Directory

EL PHOENICIAN

Cuisine: Lebanese

This Parramatta institution ticks all the boxes for a great night out: a sleek interior with excellent service, authentic food and live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. Any one of the three banquets $46/$49/$65 will ensure you are still around for the bellydancers at 9pm. The banquets come with dips, salads, grilled meats and platters of cold and hot mezze. Platters on their own (from $33 per person) could be the other way to go. If doing the choosing yourself, bundle together a mix of makanek, spicy sausages with a dash of lemon $18; sambousik, minced lamb and pinenuts wrapped in a fine pastry $14/$24; and maybe haloumi $18. King prawns $38 or chicken skewers on the grill go down well for a main. It’s a great all-round experience and a wonderful taste of Lebanese culture, though prepare for a bit of noise.

 

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FLAVOUR OF CEYLON

Cuisine: Lebanese,Sri Lankan

Located around the corner from lively Church Street, this comparatively quiet restaurant with basic decor is more than meets the eye. The food is vibrant and tasty, with a good mix of familiar Indian and intriguing Sri Lankan fare. To start, try pan rolls of chicken or lamb $8.50 made with mince, rolled in pastry and fried. Continue with a serving of Sri Lankan kotthu, shredded roti bread fried with egg, vegetables, meat and seafood, from $13, or all of the above. The bread softens, resembling flat rice noodles, and soaks up the flavour. Another traditional must-try is fish ambul thiyal $17, in which the fish has been marinated in goraka paste (the tart-tasting, rare orange fruit) and curried with chilli and garlic. It’s a quaint little place that might be a tad slow for some but with patience comes a just reward.

 

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KOUZINA GRECO

Cuisine: Lebanese,Sri Lankan,Greek

This is where you can come to reminisce about those Greek Island holidays when you had plenty of time for lazing on the beach and dinner was a simple list of fresh seafood and salad with a bottle of retsina. Maybe not the bottle of retsina but rosé instead. Well, the menu is a tad longer with a modern twist but there’s still baby octopus $18, a big Greek salad $15 as well as moussaka $15, naturally, and hearty slow-cooked or grilled lamb dishes and fresh fish. Put together good old-fashioned courteous service, fresh produce, an interesting list of local and imported wines and you can see why this Kouzina is an institution on the Parramatta dining strip.

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PARRAMATTA PHOENIX

Cuisine: Lebanese,Sri Lankan,Greek,Chinese

Another shopping centre, another Phoenix. So why go? Well, this one feels a little less “function room”, with two of its three floors offering views to the street. Parramatta workers will relish the yum cha — a mix of familiar trolley snacks and smaller portions of a la carte dishes. The service is tops (the waiter-to-customer ratio on a slow night seems about 4:1) and the menu: it’s the same, because consistency is key to this chain’s success. But for all the formulae, there are still surprises — the duck egg roll, for one, a puffy golden cloud of fried pancake pocketing slivers of juicy duck and shiitake mushroom $17.80. Then there’s the succulent salt and chilli prawns $26.80, the chef-recommended garlicky pork-cheek stirfry $23.80, or live fish from the tank $MP. Embrace the mall mentality, we say, and come with a posse. Try more dishes and there’ll be more surprises. 

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RAY & LOU'S CAFE GRILL

Cuisine: Lebanese,Sri Lankan,Greek,Chinese,Modern Australian

A fixture on Parramatta’s eat street, this restaurant has simple furniture, ambient lighting and artworks that give it an elegant and modern feel. The focus foodwise is mostly on good-quality steak. The owners are members of the Angus Society of Australia and the grill menu accordingly has CAAB (Certified Australian Angus Beef) at the top of the list. A rib-eye $34, still on the bone, is designed to be tender and it is. Elsewhere, the menu veers into Italian and Greek territory with a selection of pasta and risotto options $15–$20, garlic and tomato prawns $17 and a lovely grill of oregano and salt lamb kebabs served with pita bread, salad and garlic and mint yoghurt $24.50. Steak is what they do best, though, so maybe stick with that.

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SAHRA

Cuisine: Lebanese,Sri Lankan,Greek,Chinese,Modern Australian,Lebanese

Dark wooden furniture, lanterns and views of the Parramatta River make this Lebanese restaurant a pleasure to dine in. Old fables scrawled on the walls put you in the mood to enjoy the moment, which might begin with baba ganouj, smoky and rich eggplant dip $10 best eaten lathered on oregano bread, or Egyptian dukkah $9, crunchy grains of pistachios and spices that stick to olive-oil-dunked bread. Ordering the harem’s banquet $43 takes the effort out of choosing. Prepare for a plethora of entrees followed by grilled skewers of lamb and chicken, and the delectable sambousek pastry of spiced lamb and pine nuts. For dessert, try housemade aysh al-saraya $12, which means “bread of the sultan’s palace” — a milky bread pudding with sweet syrup. Book a table now.

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STANDARD INDIAN

Cuisine: Lebanese,Sri Lankan,Greek,Chinese,Modern Australian,Lebanese,Indian,Halal

Clearly, the name sells this restaurant short. The decor is run-of-the-mill, with round-back chairs, tables fancied up with fanned napkins and paintings of Indian landscapes, but the halal food is above par. Accompaniments are titled on the menu — with not a hint of humour — “accomplishments”. We think several other dishes could come under that heading, too. Leading the curries, served in claypots and made fresh to order, is a wonderfully tender handi gosht with beef stewed with ginger and tomatoes $16.50 and Punjabi bagan, a dry curry, rich with smoky flavours $13.90. A cooling sweet fix can be had mid-meal with peshawari naan with raisins and nuts $4 or save it for some Indian-style icecream, mango kulfi $4.50. A quaint restaurant with friendly staff who aren’t afraid to flash you a smile.

 

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TEMASEK

Cuisine: Lebanese,Sri Lankan,Greek,Chinese,Modern Australian,Lebanese,Indian,Halal,Singaporean,Malaysian

When you see the giant hand-fan on the wall exclaiming “SINGAPORE” and the lion on the menu, it’s a good indication you will soon be eating very good chilli crab. The Asian city-state (known as the Lion City) spawned the dish and, if the wallet allows it, Singapore chilli crab, market price, is the one to go for here. Choose it fresh from the tank and gorge on its succulent meat and pond of spicy sauce. Other dishes challenge it for your attention, though, including seafood laksa $16.80. For something different, share a serve of ngor hiang, pork and prawn mince sausage-style rolls with a crispy coating, almost like crackling $18.80, and sambal balacan kangkong, the classic and flavoursome dish of water spinach with dried shrimp paste $16.80. Temasek is big and busy with nimble staff who know how to get the job done.

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THAI GARDEN HOUSE

Cuisine: Lebanese,Sri Lankan,Greek,Chinese,Modern Australian,Lebanese,Indian,Halal,Singaporean,Malaysian,Thai

Set in a quaint Hansel-and-Gretel-style cottage, complete with chimney and staircase, this is not your typical Thai dining venue. An extensive range of choices might have you seeking refuge in the banquet menus $25–$49, but that could mean missing out on monthly seasonal specials. On our visit, we were lucky enough to have slow-cooked massaman lamb shanks, thickened with chickpeas and roasted peanuts $19.90. Most dishes look and taste special, though. Phuket duck stirfry topped with peppercorns on the stem $16.90 is a fiery one but the heat doesn’t kill the flavour. The range of salads and curries is good: prawns take our fancy, as in nom tom, a house curry fragrant with kaffir lime leaves $17.90. Perhaps the plan is to fatten us up.

 

 

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