Tired of the classic movie and dinner date night combo? Us too. That's why we're always on the hunt for new things to do, scouring the city for not-boring Sydney activities — ones that are guaranteed to take your next date way beyond done-before beers at the pub. Whether you're taking someone on a second date or doing your 100th with your significant other, we've got some killer (and, yes, cute) ideas for dates to go on this week, no matter how much money you've got to spend. Just think of us as your cultural wingman. You're welcome.
TAKE YOUR DATE FOR A FREE BOWL OF NOODLE SOUP
The ultimate cheap date idea is free food. If you've got the day off, Taiwanese eatery SooZee23 has sorted out your lunch. On Friday, February 23, head to Westfield Sydney between 11am and 2pm and you'll score yourself a piping hot bowl of the restaurant's signature braised beef noodle soup — for free.
The shop is brought to you by the team behind Chatime and is inspired by the popular Duan Chun Zhen beef noodle restaurant in Taiwan. It's claiming to have the 'most authentic' Taiwanese noodle soup in town, using a recipe passed down through three generations and originating on the streets of Taiwan in 1948. As the name suggests, the recipe uses 23 herbs and spices in its stock, which takes eight hours to make. The broth is spooned over thin handmade noodles, then topped with succulent braised beef, bok choy and spring onions. Select the classic version or spice it up with copious amounts of chilli. Other menu items include chicken karaage, gyoza and spicy beef fried rice, but these aren't included in the freebie.
WANDER THROUGH 1000 PIG LANTERNS
Circular Quay is ushering in the Year of the Dog with the unveiling of five new lanterns in its Lunar Lanterns exhibition, which runs until February 25. The complete artwork includes all 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, with the free exhibition spanning from the Sydney Opera House all the way to Chinatown.
The five larger-than-life new lanterns include an animated dog, designed by Chinese-Australian artist Song Ling and situated on the Opera House's western boardwalk; a massive 13-metre tall dragon that sits on the front lawn of the MCA; a resting tiger atop the Circular Quay ferry terminal; a pig lantern constructed from 1000 individual pigs, located at Cadman's Cottage in The Rocks; and two additional four-metre-tall dog lanterns that guard the entrance to Chinatown's Dixon Street Mall.
Basically it's a chance to get a guided tour through the current exhibition (in September you'll see Points of Interception, the latest show from Sydney-based artist Yioryios) followed by a Q&A where you can pick the brains of a resident art aficionado. The aim is to remove "the intimidation factor" and cover everything you need to know about new and experimental mediums like video art, installation and new media art. The curators will also discuss online sales, art fairs and – for the aspiring collectors in the crowd - how to best navigate them to acquire contemporary art.
So mosey over and learn some stuff. Then you can head to lunch feeling smug with all your new art knowledge. Maybe buy a beret.
Okay, so $8 is not as cheap as $5, but, still, the deal's not too shabby — especially considering how many great films are out at the moment. The Shape of Water, Lady Bird andI, Tonyaare just a few that spring to mind.
TAKE A WALKING TOUR OF CHINATOWN
It's Lunar New Year, so what better time to explore the nooks and crannies of Haymarket and Chinatown. We've put together this handy guide to the area — for both day and night — which is full of food for every budget and some excellent art, architecture and shops. Our pick? Take your date for noodles, to 4A Gallery and then to eat 35-cent cream puffs.
TRY SRI LANKAN HOPPERS
Sri Lankan hopper stall Hopper Kadé has found a permanent home along Darlinghurst's Crown Street. You've seen them slinging these curry-and-egg-filled, bowl-shaped crepes during popular residences at Tramsheds and Orange Grove Markets for two years. Now you can nab its Lankan street food six days a week in Surry Hills.
If you haven't tried hoppers before, this is a good excuse. Try one filled with shredded chicken and a free-range egg, or, for something a bit different, go for the hearty 12-hour beef brisket. Made in-house from fermented rice flour and coconut milk, hoppers are naturally dairy and gluten free, with their version available in white, red and rice noodle options.
