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Final week to enjoy Ramadan Nights at Lakemba

With only few days left to enjoy, the Ramadan Nights Festival showcases Australia's diverse cuisines. ...

The Ramadan Nights Festival at Lakemba which began on 2 April has entered its final week and will be concluding on Friday 1 May, 2022. The festival has been taking place on Haldon Street and Railway Parade of Lakemba in the city of Canterbury-Bankstown. The streets transform into a bustling hub of food, culture and diversity from 6.30 pm to 1 am each evening with crowds flocking to the various food vendors adorning the streets of Lakemba. Visitors can enjoy delicacies of Middle-Eastern, South Asian and various other cuisines which reflect the diversity of the flavours and people of the region.

Credit: City of Canterbury Bankstown – NSW Government

Ramadan is a holy month for the Muslim community. Members of the faith observe a fast each day of the month from dawn till dusk, abstaining from food, drink and any impermissible behaviour. The fast is concluded with a meal after sunset known as Iftar. The Ramadan Nights Festival at Lakemba has extended the Iftartradition beyond the Muslim community allowing everyone to experience in the delicacies that are relished in the holy month.

Satays from the Island Dreams Café are a good start to the night serving as an introduction to Malaysian/Indonesia cuisine. As visitors move further into Haldon Street, the aroma from Indian and Pakistani style kebabs grilling over hot coal will invite their tastebuds to a quick detour into South Asia. Bangladeshi restaurants serving biriyani and traditional snacks on Railway Parade also add a flavourful punch to the event.

Middle-Eastern cuisine is ubiquitous throughout the festival. Visitors can line up for the delicious camel burger, traditional kebab wraps, doner kebab or keep it simple with the crowd favourite chips on a stick. Murtabaks, egg paratha and fried foods are in abundant supply. Visitors can hydrate with a range of drinks from lemonades, sahlab, slushies and sand-heated coffee.

Credit: City of Canterbury Bankstown – NSW Government

Dessert connoisseurs should try the cheesy, crispy, sweet and savoury knafeh which has become the highlight of the culinary event. Each vendor adds their unique twist thus it is recommended to try them all. Crepes are also on offer for those looking to satisfy the post-dinner Nutella cravings.

Beyond feasting on the various dishes from around the world on display, the event allows visitors to talk to the vendors to know more about the history and significance of the dishes they are savouring. For those looking to explore cultures through food, the Ramadan Nights Festival is an excellent gateway to enter the diverse communities sprawled across Greater Western Sydney.

Getting to the festival

The City of Canterbury-Bankstown is offering free shuttle buses from Shakespeare Street car park at Campsie and Parry Park, Punchbowl Road before Wangee Road at Punchbowl. The festival is best accessed via Lakemba train station which is a 2-minute walk from the festival. Driving to the festival is an option but parking spaces become scarce as soon as the festival starts.

Other festivals

Most Blessed Nights Street Food Market at Liverpool’s Macquarie Mall is celebrating the various holy observances taking place in the month of April. Details can be found here.

 

 

 

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Cup49 makes DIY bubble tea a reality

By TILEAH DOBSON With Australia being a multicultural country, it was only a matter of time for Taiwan’s boba tea to make its way Down Under. With t...

By TILEAH DOBSON

With Australia being a multicultural country, it was only a matter of time for Taiwan’s boba tea to make its way Down Under. With the rise of franchise chains like Chatime, Gong Cha and Sharetea, bubble tea has become a popular beverage.

Prompting some health benefits through their various black and green teas, the customization and overall taste are why this beverage is immensely popular with residents, particularly university students.

Despite its immense popularity, the constant cost of buying one individual serving can add up over time. Thankfully, a rise of small businesses that can cater to the bubble tea need has emerged. One such local small business is Cup49.

Based in Melbourne, this small business is run by Serene Lim and was established in 2019 by Lim and her friend. Loving bubble tea but hating the plastic waste from the cups, Lim and her friend began their business by selling reusable cups.

