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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sydney Roller Derby League and Kingsford Chinese, Kingsford

Have you watched the film Whip It? Until I did, I had no idea that roller derby existed.

A chance conversation with hazchem alerted me to the fact that roller derby is alive and kicking in Sydney - the Sydney Roller Derby League has been going stong for three years. Roller derby has its roots in Chicago in 1935, sweeping across the USA before experiencing a decline in popularity in the 1970s. In 2001 it was revived by a grassroots league in Austin, Texas, and today it is played in 16 countries around the world.

Skaters warming up

It didn't take long to round up some willing companions for the season final last weekend at the Hordern Pavilion. We arrived extra early to make sure we could secure the "suicide seats" - unlike the movie Whip It, the track here is not enclosed but simply marked out with tape on the arena floor. Those willing to brave the cold concrete can sit cross-legged for front row viewing access, only one track away from the skating mayhem. Otherwise tiered seating affords a more comfortable, but distant, view.

The jammers on the start line

Roller derby is a full contact sport played on four-wheel roller skates. These days it is predominantly played by women. Two teams of five race against each other on an oval track in two-minute rounds known as "jams". Each team has a "jammer" (wearing a star on their helmet) who is the nominated point scorer - their goal is to lap the opposing team as many times they can. The opposing team use their bodies to block the jammer from getting through the pack. Referees (both male and female) keep track of players' penalties, with the potential to send players off for one-minute on the bench.

It's all a bit bewildering at first, and it's hard to know where to look at first, but we get the hang of it after a while. The pace is fast and furious between the two teams tonight - The D'viants and the Screamin' Assault Sirens. Flexibility and athleticism are essential, especially by the jammers who have to accelerate, duck and weave their way through a determined tangle of arms, legs and roller skates.

It's a fierce display of girl power, although the skaters aren't afraid to play up to the crowd either, stirring up the audience when scoring a point, or hamming it up to the opposing team or the referees with good humour.

The players' names are the highlight, the G-rated versions including BritKnee Tears, Sweet n Savage and Chilli Con Carnage.

The track is slippery and one particular corner is the site of countless spills, the skaters barely avoiding crashing into spectators. The commentators reassure us that competing skaters must train for at least eight months before they are allowed to compete, learning how to compete and how to fall safely to minimise injury.

It's a great night of entertainment with a well-behaved capacity crowd including plenty of young pre-teen female fans too.

The Screamin' Assault Sirens on their victory lap

Peking spare ribs $8.80

The game finishes at 10pm and we're starving. We escape the impending traffic jam of exiting cars and head down the road to Kingsford Chinese Restaurant, convincing the G-man to meet us there after seeking his advice on which dishes to order.

We make it inside dining room door at 10.30pm and are immediately told the kitchen will be closing in five minutes. Known for its phenomenally cheap prices, Kingsford Chinese is always busy and popular with budget-conscious university students. You don't go here for service or ambience, you come here for cheap food and lots of it.

Deep fried calamari with pepper and salt $9.80

Our food arrives alarmingly fast, it seems like three minutes before the first dish arrives. The rest follow in quick succession.

The Peking ribs are just what our ravenous stomachs require, deep-fried battered pork rib pieces coated in a thick glossy sweet and sour sauce. The G-man adores the deep fried calamari here, but I'm not a huge fan, finding the calamari a little too chewy, the batter thick, and the tumble of fried red shallots too overpowering.

Stir-fried Shanghai noodle $6.80

Stir-fried Shanghai noodles come with only a smattering of beef but plenty of Chinese cabbage. The thick gravy is comforting on a cold wintry night.

Sampan congee $6.20

Billy has a craving for congee, and there's some debate over which one to choose. We settle for the sampan congee, although when it arrives it's mainly pork mince at the bottom of the bowl. The rice porridge is the perfect excuse to order a plate of Chinese donuts or you tiao, deep-fried crullers which we dip into the gruel.

