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Eat around the world

By Carla Grossetti
1 November, 2017

Local food and travel writer Carla Grossetti went on quest to see if it's possible to eat your way around the world without leaving the Shire.

In the past 10 years, a plethora of new places to eat and drink have popped up around the Shire. What's truly wonderful about the reinvigorated dining out scene here is the diversity and the fact we now have restaurants, bars and eateries that either reflect the culinary heritage of our chefs or nod to the globe-trotting adventures they've undertaken while honing their craft.

Although all 196 countries may not be represented in the Shire, there are many incentives to sample some of the world's cuisines via the many restaurants, cafes and eateries dotted around the southern region of Sydney.

Giro Osteria is Joe Natale and Oriana De Luca's ode to Italy and it's a gem. Order the salumi board and pasta con ragu to bring home the satisfaction of good Italian food cooked well. The Italian Stallion Bar & Griglia also epitomises the generosity of Italian cuisine with dishes such as the seafood marinara with crab, bugs, pipis, prawns, calamari, garlic and chilli worth crossing suburbs for. In the case of local chef Lee Carroll, it was a slice of pizza that inspired him to travel to Naples to learn the art of making proper Neapolitan pizza. Carroll's jaunt to Naples made his pizza game face strong and in 2014 he opened Queen Margherita of Savoy, where he continues to educate locals about how to appreciate this revered Naples staple.

Exploring new frontiers is in the pizzaoili's blood, with his father Chris Carroll crossing the border to France for inspiration with his Caringbah offering: Bistro 32. The chef, who travels to France every year, did his apprenticeship at Jonah's and was the very first chef to receive two hats for a restaurant in the suburbs in the very first The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. The great and the good of French fare is represented with dishes such as bouillabaisse, French onion soup and quail pithivier.

Forget pad Thai. Alphabet St is a major upgrade from your average Thai eatery. Enjoy the betal leaf with grilled prawn and coconut and the three-flavoured crispy fish for a make-believe "I'm on holiday at a posh Thai resort" experience.

The vitality of the eating out scene in the Shire is also apparent with the arrival of Mejico in Miranda where you can have your guacamole smashed table-side, enjoy $3 taco Tuesdays and even experience a tequila master class to better appreciate the Mexican liquor made from agave.

Close to the border of Sutherland is where you will find Frank + Blanco where that relaxed informality of a contemporary Mexican cantina has -- again -- been beautifully captured.

Zeus Street Greek is a low-key expression of this much-loved Mediterranean cuisine and is where you can taste the glory of garlic-smothered lamb wrapped in a pillowy pita and stuffed with Aegean slaw, smoked eggplant, onion and parsley.

The food paraded out of Moim Japanese Kitchen also has the ability to transport diners to another world as it's the sort of humble, unpretentious eatery that is adored in Japan. Say omakase and leave it to the chef to fill your bento box with jewels such as teriyaki beef on rice or chicken teriyaki roll. The chef's wizardry when wielding a knife is also evident at Seven Lanterns - a Japanese restaurant with a Korean accent. Here, a lot of work goes into dishes such as the soy-marinated softshell crab tempura in Californian roll streaked with honey roasted soy sauce, which will take you to the Ojang-Dong neighbourhood of Seoul via Tokyo and LA.

Dumplings are a mainstay in China and Din Tai Fung is dedicated to doling out these warm, delicious parcels filled with everything from pork with chives to crab meat and roe. The worldwide chain began as a humble food stall in Taipei in the 70s and is renowned for its consistently good cooking.

Unless you're tight with a local, you might never find the Happy Panda, which is a contemporary dumpling den that has opened up above the New York speakeasy-inspired Blind Bear, the dive bar downstairs dedicated to dude food and great drinks.

Cavort back to the Caribbean to Low & Lofty's for food that lends itself to creativity: order the hot wings and jerk chicken burgers and a few pina Papasitas to boot.

Poke is popping up on menus all around the world and there are now two dedicated eateries serving the dish that is a mash-up of Hawaiian poke (a diced fish dish) and Japanese sashimi salad. Poke Bowls and D. Bowls make up these divine bowls fresh to order. It's pronounced poke (poh-keh) okay?

A sense of hospitality is a hallmark of Middle Eastern cuisine and Yalla Sawa reflects this. The cosy corner restaurant in Cronulla is run by a local Lebanese family, who are renowned for food packed with personality. Order the dips, the fluffy falafel made from 'mum's recipe' and anointed with tahini sauce and the lamb shank tagine, which thrums with spice and sweetness.

While Croydon Lane Wine and Tapas Bar is not strictly Spanish, it does a great impression of a lively tapas bar in Barcelona, serving small plates of bar bites that are big on flavour such as the seared scallops with corn puree, sautéed corn and oyster mushrooms.

Fans of Sri Lankan food will have Menai on their radar as the Merchants of No Sense run by mother and daughter team Chicky and Nandini Fonseka are doing their best to bring back vivid memories of their homeland. Although the casual restaurant in the midst of Menai is known for its burgers, it's the standalone Sri Lankan menus that stand out. Hello samba rice cooked in banana leaf, served with sides, sambals and curry.

The vitality of eating out around the Shire without leaving its borders can also be appreciated at mod Oz venues such as henrys Cronulla, where the Brazilian-born chef Rafael Tonon riffs with flavours inspired by his travels: the crispy flathead taco is a contemporary take on street food from his homeland. Blackwood Pantry also offers a classic French expression of contemporary Australian cuisine thanks to the efforts of Rob Lechowicz who trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in France. Here, dishes such as the Turkish poached eggs are reflective of multicultural Australia on a plate. One of the best reasons to travel is surely to indulge in different delicacies from around the world. In the meantime, with the world on a platter closer to home it's time to try different foods that are an introduction to other cultures.

Carla Grossetti

Carla Grossetti

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