Next time you're in the heart of Sydney's Chinatown, you might just have to venture to Market City's 1909 Dining Precinct. Open for lunch and dinner, we decided to tag along with Adam Liaw and we definitely weren't sorry... #whatadamate
Adam Liaw's food crawl through Market City's Dining Precinct
Sydney's Chinatown has been a food epicentre for the Chinese community for more than 100 years, but the past decade has seen the area take on the delicious flavours of not only China but those from across Asia.
Haymarket has long been the Mecca of diverse food precincts like No. 1 Dixon Shopping Centre, World Square and Eating World. The addition of Market City's brand-new 1909 Dining Precinct has just made it all the more abundant.
The 1909 Dining Precinct takes its name from the year that the original red-brick facade of Market City was built to house Sydney's first fruit and vegetable market. However, 1909 is not like any food court you've ever seen (hello, leather sofas!).
You really need to visit a few times to taste all the goodness on offer - and 'cos we're BFFs with intrepid Destination Flavour host Adam Liaw, we asked him to takes us on a food crawl around the new precinct. Here's #whatadamate:
*** Watch it now: 60-seconds with Adam Liaw at The Dolar Shop ***
"You go to any Chinese community around the world and the most popular way to eat has to be the hot pot," Adam tells SBS.
So when famed global Chinese-Macanese hot pot empire, The Dolar Shop, planned to open its flagship store Down Under, 1909 was the perfect fit.
Some of the earliest hot pots can be traced back to around the Han Dynasty, but in a word - modern is the name of this venue's game. The beauty of this arena is it allows you to customise and wield your own hot-pot power while still sharing in a banquet-style feast. Platters of meat, a huge selection of seafood, vegetables and condiments are all destined for the centre of your table.
First, hit up that dedicated DIY sauce bar. There are over a hundred possible combinations you can put together for each mouthful. As Adam says, "this is the most important part of this hot pot adventure".
What Adam deems as the "peacekeepers", are their signature pots that allow you to first select both their spare rib and hot and spicy Szechuan broths in one half-separated pot, before choosing your proteins and vegetables.
"You should be planning to sit back for a couple of hours and getting a leisurely meal out of your experience."
Adam, who accompanies his hot pot with The Dolar Shop's prawn pate, different cuts of premium wagyu, starchy noodles, lettuce, sweet potato pappardelle and fried beancurd, recommends maintaining a good pace of "hot-pot eating".
Traditionally, this Fujian dish from the Qing Dynasty comprises up to 30 ingredients, including chicken, ham, taro, mushrooms and shark’s fin. Our recipe features more accessible ingredients, while maintaining a high-protein hotpot. The origins of this dish’s name are debatable. One story describes how the meal’s rich aroma could tempt even Buddha to stop meditating and jump over a wall to find it.
"It's not about getting in and out quickly. You should be planning to sit back for a couple of hours and getting a leisurely meal out of your experience."
Hot pot really is the best of both worlds at The Dolar Shop - a communal setting while eating exactly what and how you want.
*** Watch it now: 60-seconds with Adam Liaw at Fugetsu ***
Fugetsu revels in the second-chance rule that we have come to know and love about Kaiten-sushi, or sushi train as we know it here in Australia. If you don't pick up a dish the first time, this delicious merry-go-round means you get another go.
Yoshiaki Shiraishi is the brains behind the conveyor-belt service. He was inspired by this technology while touring an Asahi brewery in the 1950s. But it wasn't until the 1970s after showcasing it at an international expo in Osaka that it really took off.
The style and beauty of sushi train is all in the choice, and there's plenty of it at Fugetsu, which also offers informal Japanese izakaya-style eating.
Adam can't go past the wagyu of the tuna world - otoro, the fatty tuna belly - and sushi itamae (chef) Michi prepares it nigiri-style.
Adam has a tip for eating here: "If you're not good with chopsticks then fingers is absolutely fine."
*** Watch it now: 60-seconds with Adam Liaw at Kogi ***
Korean BBQ is healthy and simple, and that's part of its charm. You order some raw meats, vegetables and some accompaniments. You grill them and eat with friends over a couple of beers. What's not to love?
Kogi is one of Adam's favourite Korean BBQs in Sydney. With a menu spanning raw, fresh and marinated proteins and vegetables, it is one of the few places that allow a more hands-on cooking experience.
Here, diners cook their BBQ over hot charcoal, instead of gas, and on a string-wired grill, rather than a hotplate, so that you can completely capitalise on the smoky flavour of the coals right at your table.
While the meat - thin slices of marinated meat (bulgogi, meaning 'fire meat) and galbi (marinated spare ribs) - might be the centrepiece, there is so much more to Korean BBQ. "The important part comes with the vegetables and all the sides, the banchan," says Adam.
"It might not be the most common choice of protein, but ox tongue off the barbecue and straight into your dipping sauce, for seasoning, is the way to go."
Banchan is a suite of pickled seaweed, fish cakes, marinated eggs, bean sprouts, pickled onions, traditional kimchi, spicy potato salad, Korean-style slaw slides, and that's just to name a few.
Adam teams up this banchan with ox tongue, slightly kissed on the grill - rare-to-medium-rare - and finished off with a little lemon juice.
"It might not be the most common choice of protein, but ox tongue off the barbecue and straight into your dipping sauce, for seasoning, is the way to go," he says.
*** Watch it now: 60-seconds with Adam Liaw at Mr Meng Chongqing Gourmet ***
You might know him as the host of one of the world's most popular dating shows, If You Are the One, but Meng Fei also loves a good bowl of noodles, just like everybody else.