Chinese donut $1.80

Shantung chicken $11.00

Shantung chicken is our final dish, a combination of succulent flesh and crispy skin doused in a vinegar sauce that is deadly with garlic, shallots and chilli. There are plenty of crispy bits to be found here, and I scavenge greedily for the bones with charred skin and bits of cartilage.

The bill arrives and dinner works out to be $12 each. We pay the bill and after receiving the change, we're told in no uncertain terms "We're closing now". As we're still saying goodbye to each other on the pavement, the staff have already closed the restaurant behind us, escaping wordlessly into the night.

Twenty dollars for roller derby and twelve dollars for dinner. You couldn't find a cheaper and better value Saturday night out.
Kingsford Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kingsford Chinese Restaurant
426 Anzac Parade, Kingsford, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9663 1728

Opening hours:
Open 7 days 11am-11pm

The Sydney Roller Derby League (SRDL) season for 2010 is over, however inter-league bouts at the Hordern Pavilion will take place on:

11 September 2010 - SRDL v Wollongong
09 October 2010 - SRDL v Canberra
20 November 2010 - SRDL v Newcastle
Tickets on sale from Ticketek

Click here to find out how to become a roller girl or a roller ref (men included).

Congratulations to Anjana who is the winner of two tickets to the Efendy Celebration dinner.

Missed out this time? Don't forget to enter the other Grab Your Fork competitions still open:
(entries close Sunday 22 August 2010)
(entries close Sunday 29 August 2010)
24 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/11/2010 12:21:00 am


  • At 8/11/2010 6:13 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    chilli con carnage hahahahaahaha that is such a gold name!

  • At 8/11/2010 8:48 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    omg so fun! the names are brilliant. and cheap chinese to top it off is always a good way to end a night. i have a huge congee craving!

  • At 8/11/2010 9:21 am, Blogger K said…

    Those are fantastic photos! And love that you're featuring a non-food related post (followed by a food related post). Haha. I'm inspired to go watch a match now.

  • At 8/11/2010 10:38 am, Blogger ragingyoghurt said…

    i love that victory lap shot! but maybe i love the salt and pepper calamari one even more. ;P

  • At 8/11/2010 10:49 am, Anonymous Jeff said…

    Your photos are so great.. I don't know how you manage such attractive lighting in a "low-key" place (nicest way I could think of phrasing it) like Kingsford Chinese.

  • At 8/11/2010 11:09 am, Anonymous Anna Johnston said…

    Great photos, I had no idea Roller Derby was still going. Lovin' the cheap Chino meal which incidentally sounded like it hit the spot.
    Good read. Thanks

  • At 8/11/2010 11:19 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    You got some great shots of the roller derby! Looks like an exciting game and I see you went early enough to grab those 'suicide' seats lol

  • At 8/11/2010 11:28 am, Anonymous Simon @ the heart of food said…

    The roller derby looks like a lot more fun than I would have thought.

    Love the shantung chicken there, especially considering how much you pay.

  • At 8/11/2010 12:13 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wooww never knew this existed until now! I can foresee this turning into ice hockey on land where they just beat each other up.

    Hee hee living life on the edge Helen :P?

  • At 8/11/2010 12:24 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I love that last photo of the roller derby - the blurry hands and crystal-clear athletes is fantastic. I only learnt about roller derby through Whip It, too... I wonder if there's a Canberran team? (Doubt it.)

    Mmm, congee. I think that might be one for our Sydney weekend, whenever it happens, Helen! :D

  • At 8/11/2010 5:37 pm, Anonymous Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    What a fun night out! I never knew roller derby even existed in Sydney! And you gotta love good ol' Kingsford Chinese ;)

  • At 8/11/2010 6:13 pm, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    That night was a ball of fun, thanks for taking me along! It sure does bring back memories of my roller-skating childhood. Now who wants to be a derby girl with me? ;)

  • At 8/11/2010 7:22 pm, Anonymous Tina said…

    How very interesting...! I wonder what the uniform guidelines are...? :)

    And that's a good value meal there!

