Sydney dumpling walking tour with Foodi
On this popular walking tour, you’ll visit some of Sydney’s best inner-city dumpling bars, and sample their delicious wares. Try several different types of dumplings, and learn about Sydney’s Chinese community and its heritage. Duration: 2.5 hours (approx.)
Sydney’s majestic Town Hall took 21 years to build.
At its completion in the late 1880s a huge march was held on the streets outside, in protest against Chinese settlers coming to Australia as part of the gold rush.
It’s an appropriate spot to start this Sydney dumpling walking tour with Foodi. Once all the members of our group have arrived at the designated meeting point on the sweeping front steps, our affable guide David tells us: ‘We’re starting here at Sydney Town Hall because it’s part of the story of Chinese migration to Australia’.
‘Fortunately, some things do change. Today, 25% of Australians were born overseas and we are lucky to have the best of everything, from many nations.’
With this thought-provoking introduction, we set off on foot to discover five different food venues that offer some of the best dumplings in Sydney – steamed, fried, boiled, you name it – along with other delicious Asian delicacies.
‘So far, no one on any of my tours has ever previously been to all five’, David says proudly.
This Sydney dumpling walking tour all but avoids the obvious cultural epicentre of Chinatown (only one of the eateries is located there), instead, focusing on lesser-known options nearby. To maintain the mystery, names are not disclosed in this feature.
Our first stop is a Vietnamese street food ‘tuck shop’ of humble origins – now part of an expanding hawker-style chain that still maintains its authenticity. It’s discreetly positioned in the basement of a retail building off one of the busiest streets in town.
Perching ourselves on high stools at the counter, we tuck into a selection of small plates: seafood dumplings, vegetable dumplings, and ‘banh cuon’, a Vietnamese fermented rice pancake stuffed with ground pork and mushrooms – a traditional breakfast dish that is woody, flavoursome and absolutely delicious.
Appetites aroused, we wander on to the next stop on this Sydney dumpling walking tour, which specialises in Korean Fried Chicken (also known as KFC!) – a growing food craze world-wide.
Plates of soy fried chicken are happily devoured – crunchy, finger-licking, lip-smacking savoury goodness, balanced with a zingy side of pickled radish.
Venue number three offers us tender lamb spiced with chilli and cumin, and sweet pan-fried pumpkin dumplings served with soy and vinegar dipping sauces – all eagerly poked at with chopsticks and washed down with dainty ceramic cups of jasmine tea.
The fourth destination sells homemade ‘dim sim’ (assorted dumplings, buns and rice noodle rolls, usually served in bamboo steamers) and supplies many of the major ‘yum cha’ (Cantonese-style brunch) restaurants around town.
‘Australia and New Zealand are the only countries that call this type of food “dim sim” – everywhere else in the world it is known as “dim sum”’, says David.
We taste pillowy-soft BBQ pork buns and shop from the extensive selection of cooked and frozen goodies available to take away.
By this time, our bellies are groaningly full, but there’s always room for dessert! David leads us to a ‘hole in the wall’ bakery where a queue of people patiently wait for their turn to purchase ’emperor puffs’ – little golden clouds of pastry filled with custard, freshly baked and served hot.
Feather-light and not too sweet, these bite-sized morsels are the perfect finish to this gastronomic journey.
Overall, this Sydney dumpling walking tour is interactive, interesting and intimate (group sizes are limited to a maximum of 14 guests). Our knowledgeable guide peppers us with interesting pinches of Sydney’s cultural heritage throughout the tour, and the gentle distance between stops makes the walk easily manageable.
Most importantly, the food choices are tasty and authentic. It’s an opportunity for participants to indulge in a fabulous range of Asian specialties right here on home soil. As David said, we are indeed lucky.
Cindy travelled as a guest of Foodi.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Cindy Bingley-Pullin considers herself a writer, wanderluster, corporate bee and happy homemaker. In between analysing spreadsheets in the office and washing cot sheets at home, she pursues her combined passions of travel and freelance writing. Her work appears in publications such as Virgin Australia’s Voyeur, International Traveller and Fitness First magazines, and the Sydney Morning Herald. To date, her travels have taken her everywhere from the ancient Angkor Wat temples at dawn to the soaring skyscrapers of NYC at dusk, and from sleeping under the stars in central-west NSW to dining at Michelin-starred restaurants in the south of France. She has volunteered at an orphanage in India, bathed elephants in the river in remote northern Thailand, waved glow sticks at an underground rave in San Francisco and cautiously navigated an active volcano in Hawaii. The first thing she does when she comes home to Sydney is pop by her local cafe for a decent flat white.