Take You Down to Chinatown

December 12, 2006 at 1:19 am (Uncategorized)

In honour of our ‘china’ anniversary, Llew gave me a china teapot made in, er, Japan, and some china teacups made in Australia. All very lovely and much needed. I actually wanted to buy some funky Japanese ceramic tea ware whilst we were in Tokyo, but it didn’t prove practical in the time we had, so I am very happy to finally be the proud owner of a contemporary Japanese teapot. It’s beautiful. I, on the other hand, got Llew a foot holiday at a luxury spa. I didn’t know it was our china anniversary. Just our anniversary. I guess I am not much of a traditionalist, although I do enjoy finding old copies of hilarious ‘Good Housekeeping’ tomes from the 1950s to give to friends celebrating their first anniversary (that’s paper, you know).

And so in keeping with the ‘china’ theme, Llew and I headed to Chinatown for dinner last night. This is another ‘Thing to Do in Sydney,’ or at least it certainly should be. We have a large Chinatown that spreads well beyond the Dixon Street pedestrian strip, and it’s extremely cool just cruising around checking it all out. I have been going to Chinatown all my life. When I was still in primary school, part of my urban education was walking those streets unsupervised, soaking up the unusual sensory riot. The glazed ducks hanging from hooks in the shop windows. The vast bakeries with brightly coloured plastic trays and chaotic queues. The neon signs and shops bursting with cheap trinkets, souvenirs, and shouted foreign languages. The markets teeming with life and the rotting smell of vegetables crushed underfoot.

Later, in high school, the pub at the very bottom of Dixon Street used to willingly serve us alcohol even though we were shockingly and I would have thought obviously underage. Then, before some concert or other, my friends and I would smuggle our illegal gains into the nearby Entertainment Centre in paper cups from McDonald’s. It never failed.

Since then I’ve returned on many occasions – multiple dinners at Sydney institution BBQ King, raucous group celebrations around enormous tables at seafood favourite Golden Century, lunch hour Yum Cha with colleagues at the Marigold, and the instant footpath snack of freshly roasted pork pieces from Wong’s. I love Chinatown. I love its bustle, I love its 2nd floor secrets and underground food courts and Korean hot pot restaurants hidden down the back of random office buildings all the way back up to Park Street. I love its gradual and determined spread uptown. I love the fact that even on a Monday night, Chinatown is always jumping. We found a little tucked away place called Chinese Noodle House, with its unadorned white walls and bright lights, its plastic vine bearing plastic grapes loosely and inexplicably fixed to the ceiling, and its hard, uncomfortable chairs rammed around the room in as close proximity as humanly possible. We had a long neck of Coopers Sparkling Ale from the bottle shop around the corner, and the food was delicious and spicy enough that halfway through, we needed another. We over-ordered, the improbably low prices belying the generous portion sizes. The table next to us turned over thrice in the time we were there. The place was packed, and so was the Dumpling King’s place next door. We’re going there next time, and I thoroughly recommend wandering the streets of Sydney’s Chinatown anytime.

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