Sedap, Sydney: Penang char kway teow

Rating: 3 out of 5

Sedap
Regent Place, 501 George Street, Sydney 2000

sedap malaysian

The cinema strip end of George Street has long been dingy and unappealing, but the addition of some great eateries over the last few years has really made the area much more attractive option for a night out. Regent Place is an example of turning a little alley way into a hub of cool.

Sedap has a very clever fit out that makes you feel like you’re sitting at a street hawker stall in Malaysia at night. Fairy lights are strung up on the ceiling, and rustic-style boards hang from the counter listing some of the specialties, like assam laksa and teh tarik. With a small space and loads of diners crammed in, the atmosphere is buzzing. We are lucky enough to snare the very last table available, thereby avoiding a hungry wait.

We are disappointed to see that the dinner menu lacks some of our favourites, which are on the lunch menu, such as nasi lemak and all the laksa variations. So we opt for the char kway teow ($12), which I think is always a good barometer for a Malaysian or Singaporean restaurant’s quality. It’s a famous dish, and one that every restaurant should get right.

The noodles arrive piled on a colourful plate with a generous dollop of sambal on the side. Bouncy flat rice noodles are wok-fried with lap cheong (Chinese sausage), slices of fish cake, bean sprouts, egg and three big king prawns. The noodles are sadly too soft and break up easily, but the flavour is smokey with a warm chilli heat, even without the extra sambal mixed through.

sedap char kway teow

By the time we finish our meal, the restaurant has a queue of people waiting for tables, so we bustle out to free up our table. As we linger by the front of the restaurant, I look over the lunch menu and decide that the next time I come here will definitely be a daytime visit.

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Twisted Noodle Bar, Haymarket: Yunnan noodle soup

Rating: 3 out of 5

Twisted Noodle Bar
Shop 44, 1 Dixon Street, Haymarket 2000

yunnan noodle soup

It wasn’t so long ago that the northern end of Dixon Street was a dingy strip with no life or atmosphere. Nowadays, it’s buzzing with diners, with lots of new eateries, and crowds lining up for the crazy and creative flavours at N2 Extreme Gelato.

Twisted Noodle Bar is right next door to N2, and we weren’t really quite sure what made this noodle joint so twisted, but we were happy to go along with it. We were seated outside, overlooking the Dixon Street buzz. The guy who took our order struggled to understand our questions about the different levels of chilli and sour indicated on the menu. Last time I came here, even the medium chilli blew my socks off, so in the end, I decided to go for the the “safe” small sour and chilli levels — the chilli level goes up beyond large to super and extreme!

twisted noodle bar chilli table

The Yunnan Noodle ($11.80) is one of the menu recommendations, and comes with a little side plate of slices of pan-fried frankfurter and a crisp-skinned chicken wing. The sausage was nothing particularly special, but the chicken wing was deliciously savoury (despite its oily appearance) and juicy inside.

The main event is a generous serving of noodles in a light-coloured broth. The soup is also light in flavour, but complements the chilli pork mince well without overpowering it. The white, round rice noodles are soft and slippery, but are firm enough to give a decent slurp. The fresh chives lend a light onion flavour and the slice of pork is tender and moist.

The small chilli and sour will give you some decent heat on your tongue if that’s your thing. If you’re feeling brave, go for a medium or large — I definitely wouldn’t recommend the super or extreme for first time twisters. But don’t worry if you’ve overextended yourself on the chilli. Just pop next door to N2 for some cooling gelato relief!

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Pho Tau Bay, Cabramatta: Special beef pho

Rating: 5 out of 5

Pho Tau Bay
12/117 John Street, Cabramatta 2166

pho tau bay beef pho

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that one can find some of Sydney’s best pho in Cabramatta. This suburb in south-west Sydney is a hub for Vietnamese and Chinese, and is packed with restaurants, Asian grocery stores, and fresh juice bars.

Pho Tau Bay is situated at the start of John Street, the main drag of Cabramatta, tucked around the corner on a side street. Every pho fan in Sydney knows about this place, so don’t be surprised to find yourself queuing for a table, or sharing a table with other noodlers.

After a short wait, I was seated at a shared table and ordered the special beef pho (small $9, medium $10, large $11). Even my small serving was a sizeable portion, and had me feeling rather relieved that I hadn’t ordered a medium or large bowl of pho! The special pho was full of delicious beefiness, with slices of pink, rare beef, beef balls, tripe, tendon, and brisket, served with a side plate of fresh basil, wedges of lemon, and bean sprouts.

The broth is the star here, and it’s a gorgeous, dark, full-flavoured broth with hints of star anise and ginger. It is so comforting and warming that it was almost like receiving a big hug. The noodles are soft but still springy. The rare beef is a tender and juicy highlight, and the beef balls are bouncy with a nice, firm bite. Even the regular beef slices are spot on, full of beefy flavour when those of many other places are rather bland, like the flavour has been poached out.

If it wasn’t for the fact that it’s a fair trek for me to get out to Cabramatta, this place would be a weekly habit. On second thoughts, however, it would be a pretty worthwhile habit to keep. Much more satisfying and healthier for you than a packet of ciggies or watching Beauty and the Geek!

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