  • At 8/11/2010 7:45 pm, Anonymous Sarah @ For the Love of Food said…

    What a great night out with the roller derby followed by cheap and tasty Chinese! I am so looking forward to taking my little girl to one of these events when she's a bit older - what great role models :)

  • At 8/11/2010 9:43 pm, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    I was kind of hoping to see you up there with these feisty gals on skates! I reckon you'd be good at that. Love the names and LOVE the look of the Shantung chicken!

  • At 8/12/2010 12:18 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Roller Derby???? Ths brings back memories of the 70's!!!! I had no idea...Love the shots Helen!

  • At 8/12/2010 10:12 am, Blogger April @ My Food Trail said…

    Wow, that's interesting that there's a real life roller derby in Sydney! Great photos too! Will have to watch Whip It.

    Loving the closeup photos. I almost reached out to the screen to grab me a piece of the salt & pepper calamari! :)

  • At 8/12/2010 10:30 am, Blogger Iron Chef Shellie said…

    I had to google roller derby to see what you people were tweeting about!

    Looks like an awesome night, followed by a nice cheap feed!

  • At 8/12/2010 11:00 am, Blogger Brenda said…

    Roller derby looks a little scary, you guys are brave to sit so close!
    And that food looks delicious! I'm so hungry now and it's only 11am

  • At 8/13/2010 5:27 pm, Anonymous thang @ noodlies said…

    roller derby looks rough! food look yum tho!

  • At 8/14/2010 7:47 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    The Salt and Pepper Calamari at Kingsford Chinese is the best I've had. Tender, spicy ... perfect,

  • At 8/23/2010 1:14 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi chocolatesuze - lol. That was one of my favourite names too!

    Hi Stephcookie - It was such a cheap night out and loads of fun too.

    Hi K - Ha, I think it's fair to say most of my social activities tend to involve food anyway and yes, I recommend to go check out a match. It's lots of fun!

    Hi bowb - I think you might be onto something!

    Hi Jeff - Depth of field makes everything look sexy. lol.

    Hi Anna - Glad you enjoyed the post. It was such an entertaining night. And I hope that roller derby continues to rock on!

    Hi Jacq - I was determined to get the suicide seats. We were lucky we didn't get the corner where everyone seemed to be crashing and sliding into!

    Hi Simon - It was a truckload of fun - what's not to love? The shantung chicken was great - garlic overload ahoy!

    Hi FFichiban - You gotta grasp life by both hands and enjoy!

    Hi Hannah - Aww thanks. Needless to say I took a lot of photos that night so I could cull through all the blurry ones!

    Yes congee would be great. It's also very easy to make at home if you're ever inclined :)

    Hi Betty - Roller derby for the people! And yeah Kingsford Chinese was the perfect end to a cheap night out.

  • At 8/23/2010 1:22 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Karen - I reckon you'd make a great roller derby girl. Now we just gotta come up with a killer name for you!

    Hi Tina - I think there's a strong punk influence amongst the resurgence of roller derby leagues for women. It's all about empowerment. I think it's great :)

    Hi Sarah - We saw lots of young girls at the show. I'm sure she would love it!

    Hi John - Ha, you'd be waiting a long time for that one! And yes, I think the shantung chicken was my favourite dish of the night.

    Hi Peter G - I'm glad someone remembers the 70s. lol. And thanks :)

    Hi April - Whip It is such a fun movie. Definitely recommended.

    I only took the close-up photos because the restaurant was so cramped, but glad they seemed to have worked so well regardless :)

    Hi Iron Chef Shellie - Haha, you have to watch Whip It. Drew Barrymore always produces awesomes movies!

    Hi Brenda - Actually we weren't that close - there was still a track separating us from the action. We were all starving afterwards - a cheap hearty dinner was just what we needed.

    Hi Thang - It's a contact sport alright, but lots of fun!

    Hi Peter - I actually preferred the shangtung chicken, but maybe our calamari wasn't so great that night. Regardless, it was all dirt cheap!

  • At 11/04/2010 2:13 pm, Blogger Miss Feathers said…

    I've just discovered the roller derby in Sydney this year and I have to say I love it. I make sure that I always get the Suicide Seats too! This post reminds me that I need to go again soon!


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