A vibrant food scene is transforming the fortunes of Sydney suburbs from Cabramatta to Bondi, drawing positive attention, and an increase in visitors and income.
An influx of restaurants and cafes brings a real sense of pride to a community, says restaurateur Tona Inthavong. He has seen great change in his local Fairfield area in recent years, which he attributes in large part to the blossoming food scene.
“More people come to the area, there are a lot of new restaurants opening, and local council is injecting more money into improving amenities,” says Inthavong who, with business partner Coke Praseuth, opened Green Peppercorn Thai and Lao restaurant in Fairfield in 2012.
“The whole culture has changed,” Inthavong says.
Food writer and former Fairfield Councillor, Thang Ngo, who runs food tours of Cabramatta, agrees.
“Food transcends culture and language and it immediately creates a connection between visitors and the community," Ngo says.
"Food and festivals were strategies the council successfully used to combat Cabramatta's past negative image. There are now at least four different groups running food tours of Cabramatta, with people coming from all over Sydney to take part”.
Ngo says the participants in his Cabramatta food tours are often people who've travelled to Asia and are seeking the same food experiences closer to home.
He also sees the area as being something of a trendsetter.
“I'd like to think Cabramatta has had a reasonable role in introducing 'pho' and 'banh mi' into the Sydney food vocab,” he says.
While the drawcard in the Fairfield Council area is authentic food from around the world (represented are Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, Cambodian, Iraqi, Peruvian and more), other Sydney suburbs are experiencing a food boom off the back of more contemporary eateries.
The emerging food scene in Rosebery is changing the face of the industrial area. Kitchen by Mike – an extremely popular cafe serving dishes such as wood-roasted chicken and hunks of house-made sourdough – was the first in a new wave of landmark eateries. The kind of places people are willing to travel to the suburb especially to visit.
Bondi has no shortage of tourist-attracting features, but a flood of new venues opening in the area in the past two years is turning the beach 'burb into something of a foodie haven. Among the latest additions are those in 'The Hub' on Hall Street (including branches of Gelato Messina and Melbourne's St Ali cafe).
Ten Sydney food hubs
Some are emerging, some are old favourites, but either way – these 10 suburbs should be on the itinerary for any Sydneysider who loves a great feed. See the new Good Food Under $30 guide for more information.
Highlights: dumplings (Shanghai-style and Polish, too), new cafes soon to join popular Excelsior Jones.
Highlights: authentic Turkish and Persian restaurants, grocery stores and sweet shops.
Highlights: great cafes, new offerings at 'The Hub' on Hall Street, top seafood, great weekend market.
Highlights: authentic Vietnamese food, Moon Festival event, bustling fruit markets.
Highlights: great Malaysian, Chinese and Taiwanese food, plus top new Thai eatery, Khao Pla, and the Chatswood Mall Markets.
Highlights: authentic Thai, Lao and Iraqi food, plus a great Afghani bakery.
Highlights: Paddy's Market, Chinatown (food courts, restaurants, yum cha, Friday night markets) and the popular N2 Extreme Gelato.
Highlights: Forest Road's United Nations of restaurants and bakeries.
Highlights: lots of great Vietnamese, the Addison Road Sunday market and a boom in great cafes.
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Under $30 guide will be available for $5 with The Sydney Morning Herald tomorrow (Saturday) from participating newsagents, while stocks last. It is also available in selected bookshops and online at smhshop.com.au for $9.99.
Angie Schiavone is the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Under $30 guide.