Head out to the south-western Sydney suburb for puffy manoosh pizza and fish crackers.
The Lakemba location may not be as bright and modern as its other locations across Sydney, but its menu is enormously impressive, offering long lists of Lebanese specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perfect for groups and families, it's easy to fill your entire table with share plates of hummus topped with spiced mince, fattoush salad with pomegranate molasses and skewers of kafta, chicken and lamb.
135 Haldon Street, Lakemba, 02 9758 0000, alaseel.com.au
Hot, puffy Manoosh is the ultimate breakfast, and Al-Sham Bakery rewards early birds with cheaper oregano topped Lebanese pizzas when you get there before 9am. Getting there later won't put your wallet out at all either - nothing on the menu is over five bucks, from the soft oregano vegetable wraps to the crisper manoosh with meat and cheese.
Shop 1, 174 Burwood Road, Lakemba, 02 9758 5711
Afghan & Arab Bakery
It's rare to have a loaf of bread baked for you to order, but that's exactly what goes down at this terrific bakery in the middle of Haldon St. One dollar gets you a hot, fresh circle of Arabic or Turkish Bread, two dollars covers that circle in sesame seeds and seven dollars sees that hot circle of bread wrapped around a skewer of meat cooked over charcoal. Best bakery ever.
122 Haldon Street, Lakemba, 02 9750 0002
Banoful Restaurant and Sweets
Another of Lakemba's many Bangladeshi restaurants featuring an enormous menu of sub-continental specialties, Banoful offers cheaper lunch and dinners sets which give a chance to try a few things off the menu at once. A set of curried fish (hilsha), mashed vegetables with spices (bhorta) and a dahl soup won't even set you back $20 and is enough to feed two people. 49 Railway Pde, Lakemba 02 8084 0187
Biryani is one of the easiest dishes to get in Lakemba, with the word appearing all over Haldon St in bright neon out the front of various Bangladeshi joints. Biryani House specialises in food from Hyderabad in southern India, and the ten Biryanis on their menu include a Hyderabadi option, featuring meat and rice slowly cooked in a pot together, causing the rice to absorb the flavour of the super tender meat.
1/40 Haldon Street, Lakemba, 02 9750 3993
The most humble of Lakemba's Lebanese restaurants, El Manara makes up for ambience with an irresistible smell of grilled meat wafting from the kitchen, enticing you to pull up a chair immediately to indulge in a plate of kafta or spicy Lebanese sausages (soujok). Standard dips like hummus and baba ghannouj are excellent but don't overlook the foul, a warm lemony broad bean dip.
143 Haldon Street, Lakemba, 02 9740 6762, elmanaralebaneserestaurant.com.au
Island Dreams Cafe
You're going to want to order a bag of rainbow fish crackers as soon as you sit down, and then another with each course and a few to take home too. This family-run restaurant makes the colourful crackers from scratch with mackerel and tapioca. The rest of the menu is great too - be sure to grab a few plates of buttery roti and order from the bain marie filled with Island delicacies to your heart's content.
47-49 Haldon St, Lakemba, 02 9740 9909
Bangladeshi restaurants now outnumber the many Middle Eastern restaurants in Lakemba, and Khushboo might be the best of the bunch. Start by ordering a plate of Fuchka, hollow balls of crisp chick pea wafer filled with boiled egg, potatoes and tamarind, then move on to a whole fried fish with an intensely spiced gravy, or a knockout kacchi biryani, a pile of rice filled with slow cooked meat treasures.
38 Railway Parade, Lakemba, 02 9750 6600
One of Sydney's most beloved Lebanese restaurants, Jasmins is always packed with families who've been stuffing their faces with crunchy falafel and crisp tabouli for generations. Come with a big group and order a plate of everything, then wrap it all in soft bread, dip it in smoky eggplant baba ghanouj and start planning a return trip to do it all again.
30b Haldon Street, Lakemba, 02 9740 3589, jasminsrestaurant.com.au
Given Sydney's big Indonesian population, it's rare to find decent Indo food in town. Warung Ita is as no frills as it gets - bare tables, self serve cutlery and a bain marie full of authentic eats that don't hold back on flavour. Less than ten bucks gets you nasi padang - a heaving plate of rice with three choices from the bain marie (go for the hot beef rendang and fried fish) with the essential pool of sambal and peanuts with crisp anchovies.
Shop 1, 168-172 Haldon Street, Lakemba 02 9740 5527
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