New South Wales II
Our first clue of what is happening in Sydney came about twenty miles from the city. We started to see cranes, cement trucks, and lots of people in hard hats and neon vests. This was the expansion of a light rail line north and west of the city. As a result of the new transportation link, developers are erecting new office parks, shopping centers and housing.
The construction crane, the state bird of NSW, is also quite noticeable as one enters the city on the ferry. A very large skyscraper is in the process of being demolished. There are probably half-dozen other new buildings going up with sidewalks closed on many streets. A new tram line, under construction, will take people up one of the main thoroughfares.
To the west of the city, we walked along the Barangaroo Reserve, a mini-park built along the harbor. We were nearly the only people walking on this beautifully landscaped area filled with native vegetation. Then, we walked further up the harbor to another Barangaroo South. This area is filled with high-rise office towers and housing that looks out on the harbor. Construction was on-going at the Crown casino, which will be relatively close to another casino, the Star. Yes, Australians like to gamble. But, a lot of the customers are expected to come from Asia.
The thrust to attract Asian customers was one of the new developments that we noticed. Jewelry stores offer glittering objects that seem designed to attract people looking to move cash to objects. When we went into one of the old-line department stores there were almost as many people of Asian descent shopping as Caucasians.
In fact, the Asianization of Sydney would be one of the biggest changes we saw. At bus stops, in the stores and restaurants, on the ferries, at
the beaches, in the airports we saw far more Asians than when we lived here.
One of the benefits of this demographic change is some fabulous restaurants. At Lotus Barangaroo we joined Sydneysiders on the promenade to feast on BBQ Duck and Spinach Dumplings, Crispy Pork Wontons, and delicate Prawn and Ginger Dumplings. Each bite was more delicious than the last.
We visited Yang & Co in Castlecrag and were wowed by Malaysian-born Chef Lex's Red Braised Duck Spring Rolls with Sambal Mayonnaise, Lemongrass Marinated T-Bone Steak with Vietnamese Salad, and the fabulous Roti with Chili Caramel Pork Belly and Kim Chi. Chef cooks "Australian Asian" cuisine using local and sustainable produce to bring back memories of the Asian flavors he grew up eating.
We met five friends at China Doll, a long-standing favorite on the Woolloomooloo Wharf where you eat at harborside as the sun sets over the city skyline and ogle mega-yachts in the adjacent marina. With a party of seven, we were able to sample many "Modern Asian" savory dishes: Duck Pancakes with Hoi Sin Cucumber and Shallots; Fried Tofu with Five Spice Salt and Ginger Soy; Salt and Pepper Prawns with Chilli and Garlic; Crispy Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel and Nam Pla Phrik; and Beef Fillet with Oyster Mushrooms – to name a few favorites. We topped off the feast with Lemongrass Pannacotta with Ginger Crumble and Orange Caramel and Sago Pudding with Vanilla Coconut Cream and Passionfruit Syrup.
Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney serves dishes that are inspired by Sri Lankan flavors, brought to Australia by the many immigrants who have fled economic and political violence. We enjoyed the merriment of fellow diners and the hospitable help from the service staff.
Our dinner started with Devilled Cashew Nuts (seasoned with mustard seeds and chilli powder), Acharu (pickled pineapple and cauliflower), and Crab Cutlets (with curry powder, green chilli and dill). Next, Curries and Sambals are served in a Hopper – a traditional Sri Lankan bowl-shaped savory pancake made from a fermented batter of rice flour and coconut milk with crispy, latticed edges and a soft doughy crumpet-like center that was a delicious base for Red Hot Chicken Curry with Tomato, and the Black and Dry Pork Curry with Sweet Spices. On the side, we had Raita to cool the chillis, Pol Coconut Sambol, and Hot & Sharp Onion Katta Sambol. All the flavors mixed and contrasted when scooped with pieces of Hopper.
New South Wales II