One of the things often said about Sydney is that it is a smaller version of London with more sun, more beaches and definitely more rain. With such astute observations, it isn't hard to imagine why so many Londoners flock to the other side of the world. I yearn for sun just like the next person, but on days like today where the weather is quite stunning with the London roads drenched in sun and nothing else (correct at time of press), I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Unfortunately that isn't the opinion shared by all. Take my mate Dave as an example. Lured to Sydney by bigger bucks and a better job, he jacked in his life in London to live the dream. Having worked together for the better part of two years, I was sad to hear he was jacking it all in and heading down under, another good friend lost. A meetup on my trip was a must.
Same old Dave, I met him at his office overlooking Hyde Park on Liverpool street (seriously) and he was late. Very late. Plans to visit the Opera bar at the Royal Opera House were dashed, sunset had come and gone, so when he had finally got his arse in gear, we headed down to one of the places on my list, Mamak, a popular Malaysian restaurant.
Mamak is pretty damn popular. In a city with a huge Asian population, it was no surprise to find an authentic Malaysian restaurant selling rendang, curries, noodles and roti to be doing well. We waited a little while for our table but we admired the chefs in the window tossing up the roti in the air, and crafting a light and airy roti. By the time we took our seats, we were ravenous.
Dave opted for the chicken curry which was pretty decent, and formed a perfect accompaniment to the light and crisp roti. I really couldn't resist the maggi mee goreng, a simple dish of fried maggi noodles with lots of bits and pieces thrown in, basically anything you can get your hands on in the kitchen. This is a real favourite of mine in my own kitchen and I can knock up a pretty decent rendition. This version was packed with all the bits you could ask for (such as fishcake, prawns, egg, beansprouts, bits of meat etc...) and was good but lacked the crunch I like to add to mine from the fried noodles.
Mamak was decent and for Sydney, was very cheap. I can't remember the cost but was more than happy with it. It was great to catch up with an old friend and comes highly recommended if you are in the area. Good authentic Malaysian food and it's open till 2am at the weekend for a post pub feed.
It had been great to catch up with Dave, but I had to get out of the city and see the wonderful beaches that Sydney have to offer. A hop on the blue Bondi explorer led to a tour of the East Sydney beaches and some stunning views of the city. The end destination, Bondi of course.
Mocked for being the mecca for all English people who head to Sydney, you can hardly blame them. I arrived and what lay ahead of me was a stunning stretch of white sand and blue sea. I stood and surveyed in awe before it dawned on me that I wasn't here solely to gawp at the beautiful beach and sea, but to meet Anna and Zac (or AnZac as they are affectionately known), brother and sister in law of one of my oldest and closest friends. It was great to see them, and I am sure that Zac was glad to see me on home turf (the last time we met saw me mercilessly torturing him as the English won back the Ashes).
Bondi has plenty of places to eat, but we headed towards the Icebergs, a "club" with a bar selling food. An ironic name as I am pretty sure that Bondi has never seen an ice berg let alone know what an iceberg is! The food here was very average but offered stunning views. My chicken schnitzel was decent enough for a piece of fried chicken but not much can rival sitting and chatting with friends in the sun overlooking the deep blue sea. A perfect end to a fantastic jaunt.
Sydney had been amazing. Old friends, new friends, family, it had it all. And with each of these encounters came fabulous food, I really couldn't have been happier. Next stop Melbourne, where more of the above were awaiting me. Stay tuned!
Mamak - 15 Goulburn St, Haymarket, Sydney
Icebergs - 1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia