It can be quite challenging living on a student budget in Sydney, but yours truly and many other people have been through this challenge and have pulled through. These establishments are the best when it comes to eating filling, healthy and quality food without having to resort to those popular fast food chains every day.
Sure McDonald's may be okay once in a while, yet all too often I see so many students in the ultimo area eat McDonald's and KFC way too much, or even worse, living on simple bread rolls and water every single day. Students are entitled to some quality every now and then.
These are the best restaurants I have hand picked for college, TAFE and University students in Sydney, and this article is also relevant for all of you fellow Sydneysiders who may be feeling a little cash-tight, but are in the mood for a quality dining in experience, particularly if you enjoy Japanese cuisine. (Unfortunately many non-Asian restaurants did not meet the 'cheap eats for students' criteria in and around the city, so I apologise in advance for the heavier weighting towards Japanese food).
Ramen Kan in Haymarket is popular among students, and their ramen dishes (especially the udon dishes) are rather filling, and are suitable for lunch or dinner. Of course it depends on your appetite, however my preference would be for dinner.
Otherwise for a fresh sushi fix, and for lovers of Japanese food, opulent Stanley Street in Darlinghurst comes to the rescue. If you love sashimi in particular, then Sushi on Stanley is your lunch (or even dinner) destination. This is a rather small, cash only establishment, but the sushi rolls are made fresh right in front of you in a small, yet busy kitchen.
If you would prefer your base to be rice, then Menya Oiden in George Street is home to a great cheap feed. It is amazing that cheap food can taste so delicious (yet filling) and it is great that a cheap food establishment is enabling you to pick and choose your fillings on top of the rice base. The dishes are served in a bistro-like queue from rather friendly staff. Way less than $20 per person, yet more than enough food to last a couple of days. Just be careful to not nod off, especially (for you students), you still have lectures and tutorials afterwards.
If you prefer a noodle base, and are happy for a similar experience to the above, then the sister outlet opposite Menya Oiden called Menya Mappen would be more suited to your food preferences.
It is really difficult to find a great sushi train that has all of the plates at one consistent price. Think Sushi Train at the Event Cinemas complex on George Street. Fresh seaweed and sushi dishes, also fresh (and a fairly generous serving of sashimi) for only $3.30 per plate. Just three plates for dinner fills me up here sometimes. Is that a misprint, sashimi pieces for $3.30 a dish? Nope. It is true, and yes many of the competitors nearby would charge you $6.60 for the same amount (or slightly) more sashimi.
menya madden would be menya mappen - the link is correct, just the spelling on this page ...
and the sushi train inside the Event Cinemas has changed - is now Umi Sushi - where the only time I went there opening week they had a billboard out front saying maybe $2 a plate - when I ordered they said a higher price unless I 'like them on Facebook' - WTF? How can I do that? finally noticed a girl beside me pull out her smartphone to do so - I didn't have - anyway feeling blackmailed by the rather aggressive staff there put me off and I haven't been back since