The Great Ed Square Snack Crawl Of 2021

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I’ve had a pretty shit week, so let’s kick this post off with a really nice, happy photo of Bruno. I took it during one of our last walks for the RSPCA Million Paws Walk last month – Milo and I were both absolutely ruined by that point, but Bruno was having the time of his life going out and sniffing up a storm every day. And that’s all that matters, really. He had fun going walkies, and we had fun watching him have fun.

But yeah – this week, man. My mental health just tanked at the start of it, and didn’t really recover – I still feel like shit, but I guess I’m trying to keep my chin up? Kind of? I said ‘fuck it’ and did some things I ~wanted to~ over the weekend, which was nice.

Friday night, Milo and I drove into the city to see Cxloe play at the Oxford Art Factory. We got dinner at BL Burgers (the micro offshoot of Sydney’s hands-down best burger joint, Bar Luca) and I tried the Queen Bee – their special of the week for this week – which had honey butter-dipped fried chicken and pickles on a milk bun (it also had coleslaw and sriracha mayo, but I’m not that hot on either so I kept it simple). The chicken was a little too spicy for my embarrassingly white tastebuds, but otherwise it was another smash hit from the brains at BL. 

We also got these super delicious, made-to-order mini pizzas from Detroit Sliced Pizza – I can’t remember what Milo got (except that it was some kind of vegetarian one), but I got the Roast Pumpkin slice that had a pesto aioli, pine nuts and feta. I was full as a butcher’s dog from the burg, so I had it for breakfast yesterday morning. Truly life-affirming.

There’s this one Indian street food place on Oxford Street that I always walk past and become immediately hypnotised by how good it smells. Well, okay, there are actually three on the same block, but it’s this one in particular – the north-most, with the red sign – that always looks the best. I finally gave in to the smell and tried a vegetable pakora. It cost – get this – a fucking dollar. One dollar. 100 cents. No shit, I found a fresh, hot snack in Sydney – on fucking Oxford Street, no less – for A DOLLAR. And it was delightful. Crunchy, savoury, filling, a tad spicy… Happy belly, happy baby.

Our last culinary stop on Oxford Street was a convenience store called 24/7 Baby, which drew us in with their TikTok famous F’Real shakes. I got a cookies ’n’ cream shake, and Milo got mint choc chip; mine was delicious (and surprisingly not too sweet or overbearing), and Milo’s was, uh, pretty fuckin’ bad. It looked like radioactive sludge, and tasted like peppermint essential oil. But they liked it, so all in all, it was a win-win sitch. 

On the way home, we got lokma from Loukoumades on Greek Street in Beverly Hills. I am always a slut for lokma (there’s this one place in Melbourne that we always order from because they do the most incredible, soft, warm and rich lokma) but these were total shite. Oily, chewy, bland… It only cost a little over $20 for two servings, so they weren’t too bad on the price side, but yeah, never again. Ah, well – we tried something new, and not every new thing you try will be a hit. You live and learn!

So Friday night (and Saturday morning, by proxy of those leftovers) was pretty food-oriented. Saturday was my only day off this week, so we decided to have a quiet one inside and just zen out – maybe fire up the PS5 (which has been gathering a mighty fine coat of dust in recent months) and chew through a bit of Ratchet & Clank. I somehow managed to throw my back out in the shower, so I was pretty keen to move around as little as physically possible…

…Then we decided we were unbearably bored at home, so we made plans to go out. We’ve been wanting to check out Ed Square for a hot minute – it opened in April and is now our most local shopping plaza, and there’s a bougie new Event cinema there with reclining seats as standard – so we figured it’d be nice to catch a movie and some dinner there. We were going to book tickets to catch a 6:20pm session of A Quiet Place Part II, but it was completely sold out by 1:00pm, so we opted for the 9:00pm screening. 

As for dinner, we had no idea what restaurants had opened up at Ed Square, so we hit the website – to which we found there were so many of our usual going-out go-tos. They had a BL Burgers. They had a Gami Chicken & Beer. They had a Sushi On Fire. There was an Indian restaurant and gin bar that looked phenomenal (Masala Kitchen), and a cute lil’ dumpling spot with a small, but super promising menu (Baby Bao). 

