13 May 2014
Tuck in without forking out! Here are our favourite meals for under $20.
Dumpling and Noodle House, Potts Point
Packed in like sardines, customers to this Potts Point stalwart know what they’re here for, and it’s certainly not the service or décor. You’ll have to wait outside until you’re briskly summoned indoors to perch on plastic chairs or rub shoulders with a random on a wooden bench. We wouldn’t suggest coming as a group, this place is best enjoyed with your other-half over a plateful of mixed pan fried dumplings.
Don’t be put off by the constant queue that spills onto neon-lit Goulbourn Street; you’ll be entertained by Mamak’s dedicated roti (flatbread) chefs in the open kitchen, who prepare the thin, sticky dough in an elaborate dance of slapping, stretching, and dousing in lashings of butter, before frying on a hotplate and then moulding the round, flaky bread into shape. Served with two curry dips and a rousing sambal, dinner doesn’t get much cheaper – at a meagre $5.50 per serve – or more satisfying than this.
Ryo’s Noodles, Crows Nest
There’s something so utterly satisfying about a big, sloppy bowl of piping hot ramen, with shreds of rich pork and silky smooth noodles, especially when it doesn’t break the bank. The bright orange exterior makes the restaurant hard to miss, but if the colour doesn’t catch your eye, then the number of people milling about outside waiting for a table is sure to pique your curiosity.
Chat Thai, Haymarket
This Thai Town institution has queues running out onto the street every opening hour; it’s no surprise because the food is a cut above the rest and service is snappy. Attracting shift and hospitality workers, Chat Thai opens at 9.30am and closes at 3am, churning out authentic dishes such as green papaya salad, larb, and pork satay. Our go-to? The beef shin massaman curry ($14) with steamed jasmine rice ($3); it will even give you change from a $20 note for a post-dinner N2 Extreme Gelato.
Ignore the painted pictures of palm trees on the glass windows outside and plastic tablecloths, because this bustling Indonesian restaurant serves the best nasi goreng in town. Located a short drive from Sydney’s renowned Indonesian eating precinct of Anzac Parade in Kingsford, Java is Sydney’s best kept secret… until now.
Chur Burger, Surry Hills
Hidden behind a street-art graffiti roller door in a Surry Hill’s laneway (and now in a pop-up restaurant above the London Hotel in Paddington), Chur Burger delivers trendy Sydneysiders a gourmet meat-on-bread dining experience. There are six $10 burger options; beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, or veg, and they’re each served with a gourmet touch (think: grated beetroot and honey labne). Side orders of hot chips with smoked chilli salt and the Heilala Vanilla milkshake come highly recommended. “Chur” is Kiwi slang for awesome, so if you’re a burger aficionado, this is for you.
Shakespeare Hotel, Surry Hills
In an otherwise pricey suburb, The Shakey (as locals call it) has earned a reputation as ‘home of the $12.50 meal’, and it’s not just schnitzel and chips on the menu. Lads and ladies alike can keep their diet intact with a handful of calorie-friendly dishes, such as grilled barramundi, poached chicken salad, and fish curry.
Old Joe’s, Cronulla
Old Joe’s is a humble milk bar specialising in share plates from the deep south of the USA. Rather than a diner-style fit out, this Cronulla favourite boasts a breezy beachside vibe, with white-washed walls, an eclectic mix of multi coloured seats and lounges, and a red and white striped counter awning. The pièce de résistance? The second hand surfboard outside with “Old Joe’s” emblazoned in pastel pink alluring passers-by.
Mr Crackles, Darlinghurst
Ever found yourself on Oxford Street, in the small hours of Sunday morning with a slice of pizza or a bagful of Oporto in hand? The arrival of Mr Crackles has ended this too-familiar scenario. Instead, tuck into the “Crackles Classic” – a fresh baguette roll generously stuffed with crispy skinned, five-spice pork belly, topped with a fragrant Vietnamese salad. At $12, it might be a smidge more than an Oporto Bondi Burger meal, but it’s worth the extra coin.