Ramen, Bubble Tea & Hot Pot, oh my!

If there’s something we love more than anything about leaving home for a night (or 20!) it’s that we eat guilt-free everything we want, and we go hard! Back in early December 2020 we hadn’t left the Central West region of NSW for many months and we were dying to go somewhere. At this point Covid-19 cases in NSW had significantly dropped and we felt cautious but confident to head to Sydney for the night to fulfil some of our food dreams. I am constantly watching food vlogs from all over the world in my free time and from this I had a growing list of eats that we must try when we’re in Sydney. Our list was heavily made up of Asian eats because we don’t get good Asian food at home and it’s one of our faves.

We got a great deal for one night at the Rydges at World Square where it was almose as cheap as staying at the Ibis Budget. The room included breakfast but we only ever go for the hotel breakfast when we’re in a pinch and we already had our minds made up on what we would be eating for breakfast so we knew when we booked it that we would be skipping it. Armed with our long list of eats that were awaiting our hungry bellies we set off for Sydney on the first Saturday morning in December to make it there for lunch. When Ronnie and I drive to Sydney we manage to get lost somehow even though we have made the trip many times before. I think it’s because Ronnie doesn’t listen and the blind man can’t read street signs and he thinks it’s because I don’t speak clearly. We will never agree on who is right…. lol. While we were getting lost we were growing weary and the need for food was rising.

We finally parked the car and headed off to our first food stop – Gumshara Ramen. This place is very unassuming and it doesn’t even display the store name in English. It was cash only too (boooo!) and we didn’t have quite enough cash on us so once we had reached Gumshara we had to head back out to find an ATM. We finally were sorted and headed back. Gumshara is in a small food court in Chinatown where there are many different stalls but it is clearly the most popular and people purposefully seek it out. Gumshara’s draw is that is does the thickest, porkiest ramen broth one will find. It also does giant bowls of ramen which has about 4 different types of pork. It is pricey for ramen coming in at about $30 but the size and quality more than makes up for the cost. We had plenty of food still to come so we chose the giant ramen and a plate of gyoza to share. Once the ramen had been expertly put together and gyoza finished frying we were ready to dig in. Unfortunately the list of ramen we have had remains small until we can get to Japan but on that list Gumshara quickly rose to the top and will be hard to beat in it’s position as the best ramen we’ve eaten. The pork flavour is strong, the broth was so thick it was like gravy, the ramen egg yolk was silky soft and the different cuts of pork were all melt in your mouth, salty and delicious. The gyoza hit the spot as it always does, but we went with deep fried and but steamed is always better. We finished off the bowl with ease with both of us eating it but it would have been a challenge for one, although if it was the only thing I was eating until dinner and I had an empty stomach I think I would still fit it all in.

The porkiest meal you ever did see

After our scrumptious lunch we headed to the hotel for check in and a rest because our bellies were full and it was a hot and humid day in Sydney. We chose the right time to check in because later on when we went out again the line was large. The hotel was trying to limit the number of people in lifts to a maximum of two people from the same group by posting signs but most people ignored it. We stayed on on the 20th floor and the lift would stop on almost every floor on the way down and eventually someone would get impatient and jump on with you. I would face away from them and hold my breath because being in such close quarters after months of social distancing just didn’t feel right.

After a nice rest we left the hotel for our afternoon snacks and to prepare dessert for later in the evening because we had something specific in mind and we were afraid we would miss out if we were out at dinner until late. We decided to get everything and take it back to the hotel to enjoy the nice air-conditioning and so we wouldn’t need to find somewhere to sit and eat our afternoon tea. We first walked to Market City to a shop called Tokyo Lamingtons. Tokyo Lamingtons sells lamingtons of many different flavours. A few of the flavours on offer have an Asian influence. Being the month of Christmas there were also Christmas theme flavours available. We got three lamingtons and they were packaged up nicely for us to take away to our hotel room. Since these were for later we’ll move on to afternoon tea and I’ll share with you the flavours and thoughts on them a little later.

Next we wandered just up the road from Market City to Xing Fu Tang which is a bubble tea shop. It originated in Taiwan and they opened up in Sydney not too long ago. It was all the rage when it first opened up but it was pretty quiet when we went. We went with their signature drink which is the Brown Sugar Boba Milk. This doesn’t actually have any tea and it just fresh milk, freshly cooked brown sugar tapioca pearls and brown sugar syrup which the pearls are cooked in. I would prefer a milk tea flavour over fresh milk but the fresh boba was the absolute highlight of this treat. They are just so sweet and chewy and the texture is just so good. When you get the drink you get a big boba straw that allows you to suck them up as you’re drinking the milk. You are also meant to mix the drink in a circular motion with your straw exactly 18 times to get the brown sugar flavour mixed with the milk. I would have this again although I think there is better Brown Sugar Boba drinks out there, like from the Alley.

