Australia likes its traditions. While for some people it is tradition to go to church on Sunday, many people in Sydney choose to partake in activities such as the Sunday session (basically spending the afternoon in a pub), Yum Cha (a Chinese lunch) or the classic Long Lunch – popular with the wineries in the Hunter Valley where again you spend most of your afternoon drinking and eating. Other popular food experiences here are the Sushi train (as one of my friends likes to say – “I could go for some train”) which is where plates of sushi float by you on a conveyer belt and you help yourself. Then there is the Korean BBQ, also big in Toronto – who doesn’t like to BBQ their own meat? And you can’t forget the plethora of $10/$7 Steak pubs/hotels. While the steak is rump – it’s usually a healthy portion accompanied with wedges and salad – it ensures that everyone can feel entitled to a steak dinner every week. Finally, outdoor festivals always have what seems like an impressive turnout to me. There doesn’t even have to be much of a theme or show going on, just as long as there is beer for sale and a few other distractions, a crowd will be drawn.
This Saturday I went to the Surry Hills Street Festival with a friend which was kind of like a massive block party except that it was held in a park with thousands of people. There were some bands/djs, a variety of market stalls, food stalls and carnival rides and games. It was pretty good as Surry Hills has a cool vibe but I’m beginning to see so much of that kind of stuff, that it really seems to confirm it is just the park drinking that draws people, not necessarily the “attractions.”
Sunday was my first time doing the “Yum Cha” thing. I went with a group of about 15 for a friend’s birthday. While Yum Cha means to drink tea, it is really like lunch where you go sit down and all the servers circulate around the restaurant with little trolleys of small dishes and you just kind of flag them down when you see what you want. At the restaurant we went to they wore these funny little hats that made them look like sailors and they were a bit more aggressive in pushing the dishes on you. James, whose birthday it was, was the only Chinese person, so he really had to take control. Luckily he knew how to deal with them and what to ask for. Yum Cha is so popular that 5 minutes after opening at 11am, this particular restaurant, in the heart of Chinatown that fits about 500, had a line up out the door. We had a reservation so there was no problem. The only thing I did not try was the pig feet! After our yum cha it was a bit rainy so most of us headed over to a pub which really is perfect after a meal like that. Next week we will do some Korean BBQ and Karaoke.