Wet, cold winter days in Sydney set the ideal scene to warm up with some hearty comfort food. And few people know comfort food better than those who cook it every day: chefs.
We asked some of the city’s most exciting chefs to share where they’re heading to eat this winter, and what they’re ordering when they get there – whether it’s a bowl of hot noodle soup, a spicy Sri Lankan curry or Italian classics.
Dan Hong, Mr Wong and Ms G’s
Pu Ji Mi in Eastwood. It’s a husband-and-wife team – the wife is on the floor while the husband cooks all the dishes. I love their bulgogi – probably the best in Sydney. It’s served on this special hotplate that grills and poaches at the same time. They also have amazing soups, stews and braised pork knuckle.
The other one is Sang By Mabasa. It’s the same deal: family-owned, except it’s the parents who cook and the son that runs the floor. I like to go at lunchtime, when there are weekly specials and à la carte items. They have the best kimchi pancake ever.
Annita Potter, Viand
Cold wintery nights mostly keep me local to Woolloomooloo. I just adore O Tama [Carey]’s food at Lankan Filling Station. Her curries are so incredibly warming and hearty, as if you could dive right in, [and they’re] paired with the exquisitely moreish and flaky godhamba roti and seeni sambol that I can delve right into and slosh around with my hands – it’s indeed a very happy place for me.
I also can’t help myself with the fish salt or classic soy ramen up the road from Viand at Chaco Ramen. I became so used to slurping down a huge bowl of noodle soup on the side of a busy street when I lived in Bangkok, and Chaco Ramen fulfils this for me – not to mention the ramen is utterly delicious, with its generous bundle of noodles, crunchy black fungus and deeply comforting, unctuous broth.
Mitch Orr, Kiln
Is there a more exciting dining room in the city than Pellegrino 2000 at the moment? Buzzing and warm, with wood-panelled walls filled with dry goods – the perfect winter date-night spot for lamb cotoletta, spanner-crab pasta, and beans and bottarga.
Gunjan Aylawadi, Flyover Fritterie
My favourite place to eat in winter has to be Soul Deli in Surry Hills. For one, it is a gorgeous space which gets beautiful winter sun. The “Umamishroom” bowl on their menu is everything I expect to eat at a Sydney cafe in 2022. Perfectly executed soy pickles, vegan kimchi, with a very umami bulgogi sauce and portobello mushrooms on top of rice. It warms me up inside out and nourishes me for the rest of the day. I always finish this meal with a hot cup of coffee and house-made sesame doughnuts, which they make fresh every day. I love sesame in winter and this doughnuts has to be one of the top sesame things I’ve eaten in Sydney.
Jean-Paul “JP” El Tom, Baba’s Place
I would eat at Kurumac in Marrickville because it’s bloody delicious and very cosy. I would order anything, to be honest. The flavours of the month, however, include spicy cod-roe melt; chirashi, which is mixed seafood with miso soup and rice – ask nicely for extra eel; and mazesoba [soup-less ramen] with pork belly and chilli sesame.
Joel Bickford, Shell House
Winter is a great time to eat out. One really great dish that sticks in my mind as a perfect dish for this cooler time of the year is cotechino [pork sausage] with lentils at Alberto’s Lounge. It’s one of my go-to places.
Another dish would have to be the tongue à la plancha at Bistrot 916 in Potts Point , another great neighbourhood restaurant that you could easily eat at two to three times a week.
Sharon Salloum, 3 Tomatoes
I love ordering from Dish Sri Lankan Street Food in Glebe – their kottu roti is killer. The prawn jalfrezi at Maya Da Dhaba in Surry Hills is another favourite and perfect in this weather. Same with the diavola at Rosso Pomodoro – [they] slice their pizzas into four slices, so you don’t feel bad if you’ve had three or four slices.
Finally, Darband in Auburn is a place I love to go to for a feast. I can’t just choose [one] dish, because you need to get a few and enjoy it altogether atop some pillowy saffron rice.
Dan Pepperell, Pellegrino 2000
Bar Vincent is one of my favourite places year-round. Staff are lovely, [it’s] super cool, [there’s] great wine and, most of all, absolutely knockout food. Andy [Logue] is one of my favourite chefs. I can’t tell you what to order because of the constantly changing menu, but whatever you do order, it will be delicious, seasoned perfectly, and will leave you with a smile.
Daero Lee and Illa Kim, Soul Dining and Deli
On Sundays, we like going somewhere with the team after the deli closes to have an afternoon drink outside when the sun is still up. We love to go to the Chinese Noodle House. Our go-to dishes are the mapo tofu, braised eggplant and the dry stir-fried shredded pork. The big plus is that we can BYO from the bottle shop up the street and do soju-Tsingtao bombs.
A late-night favourite is Yasiktak – which literally translates from Korean to “late-night table” – in North Strathfield. We like the creativity of the team, and their daechang [beef intestines] dishes are perfect for cold winter days.
In winter we especially crave soups. For the traditional Korean food fix, we go to places like Bibimbar in Chippendale. The hidden gem at Bibimbar is definitely the pork soondubu jjigae, a white pork stew with soft tofu – quite different from the better-known red version, but equally delicious.
Toby Stansfield, The Old Fitzroy Hotel
This winter I’ll be heading to Chaco Ramen. They have opened one up in Bondi just down the road from where I live, which is just the best thing to happen since sliced bread. I love Chaco Ramen in Darlinghurst, so this is a big win for me.
I have also hit up Dae Jang Kum an unusual amount of times already this cold season, and I am keen to keep going for that late-night Korean barbeque.
Check out where Sydney chefs were eating in winter back in 2020 here.