(But again, don’t expect food to be a continuing trend. This, however, is a high value contribution.)
Pro tip: China town is great and cheap, while anything close to the Opera House is expensive and/or bad.
When we first went to Sydney in 2012, I think it cost me 1.4 US dollars to get 1 AUD. When we were last there, end of 2015, it was 0.7 USD to 1 AUD.
It is a great time to earn in USD, let me tell you folks! And it gets better…
What I learned the second time in Sydney, is that there are amazing Asian restaurants in Sydney, and you can find some super cheap food. Like under $3 cheap. We spent a little less than two weeks there this last time, and as someone who loves food, I was having the time of my life.
Not only is USD up, and not only did we find the cheap corners, we found some of the best food of my life.
Order a Roti for $7 AUD ($5 USD), which is Indian influenced Malaysian.
But also they have a very authentic Nasi Lemak for $10.50 ($8 USD). This is just real Malay food.
2) Oiden Bowl Bar
Small [Japanese] rice bowl starts at $3.90 AUD ($3 USD), yes, you read that right. My favorite bowl, I’d get as medium (totally enough food for me) for $5.90 AUD ($4.40 USD). And it’s tasty!
Yes, for just a little over $4, I could order a filling bowl of authentic Japanese curry!
You can imagine, that I’ve been to this place a number of times.
3) Menya Mappen Noodle Bar
But if you prefer noodles (I’m a rice guy), go to the restaurant right next door and grab a bowl of Soba or Udon.
The big price difference is that there’s no small, and a medium starts at $3.90 AUD ($3 USD). Thus, a totally filling meal would cost you $3 here. But… I still prefer the rice place.
Just, wow, I miss Sydney thinking about this.
4) Chat Thai
Some of the best Thai food I’ve had (and I’ve spent close to 3 cumulative months of my life in Thailand), was in a mall.
The green curry is absolutely amazing (but doesn’t come with rice!?), and costs $14 AUD ($10 USD).
I’m telling you, for this quality of food, $10 is a steal. We only went twice, and I guess being so cheap, the Japanese place or other Thai places seemed irresistible, but in hindsight… obviously we should have paid the extra few bucks and made it our lunch spot.
If my logic about paying a little bit extra to have phenomenal Thai food doesn’t strike you as obvious (as it was only obvious to myself in hindsight), there are plenty of great Thai places in Sydney.
Another one I thought interesting was Dodee Paideng, near the Holiday Inn Darling Harbor. (Although, if anyone can tell me what type of Thai food these “dodee” dishes are, that would be cool. Totally new to me).
Definitely worth a try. Small “dodee” bowls start at $4.90 AUD ($3.60 USD) and the more common Thai dishes were usually $9 – $11 AUD ($6.60 – $8 USD).
5) Malay Chinese
This place is right next to the Radisson Blu, which meant I ate there more often out of ease.
The good news is that this place is really unique. Some of the curries were just flavor combinations I’ve never had. Clearly Malay, but new to me.
The bad news is that these bowls are so frickin big that we never finished a dish. But for some reason if Carrie got the noodle dish, I’d want a rice curry to mix it up… and my eyes always proved oversized.
The Chicken Laksa was $9.70 AUD ($7 USD).
(By the way the Thai restaurant right next door had some stupid cheap deal after 2pm. Not the best, but would be good for Austin, TX standards).
6) Sushi Rio
I’ll admit, this was my first sushi train experience, despite (or because?) being a sushi lover. But it was recommended, full of Japanese people and had a long wait (in the evening).
I mean… really, it pulled me in with the price.
$3 AUD ($2.20 USD) for all trays of sushi. Does life get any better? Unlikely. If I saw those prices for sushi anywhere else, I’d stay away.
Despite being “cheap”, I’d see Japanese guys next to us with the specialty plates piled to the sky.
7) Chinese Noodle House
Get some actual Chinese food in Chinatown at this hole in the wall.
And for desert…
Emperor’s Puff stand on the main street in Chinatown (more cheap than good).
While I certainly enjoy Australian food (does that exist?) as much as English or German food (ouch), the opportunity to eat all kinds of SE Asian food in Sydney is extraordinary. And of the places we usually ate at, we rarely heard english.
My guess is that being so close to SE Asia means they can support real authentic restaurants, and it’s probably pretty competitive too.