“It all started when I saw the photo attached on Facebook of a large construction bin overfilled with plastic cups from various bubble tea brands. I love bubble tea and treat myself weekly but have never thought much about the consequences of my bubble tea addiction, until this photo,” Lim said.

“From our research, on average, a bubble tea store in Melbourne sells about 48 cups of bubble tea per hour. That’s 48 plastic cups, 48 plastic straws, 48 plastic lids and 48 plastic bags that will end up in our oceans or landfill. We decided on the name Cup 49 in hopes that our cup will be the 49th and forever reusable bubble teacup.”

What started out as a way to sell reusable cups, Cup49 has grown significantly. Photo: Supplied.

“We then expanded our range to DIY bubble tea kits because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were in lockdown and couldn’t get our bubble tea fix without breaking the bank. I remember uber-ing a single bubble tea and paying $15.49 for it! So I thought there must be a way for all of us to make bubble tea in the comfort of home, customised to our preference without going broke.”

 

What started as a small business had quickly grown into a bubble tea enterprise, largely thanks to loyal customers. A small team of nine, Cup49 aims to ensure people can get their delicious tea whilst keeping the planet cleaner.

 

Lim sympathised with university students who often spent money on bubble tea and encourages Western Sydney University (WSU) students to check out her website.

“I remember not having much money back in university and would have really loved a cost-effective DIY bubble tea solution. All those late nights studying for exams in the law library with massive uncurbed bubble tea cravings because there were no bubble tea shops near me,” Lim said.

 

Ideas for new products is a combined effort from Lin’s team and her community of loyal customers, affectionately nicknamed Boba Baes. While still working on getting halal certification for customers, Cup49 products are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. There are plenty of fruit teas available for those who cannot handle dairy as well.

 

Lim is continuously grateful for the support from not only her customers, but her team, family, and friends.

“We get heaps of support from family and customers. My dad folds our blue tissue paper, my mum helps with accounts, my in-laws and siblings help pack orders when we need the extra hand. My husband pretty much supports me in every aspect, mentally, physically, emotionally,” Lim said.

Cup49 offers two base teas for customers to pick and enjoy, Jasmine and Black tea. Photo: Supplied.

“We have the best customers ever; they’re always telling their friends and family about us and raving about our products on social media. You can see heaps of customer stories that we re-share on our Instagram cup.49. That’s not it, we’ve got customers who choose not to use a discount code just to support our small business. Like who does that!”

“It can get lonely and stressful running a small business yourself so I am so grateful to have the best support system.”

Lim’s large following on social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok has helped her business immensely. On her TikTok, she shows complete transparency with her followers on how orders are packed, what the warehouse looks like and even shows how to make various kinds of teas.

With bestsellers such as are Brown Sugar Milk Tea Kit, Ultimate Fruit Tea Combo Kit, Trio Popping Pearls and the one that started it all, Reusable Bubble Tea Cup Set, Lim and her team have a bright future ahead.

“I just find it interesting that we’ve been making tea, coffee, smoothies at home but making bubble tea at home only became a thing in the last 1-2 years. Now we have access to premium bubble tea ingredients with easy, quick recipes to make our perfect cup of bubble tea, wherever, whenever,” Lim said.

For more information about Cup49 or to place an order and support a small business, go to cup49.com.

Tileah Dobson is an editor for W’SUP and the news editor for the Sydney Sentinel.

P.S. If Cup49 wants to sponsor me, I won’t say no 😉

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Your guide to Western Sydney’s cultural food spots

From a fellow foodie - Jostina Basta explores some delicious cultural food spots close to home....
An incredible variety of cuisines from around the world can be discovered in your neighbourhood, writes Jostina Basta.

With Western Sydney’s incredible and unique diversity come perks – an array of different and mouth-watering cuisines. If you’re anything like me, your food choices depend on your mood. Not wanting a salad but also feeling like a delicious healthy option? Sushi. Feeling like a comfort meal? Italian pasta. Feeling like putting on 2kg? Snack packs.

Broaden your palate with some delicious cultural food joints around Western Sydney – somewhere you can head to after a study session, class, or if you’re lucky, order on UberEats while on Zoom.

Ethiopian
Gursha, Blacktown
@gurshaethiopianrestaurant 

If you want to feel like you’ve been served with a flavour-packed authentic, home-cooked Ethiopian meal – this is your joint. Don’t be afraid to eat with your hands as you devour their curries, stews, and other delicacies with an Ethiopian flatbread called Injera.

Recommendation by restaurant: Tibs (Beef or lamb). Includes tender beef sautéed with rosemary, onion and green pepper served with hot or mild red pepper sauce.
Mood: Homemade comfort.

Lebanese
Jasmin1, Auburn, Chester Hill, Bankstown, Leichhardt
@jasmin1_leichhardt

Jasmin’s is your local go-to if you want to try mouth-watering Lebanese cuisine with generous servings and affordable prices. To top it off, you can enjoy some hot, sweet black tea while recovering from a worthy food coma – it’s free of charge!

Recommendation by restaurant: Mixed plate ($20) Includes one lamb, kafta and tawook skewer or grilled chicken pieces served with hummus, baba ghannouj, garlic dip, falafel, tabouli and bread.
Mood: Best food coma ever.
Greek
Mythos Yeeros Souvlaki, Minchinbury
@mythosyeerossouvlaki 

This food truck is surely a hidden treasure you’ll find just off the Great Western Highway.

Embrace the authentic Greek experience as you enjoy a generous serving of their succulent gyros – a staple in Greek cuisine. If you haven’t yet tried it – first of all you’re missing out, and secondly, think of it as a Greek kebab. Their toasty, fluffy pita is packed with some juicy lamb, pork or chicken, chopped vegetables and topped off with their iconic tzatziki sauce and chips. A must-try!

Recommendation by restaurant: The lamb, chicken or pork yiros wrap meal, which includes tomato, onion, tzatziki and chips inside the wrap, with a side of medium chips and a can of drink or water.
Mood: Flavour-packed goodness.
Mexican
Senortoro, Blacktown
@senortoro_

There’s not much to say, other than that you need to take a quick browse of their Instagram page and you’re likely to be sold instantly. The long line-up for their Birria tacos, consommé and quesadillas are worth the wait for this family-owned food stall, located at the Drive-in Markets located at Blacktown every weekend.

Recommendation by restaurant: The Combinacion, which is the choice between the Queso or Birria tacos partnered with their Birria Consume. This is a popular beef stew to dip the tacos in for extra flavour. 
Mood: Good food for a good mood.
Indian
Chatkazz, Harris Park & Bella Vista
@chatkazz_australia 

Harris Park is a well-renowned hub for great Indian food, Chatkazz being one of the many delicacies you’ll find there. You may find a crazy line-up once upon arrival, but their Indian street food dishes are well worth the wait. With their all-vegetarian menu, you’ll be impressed by the wide variety of options they have to offer, and incredibly flavour-packed dishes.

Recommendation by restaurant: Server could not narrow down with the incredible variety offered. However, some popular dishes include the Paneer Butter Masala, the Paneer Biryani or the Gobi Paratha. 
Mood: Spices to spice up your life.
Afghan
Kabul House, Merrylands
@kabul_house

If you’re looking for some of the best Afghan food in Sydney – this place is your go-to. You’re likely to become a regular once you experience their tasty authentic dishes, affordable prices and generous servings. Do your tastebuds a favour and check out this local gem.

Recommendation by restaurant: Server said “everything,” but narrowed it down to the mixed kebab, which is a set of three skewers of mixed kebab, coupled with rice, sauce and salad.
Mood: An unforgettable culinary experience.
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But first, brunch: some of Western Sydney’s best cafes

Join a culinary adventure through some of Western Sydney's quaint coffee shops and uber-trendy brunch spots....

Attention coffee addicts, eggs benedict-obsessed enthusiasts and all-around brunch lovers!

As we are power on through these uncertain times with ever-changing restrictions, it’s completely understandable to be feeling a little disheartened or maybe even lonely.

