Sydney's best fuss-free, authentic Asian food
Khao Soi from Chat Thai, Haymarket. Photo: Marco Del Grande
Sydney Madang is one of my favourite Korean barbecue places to go in Chinatown. It's a really cool place to go to have raw beef and bibimbap (mixed rice). Another excellent place for cheap-and-cheerful Asian food is Chinatown Noodle King on Sussex Street. The decor is nothing special but what's interesting is that it is Shaanxi cuisine and the emphasis is on fresh chilli and garlic, and they do great wheat noodles and pancakes and lovely, heavy dumplings. I also love their beer-braised duck, which has lots of chilli, too. Noodle King also does a big dirty and delicious rendition of cumin lamb. The other place I love is Kiroran Silk Road Uygur: it's insanely cheap and you can go with a whole tribe and have the roasted lamb cooked with chilli, cumin, star anise and tomato, finished with strong wheat noodles. The Golden Century is also excellent. I take chefs from overseas there and I always order the abalone steamboat and the mud crab.
Neil Perry is co-owner and executive chef of the Rockpool Group, which includes Spice Temple.
The Happy Chef is my all-time-favourite cheap-and-cheerful hole-in-the-wall. The chefs there are masters at clear soups and laksa: I'd be so happy if they gave me the recipe for the broths; they have so much flavour. My favourite dish is No. 1 on the menu: it's a Cambodian-style noodle soup. It has pig's intestines, pork heart, blood jelly, pig's liver and prawns and beef mince. If you have Asian heritage you will love it - I think you have to have grown up eating offal to appreciate the texture. Eaton Chinese restaurant in Ashfield also has really good Cantonese food. It's very affordable. I'm a big fan of the steamed oysters with XO sauce and vermicelli noodles. They also do great squid-ink fried rice - as far as I know, this is the only place that does a dish like this. It's open until 2am and not a lot of people know about it. Lao Village in Fairfield is also fantastic: it serves the best Laotian food in Sydney. It's not for the faint-hearted because they use a lot of fermented fish. The papaya salad has salted crab in it and the larb contains tripe and liver. Here, the dish you can't miss out on is the grilled ox tongue.
Dan Hong is executive chef at Mr Wong, Ms G's and El Loco.
I love handmade noodles, especially ramen noodles, cooked al dente. Komachi in Surry Hills closes for four hours on Wednesdays to prepare their handmade ramen noodles and they always cook them perfectly. I've been going there for the last 11 years. When I'm in Chinatown, I always go to Pho TK, a typical hole-in-the wall Vietnamese restaurant. They do a nice bun bo hue there, which is a Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup with pork hock. No one has ever heard of it. Super Bowl in Chinatown is a great late-night place I take chefs to, where we eat tripe congee. Nothing like a bit of offal before bed - tasty but not too heavy for the late evening. All these restaurants listed are small, intimate and located down narrow laneways or streets. Not too heavily focused on decor, they are brightly lit but cook up great honest food.
Luke Nguyen is the owner-restauranteur at Red Lantern and consultant at Fat Noodle restaurants.
I love Chat Thai in Haymarket. The owner, Amy Chanta, is a good friend of mine and what she has done for Thai food in Sydney is fantastic and authentic. I always have the nahm dtok mhu, which is a hot and sour salad of pork. Chat Thai also does a great pad grap oa - chicken stir-fried with holy basil and wild ginger … you can actually feel it doing you good. Chat Thai also does a really lovely soup of par low, a pork and bean curd in a beautiful broth served with Chinese broccoli. When I do manage to go out for a late-night dinner I go to Golden Century. As well as getting consistently great food, you can get a decent glass of wine there, too. I always have the steamed coral trout with ginger and shallots. It's the best; so wholesome. When I can, I also try to get out to Cabramatta. There's a Vietnamese place I always go to called Pho Tau Bay. Anything they do with broth is fantastic and I love the beef pho. It's so satisfying and filling and I love the ritual of layering it with the noodles and the Thai basil and all the beautiful herbs and stirring it through. The freshness of the ingredients makes it feel like you have gone on a little holiday to Asia.
Martin Boetz is executive chef at Longrain.
All you need to know
Sydney Madang 371A Pitt Street, Sydney, 9264 7010.
Chinatown Noodle King 357 Sussex Street, Sydney, 9266 0933.
Kiroran Silk Road Uygur Shop 3, 6 Dixon Street, Sydney, 9283 0998.
The Golden Century 393-399 Sussex Street, Haymarket, 9212 3901.
The Happy Chef Shop F3, 401 Sussex Street, Chinatown, 9281 5832.
Eaton Chinese Restaurant 313 Liverpool Road, Ashfield, 9798 2332.
Lao Village 3 Anzac Avenue, Fairfield, 9728 7136.
Komachi 1/426 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, 9319 6554.
Pho TK Quay Street, Market City, Shop R135-C2, Haymarket, 9211 8278.
Chat Thai 20 Campbell Street, Haymarket, 9211 1808.
Super Bowl 41 Dixon Street, Sydney, 9281 2462.
Pho Tau Bay 12/117 John Street, Cabramatta, 9726 4583.