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FOOD & DRINK

Where to Eat When You're Saving but Don't Feel Like Another Meal at Home

Places for a weeknight feed that won't blow the budget.
By Steph D'Souza
October 07, 2017
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Where to Eat When You're Saving but Don't Feel Like Another Meal at Home

Places for a weeknight feed that won't blow the budget.
By Steph D'Souza
October 07, 2017
  shares

WHERE TO EAT WHEN YOU'RE SAVING BUT DON'T FEEL LIKE ANOTHER MEAL AT HOME

in partnership with

Places for a weeknight feed that won't blow the budget.

Sometimes, pulling a Jamie or Nigella at the end of a long day is more of a struggle than anyone needs, particularly when the fridge is embarrassingly empty and especially when you don't have the budget to pull together a three-course feast that hits all the food groups. But, that's still no excuse to be a slave to the food hacks you've developed in order to save some dosh.

Thanks to the abundance of great, cheap eateries in Sydney, you don't have to be bound to those instant noodles, Vegemite toast or bowls of cereal. Enter our partnership with American Express and our list of sweet spots everyone needs. If you're after delicious, high-quality food that won't kill your chances of owning a home, we know a place. Well, nine actually. And what's more, these places all take Amex, so if your wallet's currently a bit light on cold, hard cash, you're sorted.

We'll take you all over Asia for curries, dumplings and roti, or you can opt to settle in for a couple of brews over an affordable pub meal. Whether you fancy an adventurous experience or a comforting favourite, there's no shortage of establishments to choose from and still keep your wallet jingling with possibility.

Got yourself in another dining situation and need some guidance? Whatever it is, we know a place. Visit The Shortlist and we'll sort you out.

  • 9

    At Bar Reggio, you can walk away from dinner completely satisfied. Satisfied by the starter you shared, the tasty main you devoured, the wine you brought and didn’t have to pay an exorbitant rate for corkage and especially satisfied by the fact that you only spent about $20. The front of the restaurant is fairly spartan, so try to secure a table in the back garden area and take in the lively atmosphere. Start off your meal with a generous serve of the herb or garlic bread before tucking into a pizza or pasta main. If the latter is your poison, you can’t go wrong with the gnocchi puttanesca. If you’d rather share a couple of pizzas, the signature Reggio and Nick’s pizzas are both winners. Make sure you bring your own vino, as the restaurant is strictly BYO.

    Image: Letícia Almeida.

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  • 8

    Ducks hanging in the window ready to be lacquered, kitsch Chinese decor, lazy susans filled with plates of various meats prepped in various ways, late trading hours — B.B.Q. King is one to add to the late-night list. They’re open until midnight, so you can easily swing by with the crew for a late night feed accompanied by a few Tsing Taos. Servings can be rather hefty and pricey for just one, but this is one of those places where the more friends you bring, the lower the price gets — even if you feel like you’ve ordered everything on the menu, twice. While the menu shows off pork, beef, chicken and seafood options, set your sights on that beautifully glazed Peking duck served over two courses ($88), one of which includes the pancakes served with slices of the roast duck, green onions, hoisin sauce and chilli to taste. (Ask for fresh.)

    Image: Letícia Almeida.

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  • 7

    You may have to endure a wait at Din Tai Fung’s CBD outlet, but the dumplings are more than worth it. That’s not to imply that the Taiwanese eatery isn’t efficient — in fact, they are to the extreme — they’re just serving up their delicious eats to the masses. As you wait, peek into the kitchen to admire the hypnotising fresh dumpling production line — though beware, after watching all those dumplings go by, you may be tempted to blow your weekly budget on these meaty parcels. The xiao long bao pork dumplings ($10.80 for six) are a must, filled with hot broth and tasty pork filling. Don’t forget to (delicately) puncture the top to let some steam out before demolishing these perfect morsels, or you may risk a fiery bite of soupy dumpling. Looking for something a bit more filling? Opt for the vegetable and pork wonton soup with spinach ($11.6), a warming bowl of soft, fresh noodles which you can add as much chilli to as you please.

