Going to Sunnybank is like stepping off the plane in an Asian city. It’s colourful, crowded, and loud – and if you happen to be here at night, the atmosphere is electric. Sunnybank is also a foodie’s delight with authentic eateries featuring Chinese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Korean and Japanese cuisines. But if you aren’t a local it can be hard to know just where to start. Cue Sunnybank Plaza’s Food Discovery Tours. Held once a month, experienced chef Tony Ching takes foodies on a 3-hour culinary adventure with each tour culminating in a traditional Asian meal. Sounds delicious, right?!
So without much ado (or breakfast), we made our way to Sunnybank Plaza for the morning tour we had booked. Our tour guide was the extremely knowledgeable and highly entertaining Rob Claridge, an experienced chef who was filling in for Tony Ching.
Stop #1 was the Formosa Asian Market, a large store with an impressive array of fresh Asian vegetables, frozen foods, and shelves groaning under the weight of sauces, condiments, teas, serving ware and Asian sweets. We started off in the fresh produce section where tender green pak choy jostled for space with wombok, spring onions and bitter gourd. The produce in Sunnybank is sourced from local market growers so you can be guaranteed that it’s both fresh and cheaper than at the supermarket. Rob introduced us to the various Chinese regional cooking styles and showed us how important fresh vegetables were in these cuisines. We were also taught to buy Australian garlic over imported varieties and to let ginger dry out before using it in your dishes (who knew that fresh ginger doesn’t have much flavour and is best reserved for tea?!). In the frozen food section, large freezers were stocked with all manner of seafood, fish products, vegetables, steamed buns and little dumplings with the perfect number of pleats. Frozen seafood packaged in Australia has to meet stringent safety standards, and therefore, is preferred to products packaged overseas. Finally, it was time to move onto the pantry essentials where Rob let us in on several insider tips. Did you know that Japanese mayonnaise tastes great thanks to the addition of MSG? Or that with soy sauce, you get what you pay for as cheaper brands are likely to be fortified with human hair?! Always use dark soy for cooking and light soy for dipping. And speaking of sauces, Lee Kum Kee’s products are the most authentic ones available.
We then got to sample these delicious glutinous rice balls with peanut and sesame, a popular snack in China and Hong Kong. And I just couldn’t go past the tray of brightly coloured kuih lapis ( steamed glutinous rice layer cake ).
Stop #2: the Sunrise BBQ and Butcher. Under spotlights, rows of golden roasted chickens and ducks hung suspended from hooks, with piles of char siu pork and Chinese sausage in the lower trays. Rob taught us about master stocks and the secret to making a great char siu sauce in case anyone wanted to try this at home. Then it was finally time to tuck into some succulent roasted chicken braised in master stock, roasted pork and char siu pork. It was all so finger lickin’ good!
Our final stop for the morning was the Welcome Fresh Food supermarket which prides itself on being the most specialised Asian food supermarket in Brisbane. This place was huge! Row upon row of fresh vegetables and fruit, freezers packed with all things frozen, fresh breads, pastries and sweets, and of course, all the pantry ingredients you could want. After a brief orientation and details on where to find things, we spent most of our time trying not to get in the way of serious shoppers . The tour includes a $10 voucher to spend at Welcome so you can come back and browse to your heart’s content.
The morning tour concludes with a yum cha lunch at Landmark Restaurant, where foodies get the opportunity to experience this traditional Chinese meal of dim sum (small dishes) and tea. Landmark is where the local Chinese population go for their yum cha fix and is one of Brisbane’s largest and busiest yum cha restaurants. So book ahead – or be prepared to wait in the very long line for a table. We feasted on steamed buns (pork and prawn, and red bean), prawn dumplings, spicy fried chicken, chicken feet (for the brave), steamed greens, mango pancakes and egg custard tarts. At the end of the meal (and before we all fell into a food coma) Rob handed out a bag of goodies for each of us to take home.
This was a fantastic introduction to Sunnybank’s exciting food precinct. We are already looking forward to the afternoon tour and sampling even more food! All Food Discovery Tours cost $68 per person, and booking information can be found at http://www.experiencesunnybank.com.au/food-discovery-tours.
© 2015 Live Life Brisbane
DISCLAIMER: Live Life Brisbane attended as a member of the public and paid for her own tickets.