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FOOD & DRINK

'MasterChef Australia' Star Sarah Tiong's Favourite Sydney Restaurants

From a neon-lit Korean barbecue joint on the lower north shore to a hole-in-the-wall in Marrickville, these are five of Tiong's top eats around the city.
By Samantha Teague
October 13, 2020
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'MasterChef Australia' Star Sarah Tiong's Favourite Sydney Restaurants

From a neon-lit Korean barbecue joint on the lower north shore to a hole-in-the-wall in Marrickville, these are five of Tiong's top eats around the city.
By Samantha Teague
October 13, 2020
  shares

'MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA' STAR SARAH TIONG'S FAVOURITE SYDNEY RESTAURANTS

From a neon-lit Korean barbecue joint on the lower north shore to a hole-in-the-wall in Marrickville, these are five of Tiong's top eats around the city.

After coming sixth in season nine, Sarah Tiong returned to MasterChef: Back To Win in 2020. To say the Sydney chef was a season favourite would be a slight understatement. "Not to be dramatic, but I would die for Sarah Tiong," one fan wrote on Twitter, while some called for her to become a judge next season and others promised to ride into battle if she was eliminated. While Tiong was eliminated in a week nine pressure test, she left with legions of supporters across the country.

Fast forward a few months and Tiong has just released her new book, Sweet, Savory, Spicy: Exciting Street Market Food from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and More, which is currently available online. "It's a combination of all of these dishes that I've learned throughout my childhood and on my travels throughout Southeast Asia," Tiong told Concrete Playground. "If people know my food, it's all about texture, generosity, full of really smack-you-in-the-face flavour. So, that's what I really wanted to put into this book."

You'll find more of these smack-you-in-the-face flavours at Tiong's favourite Sydney restaurants, too. While Aussies can't currently leave the country to eat around Southeast Asia à la Tiong, they can visit restaurants serving up everything from neon green Thai curries to Indomie mac 'n' cheese. Here, Tiong takes us through five of her favourite spots to eat around the city.

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    K-Town Korean BBQ House

    “This one is not tiny, but it is small: K-Town Korean BBQ House in Neutral Bay. It’s this fantastic, cosy little spot and it has some top-quality meat that you can just barbecue yourself on the most amazing super quick hot grill in front of you. It’s super amazing. There’s really attentive service and I love the energy there. The wagyu is on point. The banchan is on point. And they have a soybean stew, which is everything the soul needs. It’s so delicious and spicy. My go-to meal is the wagyu rib intercostals. I know that sounds weird, but it’s the rib meat between the bones and it’s the most tender, luxurious pieces that you will ever eat. And definitely that soybean stew. You absolutely have to order that.”

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  • 4
    Khao Pla

    “Khao Pla — in Chatswood and Macquarie Centre — has my absolute favourite green curry in Sydney. It’s the perfect consistency. It’s thick, but it’s pourable. It’s rich. It’s bright green. And there’s this layer of oil on the top, which is also neon green. And it’s full of flavour. But I think the best bit about it is, it’s spicy, not sweet. I tend to find a lot of green and red curries are quite sweet — this one is not it at all. You can taste all the green chilli, the galangal, the coriander. It’s so good. They serve alcohol there, but I’m either a riesling kind of gal or a nice crisp beer would be really good with it. Oh my god, they also have this banana blossom salad with prawns. It’s sublime. It is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, spicy, sour and it’s got all the texture in it. It’s delicious. And it’s something quite unique I think. Not a lot of places do that.”  

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  • 3
    Ho Jiak

    “I met Junda [Khoo], the owner, [at Ho Jiak] and I really love that he doesn’t care so much about tradition, but he still has this utmost respect for it because of his grandmother and his cultural heritage — but he goes over the top sometimes and it’s kind of in the best possible way. Like, the Indomie mac ‘n’ cheese — that is ridiculous. I can say after a big night of drinking, that’s probably a good go-to. You could also go really luxe with the scarlet prawns with caviar. I like that he takes these village dishes, this really common home-style Chinese Malaysian food, and just puts his own spin on it. And for me that’s really, really cool. I think it’s got a great vibe and I’ve got a lot of good memories there. And have definitely celebrated family’s birthdays and that kind of thing there. It’s really, really nice.”

    Images: Trent van der Jagt

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  • 2
    Marrickville Pork Roll

    “I know that there are other places popping up or other places that have similar sort of reps for having amazing pork rolls, but for me there’s something about this one — the one that is in Marrickville — that has the OG feel to it. To me, it’s like the beating heart of pork rolls in Sydney. It’s got that perfect crispiness and chew to that bread, that pâté is so generous and the pickles are perfectly seasoned. It’s like all the trimmings of a perfect pork roll are in the Marrickville pork roll. I will usually buy extra for all my mates, that live sort of near me, and I’ll just drop them off to their houses. And I’ll bring home quite a few — I’m talking at least six — and have my manager come over, I’ll have my brother and his friends come over and, yeah, we’ll enjoy that.”

    Image: Eddy Milfort via Flickr

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  • 1

    “Strangely enough, I was actually here twice within a week. It’s actually incredible. The first time, I kind of just had a casual lunch out of the office with a couple of mates. It’s a super casual vibe and it serves this smoky eggplant dip — god, it’s delicious. It’s got the right amount of acidity, it’s textural, it’s rich and it’s actually really smoky. If you eat that with the falafel — the famous falafel — and the hummus. Oh my god. Perfect combo. And they also do a sumac cocktail. Oh mate, it’s dangerous. It’s drop-dead gorgeous. It’s light and kind of zingy. I love very acidic or tropical flavours. It hits the spot.”

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