Friday 20 January 2017

NSW Summer Series: Sydney Light Rail (Part 2)

Through January, I'm running a series of my previously published print articles about New South Wales. 

Last post, I started on a trip along Sydney's light rail line in 2011. Now the journey continues...

Tram Stop: Fish Market

As I step out of the tram, I can smell the faint aroma of seafood wafting up from the Sydney Fish Market. It’s a fascinating place, still a working market but also a place for visitors to drop by to enjoy a meal.

Its perimeter is dotted with shops both selling seafood to take home, and serving fish meals. On the waterfront, Claudio’s (Bank St) is packed with people browsing large trays of prawns on ice, oysters, and other marine edibles.

A nearby boardwalk runs along Blackwattle Bay, where stubby floating quays serve serious-looking fishing boats decked out with crates and nets.

The boardwalk is set with fixed tables in front of a strip of eateries, and dotted with people eating, and taking in the bay and the industrial relics along the shoreline. I’m struck by the array of dishes they’re sharing, from straightforward fish and chips, to meals best tackled with chopsticks.

The market’s a pleasant spot to visit, but I’m pleased to see it’s not as tarted up as similar precincts throughout the world; there’s still a rough-edged authenticity to the place. 

Tram Stop: Paddy’s Markets

As the name suggests, this stop serves the famous markets which have been located in Haymarket since the early 19th century.

On the other side of the rails, however, is Sydney’s Chinatown, and I’m interested in trying out a regional cuisine I’ve never before encountered.

Following busy Dixon Street through Chinatown to its quieter northern end brings me to Uighur Cuisine (2 Dixon St), a restaurant serving dishes from China’s northwestern Xinjiang province.

Being largely Muslim and connected by cultural ties to Central Asia, this part of China is quite different to the eastern regions that Australians are more familiar with. The Uighurs have produced a cuisine that’s distinctly different from what we usually think of as Chinese food.

The interior of the restaurant is that of a suburban ethnic eatery, down to the stark lighting, plastic vine leaves strung across the ceiling, and a bouquet of artificial flowers on the paper “cloth” across my table.

The images on the menu have an emphasis on lamb dishes, and so I order the goshnan, a kind of lamb mince pie, along with a salad of transparent noodles threaded with capsicum slices and a spicy red sauce. With a dash of vinegar or soy sauce from the bottles on the table, it’s a tasty meal.

As exotic music plays over the restaurant’s speakers, I chew happily while watching spectacular flashes of flame occasionally light up the open kitchen.

Other Attractions

There are many other sights located along the Metro Light Rail line, including the Capitol Theatre (tram stop: Capitol Square); the Powerhouse Museum (tram stop: Paddy’s Markets); the Chinese Garden (tram stop: Exhibition Centre); Darling Harbour restaurants, shops and museums (tram stops: Convention and Pyrmont Bay); and the casino (tram stop: The Star).

For more information about Sydney's light rail service, visit this section of the Transport NSW site.

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