You don’t have to always spend the big bucks and go away to have a good time on vacation- enter Sydney Staycation 2019!
With our bunch of friends, we weren’t able to find a mutually available weekend to getaway up or down the coast, so we made sure that we all blocked out our calendars for a Friday night and the consecutive Saturday – and this is what we got up to:
Friday night dinner
Korean BBQ @Jang Ta Bal
L1, 73-75 Liverpool Street, Sydney
After work we all converged on Jang Ta Bal, a Korean BBQ joint known for their use of white-hot charcoals to heat your hotplates thus ensuring your food had a ‘smoky’ tinge.
We ordered a pretty impressive spread of meats to be barbequed (Wagyu beef, marinated and unmarinated non-wagyu beef, and marinated chicken), selection of mushrooms, and a great variety of pre-cooked Korean classics. My favourites were the marinated chicken- they were very tender (thanks to our group’s designated cooks) and tasty. While my favourite dish from the kitchen, was the Japchae glass noodles- imagine instant ramen noodles with a bit more of a spring to them, and it was served in a tasty sweet and salty sauce. Mmmmm.
As we were a group of 12 catching-up, the Korean BBQ concept i.e. cooking for each other and sharing all of your spoils, added to the fellowship of catching-up with friends! And part way through the meal, for an unexplained reason, the waiter gave us all a can of complementary soda each, ranging from Cokes to Calpis- which was pretty crazy as that’s a $36 RRP of freebies! And the entire meal totalled to only $460 which wasn’t bad, $38pp after tips.
Friday night dessert
Desserts @Darling Square Precinct
And after our tummies were filled with savoury treats, it was time to fill our second stomach with desserts! I have to admit, I love love bringing people back to the space which used to be the old Entertainment Centre, as I love hearing people’s surprise in finding here the newly developed Darling Square Precinct. It was after 8pm but all of the shops were still open in the laneways, from the food vendors to the non-food vendors. It had a real Asian night-market vibe about it all! And after checking out the laneways, we went off in our different directions to find and meet each of our own sugary cravings. People came back with purple rice and yoghurt drinks from Yomie; bubble tea from Bubble Nini Tea; and gelatos from Messina. We were one of those who returned with gelato- Apple pie bounty (scoop 1) and PBJ (peanut butter and jelly – scoop 2). Surprisingly two scoops in a cup was quite large and well portioned, so $6.80 for 2 scoops was quite good value actually, when shared between two. The apple pie had large chunks of crumbed biscuit base, while the PBJ was peanut butter, toasted bread and jam – but we didn’t find any pieces of bread in our scoop though.
And we sat under the trees, under the stars, enjoying our various sweetie treats. And then we parted company at 9.30pm, to do it all over again tomorrow!
Vietnamese @Phu Quoc
Cnr John Street and Hill Street, Cabramatta, Sydney
As our Sydney Staycation 2019 continued on to the next day, we all met up at Strathfield station and trained it to Cabramatta. Talk about 30 minutes on a train and being transported to another country!? I think getting out to Cabra was the cheapest ticket to an entirely different world!
If you’re adventurous, just go down every alleyway, poke your head into every arcade and shop, and you’ll find something which catches your attention at every turn! Just as long as you keep your bearing’s and can always find your way back to the train station, you’ll be fine! There are food shops everywhere! From the best sit-down Vietnamese restaurants you’ll ever find in Sydney, to snack stores, bakeries, drink vendors, and fresh produce markets! And oddly there were heaps of pharmacies, toy stores, mobile phone accessory stores and jewellery stores, methinks more per square kilometre than anywhere else in Sydney!
And when we were hungry (although we had eaten so much the night before) we touched down at Phu Quoc for lunch.
Just when you think that Phu Quoc only serves all the usual Vietnamese staples you can find at any other Viet restaurant- just peer closer at the menu or check out their specials, and get ready to find dishes you’ve never heard of! For me, I’d never had the stewed beef in tomato soup with bread roll (bahn mi bo kho – $13.50), and my wife had never tried the pork leg, prawn, tofu, and blood jelly noodle soup (bun rieu – $13.00).
OMG, just when you think it’s the usual Banh Mi roll, so that you’d better dunk it well in the soup as it’s going to be dry? Think again! The bread roll which accompanied the stewed beef in tomato soup was next level! It was crunchy on the outside, but so soft and fluffy fresh on the inside! And it had been brushed with oil before it was baked, so it was oily and greasy, but oh so tasty! I could have easily eaten it all by itself, without dunking in the soup. However there was so much thick tasty tomato soup to soak-up that I just had to dip, before I devoured! And eventually when I got to the chunks of stewed beef, I found it to be so soft and tender- it didn’t take much chewing to breakdown the meat in your mouth, and it had nice melty tenderous veins! Mmmmmmm.
My wife’s noodle soup was tasty as well, with large chunks of pork leg, 2 large squares of pig’s blood, a king prawn and tofu. The noodle was vermicelli, and it came with a plate of fresh vege (bean spouts and cabbage) and a lemon, salt and pepper dipping sauce. *Drools*.
Desserts @Kayson Sweets
Shop 4, 59-61 Park road, Cabramatta, Sydney
And after lunch and walking around some more, searching for various snacks that we had once consumed in Vietnam, or recalled from a long-ago childhood trip to Cabra- we satisfied those sweet tooth cravings with a Durian and Avocado smoothie ($6.00 med, $7.00 large) from Kayson Sweets. And a box of green mango with accompanying pink salty, sour & spicy dipping salts from a street side grocer.
Then it was back on the train, back to Strathfield for the evening portion of our Staycation. But the one thing which stuck out to us whilst on the train was that, how easy and close it was to get to Cabra by public transport! We will definitely come back in the near future, and not allow another 10 years to pass before we do so.
Saturday night dinner
Dinner from Metro One and Taste of Shanghai
And then we converged on one of our friend’s homes and played board games and card games (devouring some of our Cabra purchases), and just when we thought we couldn’t possibly have dinner as we were too full from 2 days of eating? The messaging of hunger pangs from our stomach to our brain override any thoughts of restricting further calorie intake! So we had to meet those needs by ordering snack packs and gozleme from Metro One in Ashfield, and dumplings from Taste of Shanghai Burwood – delivered to our door courtesy of UberEats! And as we ate, chatted, and played games with each other, it marked the end of an epic 24 hours of eating and the end of Sydney Staycation 2019! If aspects or the entire experience has piqued your interest? Just follow our gastronomic journey, as you have all the details now to replicate our 2-day feast! Bon Appétit!