Strolling in Sydney’s Chinatown can be an intriguing experience no matter for tourists or Sydney residents. Put traditional Chinese architectures which may stimulate foreigners’ curiosity aside, Chinese cuisine, specialty gift stores and the night market rendered with Chinese alive and festive atmosphere are possibly the common hobbies that bring people to this rewarding place.
A glance at Chinatown
Historically, the large-scale migration leads to the increasing development of Chinatowns in Australia. Nowadays, Chinatown has experienced a great change compared with the past, a “bridge” that connects the trade among the countries and regions, which should be owed to the rapid pace of globalization in the past few decades. One can say that this antique tourist attraction has gone through and witnessed the historical changing. Sydney’s Chinatown was initially located in the Rocks in the late 19th century. It did not establish its current location until the 1920s, namely Dixon Street, close to Central Station and Darling Harbour, which has become Australia’s largest Chinatown. There are two apparent traditional Chinese ‘Paifang’ at each end of the narrow pedestrian street, which separate the traditional street with metropolitan bustling streets. As a heritage that mixed diverse ethnic groups as well as past and contemporary Chinese cultures and several businesses districts, there is a lot to explore. In particular the unexpected popularity of Chinese food like steamed meat filled buns, pan fried pork buns, fried dumplings and Sichuan hotpot has made Sydney’s Chinatown be home to multi-culture and food paradise.
What to expect?
Emperor’s Cream Puffs, Meet Fresh, New Chilli House, Golden Harbour Restaurant and the night market in Sydney’s Chinatown are extremely salient among a variety of restaurants and scenic spots. What makes them mysterious and keep attractive for long, and how they help to make Chinatown an appealing place to go?
the New Chilli House
When I walked into the New Chilli House, it was early morning, there are few customers. However, the waiters and waitresses have already started to clean up the restaurant, with Chinese pop music played. Then Vic came over, with a kind smile. Vic, one of the owners of the New Chilli House, when understood my purpose for coming here, felt so proud and patient. As he talked about the history of the restaurant, it only with a two-year history in Sydney’s Chinatown, but it has been one of the most popular restaurants in Chinatown, in particular in the evening, customs sit outside the restaurant, eat the food, chat and enjoy the night scene. Vic seemed quite pride and confident with the food. As he said that, “the majority of the restaurants in Chinatown are actually Cantonese cuisine, only our restaurant is the most traditional and authentic DongBei cuisine. I guess in the entire Sydney, you cannot find a much more authentic DongBei cuisine like in this restaurant”.
When I asked about the special dishes in this restaurant, Vic said, “there are so many tasty food here. Steamed meat filled buns, pan fried meat filled buns, chicken and prawn dim sim and fried pork chives/cabbage dumplings. In order to meed different needs of the customers, we also have crystal prawn dumplings, although it is actually Cantonese cuisine, and steamed meat filled buns is Shanghainese food. But the most important is that we have hand-made steamed dumplings, which are the very traditional North food of China”.
“There is a little different of both Chinese and Aussie taste. We found that the majority of foreigners are actually quite fond of diverse kinds of Chinese dumplings, and also, our sizzling hot pots are quite welcome and popular among them. But for Chinese, they are more willing to choose simple home cooked food, special DongBei cuisine such as stir fried eggplant in mild spicy sauce, stir fried eggplant with potato and candied sweet potato are most Chinese choice”, Vic said, “that’s why we made two menus, one specifically designed for foreigners, the other is for Chinese based on such a difference, just for their convenience”.
“Why do you want to operate a restaurant here?” I asked.
“Haha, it’s a good place, isn’t it?”
“It may hard to say which can represent Chinese cuisine, I think the north and south of China food are quite different”, Vic pondered for a moment and said slowly.
Close to the mysteries
In this narrow street, many seemingly unimpressive restaurants are unexpectedly with quite an impressive history. Precisely as the owner of the Golden Harbour Restaurant said with a proud tone, “we’ve already have a history of more than 27 years here”, with such a long history, this restaurant provides all kinds of traditional Cantonese dumplings, customers prefer enjoying them and siting outside the restaurant, blending with the vivid atmosphere just for a relaxed afternoon or evening. Emperor’s Cream Puffs, which merely provides one kind of desserts but quite popular here. Everyday, no matter Chinese or Aussie queue in line waiting for the oven-fresh sweet dessert. As a staff working here said, “almost everyday, since the early morning we open the store, people are already queue in line for buying the cream puffs”. Most of the time, foreigners are much more fond of the cream puffs. Diverse dumplings for foreigners are recognized as the representative Chinese cuisine. The night market gathered many people in Sydney’s Chinatown, people who come here may not consider too much, but precisely there are not much to think about, just the diverse food and a vivid and lively atmosphere that separate people with daily busy life.
Not the end
After experienced a short “trip” lost in Sydney’s Chinatown, a real enjoyment for your stomach and mind. It may hard to generally conclude the characteristics of Chinese cuisine, in this narrow street filled with diverse food and scenes. Without too much concern, perhaps just lost in the place, that’s what we have fun and then enjoy the diverse life and the pluralism of culture behind.
(Yan Xu, SID: 460132848 Word count: 988)