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  • 6

    Any vegetarian or vegan can tell you just how difficult it can be to find affordable, convenient and delicious food to fit their diet. Laurie’s ticks all of those boxes, earning it a religious following in Bondi. The menu consistently features six hot dishes and five salads, which you can mix-and-match to either take away or dine in at one of the limited in-house tables. Hot options (which rarely vary) include lasagne, pasta, mild chickpea curry, Mexican beans, lentil casserole and roast veggies, while the salad list is comprised of cajun tofu, Persian rice, two green salads and a couscous salad. Everything is vegetarian, and all but two (the lasagne and pasta) are vegan. Other available dishes on the menu include vegetarian burgers, empanadas, pies, baked potatoes… the list goes on.

    Image: Katje Ford.

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  • 5

    Spice Alley is so much more than a food court. It’s a pretty little corner of the world, decorated with lantern installations. More importantly, though, there’s a handful of damn fine food outlets in the space: Alex Lee Kitchen, Bang Luck, Old Jim Kee and Hong Kong Diner. While Alex Lee Kitchen is your go-to for authentic Singapore dishes, Bang Luck stands strong as a hub of Thai and Vietnamese street food. Then we’ve got Old Jim Kee, home of authentic Malaysian dishes; Hong Kong Diner, brimming with HK comfort food like dumplings and other yum cha morsels; Japanese dining hall KYO-TO and Viet, dishing out fresh, healthy Vietnamese street food. A perfect spot for groups, the alley of culinary delights not only caters to different tastes but also different budgets and dietary requirements. Also, Spice Alley is BYO and has no corkage. Win.

    Image: Bodhi Liggett.

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  • 4

    Glebe’s Bombay Street Kitchen serves up street food in homage to Mumbai’s hawkers and khau gallis, aka laneways lined with street-side food stalls. Designed with its outdoor seating and open-air atmosphere in mind, the restaurant sits on the bustling corner of Glebe Point Road, mimicking the vibe on the streets of its namesake. Unsurprisingly, it’s best to start with the street eats like the spicy pani poori ($7.90): crispy semolina pockets stuffed with potatoes and sprouts and served with a tamarind chutney to pour inside. The goat curry ($18.90) — a signature dish typically served in railway stations — is a large serve of full-bodied, tangy flavours, and its fall-off-the-bone meat is best paired with a cooling side of coconut rice ($5.50). Make no mistake, this is hand-to-mouth eating at its best.

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  • 3

    As the Regent Street traffic buzzes outside, inside, The Lord Gladstone’s graffiti-strewn courtyard and tartan carpets make for an approachable, laid-back space, perfect for a cheap and easy mid-week dinner. The menu offers solid pub fare that’s hearty and agreeably greasy, including their famed cheeseburger and Lord’s Burger — both of which clock in at $10 a pop every Monday and Tuesday — featuring seeded buns, slices of beetroot, pickles and patties cooked to perfection. Drinks range from some (very) local craft beers like Batch, to a shortlist of Aussie wines.

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  • 2

    This globally renowned ramen mecca is quite a treat, and there are a number of Sydney options to choose from (Central Park, Pitt Street Westfield or Chatswood). For first-timers, the shiromaru ($15) — Hakata-style ramen with juicy pork loin, crunchy bean sprouts and silky black mushrooms — is the speciality that put Ippudo at the top of the ramen trade. Their Sydney locations combine local products with their own flavouring and noodle concepts, such as the unconventional shojin ($15), a vegetarian option with seaweed and whole grain noodles that wouldn’t normally be present on a Japanese menu. Also, part of the quality ramen joint’s global success stems from its client-minded approach, so expect great service.

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  • 1

    Mamak is the talk of the town and with good reason. It’s one of the few places in Sydney that offers up exceptional Malaysian hawker food at an authentic price. Accordingly, it’s no surprise that this place often has lines of eager customers stretching down the street — so arriving early is recommended. Walk in past the chefs, who are on full display, and soak in the aromas. The menu is divided into roti with curry dips and spicy sambal sauce (from $7.50), chicken and beef satay ($13 for six), mains such as curries and fried chicken ($4.50 per piece) and noodle and rice dishes. Service is courteous but necessarily efficient, as you’d expect from the best Malaysian eats this city has to offer.

     

    Still searching? For even more spots where you can drink and dine with your American Express (and reap the sweet rewards of being a Card Member), click here.

    Top image: Letícia Almeida.

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