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A DAY AND NIGHT GUIDE
HAYMARKET AND CHINATOWN
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and discover Sydney by day or night.
By Concrete Playground
February 13, 2018
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By Concrete Playground
February 13, 2018
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Whether you’re after 40-cent cream puffs or late-night karaoke, the Haymarket/Chinatown area is one of the best places to eat, drink and be merry in Sydney’s inner city.

First things first — eat your way around Chinatown. There’s a bite for every budget, whether you’re hankering for Cantonese, Uyghur, Japanese or Thai. After you’ve had your culinary fill, walk it off. The precinct is home to some excellent art, architecture and shops. You’ve just got to know where to look.

In partnership with City of Sydney, we’re celebrating what makes Haymarket such a vibrant community to live in and visit: its local businesses. It’s been a tough year, and these bars, restaurants, shops and cultural spaces need your patronage more than ever. It’s time to hit the streets, spend consciously, and throw your support behind these local gems.

Flick the switch above, and we’ll dim the lights to show you the best things to do once the sun goes down. You can also explore more inner city suburbs here.

Whether you’re after 40-cent cream puffs or late-night karaoke, the Haymarket/Chinatown area is one of the best places to eat, drink and be merry in Sydney’s inner city.

There’s no such thing as an ordinary night in Chinatown. Feast your way through Sydney’s best Asian cuisine, no matter the size of your budget, appetite or entourage. Then, stay up late dancing, shopping, listening to live music, gazing at public art — or eating your second dinner of the night.

In partnership with City of Sydney, we’re celebrating what makes Haymarket such a vibrant community to live in and visit: its local businesses. It’s been a tough year, and these bars, restaurants, shops and cultural spaces need your patronage more than ever. It’s time to hit the streets, spend consciously, and throw your support behind these local gems.

Flick the switch above, and we’ll turn on the lights to show you the best things to do pre-6pm. You can also explore more inner city suburbs here.

DID YOU KNOW

The opening scenes of The Matrix — where Neo gets into the car — were shot in Chinatown. Head to the bridge underpass on the corner of Campbell and Elizabeth streets, ideally on a drizzly day, to recreate the scene for yourself.

GETTING AROUND

Chinatown is edged by Goulburn Street, Elizabeth Street and the pedestrian-friendly The Goods Line. Get there by public transport — all trains stop at the nearby Central Station — then continue your adventure on foot.

DON’T MISS

The 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art never fails to impress. The not-for-profit gallery has a rotating roster of new works that explore the links between Australia and its regional neighbour, Asia. It’s a surprising, visionary oasis in the middle of Chinatown’s hubbub.

LOCALS LOVE

Chinatown’s food courts are legendary. Each has its own character: the grungy underground Dixon House, the impressive (and promisingly named) Eating World and Market City. Feast like the locals, and feast like a king.

DID YOU KNOW

The Capitol Theatre building was originally home to the New Belmore Markets in the 1890s, before being converted to a hippodrome for the Wirth Bros circus company. It was developed as a theatre in 1928, and narrowly escaped demolition in the 1980s. The theatre was restored in the 1990s to the tune of $30 million.

GETTING AROUND

Chinatown sits on the southern point of Sydney’s CBD. Get there by public transport — all trains stop at the nearby Central Station — then continue your adventure on foot. Trains usually run until midnight, but if you miss the cutoff, grab a Nightride bus which runs until 4.30am.

DON’T MISS

Hunt down Chinatown’s hidden (or not-so-hidden) street art — the artworks glow at night. Jason Wing’s In Between Two Worlds on Kimber Lane (just off Dixon Street) is an awe-inspiring installation that explores heaven, earth and spirits and takes cues from Chinese and Aboriginal spiritual motifs.

LOCALS LOVE

Don’t be fooled by the snaking line at Emperor’s Puffs. It moves quickly, thanks to the efficient cast iron machine that churns out the creamy cake-puffs, oozing with golden custard. They’re a steal at 40 cents, or if you’re flush with cash, fork out two dollars for five puffs.

How to do Haymarket and Chinatown

Do as the locals do.

