Before arriving in Sydney, I heard rumors of the bizarre foods that I would be forced to try. To be honest, a diet of kangaroo burgers and meat pies did not exactly make me want to eat like a native. Imagine my surprise when I arrived (after a 23 hour flight) to unreal brunches, sushi trains, and tasty Thai.
As a huge foodie, I naturally took it upon myself to do hardcore, subjective research. Despite their infamous abundance of deadly creatures, Australians have made a name for themselves at the forefront of innovative cuisine. While they do love their Vegemite, I was extremely pleased to find how health-conscious and vegetarian-friendly the restaurants were Down Under.
After five months, my love affair with authentic Aussie food had to end, but the habits stuck. Interested? Here are a few pro tips.
1. The fresher, the better.
The key to an amazing meal is fresh produce. In Oz, almost every place is farm-to-table, meaning there are often no preservatives, middle-men, or pesticides. This makes a world of difference for your taste buds and for your body.
2. When in doubt, brunch it out.
If there is one thing I love, it is a perfectly poached egg in my brekkie bowl. My second love is hot cakes doused with fairy floss on top. If there is a third thing I love (and believe me there is), it would be a pink pitaya or acai bowl. The options are endless.
3. Gain an appreciation for "raw" food.
One of the most defining features of Aussie food culture is the prevalence of raw, vegetarian, and vegan eateries. Even if a day without meat makes you cringe, integrating some of these nutrient-dense meals is worth it. An added benefit is that the food presentation is almost too stunning to eat. Almost.
4. Remember your dessert stomach.
Despite the healthy trends, Sydney is notorious for some wildly elaborate desserts. Ranging from the cronut to Uncle Tetsu's cheesecake, you can satisfy your sweet tooth in just about any way imaginable. Chocolate pancakes topped with gelato? Doughnuts? Milkshakes? Milkshakes topped with doughnuts? Oh, yes.
#SpoonTip: If you've got a craving for biscuits, a few Tim Tam Slams should do the trick.
5. Try the Thai.
Due to its (relative) geographical proximity to Thailand, Australia has an abundance of Asian eateries. The popularity of Thai restaurants is unsurprising: they're authentic, the dishes are packed with flavor, and the options are overwhelming. It's easy to get menu anxiety and opt for Pad Thai (guaranteed to be good), but dishes like Pad See Ew and Geng Kheaw Wan Gai (green curry) are unparalleled.
6. Add avo.
Avo toast for brekkie, avo toast for lunch, avo toast all year round. Honestly, avocado on everything.
7. Order a Flat White.
The first time I set foot in a coffee shop Down Under, I will admit I was quite confused. The phrases "Flat White" and "Long Black" were foreign to me, but I was hooked after the first sip. They prioritize quality over quantity and, unlike American supersizes, the cups are either 'regular' or 'large' (large equating to a 'tall' coffee at Starbucks).
8. "They're not french fries. They're hot chips."
Ah, the age-old potato fry or potato chip argument. This is one concept that does not translate from Oz to America. If you order hot chips in Sydney, do not expect a bag of warm potato chips. Hot chips are exclusively potato wedges or fries, found inside gyros, on the side of a juicy burger, and at every food stand at a rugby match.
What do they call potato chips? Crisps. Don't ask me why.
9. Get around the roll.
Remember I mentioned Asian cuisine influence? Japanese food is equally as prevalent, with revolving sushi trains, mini rolls, and hand rolls. Especially for Australian students, sushi and "fancy" ramen dishes are staples.
10. Eat way too much banana bread.
Aussies have a strange, yet amazing obsession with banana bread. Every single café has it (including Macca's - or McDonald's) and usually in more than one form: regular, chocolate chip, with or without walnuts, buttered & toasted. I never figured out why this baked-good fixation existed, but hey- the more the merrier.
I hope these Australian food trends inspire you to channel your inner Margot Robbie or Hemsworth brother, while eating like a total champ. Cheers, Spoonies.