The Kingsford section of Anzac Parade, between the adjoining Middle and Meeks Streets, has in the recent few months become even more of a food hub for a variety of Asian food. Sydneysiders know that Kingsford, which lies like a fifteen minute drive south-east of the city centre on a good day, is also a residential focus for 18 to 25 year olds, mostly customers of the University of NSW in nearby Kensington and a mecca for the various nationalities from South-east Asia, China and Hong Kong. Apart from English, the predominant languages you hear spoken on the streets are often Indonesian, Hokkien, Mandarin and Cantonese. Above, a Japanese outlet with transparency, not far from the roundabout - there I was at the bottom right hand side, trying to take this shot.
Kingsford once had hopes of being joined to the Sydney rail network but that plan was dashed by cost cutting in the late 70s and the line terminated at Bondi Junction instead. Today the theme is food, as illustrated by the view shown above, walking along the pavement towards the roundabout - a series of well known cafes specialising in yogurt, gelato and Malaysian street food. The Petaling Street chain is well known in Melbourne circles and refers to the main street in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown. This outlet in Kingsford joins its Sydney Chinatown branch opened around two years ago. The latter joint is narrow, crowded and has dining in a basement. The one in Kingsford is spacious, offers so much better light inside and outside and sits on a raised floor overlooking Anzac Parade. Lovers of KL Cantonese and street food
will check out what Petaling Street provides - my favourites there are claypot noodles, ice kacang dessert and chicken satay skewers. Their competitor is only a few doors away along Anzac Parade - Albee's - with its unique chunky curry puffs, fish head curry, Hainan chicken rice, char koay teow and lobak (Straits Chinese pork rolls) counted as my preferred choices there.
Odea's Corner (above) now stands in contrast to the medium high rise apartment block behind it. On an early August Saturday, it was rather warm for a winter season but the sky was deep blue and the trees still bare. Small groceries, service shops and newsagents dot the main commercial strip that is Anzac Parade, but behind just a row of shops are housing, mainly units, a lot perched on hilly land, many old and with a varied past. Vehicle parking can be intensely competitive around lunch times. Eastgardens Westfield shopping centre is only a ten minute drive away and Coogee Beach beckons past Randwick to the east.
I came across a strikingly easy to read display of Indonesian street food - the dishes offered look more Sumatran than Balinese, but I loved the simplicity of it all. Satay skewers from Padang, chicken slow cooked in yellow curry, the popular gado gado salad and hard boiled eggs served in a chili based sambal all sounded to me like what South-east Asian backpackers want and do eat! Ayam Goreng 99 is not too far away, offering deep fried chook in various cuts and styled servings from Java. Indonesian food outlets have been operating for more than 20 years in Kingsford - some are halal, others are not, some run by ethnic Indonesians and others run by Chinese families with Indonesian names. Buck-Me Jellico restaurant takes a pun on the name of one of its main dishes ( bak-mee). Ubud offers Balinese fare, Palembang Pampek Noodle is from Sumatra and there are two Rasas to choose from - Indo Rasa and Sedap Rasa.
The Greeks used to dominate Kingsford, and they came mostly en mass from the Mediterranean island of Castellorizo, as symbolised by the Castellorizian Club along the very winding and long Anzac Parade itself. It is interesting to note that the UNSW has been graduating many international and domestic students of Asian heritage for the past 50 or more years - and it is no surprise to know that over a fifth of Kingsford's residents claim Chinese ancestry, whilst those with Greek background now number less than 9 percent. There are more residents in Kingsford of Asian origin than those with English roots or true blue Aussies. The suburb, part of the Randwick Shire, is close to the Sydney Airport, otherwise known as Charles Kingsford Smith Airport.
Dong Dong Noodles (picture above) has been my fav easy and casual Hong Kong styled cafe, where for more than 15 years I get to gobble endless egg noodle strands mixed with a sweet yet savoury sauce and served with bits of char siew, duck cuts, roast pork with crispy skin or soy flavoured steamed or roast chicken. Here, in a narrow spaced shop with seating in front and also at the back, customers, mostly youngsters, couples or family groups, enjoy soul food from southern China without fuss and with a relatively quiet sense of contention. There are condiments concocted from cut ginger, pounded garlic and vinegar, but rarely a chili can be seen, unless you specifically ask, and then it is just a chili sauce and not fresh cut chili strips.
Shihlin offers Taiwan street styled snacks, to resolve the need for a hunger pang at any time of the day or when you may not want a full serve meal. Modelled like a fast food outlet, and named after the Shihlin markets in Taiwan, with earlier opened outlets in Indonesia, Subang Jaya in Malaysia and Somerset in Singapore, the business seems ethnocentric.
It has signature dishes like crispy floss egg crepe, sweet plum potato fries, seafood tempura and hand made oyster flavoured mee sua (thin noodles), reflecting the melting pot of influences from Japan, Fujian and native Taiwanese itself. Its focused market is clear - the next branch in Australia is at One Central Park in the southern end of Sydney CBD where Chinatown meets Broadway. Even Simon Reeve of the BBC production on Australia today could not help to remark how Asian the streets of Sydney have become, although he did not get to see Kingsford.