Cafes

There’s a growing cafe culture in Chinatown, which means you’re only ever a stone’s throw from a decent cup of coffee.

1. Edition Haymarket

Pair quality cuppas with innovative, Japanese-inspired brekkies at this inner city cafe.

2. Dopa Don and Milk Bar

A Japanese take on the classic Aussie milk bar by the Devon team.

3. Auvers Cafe Darling Square

A Rhodes favourite comes to the CBD with the same arty aesthetic and creative cafe fare.

4. Kingswood Coffee

Kingswood Coffee not only has your coffee needs covered but also offers a little nod to Sydney's past.

5. Toastiesmith - Darling Square

A cafe dishing up Korean-style sangas and house-made sodas.

Restaurants

Wear your stretchy pants. The precinct is bursting with amazing culinary specialties from the Asian region.

1. Yang Guo Fu Ma La Tang

This choose-your-own hot pot stand is an entertaining enigma.

2. Kogi Korean BBQ

This DIY Korean barbecue joint at Market City has to be the fanciest in Chinatown.

3. Mr Chen Beef Noodle

This Haymarket hole-in-the-wall is serving up bowls of hand-stretched noodles and 30-cent dumplings every day.

4. Chinese Noodle House

The other Chinese noodle joint at the Prince Centre.

5. Belles Hot Chicken

Darling Square's outpost of the super-popular, Nashville-style fried chicken chain.

Shops

Drop some cash at Chinatown’s specialty stores serving up Japanese cheesecakes, bubble tea and Thai produce.

1. Dulcet Cakes & Sweets

A Haymarket patisserie with 20-layer crepe cakes by an ex-Quay pastry chef.

2. Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart

Queue up, then load up on these famous cheesy, creamy tarts.

3. Sydney Party Warehouse

Venture into this kingdom of costumes in the heart of the CBD.

4. Pontip Exotic Fruit & Vegetables

This is where Sydney's top Thai chefs go to buy their produce.

5. Bubble Nini The Exchange

You'll find house-made pearls at this inner-city bubble tea joint.

Arts and Culture

From galleries and street art to oft-forgotten architectural delights, there are many art gems in Chinatown to discover.

1. 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

The gallery celebrates innovative Asian-Australian art with a mission to foster creativity and thinking.

2. Korean Cultural Centre

Immerse yourself in Korean culture via art exhibitions, language and dance classes and food.

3. Civic Tower

Potentially the finest example of Brutalist architecture in the Southern Hemisphere, this tower also houses the Masonic Centre and museum.

4. Darling Square Library

The flash space has free wifi, retro gaming consoles, thousands of books and plenty of great places to eat.

5. UTS Gallery

Visit this gallery where art, design and social enquiry collide.

Shop Online

Can't visit the area soon enough? Get gems from these Haymarket-based businesses sent straight to you instead.

1. Bucket Boys Bar and Bottle Shop

A one-stop booze spot from Sydney's craft beer experts.

2. Arisun

Hit up this late-night haunt for Seoul-style fried chicken and beer towers.

3. Xi'an Biang Biang

One of the only places in Sydney where you can try Shaanxi chewy pulled noodles and a pastry pork 'burger'.

4. Gumshara

This Haymarket stable is famed for its rich, gravy-like tonkotsu ramen.

5. Uncle Tetsu

The world's most coveted Japanese cheesecakes are available right here in Sydney.

CP Faves

These are the spots around Haymarket we love to hit up during the daylight hours.

1. Chinese Garden of Friendship

Take a break from the city bedlam at this serene secret garden.

2. The Alley Lujiaoxiang

Head here for stunning marbled boba with handmade tapioca balls.

3. Dainty Sichuan

Get ready for the numbness — one of Melbourne's best Sichuan eateries is now serving up spicy Chongqing noodles in Sydney.

4. Boon Cafe at Jarern Chai Grocer

Thai sandwiches are the cafe fusion we could get very used to.

5. Hachi Sydney

Treat your best furry friend at this dog spa, boutique and cafe.

How to do Haymarket and Chinatown

Do as the locals do.

