For more than a year, Haymarket’s Darling Square precinct has been drip-feeding us new eateries and stores to try out. Openings such as the Golden Century spin-off XOPP, modern Vietnamese joint Hello Auntie, Japanese pasta diner Pasta Wafu and quirky milk bar Dopa by Devon have made our Sydney to-try list longer than ever. Now the final nine stores and eateries in the Lendlease-run precinct have been announced, bringing the total number of retailers and restaurants to around 70 – with a library still to come.
Darling Square has been five years in the making, gradually rising from the spot where the Sydney Entertainment Centre and its car park used to sit. It’s the last stage of the NSW government’s $3.4 billion plan to revitalise Darling Harbour. Other parts of the regeneration include the nearby Sofitel hotel, the International Convention Centre and theatre, and the redesigned Tumbalong Park.
The latest announcements include some new names and already-loved brands, offering a mix of stores, high-end restaurants and casual eateries.
Taste of Shanghai, which launched its first outlet in Ashfield in 2005 and its second in Burwood in 2017, will launch its first eatery in the city in mid November. (It also runs Malabang in World Square.) Its menu offers items from Shanghai, as well as dishes from regions in China’s north. Expect traditional dishes such as xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and pan-fried pork buns.
IIKO Mazesoba will bring the concept of brothless ramen to Sydney. It initiated a Kickstarter to raise funds to open in Darling Square, hoping to bring the popular Japanese dish down under. In the place of broth are savoury sauces, fragrant oils and a special vinegar that coats the house-made multigrain buckwheat noodles, which come in flavours such as matcha green tea, beetroot and squid ink. On the side? Karaage chicken, DIY potato salad and Japanese shaved-ice desserts.
Also on the Japanese front is Omakase. In Japan, omakase (“chef’s choice”) restaurants are places where the chef decides what diners will eat, and that is exactly what to expect at this 11-seater. Head chef Fukada San will prepare a 24-piece menu of sushi and sashimi in front of diners, with the option to match saké and wine.
While the precinct may have a heavy lean towards Japanese and Chinese cuisines, it’s also got the Korean box ticked. Korean chain Goobne launched in 2005 and now has more than 1000 stores across Asia. Its Darling Square eatery will be its first in Australia. Expect eight flavours of oven-roasted chicken, including Sichuan, teriyaki, and sweet and spicy.
Westfield Sydney Malaysian restaurant Chinta Ria: Mood for Love may have closed in June, but chef and owner Simon Goh is bringing the concept back to the city with the opening of Chinta Ria: Buddha Love. Those who visited the original Chinta Ria restaurant in Cockle Bay might remember the three-metre-tall Buddha that watched over diners. It’s back, as is Goh’s nostalgic brand of Malaysian, with familiar dishes such as laksa, satay, rendang and house-made noodles.
A new Pancakes on the Rocks outlet has also been announced, along with Lermont Skincare, which offers 20 types of skincare treatments and 15 body treatments. Now open is Solemate Sneakers, which sells footwear that can’t be found in other stores from brands including Nike, G-Shock, Adidas, Vans, Lacoste and Timberland. It has both retail and consignment services, and if you can’t make it to Darling Square it does same-day delivery to customers within a 50-kilometre radius of the store.
Darling Square and its stores are open daily.