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Monday, September 29, 2008

Chinatown Night Markets, Haymarket

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.

Takoyaki stall

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.

Pet clothes

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
11 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/29/2008 11:16:00 pm


  • At 9/30/2008 9:35 am, Blogger Melissa Good Taste said…

    The fish ball sticks look tasty, and handy!

  • At 9/30/2008 9:48 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yum! I love the cheung fun (rice noodles) at the night markets and the lamb skewers too. Great to be able to get roti from Mamak too without having to wait in the ever-present queue (only bound to get longer since it was mentioned in the Sydney Magazine's 10 best new restaurants...)

    I've been lurking in the background for a while - I love this blog :)

  • At 9/30/2008 6:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I must of missed the Japanese stall on my last visit! Their food looks divine! I love the custard puffs..so worth the long queue. Thanks for the heads up on TenRen's as I have yet to find a nice green bubble tea yet! Cheers Noodlehead.

  • At 9/30/2008 10:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i kno that takoyaki stall. they come to the chatswood plaza along with other food stalls on thursday nights! ten rens tea but they call it (cha for tea )is also at chatswood victoria ave

  • At 9/30/2008 11:24 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Melissa - I didn't have any but they smelt good. I've often wondered how easy it would be to make your own?

    Hi hunnyb - I noticed that the cheung fun were very popular and I was quite impressed with the lamb skewers! It's crazy funny how the queues at Mamak have gotten out of control these days, and hehe, thanks for outing yourself. Great to hear from you. It's been ages :)

    Hi Noodlehead - But the markets are so small! Perhaps you were distracted by a dumpling :) Hope you enjoy TenRen. I'm also keen to try out their tea-flavoured food!

    Hi Jo - Thanks for the info - I'm sure all the North Shore readers will take notice :)

  • At 9/30/2008 11:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ooh yeah thats Colotako from Melody Markets at Chatswood. The lamb skewers look really good :) and yay for the custard puffs.. I like to watch the puff machine work its magic

  • At 10/01/2008 11:49 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi FFichiban - lol. I love watching the custard puff machine too :) Hours of enertainment!

  • At 10/02/2008 1:31 pm, Blogger Terri @ A Daily Obsession said…

    oh helen! everything looks soooo good.n after all these years n blogs, i still love the way u do reviews :)

  • At 10/02/2008 4:04 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oooh, I can't wait to go to these markets when I'm in Sydney next month! Thanks for bringing it to my attention - I'm just compiling a list of places to eat/shop :)

  • At 10/02/2008 11:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Those lamb skewers remind me of my time in Beijing/Shanghai. They were absolutely delicious , I'm yet to have them again since I came back. I see them in Ashfield as well!

  • At 10/03/2008 12:11 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Terri - Aww thanks :) Glad you're still reading them :)

    Hi Erin - Hope you have a long list ready! I always think its fun to explore the suburbs too, like Lakemba, Cabramatta, Auburn, Campsie and Strathfield.

    Hi Howard - Yes I'd heard the lamb was very reminiscent of Shanghai. I love street food :)


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