In June 2017 we reported on some changes coming to the inner-west suburb of Burwood. New housing developments were on the cards, and an ambitious developer, Blairgrove Group, told us they were planning to create Burwood Chinatown in the block adjoining the Burwood Hotel.
The first step was to renovate the hotel (now completed) and then modernise the rest of the block. The corner of Railway Parade and Burwood Road wasn’t much more than a couple empty alleys, a Subway, a newsagency and an old-school cafe – but now it’s a neon-lit, hawker-style food alley with 30 eateries selling regionally diverse Chinese snacks and China’s latest food trends.
One stall, Yang’s Dumplings, sells some of Sydney’s best sheng jian bao (pan-fried pork buns), while A Gan Guo Kui serves Sydney’s only tandoor-baked Chinese gan guo kui-style flatbreads. At Milk Flower you can get milky bubble teas with freshly blended fruit. And beyond those spots, you’ll find richly marinated offal bits, fried squid and cumin-dusted lamb skewers. “I think what makes this different is it’s an opportunity to try authentic foods from all over China you can’t get anywhere else,” says a Burwood Chinatown spokesperson.
The arcade entrance is framed by Mandarin characters, Chinese mythological iconography and timber-and-brick shopfronts inspired by hawker markets in China. The Clarendon Place back alley is decorated with a canopy of lanterns, and there’s another alley of fairy-light peppered trees, plus the smells and sights of even more takeaway food stalls: Duo Duo ice-cream, a hand-pulled noodle soup shop, and a cake store selling a crème brûlée souffle that jiggles like jelly. “There are a lot of new concepts coming from mainland China; a lot of it is focused on desserts,” says Louie Semrani, Burwood Chinatown's property manager.
Eat your goodies under the lights of Clarendon Place or on one of the tables in the alley next to the arcade. You can hit up the game parlour and sometimes a live band plays in the open-air space outside the renovated Burwood Hotel.
There’s still one more piece of the development coming – an elaborately decorated upstairs food court with another 32 vendors. “I’m trying to get the right mix, we want to stick to a street-food theme,” says Semrani. “The build will be full on by January 2020. I hope by this time next year it will be done.”