Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sydney trip: Chinatown

For some reason, I ended up spending a lot of time in Chinatown while I was in Sydney. And I ate a lot of food there.

The first step to eating food in Chinatown is, of course, getting to Chinatown. As Edouard was showing me around Sydney on Friday morning, one of the only places he had not been to was Chinatown. When we were at Darling Harbour, we knew Chinatown was close by so we went to find it. We started passing by a lot of Asian stores and restaurants, but I had been expecting a gate, or something grand, which would tell us "you are now in Chinatown."

Edouard had to leave to take care of other business, and I continued my search for the central part of Chinatown. It turned out we had been circling around it! The main Chinatown area was Dixon Street, which was closed off to cars. Both ends of the street had big gates just like I had pictured in my mind.

One entrance!
And the other entrance!
Dixon Street is very busy!
I ended up eating lunch at a Taiwanese restaurant on Dixon Street.

Noodle soup
After I finished eating, I went back out to Dixon Street, and noticed a lot of food stands being set up outside.

Here's one booth...
... and here's another!
Hmm! I wondered what was going on! It was around 3pm at that time (I had a late lunch), and I thought it was a weird time to be selling food to people. I probably would have tried some of the food, but I was already full. I decided to come back and investigate these food tents another day.

Later that afternoon, I met up with Edouard again, at Circular Quay. And I told him (excitedly) that I had found Chinatown! So after we checked out other parts of Sydney (like the Royal Botanical Gardens), we ended up going back to Dixon Street. And immediately, the food-booth mystery was solved.

There was a night market going on!

And of course, food!
Edouard had to leave again, and since I already had lunch at Chinatown, I thought about whether I should go somewhere else for dinner that night. I decided to stay.

So I went and got food!

"Vegetarian steamed rice rolls"

"Black sticky rice in coconut sauce"

"Pan fried radish cakes with X.O. sauce"
Some time while I was browsing the night market, I learned that the market only took place every Friday. So I felt super lucky, because (1) I wouldn't have returned to Chinatown that night if I wasn't showing Edouard where it was and (2) I had originally thought the night market took place every night. Yay!

I left Chinatown that night pretty full of Chinese food. But then I returned to Chinatown pretty often during my time at Sydney, and I ate there a lot. Maybe I was craving Chinese food. But I think part of it was because of homesickness.

Being in Sydney made me feel a little homesick. I wished my family was with me at the time so they could see how awesome Sydney was. But then being in Chinatown made me super homesick.

This is a bit silly, but I wished my family was in Chinatown with me, partially because I couldn't speak/read Chinese very well and my parents could! Most of the time, I ended up speaking in English when I was ordering food. Once, the worker spoke to me in Chinese when I walked into the restaurant, so I replied in Chinese. But then I  ended up speaking in English after I couldn't read the menu! Once, I almost successfully got by in Chinese while ordering food at the a booth at the night market... but at the end I said "thanks!". Whoops!

There was one small bakery on Dixon Steet that I ended up going to pretty often. During my second time there, the owner came by and said every time I see you, you always seem so happy." Whoa, he remembered me! (And, I would say the same thing about him!) We had a nice little chat, in Chinese! And somehow, he made me feel a little "at home" in the bakery. And even more homesick. The last time I went was right before leaving for the airport. I came by to get some snacks for the flight.

Standing in front of the bakery with a sesame rice ball that I had just bought!
I really do hope I could come back to Sydney with my family in the future. I wonder if that bakery will be there

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