If it's been a while between visits to Chippendale, you may notice a few changes next time you drive up Regent Street. A strip of colourful brick-fronted townhouses has been demolished to make way for the multibillion-dollar Sydney Metro project, cabbie favourite Michael's Malaysian & Chinese Restaurant is gone and, in its place, a bright red neon sign has appeared.
The sign belongs to Manny's, a matchstick-sized diner, whose pizza by the slice and juicy philly cheesesteaks are sure to be a hit with punters leaving Freda's and The Lord Gladstone in the wee hours.
Run by Evan Hansimikali, who also owns the attached petrol station, Manny's opens from 6.30am on weekdays, for coffee and B&E rolls, all the way through to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. So, if you do stumble out of one of the aforementioned establishments after witching hour, you'll be able to grab a $5 slice of thin-crust New York-style pizza topped with double-smoked leg ham and artichoke, perhaps, or cabanossi and pepperoni. Vegan night owls are catered for, too, with about 40 percent of the menu meat- and dairy-free. Their late-night slice of choice might be topped with vegan cheese, potato and rosemary, instead.
With only three seats, Manny's is more of a takeaway joint, and it knows this. A delivery service is in the works, it's setting up a happy hour deal with Freda's and it's primed for meals on-the-run, able to turn out a cheesesteak in a minute. And those cheesesteaks sound like they're more than worth the 60-second wait. To replicate the popular PA sangas, Hansimikali has hoagie-like rolls — a cross between baguettes and panini, he says— custom-made for him by Sydney's Fuel Bakery. Then, there's the all-important meat.
"We use grass-fed scotch fillet steak," says Hansimikali. "We thinly slice it and throw it on the hot plate. It's so thin it falls apart in your mouth."
After that, the rolls are loaded with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Some are also topped with meatball sauce and provolone, others eggplant and green peppers. They're not traditional, but Manny's isn't following any rulebook too closely.
While the food is predominantly Italo-American, you'll also find Greek influences scattered throughout. One cheesesteak comes topped with tzatziki, you'll spot a hot dog with black olives and feta, and you can order fries covered in chilli and garlicky yoghurt.
Cabbies might no longer be lining up for the Regent Street restaurant, but it looks like Ubers and personal cars will be soon, with plans for one of the petrol station lanes to be converted into a 'drive-thru'. Next time you're looking for fast meal beyond the Golden Arches, Manny's may be your answer.