This article is part of our VICE Weekends summer series, presented by Weis
Chinatown is one of Sydney's buzziest pockets to spend 24 hours in. This little slice of magic has it all: stores selling shiny trinkets you never knew you needed but can't live without, restaurants serving up delicious eats, loveable dive bars, endless entertainment and enough ambience on the streets to fill a ship. If you're a bit done going to the beach every day, mix it up this summer by taking yourself, your bestie or your boo on a date to Sydney's most lively precinct.
Start out on the right foot by taking your best pal for a walk through the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Once you're feeling thoroughly zen by way of bulk waterfalls, lakes, exotic plants, hidden pathways and friendship, it's time to start eating.
Chinatown's selection of restaurants can seem fairly overwhelming to the uninitiated. There's stacks of options on offer, but there's no better way to kick of the culinary list than with Chinese Noodle House, a trusted favourite among poor uni students, rich businessmen, and basically anyone in between who enjoys a tasty bargain. What they lack in warm service, they make up for in promptness and out of this world dumplings. Sit al fresco under the early evening glow and bring a medium-sized bunch of mates so you can go to town on the ordering, pork and chive dumplings, steamed cabbage and braised eggplants all a must.
For your ramen fix, head to Gumshara or Ichiban Boshi. The broth at Gumshara is intense, rich and filling experience, so if you're a beginner try Ichi first. For a super low-key dining experience, head to Dixon House Food Court. It's one of Chinatown's truly incredible food courts, full of old-world charm and is the perfect spot to take your tastebuds on a tour. Eating World is another absolute tastebud utopia and there's more options on offer than you could poke a stick at. Top tips include Phoung Special Vietnamese's banh mi for less than a fiver or a whole fish from Soya King.
Other standouts spots include Petaling Street, a Malaysian restaurant serving up humble hawker food and Pho Pasteur, a squishy little Vietnamese joint with some of the best sugar cane prawns in town. There's also 678 Korean BBQ, a meat-heavy haven where you get to sizzle up your own supper and Japanese restaurant Wagaya where you sit in booths and order from an iPad at your table. If it's payday and you feel like impressing your boo with a slightly fancy yum cha experience, head to either the Marigold or East Ocean for some moreish morsels in a lush setting. Golden Century is also worth a visit, largely owing to their regal dining space and giant fish tank at the front of the restaurant that's housing your soon-to-be-dinner.
If you're in the mood for dessert, roll up to Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery. You'll need to head inside the store if you're after their tarts and buns, but if it's their infamous Emperor's Puffs you're after, join the sizeable line wrapping its way up Dixon Street so you can order one (or ten) from the window. Expect to wait around 20 minutes before getting your hands on the puffy little custard cream treat, but know that it's a thousand times worth it.
If you're feeling a bit thirsty after your meal, make your way to Fortun8 bar. What it lacks in trendy decor, it makes up for in cheap drinks and an impressive number of aquariums that will make you feel like you've stepped into a low-budget version of Romeo & Juliet's infamous fish tank scene. Make a beeline for the rooftop bar for a fairly nice view of the city. If you're a bit of a nerd for all time heartthrob Heath Ledger, which, let's be real, who isn't, head to Star Hotel where his primo Aussie flick Two Hands was filmed. Crystal Palace is also a goer if you've got a solid crew of friends in tow who are down to revel in its humble interiors.
If you want to splash a bit of cash on fun groceries or Japanese candy, Miracle Supermarkets is the spot. Thai Kee IGA is also a goer for fresh produce, beaut crockery and an impressive selection of goods. If you're riding that shopping wave, head to Market City for a hot bargain and Media Asia for all the best in K-pop, J-pop and C-pop entertainment.
For anyone who is partial to having lots of fun, you have to go to the top level of Market City and give their bumper cars a whirl, it's the only true way to wrap up a big night of eating and exploring. Once you've blown off some steam, make your way down to Pukira Photo Land, the original photo sticker arcade in Sydney, and immortalise your precious Chinatown memories. It's a tad on the expensive side, but you can't put a price tag on photos of you and your pals, can you?
This article is presented by Weis