Spice Alley brings colour, life and a taste of South-East Asia to Sydney’s newest city centre residential hub, writes Jimmy Thomson.
We get so used to complaining about apartment block developers knocking down old buildings and shops that we sometimes don’t even notice when they do it the other way and actually enhance they area where they are building.
There was some doom and a bit of gloom gloom when Frasers took over the old brewery site in Broadway, and even more angst when the street frontage of the Central Park tower was all global brands, like Superdry and Adidas.
But what this grumbler, at least, hadn’t realised was that just round the corner, in Kensington St, they had created a little slice of South-East Asia with street food cafes and takeaways.
OK, Spice Alley may not be entirely authentic to the history of the area but the buzz and the food smells, the crowds and the general sense of fun are a breath of life into what could have been a sterile food court.
How good is it? It’s already been going for six months and on a Friday or Saturday night you need to get there before 6.30 or after 9pm or you will spend half your time queuing for food and the other half looking for a table.
If you don’t mind buying into the pretense that this is a real street in South-East Asia (there aren’t many that have Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese and French Indochine cheek by jowl) you will have a fine old time.
Alternatively, there are half a dozen sit-down Asian restaurants – some inside converted cottages – but again, they will have queues at peak times, and that tells you pretty much everything you need to know. There are also a couple of posh restaurants across the laneway, but really that’s not the point.
The hustle and bustle of Asia are closer than you think – right between Broadway shopping centre and Central Station.