Until the 1950s, the Brisbane suburb of Sunnybank was largely agricultural. Today, most of the farms are gone but Sunnybank is still feeding Brisbane. Home to the city's largest Asian community, there's a correspondingly large number of authentic Asian restaurants and fresh-food vendors to explore. Go hungry!
This monolithic restaurants seats 400 and is one of Brisbane's most well-known and best-loved yum cha venues. The buzz starts building about 10.30am when people loiter outside waiting for their yum cha dates to turn up. Dim sum-laden trolleys trundle across the patterned carpet, beneath massive modern chandeliers, hawking prawn and pork sui mai, pillowy barbecued pork buns, chicken feet in black bean sauce and more. Seafood, as exemplified by the tanks of fish and shellfish, is also a speciality. Finish off with a traditional egg tart.
Shop 101 Sunnybank Plaza, 358 Mains Rd (corner McCulloch Street), 07 3344 3288
The menu is biblical in proportion, but barbecue is a speciality, in both Vietnamese and Hong Kong style. Crisp-skinned roast duck comes shredded to roll inside pancakes with a house-made hoi sin sauce or in a fragrant broth with slippery noodles and vegetables. Try "three treasures" – a combination of char siu pork, rectangles of roast pork with crisp crackling, and duck. There are also traditional Vietnamese vermicelli salads and rice dishes such as a sweet-salty barbecued pork chop with meat cake and pork skin.
Shop 140 Sunnybank Plaza, 07 33442233
Fortune Well Sichuan
Spice addicts should head to this restaurant that specialises in hot and spicy Sichuan food. The menu rates the heat scale of dishes from mild to "extremely spicy" for those who like the challenge of dialled-up heat. Not half as as dangerous as it looks, kung pao chicken – stir-fried chicken, with lots of red chilli, peanuts and Sichuan pepper – is one of the most popular dishes. Ma po tofu – soft cubes of silken tofu with chilli and minced pork – rates highly too.
Shop 42 Sunny Park, 342 McCulloch Street, Sunnybank, 07 3345 6789
Mappen Japanese Noodles
This authentic-looking Japanese hole-in-the-wall eatery with shared wooden tables with stools certainly isn't the the newest, but with generous servings under $7 and regular specials of noodles at $5 and under, it's certainly one of the best-value Japanese eateries around. Order your preferred dish, noodle type and choice of hot or cold from the counter along with a choice of extras such as tempura prawns, seaweed toppings and fried bean curd. Popular is the kake udon with tempura.
Shop 86 Sunnybank Plaza
Formerly Hazel Tea Shop, there's a mind-blowing number of teas and add-ons at this modern tea shop. Luckily, the massive menu is posted outside so you can have your order ready before you go inside. Tea comes as traditional black or green but diverges from there into a range of flavours, as well as milk tea. You can get adventurous with extras such as tapioca pearls, strawberry and lychee jelly or red beans, or go old-school with a traditional oolong.
Shop 18 Sunnybank Plaza
The affable staff are happy to mince or slice to order at this popular butchery where everything is presented just so. Along with all the mainstream cuts you can buy thinly cut bulgogi beef, or buy it pre-marinated in a Korean sauce. There's pork neck and trotters, oxtail and pork galbi (Korean-style pork ribs), too. The beef short ribs are top quality, perfect for marinating and slow cooking. Wagyu, with a marble score of six-plus, comes pre-sliced, or ask Mr Lee to cut you a piece of the highly marbled eight-plus he keeps out the back, for a deluxe steak dinner.
Shop 64 Sunnybank Plaza
Sunrise BBQ & Butcher
A row of golden lacquered ducks hanging in the window marks the location of this barbecue and butcher shop. As well as roast duck, Sunrise specialises in other barbecued meats, including char sui pork, roast chicken and Chinese pork sausage. You can buy duck to take away, either as a whole or half, chopped if you prefer, while barbecued pork and roast suckling pig are sold per kilo. There's also a small selection of fresh, uncooked meat as well.
Shop 122 Sunnybank Plaza
Welcome Fresh Supermarket
Unusually located in the car park, this supermarket may be small but it's packed with everything the home cook or lover of Asian food could want. As well as fresh fruit and vegetables including many unusual Asian greens, there are dried foods from shrimp to beans, various types of fungi, sauces, vinegars and spices, and fridges full of fresh noodles and won ton wrappers. There's also a wide range of freshly made heat-and-eat meals, from spicy bean curd and pork hock to steamed buns.
Shop 91 Sunnybank Plaza
Hot Cake House
Rather than the American version (pancakes), this typical Taiwanese-Japanese street snack is light and crisp with fillings sandwiched between the two layers. They pump the hotcakes out at a cracking pace here, so they really are hot and fresh. At just $2 each they're a great snack and come in more than two dozen flavours, from the traditional "original custard" to Belgian chocolate volcano. Savoury options include the popular black pepper, cheese and corn.
Shop K3 Sunnybank Plaza
Meet Fresh Taiwanese Desserts
The current trends for desserts that are less about sugar and more about interesting texture are exemplified in Asian desserts, thanks to ingredients such as sago pearls, taro balls, jelly and beans. There are dozens on offer at this dessert bar, the sole Queensland outpost of a popular Taiwanese chain. There's plenty for the adventurous such as sweet tofu with toppings of peanuts or lotus seeds as well more mainstream offerings like a seasonal mango crushed ice with with mango sorbet and coconut sago in coconut milk.
Shop 123 Sunnybank Plaza
■ Arguably Brisbane's best pho at Pho Hien Vuong Pasteur, shop 319, Market Square, 319-341, Mains Rd.
■ Miso spicy-men at Hakataya Noodles, shop 278 Sunnybank Plaza.
■ Special chicken soup at the Cube Hotpot, shop 90c Sunnybank Plaza.
■ Xiao long bao at Taste Gallery, shop 20b Market Square.
■ Experience Sunnybank runs free food tours of the suburb, with tastings from various vendors priced at just $2, experiencesunnybank.com.au