Hong Kong nostalgia
noodlies, Sydney food blog steps back in time
Dixon House is an intriguing glimpse into Sydney’s Chinatown of yesteryear, a time when Chinatowns around the world were established by the Hong Kong diaspora. Downstairs, the clock has stopped on Chinatown’s first food court, upstairs it’s a mix of Chinese herbalists, travel agents and hairdressers.
In the far left corner of the second floor is Ching Yip Coffee Lounge. You can get to the second floor via elevators but noodlies recommends ascending the escalators so you can take in the full time-capsule beauty of Dixon House. Upstairs dining rooms are less common here, but it’s the norm in Hong Kong where land is scarce and the only way is up.
Red running writing neons announce your arrival, come through the wide doorway and you’ll be greeted by a large, welcoming open space. Inside, the peach walls and vinyl chairs cast a homey, inviting glow while grey marble look table tops invoke dining rooms from the 70s.
While they’re open until 8.30pm, it’s busiest at lunch. First timers may find the hustle and bustle a little bewildering, but rest assured, the staff are friendly (though efficient to the point of being abrupt). Loiter at the doorway and someone will whisk you to a table and plop a pink laminated menu in your hand. Make your choice quickly, they’ll be back in seconds to take your order. These people know what they’re doing, your order will arrive in a blink of an eye. And like Hong Kong, you’ll need to settle the bill at the counter.
Ching Yip’s menu is classic Hong Kong eatery, while there’s the usual Canton Chinese like beef in black bean sauce, the most popular orders are east-meets-west affairs like ham and egg with instant ramen or braised chicken with white sauce and spaghetti. The ‘fusion’ of Chinese and colonial English ingredients jars at first, but noodlies has grown to love it after many, many trips and eats in Hong Kong.
The ham and egg instant noodle soup isn’t as weird as it sounds, yes the noodles are instant ramen, but the clear soup, cooked on premises, is clean and tasty – ham and fried egg make the bowl more hearty.
Ham and macaroni [in Chinese] soup spans multiple continents and cultures. Again, rather than clashing the unusual mix of taste and textures combine deliciously in the salty Chinese broth. Go the whole Hong Kong hog and order a cup of raspy-strong Chinese milk tea.
Like eateries in Hong Kong there are daily set menus consisting of soup, mains with tea or coffee, as well as afternoon tea combinations – one of which involves the addictive condensed milk and butter toast and Hong Kong milk tea.
There’s lots to recommend this humble eatery – make sure you get there, the clock’s ticking.
Ching Yip Coffee Lounge
Level 2, Dixon House
210/413 Sussex St, Haymarket
(02) 9281 1591