What are you to do when there are so many options, but make two punishingly indecisive people choose from them?

Well, why not go to all of them?

Thus the idea was born: The Great Ed Square Snack Crawl of 2021. Five hours, seven restaurants, one bubble tea spot and an endless supply of good vibes. My back fucking caned, and I was brutally exhausted from the past week, but I was determined. Not just to eat a whole bunch, either, but to spend a nice day out with my partner and enjoy actually living my life for a little bit.

The crawl started at 3:00pm with bubble tea from Chā Bar. I got a mango tea and Milo got a strawberry-lychee blended drink. The mango tea was really nice. It wasn’t overly sweet like a lot of bubble tea places tend to make them – in fact I think the only thing sweetening it was the fresh mango puree in it, unless the tea base was pre-sweetened. Milo’s drink stumped me a little bit – it was delicious on the sip, but the aftertaste was so blunt and chemical-y. I had to keep trying it every few minutes to decide whether I liked it or not… I don’t think I did?

We got dumplings from Belly Bao to go with our tea. I got xiao long bao (pork soup dumplings) and Milo got ‘emerald’ dumplings (mushroom and spinach, in the most adorable matcha-coloured pastry). I didn’t try Milo’s dumplings because I don’t like mushrooms, and Milo didn’t try mine because they don’t like pork – but we both really enjoyed our own orders, and mutually agreed that the chili oil we got on the side was bullshit good. Like, unfathomably good – maybe the best chili oil we’d ever tried? I don’t know, I don’t think either of us have tried enough types of chili oil to make a definitive judgement, but it was really, really good. 

We didn’t get the golden mantou (fried buns served with condensed milk), but they looked delicious. I’m definitely getting those next time – and there will definitely be a next time.

Stop #2 was BL Burgers. Technically the BL at Ed Square is one of their ‘Loaded by BL’ restaurants, but they don’t do the build-your-own-burger/hotdog thing that separates Loaded from a standard BL, so I’m refusing to call it an actual Loaded. Yes, we already had BL on Friday night, but we both got chicken burgers then, and BL does the single best beef burger in Sydney, so we pretty much had to stop in. We shared a classic BL Beef with the lettuce and tomato swapped for streaky bacon. I also got their house-made lemon, lime and bitters. 

The LLB was pretty weak, but the burger was one of the best I’d ever had from BL. The bun was pillowy and warm, the beef beautifully seasoned and cooked to medium, and the Dijon-forward sauce was creamy and savoury. Honestly, I don’t see how anybody could choose Mary’s or Milky Lane over BL when it comes to premium burgers in Sydney. BL have been the undefeated champions since the day they popped up, and their reign hasn’t been even slightly threatened.

We took a short walk around Ed Square to settle our stomachs, and there were two things I learned. Firstly, walking on a strained back doesn’t help the pain settle, it only exacerbates the pain. Secondly, Ed Square was massively overhyped – it’s relatively tiny, all things considered. But it’s cute and ticks all our boxes for what a good plaza should have, and it means we have an Event cinema ten minutes away from where we live.

Our next stop was Masala Kitchen, where I was extremely keen to try a gin cocktail… Before seeing how much they cost. So we shared a Tropical Punch mocktail, which had strawberries, lychee, pineapple syrup and fresh-pressed citrus. It tasted like a liquified assortment of Skittles, except notably fresh – $12 well spent. We got these pinwheel samosas that were perfectly seasoned and struck the perfect balance of crunchy and soft, and one of those bougie apple desserts that look like an actual granny smith apple. The latter was a little underwhelming, but a cute and cool little experience nonetheless.

We checked out the iPlay arcade next, but it was packed with screaming children and their apathetic parents, so we couldn’t muster more than 20 minutes or so. I used to be the best at skee ball, but tonight I fucking sucked. I’m blaming it on my back. I outright refuse to accept that I am no longer a certifiable skee ball champion. We also played a Wizard Of Oz slot machine, on which Milo kept scoring jackpots and winning cards worth crazy amounts of tickets; if I ever develop a gambling habit, I want them by my side.

