried until crispy and golden.
This is crazily addictive stuff, especially with dabs of MD green chilli sauce, a Sri Lankan favourite made with green chillies, vinegar, garlic and ginger.
And if you're keen to hear more about suburban eats around Sydney, tune into ABC radio this weekend!
I'll be chatting with Simon Marnie about ethnic eats in Sydney's suburbs. Joining me live in the studio will be Gourmet Forager and Noodlies.
Tune into 702 Weekends on Sunday 20 March 2011.
Our segment will be broadcast live 11am-11.30am.
Finally, I was recently interviewed for a feature piece on Sydney eats by the Today newspaper in Singapore. I've cut and pasted my section of the article below, otherwise you can read the article on the Today site or click on the layout images at the end of this post to view larger.
Welcome to the Other Side
by Serene Lim
Published in Today newspaper, Singapore, 19 February 2011
For the hungry food lover
Sydney's food scene is a massive success story. Restaurants Tetsuya's, Marque, Quay and Rockpool hobnob with world's best. Helen Yee, freelance writer and popular food blogger of Grab Your Fork (grabyourfork.blogspot.com) explained the city is a hot-bed for dining because of its excellent produce and diversity of cuisines.
"We have a fantastic base of Italian, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, but you'll also find specialists in food from Portugal, Laos, Turkey, Korea, Chile and Burma, to name a few," said Yee, who also writes for the 2011 Foodies' Guide To Sydney. "We tend to have a very clean approach to food, allowing quality products to shine and be appreciated.
"Provenance is also a key feature on many menus - customers value knowing where their fish was caught, where the beef was reared, or where the potatoes were grown. Good food starts with good ingredients and Sydney restaurants have incredible access to fresh and local fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood."
This is why her favourite place to bring tourist friends isn't a restaurant, but the Sydney Fish Market. "You can watch oysters being freshly shucked, check out the lobsters in the fish tanks and then enjoy a picnic of prawns, sashimi and fish and chips sitting outside on the wharf with the giant pelicans," she said.
And when you do want to sit down for a proper meal, you don't have to splurge to have a good time. Yee swears by small yet superb eateries. Among those which made her list are District Dining in Surry Hills, a modern bistro with a sharing plate concept; Luxe Bakery Cafe in Newtown for great coffee, delicious pastries and heavy loaves of fresh sourdough bread; Tomislav in Darlinghurst whose chef has worked with Heston Blumenthal; and Harry's Cafe de Wheels in Woolloomooloo for a taste of traditional Aussie pie served straight from a trailer and eaten on the street.
"I also love exploring the suburbs of Sydney, areas filled with new migrants who have brought all the colour, smells and flavours of the cuisine from home. Cabramatta is often known as Little Vietnam. The shops selling pho noodle soup and street snacks are worth the 50-minute train trip from the city.
"Auburn is like stepping into Istanbul, an adventure of char-grilled meats, sweet baklava pastries and a stretchy ice cream called dondurma that you can eat with a knife and fork. Closer to town, feast on Portuguese chicken and custard tarts in Petersham, soup dumplings in Ashfield, and wood-fired pizza and gelato in Haberfield.
"Caffeine addicts should head to Surry Hills which is filled with quirky coffee shops and lots of hip and happening restaurants."
Plenty of reason not to stop at just the super sights that frame the city. Delve deeper to get to know Sydney a whole lot better.
12 Waters Road, Neutral Bay, Sydney
Kammadhenu, Newtown (Aug10)
Sri Lankan - Janani, Homebush
Top 10 Sydney Eats for Tourists
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3/18/2011 02:47:00 a.m.