Before the mixing of the delicious flavour

Our final stop before heading back to our room was just below the hotel at World Square shopping centre. While we intended to eat all new foods while away there is a place I just cannot resist going back to every time I’m near and that is Hokkaido Cheese Tarts. I wanted to go all out here and get 6 of their flavours to try and that’s exactly what we did. These Japanese cheese tarts are just so creamy, are tasty hot or cold and are just so rich and delightful. We went with Original, Blueberry, Yuzu Lemon, Salted Egg, Salted Caramel, and Strawberry. You can’t beat the Original cheese tart. It is just so perfect. Of all of the other flavours the other absolute treat was the Salted Caramel tart. The mix of the salty sweet with the creamy cheesy flavour was amazing and there were cornflakes on top for added crunchy texture. All of the flavours were yummy and I think everyone should try these at least once in their lives. Although it will never be just once because I don’t know how anyone couldn’t like this.

My favourite kind of tart

We ate our afternoon snacks in our cool and comfortable hotel room, watched Netflix and had a nap. We were starting to get concerned about how we could possibly fit dinner in on top all that we had already eaten but dinner was the big event so we just had to fit it in and not think about it too much. We got ready for dinner and headed out. We were heading to Spice World for dinner which is a crazy Chinese Hot Pot restaurant we had been enticed to go to by some travel vloggers that had gone there previously. I say it’s crazy because they have very unique menu items and it a huge, bustling restaurant. At hot pot you order a bunch of raw items and cook them to your liking in your chosen soup.

We kind of knew what we were in for because of the videos we had seen. When we first arrived at the restaurant we could instantly smell the spices wafting up from the food that other diners were eating. We could see giant pots of boiling soup surrounded by plates of thinly cut raw slices of meat, fresh veggies, noodles and other strange, but intriguing looking food. We did have a booking for dinner but Ronnie made the booking over the phone which he said seemed a bit suspect at the time. They did lose our booking but no matter, we waited a few minutes for a table and then we were seated in the perfect spot appropriately distanced from other patrons and with plenty of space for the ridiculous amount of food we were about to order.

When you are seated you are given a large menu and a pen and you tick of everything you want to order. You start with ordering your soup flavour. You can choose an individual soup or a huge one to share where you can choose two different flavours that are kept separate in the huge pot in the middle, which we chose. Ronnie went with the level 1 spicy soup. I really wanted Ronnie to get this because it comes as a powder shaped into a cute animal which water is then poured over to melt into a soup. We had seen it come as Hello Kitty but ours came as a cute little teddy bear. I chose the mushroom soup because I can only handle a small amount of spice and I had been warned that level 1 was way beyond my spice tolerance (this turned out to be the truth!). You then go on to order all your meat, noodles, veggies, seafood etc. We absolutely had to get the most gimmicky menu item which was a Barbie doll dressed in wagyu beef. I feel like it’s a must get for the fun of it alone. We ordered a veggie plate, a metre long lamb roll platter, bread sticks and noodles. We, or I Ronnie will say, went overboard.

While we waited for our food to come to our table we went to the sauce bar. There is a bar with a few different ingredients you can add together to make your own perfect sauce. I can’t recall my exact combination but I did add a good amount of garlic and I remember I had sesame sauce and there was peanut sauce too. A short while later all of our food we ordered was laid out in front of us around our big pot of soup. We began to try everything we ordered. We first tried the spicy soup and it was way beyond what I would call level 1 spicy! The flavour was very nice but it was numbing my mouth and I couldn’t taste the other food properly. We needed something to wash the food and mellow the spiciness out with and the perfect thing was fresh watermelon juice which seems to be a traditional drink served at hot pot. It did the trick. I stuck with the mushroom soup to cook food in after this and it was also yummy but a lot less intense. We undressed a few of the wagyu slices from Barbie and cooked it in our soups for about 15 seconds and then tasted it. It was pretty good. It was fatty and meaty and pretty much what you would expect from beef. To eat your meal with all you have are chopsticks and a giant soup spoon. We thought this was too challenging even though our chopstick skills aren’t too bad. All of the food got so slippery in the soup that we were never able to fish a lot of it out of the soup and by the time we left I would hate to think how much soggy food was at the bottom of our soup bowl. We still left full though. Ronnie thinks the perfect utensil needed at hot pot is tongs. Everything we ordered was pretty good and my absolute favourite was the bread. I normally hate soggy wet bread but when dipped into the soup the texture was juicy but not soggy, and it was salty which I really liked.