Restaurants and Bars

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – you’re spoilt for dinner choices in this area. Here are some of Sydney’s favourites.

1. Bancho

Haymarket's Japanese-style bar serving cocktails and katsu skewers.

2. Hello Auntie Darling Square

The inner west Vietnamese favourite has opened a CBD outpost.

3. XOPP

The Golden Century team's new Darling Square restaurant is a homage to its famed pipis in XO dish.

4. Dae Jang Kum

Knock back some marinated beef ribs and tasty bulgogi with a cold Korean beer.

5. The Dolar Shop

This famed global hot pot chain has landed in Haymarket.

BYO Restaurants

Who doesn’t love a drink with their dinner? These restaurants serve top-notch meals for you to pair with your own BYO wine of choice.

1. Chat Thai

A Sydney mainstay doing favourites well — and at very, very reasonable prices.

2. Pho Pasteur

You will not find a finer pho this close to the CBD.

3. Mamak

One of the few places in Sydney where you can get exceptional Malaysian hawker food at a reasonable price.

4. Chinatown Noodle Restaurant

A mainstay of Chinatown’s cheap-and-cheerful dinner circuit.

5. Sea Bay Restaurant

Visit for tasty northwest Chinese classics and some of the gooiest dumplings around town.

Live Music, Arts and Culture

Chinatown’s not the most obvious place to get your live music fix. Lucky for you, we’ve scoured the hidden venues for your listening and dancing pleasure.

1. The Metro

Grungy but great — this iconic live music venue delivers the goods.

2. K1 Karaoke Lounge

An LED-lit karaoke haven above Chinatown.

3. Civic Underground

Venture to the depths of the Civic Hotel to discover a live music space that's sophisticated and little bit sexy.

4. Dynasty Karaoke

Live out your popstar fantasies at this expansive karaoke joint in Dixon Mall.

5. Capitol Theatre

You're always guaranteed a night of elegance and entertainment at this heritage-listed theatre.

Shops

You can buy trinkets, desserts or designer sneakers at Chinatown’s eclectic collection of nighttime retail haunts.

1. Morning Glory

This colourful Chinatown store takes kitsch to the extreme.

2. Thai Kee IGA Supermarket

This specialty supermarket is a one-stop shop for your next Asian feast.

3. Fifteen Sheets

A multi-label menswear and womenswear store in Darling Square.

4. Gelato Messina Darling Square

Pick from 40-plus flavours (or just stick to that salted coconut and mango that you know you love).

5. Kurtosh Darling Square

Treat yourself to a kürtőskalács — the traditional Hungarian pastry better known as a chimney cake.

Leisure

Head to some old-school, kitsch arcade game parlours, escape rooms and public outdoor areas (with free table tennis).

1. Capitol Square Gaming Arcade

Be a big kid again at this wonderland of retro arcade games.

2. Paddy's Markets Haymarket

You're sure to pick up a bargain or two at this iconic, bustling market.

3. Break the Code Escape Room

Put your problem-solving skills to the test. Can you crack the code?

4. Crossover Dance

Give hip hop or street dancing a go at this welcoming inner city dance studio.

5. Men's Culture Barber

Treat yourself to a hot shave or new hairstyle while sipping a whisky.

Locals Love

Here are our favourite haunts for when the sun goes down and the streets of Haymarket and Chinatown come alive.

1. Emperor's Puffs

Eat as many as you'd like without putting a dent in your wallet.

2. Nakano Darling

This Haymarket izakaya serves up highballs and free karaage chicken during happy hour.

3. Golden Century Seafood Restaurant

A Sydney institution serving up signature salt and pepper squid and pipis until 4am each night.

4. 678 Korean BBQ

Beef tongue, pork neck, pork belly — whatever you want barbecued, 678 have got it.

5. Ho Jiak

This Penang-style spot serves up some of the best laksa in town.

Find Your Way Through the Haymarket Area

Track down the must-visit local haunts.

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Editor's Itinerary

Here is how our editor loves to spend a few hours in Haymarket.

Explore more of Sydney and your favourite suburbs through the eyes of other locals by following #sydneylocal on Instagram.

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