While the restaurant is currently BYO only, it offers non-alcoholic drinks like the house-made mango lassie, coffee by Byron Bay's The Black Lab and teas from Tea Craft, who have created a chai-turmeric blend specifically for Hopper Kadé.
HAVE A SUPER CUTE PICNIC AT GORDONS BAY
Picnics are a date classic for very good reason. After all, what's not to love about a little al fresco dining where you can whisper sweet nothings into your lover's ear away from the pressing crowds? Of all the excellent picnic spots in our fair city, one of our absolute favourites is the post stamp–sized Gordons Bay with its racks of ramshackle boats and sweeping ocean views. To make your picnic the envy of your fellow beach hangers, check out our roundup of the best supplies for a perfect picnic — including bagels, cured meats, cheese and growlers of natural wine — and where to buy them.
DANCE THE AFTERNOON AWAY AT SYDNEY'S NEW DAY PARTY
Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter, the DJ duo behind New York's Mister Saturday Night parties and record label, is bringing its famed daytime dance party to our city. Mister Sunday is all about good vibes, cool people and, most importantly, solid tunes.
It will all go down from 1pm on Sunday, February 25, when they'll set up a four-point sound system at a secret outdoor location in the inner city. This is only the second time the party has left New York City in ten years — with the last time being London back in 2015 — so we can count ourselves very, very lucky.
They'll be rocking the day just like they do back in Brooklyn, with a little help from local partners Astral People and beloved winemakers Cake Wines, along with eats by Eat Art Truck — so you can expect the bar to be well stocked and the food to be top-notch. Apart from the dance floor, where Eamon and Justin will run the DJ booth, there will be plenty of space to relax with drink in hand.
Tickets are on sale now and go for $45 a pop. Before you rock up, make sure you go through the 12 house rules — which include no cameras, phones or smoking on the dance floor and no song requests/distracting the DJs at work. Basically, they're in place to make sure everyone has a good time, respects one another and is really there to dance, not just to Instagram other people dancing.
LEARN ABOUT RIESLING TO A SOUNDTRACK OF R&B
At Cake Wines' latest excuse for a cheeky vino or several, three misconceptions are in the spotlight. The first two relate to their tipple of choice for the evening, dispelling the ideas that all rieslings taste the same and that all rieslings are sweet. The third? It's one we've all become accustomed to, even if we haven't thought about it in-depth: that R&B is the only appropriate wine-drinking soundtrack.
Calling their February 24 shindig Riesling and R&B, that's just what they'll be serving up. Attendees can expect a particular white varietal in all of its guises, and rhythm and blues tunes spun by DJs Shantan and Phat Controlla. And, while you're sipping and listening to R&B beats, sommelier Samantha Payne and Cakes Wines' Glen Cassidy will talk through the ins and outs of riesling — including sparkling versions.
Taking place at Cake Wines Cellar Door, the fun kicks off at 6pm, with tickets costing $30. Wine is included in the price, with additional drinks available to purchase. And, with demonstrating the natural relationship between wine, food and music also on the agenda, you'll be able to buy bites to eat as well.
While famed chefs Andy Allen and Mark LaBrooy prepare a feast over an open grill, guests will get their hands — and feet — dirty, too. The event's signature immersive experience begins with some good old stomping of the grapes and is accompanied by a winemaking and appreciation seminar, along with a Q&A. Diners will also be the first to sample and potentially purchase the wines made at last year's event, including a red blend and a white blend.
Once the messy part is done, guests gather around share tables for Allen's four-course degustation, matched with Vinteloper wines including a shiraz, tempranillo, gewürztraminer and riesling. There's no denying it's a pricey night at $140, but, for the calibre of food, wine and the chance to stomp your heart out, it will at least be a paycheck well spent.