The next stop on the food crawl was the one we considered our ‘main course’: Gami Chicken & Beer. We ordered the smallest amount of fried chicken possible – a half bird – with sweet chili sauce on the side. To drink, Milo got a passionfruit mocktail (that was shaken for them table-side) and a canned Korean grape juice that had actual whole grapes in it. I got a Thunder Road Gun:Bae lager (brewed specifically to pair with Gami’s fried chicken) and a canned Korean pear juice that had actual pear chunks in it. 

The beer was delicious and did pair really nicely with the chicken, but the pear juice was rank. Milo dug it though, so we swapped our juices. Yes, I realise how bad that reads out of context. I also (very impulsively) ordered a plate of hotteok, which was like deep-fried mochi filled with brown sugar paste and crushed nuts. The texture was a little off-putting, but it was otherwise wonderful.

The chicken was obviously the star of the show, though. On its own it was super flavoursome and super juicy, with the breading understated, yet impeccable. But with the sweet chili… Oh my GOD. It was super thick and super sweet, but also super savoury – a true culinary experience. I don’t think my dad likes fried chicken, but I feel like I have to take him to Gami anyway, if only for the beer and the chili – I’m sure there’s something else he could dip in it to take his tastebuds on that night-making rollercoaster ride.

We considered our next stop to be somewhat of an interlude. We got ice cream from Royal Copenhagen – I got banana, and Milo got vanilla choc chip. I’d say we’re usually pretty adventurous when it comes to ice cream flavours, but tonight we both just wanted something simple and sweet, which we’d know would be good. And it was. I do kinda wish I’d gotten a waffle – I have fond memories of my Nonna taking my sister and I to the Royal Copenhagen in Manly as a child, and the smell of fresh waffles was always the highlight of those trips – but my belly full of chicken, beef, pork and samosa said, “Don’t the fuck you dare.”

Besides, we had two more places to hit. First up was @Mex, which I didn’t realise was Halal until after I looked at the menu and thought to myself, “What kind of Mexican joint doesn’t have a pulled pork option!?” Milo and I both got the same base tacos, with beef carnitas in mine and grilled chicken in theirs. Both of them were so nice that I didn’t realise I hadn’t taken a photo until Milo only had half a taco left. The restaurant’s staff was a bit all over the place, but the food didn’t reflect that at all.

Lastly, Milo wanted a teriyaki chicken bento box from Sushi On Fire to take with them into the movie. I can’t stand sushi in any of its forms, so I sat this one out – plus, I still had leftover hotteok from Gami resting under my shoulder, so I was all good for movie munchies. We got a second round of bubble tea on our way to the cinema – Milo got another strawberry-lychee blended drink, and I got a watermelon blended drink. I didn’t rate it. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t anything I’d order again.

A Quiet Place Part II was pretty decent. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as the first, it had some pacing issues (which especially stood out for how short it is) and its plot was a bit thin, but for what it is, it’s a really enjoyable little slice of good-natured horror. And much like in its predecessor, Millicent Simmonds stole the show as Regan. I want to think there’s plenty of potential for a third film, but I also think Part II wraps the Abbott story up really nicely. I’m excited to see what comes of the spin-off that recently got announced, too. I think there’s potential in the Quiet Place franchise as something like Final Destination, where the focus lies on a new cast in every instalment.

The new Event is great, too. It’s a really small and cosy cinema, but it’s beautiful and ridiculously comfy. I can’t wait to see Black Widow there next month.

We got home at about 11:30pm, and I was out cold within 15 minutes. All in all, I had a great day out – mostly because I got to spend it with Milo, but also because I got to eat a lot of really nice food and see a movie I’d been dying to for the past two years.

If you made it to this point:

a) What the fuck is wrong with you?

b) Thank you!

c) I’m sorry this has been one giant, barely cohesive ramble. I didn’t proofread any of this before publishing it, and I’m certain it shows. I just wanted to pour my thoughts out somewhere before the memories faded from my slushy, rotting brain, and here seems like as good a place as any. 

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