Sydney is home to many authentic eateries from all over Asia, and you'll find some iconic snack foods scattered amongst the shops that line George and Dixon Streets in the CBD. Here are my top five picks of snacks or desserts from China, Hong Kong, and Japan, and where to find them in the CBD:
Hong Kong-style Egg Waffles (雞蛋仔) Penang Kitchen, 696 George Street, Haymarket 2000
This is a perfect takeaway snack to have on the go. They're waffles, but the batter is poured into a mould shaped like little eggs, and fried until crispy. The inside is hollow, and sometimes the batter is flavoured with green tea, chocolate, black sesame, and a range of other flavours. I've never sat down to try the rest of its menu though, but this is a little taste of home.
Note: This should not be confused with the Emperor Puffs from Emperor's Garden (listed below), which are little cakes filled with hot custard.
This is definitely a yumcha staple — you'll be hard-pressed to find a yumcha that doesn't serve this iconic pastry. It is, however, becoming more common to use a firm, almost shortbread-like pastry as the tart shell, rather than the traditional flaky butter pastry. Emperor's Garden is one of the few bakeries who still make it light and fluffy, as it should be.
Flaky Egg Tarts, from herfrozenwings.blogspot.com.au
The Emperor Puffs are probably the most well-known of all the desserts in Chinatown, and one of the longest standing. And who can resist the little puffs of cloud, filled with piping hot custard that warms you down to your toes? These are sold out of a little window just off the entrance to the main bakery, and are best when fresh (although they're not half-bad when cold, either).
Emperor Puffs, from thesetmenu.wordpress.com
Matcha Anmitsu Chanoma Cafe, 501 George Street, Sydney 2000
Chanoma is a Japanese cafe that serves a whole range of desserts, hot dogs, and fries that remind me of the hipster fast food cafes I used to frequent in Japan. I particularly loved the Matcha Anmitsu, which is a combination of soft-serve green ice cream, sweet red beans (azuki), and mochi in a bowl. These are three very traditional Japanese flavours that I am immensely fond of, but have also met with mixed reviews from those who are not accustomed to the taste.
Image by author
Dragon's Beard Candy (龍鬚糖) Friday Night Markets, Dixon Street, Sydney 2000
This sweet dates back thousands of years, and making it is considered an artform in many Chinese communities. It is made from sugar and maltose syrup, boiled and chilled until it forms a gooey, elastic mass, which is then dipped into a sugar dough. This concoction is this stretched, pulled, and twisted into paper-thin strands, and wrapped around a filling of shredded coconut, peanuts, and sesame. It has a relative short shelf life, so it's best to eat them quickly!
Image by Dragon Beard Candy - Sydney, Flickr
What are some of your favourite snacks in the Chinatown-Haymarket area? There were so many on my list that it was really hard to narrow it down to five, so if I've missed your favourite, share them in the comments!