A WORLD OF IDEAS
Food guru Lyndey Milan finds temptation and inspiration in Campsie, writes Renata Gortan
It’s not often that Lyndey Milan gets stumped. The cookbook author and TV presenter has been teaching Australians about food for 30 years, but the sight of guji choy in Campsie momentarily has her bamboozled.
Best Weekend is on a food tour with Milan to sample the suburb’s flavours and draw inspiration ahead of her appearance at the Campsie Food Festival (campsiefoodfestival.com.au) next week.
And it’s while browsing the fresh herbs at Hui Chung Chinese Herbs and Food Centre that Milan finds the guji choy and admits she’s never seen it before.
Owner Huenhi Dong tells us they’re goji berry leaves.
“You use them in soup,” Dong says. “They’re much better boiled rather than stirfried, and they’re very good with pork.”
The butterflied spare ribs at Dae Jang Kum are also a revelation for Milan.
“I’ve never seen that technique before of cutting it out — I just love the knife skills,” she says.
“It usually needs long, slow cooking to break down the connective tissue, but what’s fascinating with this is it doesn’t need it; you can cook it very, very quickly.”
Nose-to-tail eating is something Asian cultures have been doing for decades, and the kingfish cheek at Ishiyama is a hit with Milan. “It’s a part of the fish that people usually discard, but it’s a delicacy,” she says. “I love that these cuisines have the philosophy of using all the animal.”
As we visit Campsie food haunts, Milan hints at what she will serve up in her own cooking demonstrations at the festival next weekend: “I don’t just want to replicate what’s here, I want to use those influences in an Australian style,” she says.
“I think I’ll be inclined to do fast, easy recipes using the flavours that I see here.”
KING OF BUNS
5/2 Anglo Rd, Campsie, 9789 4855 This unassuming family business has been serving buns the size of your fist for 13 years. Although there are a few tables inside, those in the know line up at the window for takeaway buns — large $1.50, small 70c.
The traditional Shanghai buns aren’t what you’d get at yum
cha. For one thing, they are supersized and it’s a steamed pork and soy sauce filling rather than BBQ.
Owner Alan Ling says they sell thousands a day, mostly to locals on weekdays, and to people who have travelled for them at weekends.
The pillowy dough is made from noodle flour, water and yeast and a choice of fillings, including the traditional pork, plus chicken and vegetarian.
Surprisingly, the vegetarian buns are the most popular.
“We make about 500 a day and sell out by noon,” Ling says. “It’s a bok choy and mushroom filling. We’d make more but we can’t get enough vegetables for them. We go through 20 dozen bunches of bok choy a day.”
Beamish St, Campsie, 9789 3031 Campsie may once have been known for its Korean restaurants, but that’s slowly changing. There are now nine Japanese restaurants along the main drag and this is the latest.
Tokyo-born chef Koji Ishiyama opened up his eponymous restaurant nine months ago, after stints at other restaurants, including Iiza at Newtown.
If you’re not impressed by the sushi and sashimi plate, and we dare you to not be, you’ll definitely be impressed to know that Ishiyama carved the two-tier serving platter himself — along with the sign above the kitchen, plus the pine wood tables.
“If I need a career change I can be a carpenter,” he says.
But judging from the delicacy of the kingfish cheek and the silver cod saikyo yaki bento, let’s hope he sticks to a life in the kitchen.
DAE JANG KUM
115-117 Clissold Pde, Campsie, 8033 3436 The first thing you notice when you walk into this Korean barbecue restaurant is the lack of smoke. That’s due to the state-of-the-art extraction system, which whips it away quick-smart, says owner John Jo.
The third restaurant in the chain — there are others at Eastwood and in the CBD — is six months old and goes through 350kg of meat a week. Which makes sense when you consider the all-you-can eat buffet and BBQ is only $32 for dinner and $15 for lunch.
A downside of such low prices is that people have a tendency to pile more than they can eat on their plates.
But the restaurant has fixed that problem.
“We have a $20 wastage fee,” Jo says. “We didn’t have that at first, but then people would leave three kilos of meat on a table untouched.”
There are 40 dishes on offer, cook-your-own and a la carte, including Chinese and Korean dishes such as galbijjin (braised spare ribs in soy and daikon), braised pork belly and teriyaki chicken.
Milan is impressed with the marinated beef spare ribs and pork ribs, which are butterflied so they easily cook in a few minutes, and Jo generously shares the recipe. “The marinade is a mix of honey, soy sauce, vegetables and fruit — onion, pumpkin, apple, pear, and kiwifruit, which naturally tenderises the meat.”
282 Beamish St, Campsie, 9718 8302 When Albee Thu opened her Malaysian restaurant seven years ago, she simply wanted to make the food she loved loved. Two years ago, she opened a second restaurant in Kingsford, so it’s safe to say she’s not the only one who loves the Chinese/Malay flavours of her homeland.
“I came to Australia when I was 23 and I love cooking so I opened a restaurant here because it was close to my home,” she says. “When we first opened, I was worried because there weren’t many Malay restaurants, but now it’s very busy.”
Half her customers are Malaysian and she even has a group from Melbourne who pop in on their annual trip to see family in Sydney.
“The most popular dishes are the satay, char yuan yang, char keuy teow and curry puffs,” she says.
Busy trade at King Of Buns (above); barbecue at Dae Jang Hum (right); bento box at Ishiyama (below).
Lyndey Milan and guji choy, or goji berry leaves, at Huenhi Dong’s store (main); chef Koji Ishiyama at Ishiyama (above); chicken curry puffs at Albee’s Kitchen.
Pictures: John Fotiadis