Where you need to visit: Ashfield, NSW
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This week we went to Ashfield and ate ourselves stupid. While we never want to eat again, if you take an empty stomach we really think you should do the same.
The first thing to know about Ashfield is that it comes in two parts: The busy CBD strip near the train station that is lined with exceptional Chinese restaurants, and the quiet suburbs backing onto Summer Hill and Dulwich Hill.
The latter part is home to Excelsior Jones and not much else. However, Excelsior Jones could be on the moon and it would be worth travelling to, and getting there can be a good time of its own. If you get the light rail to Arlington it’s a very pretty (and hilly) 15 minute walk up to Excelsior, and from both the light rail and the walk you’ll see parts of Sydney that will make you feel like a tourist: Corner stores, leafy streets and beautiful houses that the new light rail has only recently opened up to outside eyes. Go on a sunny, crisp late winter day and you’ll be loving life.
After you go there once, you’ll want to take the more direct driving route to Excelsior Jones to get their incredible potato hash, sandwiches and/or hot cakes as immediately into your mouth as possible.
If the weather is less good, or you’re looking for dinner, the big smoke of Ashfield CBD is the place to go. Home to lots of offices and government departments, Ashfield’s main drag is more densely packed with restaurants than King St (although admittedly much shorter).
The main reason you’d go to Ashfield is for dumplings, and out of the many very good places you can get them, consensus is that New Shanghai is the business. Cheap, delicious and a bit special, New Shanghai is like a best-of-both worlds combination of Haymarket’s Chinese Noodle Restaurant and Din Tai Fung. If you feel like making a mistake and not having dumplings (???) the fried noodles are spectacular. At least get the xaio long bao to share as a side. At least.
The last thing to know about Ashfield is that it gets busy. For a place that isn’t traditionally thought of as a major centre, you might be surprised by the lines and waiting times at almost all the good places. Take an empty stomach to Ashfield, but take a muesli bar in case you get hangry in line.
How to get there
Train: Express trains to Ashfield take ~10 minutes from Central
Drive: 20 minutes up Parramatta Road, turn up Liverpool Road
Light rail and walk: 30 minutes from Central to Arlington Light Rail, then a 15 minute walk to Excelsior Jones