Bye bear, you’re about to be our dinner
Someone’s keen to undress this!

We were completely stuffed from dinner and waddled slowly back to the hotel rubbing our fat bellies which still had more to come because we had the dessert we bought earlier waiting for us, the Tokyo Lamingtons. We got back to the hotel and sampled the lamingtons because we just had to. Earlier we picked out Buttermilk Popcorn, Thai Milk Tea and Choc Mint Crisp flavoured lamingtons. The Buttermilk Popcorn flavour was the best out of the three. It was super sweet but kind of what we needed after such a savoury, meaty dinner. The coating on the Choc Mint Crisp one was crushed candy cane and it was a very strong flavour. It was an odd flavour I thought. A choc mint flavour like Mint Slice would be much preferred. The Thai Milk Tea one was subtle in flavour and other than the cream the sponge was like all sponges in a lamington. We ate as much as we could and then crawled into bed so completely full we could not possibly eat again, until breakfast of course! We turned the TV onto a movie about the Japanese rugby team coached by Eddie Jones that was actually quite good. We never watch free to air TV so most likely wouldn’t have watched this otherwise.

Lamingtons with a tasty twist

We fell asleep eventually and woke up refreshed in the morning. We checked out of the hotel after a pleasant stay and headed off to our breakfast spot which was Toastie Smith. Toastie Smith is a Korean egg sandwich shop where they make a scrambled eggs and put it in sweet toasted brioche with a selection of other fillings. I chose the Shrimp-in-the-Egg one and Ronnie had the classic Bacon My Heart one. We also got pink smoothies which were berry smoothies with chia seeds which were pretty great. They came in cute bottles and were tasty. Both of our sandwiches were filled to the brim with lots of egg and the other toppings. The egg was strangely sweet and both sandwiches had sesame flavoured slaw which I thought was pretty much all I could taste. While I didn’t love these sandwiches I’m happy to have tried it. I can see why it is insta-famous among Sydney Food bloggers/vloggers.

Eggy bread

Our final stop before heading home was Burwood Chinatown. It was something I had been following for a while on social media. Australia doesn’t really have street food and this was our first opportunity to experience what street food is like because there are many different Asian food stalls where you order your food and just eat on the go. The first food item we had was shengjian bao which are pan fried pork buns which are filled with soup like in soup dumplings. I really liked these although I made a huge mess with the soup as it dripped everywhere. Ronnie wasn’t a huge fan of these because the outside is quite thick and chewy, but that is a texture I like. Ronnie went to get us our next eat and drink, which was a Thai Milk Tea and a Guo Kui which is a thin crispy pancake filled with minced meat and spices. This was excellent. The spices were really strong and it was just light and easy to eat. The flavours were huge for something so thin and crispy. We needed a break before dessert so we stopped in at the small, all pink arcade. They had a gachapon which is kind of like Japanese kinder surprise toys where you put a coin or token in, turn the dial and get whatever toy came out. We chose to try the One Piece gachapon and the Naruto gachapon because we had been watching those anime recently. We ended up with a Momoo keyring from One Piece and an Itachi Uchiha figurine from Naruto. Pretty cool!

Crispy bottom soup dumplings
Maximum thinness with maximum flavour
When beans in dessert actually works
I’m about as sad as Gudetama about finishing all the food

We were finally ready to buy and sample our final food items before the drive home. We briefly stopped by a cute macaron stall called Fatcaron. I got an apple crumble macaron which was decorated a Gudetama (the lazy egg) and a creme brulee macaron. I took these with me to eat later. I was so full after leaving I couldn’t eat them until I got home but I can say when I did eat them they were really delicious. Our final bite in Sydney was from Fujimi Doriyaki. Doriyaki is two pancakes closed together with a filling. I chose the boba tea one and Ronnie had matcha red bean. Ronnie said his was delicious and mine was also tasty because I love everything that has boba. It really was a sweet ending to our food adventure in Sydney. We ate from 11 different food stalls/restaurants in just under 24 hours. As I said at the beginning, we really do go hard!

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