Planning a trip to Sydney? Here’s a guide to the best restaurants.
Australia has always been a popular destination amongst Malaysians, and not just because of its proximity. While Perth is only few hours away by flight, cities in the eastern region of the country like Sydney have been quickly making their way onto our list of top travel destinations.
There is much to do in Sydney – including checking out the best restaurants, iconic sights, and shopping galore.
Yet, besides attractions like Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach, Sydney Tower, and more, you might be wondering what else you can accomplish on your next trip to the metropolis.
For Executive chef (and Sydney native!) Jake Kowalewski, who recently took over the reins at LeVeL33’s kitchen, there are a plethora of food and drink options and things to do within the city and around the region for anyone from wine-lovers to nature fanatics.
“You could get in a car or train and head north, and in three hours you are in the Hunter Valley wine region (best in NSW), with around 150 wineries in the region. There are endless amounts of wines to discover as well as a host of great eateries & restaurants,” he explained.
“If you head two hours west, you are in the Blue Mountains National Park (part of Greater Blue Mountains area which is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list). Incredible place with stunning views, great hiking trails and bush walks, as well as the most famous place here, the Three Sisters walk and the Katoomba Scenic Railway (the world’s steepest inclined railway). Or head south for two hours (actually where I grew up as a child) and you come to some of the nicest, cleanest beaches and seaside towns you will see anywhere. They really are very beautiful and not so crowded as the ones closer to Sydney – a great place to get away for the weekend.”
Of course, the coastal town of Sydney is also great location for a holiday because of its thriving food and bar scene too. According to chef Jake, one of the things that make Sydney’s food scene so special is its diversity and multiculturalism. “Sydney is a melting pot of cultures, and flavours from all walks of life. It is made up of people from all over the globe, creating a unique dining/food scene.”
In all fairness, Singapore’s food scene is pretty multicultural too, but the chef also stressed that access to fresh produce and a booming cafe scene are other reasons that set Sydney apart from the rest.
“In Australia, we really love coffee and great coffee; we are very picky when it comes to this. In Sydney, the cafe scene is great and there are so many small hole-in-the-wall or neighbourhood cafes. You also have access to the best produce in the country — more and more restaurants are sourcing their ingredients within the greater region of Sydney and this is another reason why the food is so great: it’s not travelling across the country to get to the restaurant. This makes it super fresh and packed full of flavour.”
We don’t know about you, but we’re sold. Just to make your planning a little easier, chef Jake also picked out five of his favourite dining spots in Sydney too. Read on for the full list.
LeVeL33’s Chef Jake Kowalewski lets us in on the best restaurants in Sydney:
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“I love the dining experience at Ester. It is relaxed and attentive, with amazing food that is inventive & delicious without the fine-dining feel. It has a cosy, intimate dining room that is minimalistic & industrial which creates a great buzz and atmosphere. The food menu revolves around a wood fire oven that adds to that relaxed dining experience but still offers a high level of sophistication.”
Ester is one of those spots where you’d have to book in advance instead of just swinging by. It’s one of the hottest restaurants in town, and champions locally sourced ingredients that’s elevated by the spellbinding method of wood-fired cooking.
(Image credit: @ester_au via Instagram)
“Mr. Wong is a modern Cantonese restaurant in the Sydney CBD. This place is great, with an amazing vibe in the dining room with great energy. Please go with a big group so you can try many different dishes! Executive Chef Dan Hong really knows how to produce flavour and I guarantee, you will leave this place wanting to go straight back for more. My go-to dishes would be the Chinese roasted duck, which is aged in-house, wok-fried pippies with XO sauce, king crab fried rice & dessert. Don’t go past the deep-fried vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce.”
Chinese is always a good idea, especially if you’ve been in the city for a number of days and your body’s craving some rice. Here at the 240-seater Mr Wong, they serve an extensive selection of 80 dishes across two levels, complete with dim lighting, jazz music, as well as intimate corners for smaller groups.
“This place is right across from Bondi Beach and is run by my old mentor Joe Pavlovich and colleague Alasdair France. Joe creates delicious rustic style Italian/Mediterranean food that’s full of bold flavours, while Alasdair makes sure you are having a relaxed, enjoyable experience. To top off the amazing food and service, you have incredible views of the famous Bondi Beach. Great spot for a drink and snack on a Sunday afternoon.”
(Image credit: @lovers.of.ceviche.margaritas via Instagram)
“This old-school hidden gem is tucked away in a basement, down an alley in central Sydney. It is my favourite late-night bar for great whisky and classic cocktails. If you love whisky, you won’t want to leave this place. With 360 premium whiskies on offer, it is a great place to unwind after a long day or perfect for an after-dinner digestive after you have given yourself a food coma at one of the many great restaurants Sydney has to offer.”
Besides whisky, the cocktails at The Baxter Inn shouldn’t be overlooked too. Take the ‘A History of Violets’, for instance, a tropical number which sees a combination of gin, mango, pineapple, violet, and amaro.
“Best banh mi in Sydney, in my opinion. This place is in the inner west of Sydney, around a 15- minute drive from the city centre or a short train journey. My go-to easy tasty lunch when in town! I used to live within walking distance of this place. I would definitely call it my local lunch spot. Everything is amazing, from the crisp fresh French-style bread roll, fresh salad and chilli! You must have extra chilli! And, of course, don’t forget the pate, and roasted pork belly. It is incredible.”
(Image credit: @agastronomyho via Instagram)