There’s no doubt Sydney is a multicultural place – nearly 50 per cent of residents have at least one parent who was born overseas. So, when it comes to exploring the 900+ suburbs that make up the Greater Sydney region, diversity is the name of the game.
Here are five of Sydney’s most vibrant nationalities and where to get a taste of their local culture (and yours!).
South-eastern suburbs like Rockdale and Kogarah are home to all things Nepalese. In fact, it’s not unusual to see older Nepalese people in traditional attire heading out for a morning stroll. Stop for a bite of momo, dal bhat and other Nepalese favourites at restaurants clustered around the train stations, do your grocery shopping at supermarkets that stock your favourite ingredients from home, or pick up items for traditional religious ceremonies or festivals – whatever you’re looking for, you’re likely to find it here.
Sydney’s Chinatown is home to all things food and shopping, from yum cha and bubble tea to the weekly Friday night markets (COVID restrictions permitting). Centred around Dixon Street with its ornamental dragon gates, Chinatown is the most central of Sydney’s Asian hubs, although Chatswood (north), Kingsford (east) and Hurstville (south) are all worth a look as well. Check out side streets and malls for hidden food courts (like Eating World and the Sussex Street Food Court) or head across the tram tracks to Market City, home to the largest supermarket in Chinatown. Downstairs is the famed Paddy’s Markets, open Wednesday to Sunday, where you can find fresh produce, souvenirs and just about anything else you can imagine.
Thai Town is a small but mighty corner of Sydney’s CBD spanning Campbell, George and Pitt Streets starting a block back from Central Station. Along with more Thai restaurants than you can count (Boon Café and Chat Thai are two of the best known), it’s also home to some excellent Thai grocery stores and a range of community events, including a Lunar Festival and an authentic Thai market.
Feeling like pho? Crazy about cha ca? Bonkers about banh mi? Get yourself to Cabramatta or Marrickville for all things Vietnamese. Cabramatta is home to one of Australia’s largest Vietnamese populations, as well as to a substantial Khmer population – 21 per cent of Cabramatta residents were born in Vietnam and just over five per cent were born in Cambodia – which means this vibrant suburb contains more delicious food, shopping and cultural sites than you could sample in a month. Marrickville, while more of an English-speaking suburb, is still known for the cheap and cheerful Vietnamese restaurants and supermarkets that line its two main streets, including the well-known Marrickville Pork Roll, famous for its – you guessed it – pork rolls for the princely sum of $6.
There’s a good reason why Harris Park, near Parramatta in Sydney’s west, is called Little India. Just one stop on the train from Parramatta, this tranquil suburb is home to more Gujurati speakers than local English speakers; there’s also a high concentration of people who speak Hindi and Punjabi as well. It’s also no surprise that when you google Harris Park, almost all the results that come back are about what – and where – you should eat when you visit. It’s even better news if you’re a vegetarian or vegan – more than 44 per cent of residents identify as Hindu, which means there’s a veritable feast of restaurants and menu options waiting to cater to your tastes.