Enter Meng Fei's noodle house, Mr Meng Chongqing Gourmet, and you are in a Sichuan flavour haven that celebrates one of his fondest childhood memories - eating food from Chongqing.
The city, which is partly bordered by Sichuan province, is one of the country's culinary centres known for its mala - spicy and numbingly hot sauce made from the peppercorn, which stems from a prickly ash known as Zanthoxylum.
If you haven't had Sichuan food before, what will surprise you is the contrast of flavour. "The excitement of the heat and the [numbing] of the Sichuan peppercorns is the most classic of flavour combinations," says Adam.
Here, the Chongqing noodles come adorned with a choice of ribs, chicken, offal, mince or simply chunks of melt-in-your-mouth stewed beef. Adam's top pick is a bowl of thick dangerous-looking red oil, beef mince, yellow peas and eggs noodles. This is certainly worth slurping over.
Don't be deterred from diving in. Adam recommends digging deep to hit that lovely base broth beneath the lava-like oily surface. You may have just unleashed your chilli sweet spot and love for Sichuan cooking.
And while it's certainly not as spicy as it looks, "definitely don't wear white and make sure you have decent chopsticks skills," says Adam. #sichuanrulestoliveby
*** Watch it now: 60-seconds with Adam Liaw at Yayoi ***
With 250 locations in Japan alone, Yayoi is the house of teishoku - a Japanese set meal.
The main dish of meat or fish with side dishes of vegetables and tsukemono pickles are served together with miso soup.
Teishoku is all about balance and it is a popular way to eat lunch in Japan.
From Japanese curries to grilled seafood and battered katsu, you can tap your way through their iPad menus to select your set meal just as you please.
Adam's quite the Japanese food connoisseur (Destination Flavour Japan, anyone?) and he revels in the joys of perfect katsu. His tip: double flour. "Flour, egg, flour, egg, panko breadcrumbs and like a schnitzel, shallow-fried with butter."
"Flour, egg, flour, egg, panko breadcrumbs and like a schnitzel, shallow-fried with butter."
It comes as no surprise that his go-to is Yayoi's chicken nanban. "It actually means, southern barbarian chicken, and think of it as a fried piece of chicken in a light eggy batter, in a slightly sweet vinegar sauce with tartare sauce on top - it sounds weird, but it’s absolutely delicious," raves Adam.
The nanbanzuke or “southern barbarian-style” of marinating, actually originated with the Portuguese sailors that came to the south of Japan back in the 15th century. These sailors brought dishes like tempura and castella (Japanese sponge cake), and this nanbanzuke-style of cooking is reminiscent of the Portuguese escabeche that the sailors would have had on their long sea voyages to Japan. This recipe is meant to be served as part of a shared meal.
Outside of Japan and Yayoi, nanban isn't as popular on menus, but it certainly holds its own. There's no need to relegate tartare sauce for your battered fish; the nanban combination might just surprise you.
In the mood for something sweet? You can't go past Yayoi's anmitsu - green tea ice cream with adzuki beans, agar jelly and fruits, topped with a thick and sticky brown sugar syrup. #sharingoptional
The Peking duck at Beijing Impression is something to get excited about.
With two days of preparing and three ways of serving it, Beijing Impression is already earning the reputation as having some of the best Peking duck in Sydney town.
You can try its crispy skin duck, roasted and sprinkled with sugar crystals, or tender duck pancakes.
And Adam is sold.
"This is probably the best Peking duck in Sydney."
"This is probably the best Peking duck in Sydney," he says."Cooked in traditional ovens and served in the modern style popular in China these days, it comes with the standard cucumber and spring onion, but also rockmelon, a range of sauces, and different northern Chinese-style wrappings.
"It's an authentic modern Beijing experience in Australia."
Beijing Impression's third speciality is its sumptuous broth of duck meat, green vegetables and glass noodles.
Whether you come here for a casual Thursday night dinner or a special occasion, be transported to Beijing for a feast of one of the city's most famous culinary delights which have been served since the Imperial era.
Sushi burger venture, Gojima, has just made its second home at 1909 Dining Precinct.
The contemporary taste of Japan has a range of premium Japanese rice burgers including Gojima’s signature Japanese sushi rice and nori bun.
Gojima's burgers go perfectly with its bunch of sides like the Japanese-style southern fried chicken, served with its special sauce. The chocolate miso, green tea and strawberries and cream thickshakes also work a treat, too.
"Gojima is not your regular burger joint."
"Gojima is not your regular burger joint," says Adam.
"The 'bun', made from nori and crispy rice, might sound weird, but once you try it all makes perfect sense.
"The fries with seaweed salt and matcha shakes are fantastic too, but it's the fried chicken really has to be eaten to be believed."
Umami hand-held lunches just got a whole lot more interesting.
Nanyang Tea Club - a collaboration between long-time friends Kaisern Ching, of Chef's Gallery, and Billy Chong's, Ipoh Town - stars both the classic flavours of Southeast Asia and those you may never have tasted before.
It's abundant with chilli crab, coconut chicken soup and Nanyang's speciality, the bak kut teh (pork rib broth).
Nanyang co-founder, Kaisern Ching says the restaurant's menu aims to deliver a melting pot of flavours.
"Malaysian cuisine is truly the original fusion food of the world."
"Malaysian cuisine is truly the original fusion food of the world and we have worked tirelessly to develop a menu, theme and style that stays true to that authenticity," Ching says.
Adam says Nanyang (which is the Chinese term for 'Southeast Asia') Tea Club also serves many regional Singaporean and Malaysian variations that we don't often see.
"It's the first time I've had Melaka-style Hainanese chicken rice, as well as the Teochew-style white pepper bak kut teh (a herbal pork bone broth), served anywhere in Sydney," he says.