Ben Chiu and his brother Nick have been supporting local culture in Brisbane for more than a decade. The duo founded specialist sneaker and menswear shop Apartment in 2006, then applied the same knowing, streamlined approach to food with the no-nonsense Ben’s Burgers in 2014. They’ve just shuttered Apartment to open Double Double, a collaboration with friends Violent Green. “We’re interested in things we see lacking in the Brisbane community,” says Chiu. The brothers also promote live music via A Love Supreme, hosting under-the-radar electronic producers such as Floating Points and Magic Touch.
It’s this type of insider knowledge that has inspired the launch of MyBroadsheet, a new feature that will add a layer of personalisation to your regular experience of Broadsheet. With it you can discover, document and save your favourite elements of the city through customisable lists and bookmarks. You’ll never be stuck for somewhere to eat, drink, shop or visit again.
We asked Chiu to single out of his favourite Asian dining destinations in Brisbane’s suburbs. “Sunnybank has a huge Chinese population,” he says, “and Inala and Darra have a large Vietnamese population.”
Below are five picks, and many specific dishes, well worth making the trip for.
Sonder Dessert, Sunnybank
“This is the perfect place to satisfy your anmitsu (Japanese dessert) cravings. The menu covers ice-cream with black sesame and matcha flavours, parfaits, mochi (Japanese rice cake), and specialty teas. Sonder is open late but prepare for long queues and limited seating around peak time – it doesn’t take bookings. For a classic dessert, the matcha crème brulee is highly recommended, and the matcha anmitsu is a textural experience. Envision a bowl layered with mochi, matcha ice-cream, coffee jelly, tsubu-an (red bean paste) and fresh strawberries. A small pot of sweet black syrup (mitsu) is poured onto the dish before eating. Those with less of a sweet tooth can enjoy the hoji-cha, a roasted green tea latte with a nutty and slightly sweet taste.”
Japanese Kitchen Mazri, Sunnybank
“Dining here feels like being welcomed into a Japanese family’s home. The food is honest and comforting. This extends to the service and the charmingly kitsch decor. The menu offers bento-style meals, where mixing and matching side dishes is encouraged, and if the choices become a little overwhelming, you can choose a set meal or ask one of the friendly wait staff to help you. The Hayashi Omuraisu – a stew of beef, onions and button mushrooms in a thick demi-glace sauce – is served with a silky omelette over rice. I also recommend the grilled fish or fresh sashimi rice bowls as lighter alternatives. There’s the usual selection of interesting Japanese drinks, including Ramune, a lemonade that comes in a glass bottle with a marble ball seal.”
Udonya Tokoton, Sunnybank
“Tokoton is the fast-food equivalent of Japanese food, but there’s little sacrifice on taste – great for your wallet, belly or both. What makes this place unique is the canteen-style service. You can order your base dish at the counter and watch the staff enthusiastically prepare the food in front of you. Proceed along the queue with your tray and help yourself to toppings and side dishes (I think onsen eggs are an excellent addition). The cheese curry hamburger rice is the must-try. The seating mimics a Japanese bar-style layout, like the eateries commonly found around Japanese train stations. These arrangements cater for busy working populations, and a high turnover of customers. So be mindful that this place is not suitable for long catch-ups.”
Pho An, Inala
“If pho is your jam, this is the place for you – offering both the traditional beef broth, and chicken broth. Because this is all they do, they do it extremely well. The noodles are fresh and soft and the broth is an absolute standout. The decor will transport you straight to Vietnam. Don’t worry that the staff don’t speak English well – there are photos of all the pho they serve on the walls, so simply point to what you want. Treat it like a visit to Vietnam without paying for an airline ticket. It’s as authentic as you’re going to get in Brisbane.”
Tan Thanh, Inala
“Don’t be put off by the location (opposite the Probation and Parole Office): Tan Thanh is one of Brisbane’s most longstanding Vietnamese restaurants. They’ve been serving the locals for years. They offer quick, cheap, Vietnamese classics with no-fuss service. Be aware that dietary requirements can be tricky to communicate. The menu is limitless and portions are generous. Highlights include the pork chop combination with broken rice and banh canh, a clear-broth soup served with chewy tapioca noodles and meat toppings of choice (fish cake, pork knuckle, prawns). Try the three-colour dessert with agar, crushed ice, red bean, mung bean and coconut cream – perfect for battling the Brisbane heat.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with MINI. MyBroadsheet – a layer of personalisation bringing a brighter lifestyle – will launch on May 1.