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Friday, March 18, 2011

Kammadhenu, Newtown

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.

Onion pakoda $7

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.

I tailored my suggestions for a Singaporean audience (hence no mention of Malaysian cuisine!), but where are your favourite eating spots to take tourists? And how do you define Sydney cuisine?

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.

171 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9550 2611
Opening hours:
Open 7 days 11.30am - 9.30pm

Also open at
Kammadhenu (King Street South)
377 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9557 2186
Opening hours:
Open 7 days 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-9.30pm

Kammadhenu Neutral Bay 
12 Waters Road, Neutral Bay, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9953 9999
Opening hours
7 days 11am - 9.30pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Kammadhenu, Newtown (Aug10)
Goan - Viva Goa
Indian - Maya Masala
Pakistani - Faheem Fast Food, Enmore
Sri Lankan - Janani, Homebush

Top 10 Sydney Eats for Tourists
15 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/18/2011 02:47:00 am


  • At 3/18/2011 7:43 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Congrats on the articles! And those onion pakodas look great! Mmmm, I'd like some with my brekkie right now. :-)

  • At 3/18/2011 8:48 am, Blogger ameanderingmango said…

    Hi Helen - congrats on your article - looks great! I love Kammadhenu! My partner and I visit often to get our dosa fix - their chutney and sambar is delicious. Another favourite that's seriously indulgent is the eggplant curry. Thanks for a wonderful review!

  • At 3/18/2011 8:49 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    THe masala dosai looks fab - though I'm still yet to try one. Next time...
    Nice article :)

  • At 3/18/2011 11:15 am, Blogger emma said…

    ahhh kammadhenu is the go to place for a cheapie feed for me and my friends! we usually go for the vegetarian banquet and leave swearing to never eat that much again... only of course to return and do it all over again.
    service is pretty much terrible - but i'm okay with it most of the time for the cheap and delicious food on offer. also love that they're pretty lax about BYO. although last time i was there they claimed they were out of cauliflower (we're junkies for the deep friend stuff) yet it showed up in our curries later on. eh kinda weird.
    love the dosai for one of the cheapest dinner options on king st. the only problem you face is when everyone orders a dosai and they can't all fit on the table! but hey not such a bad problem to face :)

  • At 3/18/2011 12:24 pm, Blogger susan said…

    I haven't been to this place for ages! the last time I went we hadn't booked so we had to sit upstairs where there was no atmosphere at all. That fried onion looks delicious!

  • At 3/18/2011 12:44 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    WOW! that egg hopper looks so friggin awesome! ive never seen it before!!

  • At 3/18/2011 2:01 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Amen to the glories of the crispy bits! I have nothing like this delicious food in my pantry (or here at work) at the moment, but I might toast of a bagel and spread it with proper butter when I get home in an attempt to enjoy some crunch :P

  • At 3/18/2011 3:27 pm, Anonymous Gastronomous Anonymous said…

    WOW that egg hopper looks awesome! will have to check it out and CONGRATS on the article :)

  • At 3/18/2011 8:55 pm, Blogger Jen said…

    I always wondered what this place was like. The onion pakoda looks amazing!

  • At 3/20/2011 11:34 am, Anonymous TFP (The Food Pornographer) said…

    I've never tried hoppers but they are something on my To Eat list - your egg hopper pic looks fantastic! I reckon I'd love Kammadhenu - it all looks delicious.

  • At 3/20/2011 9:14 pm, Anonymous Erin@TheFoodMentalist said…

    Dosa and Roti! Yum!

  • At 3/21/2011 8:37 pm, Anonymous sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    I really want to try this place, think I have driven past it a 100 times the past few months and it had caught my attention. Thanks for sharing Helen.

  • At 3/21/2011 8:39 pm, Anonymous sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    Oh bad me, also congratulations on the interview!

  • At 3/21/2011 9:46 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    I remember the first time I had a masala dosai and completely marvelled at how large it was. And thinking it was hollow in the centre, I was like a surprised child when I found cubes of potato hiding inside!

  • At 3/22/2011 2:03 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    You went back! Aww no gobi pakoda? =( Cauliflower is definately on the pricey side at the moment, I guess we have to keep with the seasons for affordable produce =)
    Congrats on the article!


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