1 Iron St North Parramatta, NSW 2151
|Opening hours||Daily 11am-10pm|
|Features||Cheap, Cheap Eats, Cheap and cheerful|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Phone||02 8626 8956|
It may surprise you to know that at the northernmost part of North Parramatta is a lake. A 10.5-hectare wide lake that you can swim in, kayak in or hire one of those cool paddleboats in. Plus there's an enormous bush track that you can jog around in about 90 minutes. It's one of Sydney's genuine hidden gems, but this isn't a column about fun ways to stay fit; rather a column about fun ways to not stay fit, so let's move on.
Around the corner from the lake is a humble group of shops, comprised of a no-name local supermarket, a few takeaways, a hair salon and a laundromat, and on the corner is the recently opened Aria Persian Fast Food, moving into the space once occupied by a traditional Persian restaurant and selling a wide range of incredible sandwiches.
This is the second Aria store to open in Sydney, a sister to the one that opened in Merrylands almost five years ago. Where the Merrylands store offers chips and kebabs alongside their signature sandwiches, this store sells only sambos, albeit a much bigger range, photographs of which are proudly displayed on the outer wall.
Of the 18 options available, one really shows you that Aria Persian Fast Food ain't messing around: brain and tongue, a springy torpedo roll layering soft sheep's brains alongside surprisingly tender slices of sheep's tongue with the same killer mix of tomatoes, lettuce and pickles that you'll find on all of Aria's sandwiches, plus a healthy slathering of creamy herbed mayo, aka "special sauce".
If you've exhausted all the banh mi options at your local bakery and want to shake your sandwich options up, it doesn't get much more shaken than this, and the balance of everything on the sandwich turns what would be a confronting combo of nasty bits into a deliciously different lunch.
Elsewhere on the menu you'll find various processed meats in the form of sausages and salamis, plus less intense options such as Olivieh: a potato salad sandwich with chicken, peas and egg, or the vegan-friendly falafel roll, full of golden, crunchy falafel balls in a sweet mango sauce.
But the star of the menu is also the cheapest thing on there. At just $6.99 and delivered on a round seeded roll, Aria's burger is a far cry from the over-the-topheart-attack fare seen on some of Sydney's more Instagram-famous freak-burger menus. You can hold this thing with just one hand!
Inside the warm, soft roll you'll find that classic tomato-pickle-lettuce combo again (and special sauce, obviously), adding a crisp crunch to the well-seasoned grilled beef kofta patty in the middle. It's an absolute winner that's hard not to go back to, no matter how determined you are to make your way through the entire menu with each visit.
Aria's sandwiches are generous, probably enough to feed two people, so after demolishing one on your own, you probably won't have room for dessert, which is a shame since it's one of the few Sydney stockists of Ta'la Icecream – a sweet saffron ice-cream with pistachios. Maybe take one of those for the road and eat it as you jog off your sandwich around the lake.
Try some of Sydney's other great giant sandwiches
The Lucky Pickle, Shop 3, 509-511 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Malibu, 62 Foster Street, Surry Hills
South Dowling Sandwiches, 377 South Dowling Street, Darlinghurst
Go-to Dish: Aria's burger $6.99