But luckily, the cafés of Sydney are here to cheer us up. It’s no secret that we’re spoilt for choice with quaint coffee shops and uber-trendy brunch spots galore – especially right here in Western Sydney. You’ll feel great knowing you’re helping out local businesses as you chow down on a plate of delicious pancakes.

Circa Espresso
21 Wentworth St Parramatta

Although Circa Espresso is conveniently close to Parramatta station, there’s no doubt many would travel far and beyond for their quality coffee and famously known Ottoman eggs – poached free-range eggs with crumbed eggplant, labneh and fried leeks on focaccia. Their quirky laneway-style set up provides an out-of-the-box experience for Sydneysiders who are always on the lookout for new and interesting dining experiences. Not to mention – they offer a range of delicious seasonal coffee and tea blends. But be aware: Circa is technology-free so ditch your laptop and simply enjoy the coffee.

Atlas Café
53 Ettalong Rd Greystanes

Atlas Café is a family-owned café that is sure to fulfil all your brunch needs and desires. With an innovative menu that transports you around the world (hence the name Atlas), there’s something for everyone. Choose the “Afghan” for a plate of baked eggs and roast vegetables, the “Canadian” for buttermilk pancakes with crispy maple bacon or the “Brazilian” for a fresh acai bowl topped with fruit, granola and shredded coconut. The outdoor garden setting provides a uniquely refreshing ambience, as well as a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Old Boy Café
24 Tallawong Ave Blacktown

With its unexpected and isolated location, Old Boy Café is definitely one of Blacktown’s hidden gems. Upon entering, you’ll find that the café has a unique vibe compared to other Western Sydney cafes with chill beats, vintage-style décor and an array of indoor plants. The café’s quirky ambience is accompanied by their great coffee and a generous all-day breakfast menu. If you live around the Blacktown region – this café is a must-try.

Paper Plane Factory Café
64 Mandoon Road Girraween

Paper Plane Factory is a pleasant surprise to find in Sydney’s West, and another hidden gem tucked away within Girraween’s industrial area. Not only will you enjoy the contemporary and stylish interior of the café, but their affordable prices and delicious food will provide you with a satisfactory brunching experience. You’ll find your brunch classics, alongside other tasty items like brioche buns with pulled pork, jalapeno burgers – and their delicious peanut butter thick shakes.

XS Espresso
Plumpton, Wetherill Park, North Parramatta and Kellyville locations

If you’re a Western Sydney local, it’s likely you’ve popped into XS Espresso before. While they’re famous for their extravagant milkshakes and decadent desserts, they also serve great coffee along with tons of brunch options to boot. They have an impressive latté selection where they incorporate new and exciting flavours, including Nutella, Taro and Matcha. Don’t miss out on their new creation: a Biscoff-inspired latté, named the “Lotus Latté”.

Henri Marc
Shop 2, 438 High St Penrith

Henric Marc is undoubtedly a local favourite for its Instagrammable plates and rustic, hipster interior. They’re known for their specialty coffee and an impressively long beverage menu with organic hot chocolate and tea options, interesting milkshake flavours and freshly squeezed fruit juices. Their French toast and chai lattés are popular amongst regulars – and very likely to be just your “cup of tea”. 

Coffee Trad3rs
1/8 Victoria Ave, Castle Hill

As the name suggests, this café has a passion and knack for serving great coffee. Coffee Traders takes latte art to a whole new level with their funky 3D designs. To add to this, their lunch menu includes an interesting fusion of Asian and Australian dishes. The owner, James, is well-known in the area for his friendly demeanour and attentive service that tops off a wholesome and equally fulfilling brunch experience.

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From chaplain to chef: how Western Sydney University staff are bringing students together with virtual cooking classes

Community and cooking go hand in hand at WSU's Campus Living Village. ...

One Western Sydney University Chaplain’s passion for creating community and social connections won’t be flickered out by COVID-19 restrictions.

At the front of this operation is Daniel Jantos, the Chaplaincy Coordinator at Western Sydney University. llustration: Canva

The Chaplaincy team offers an online soup kitchen program that runs each Wednesday from 5:30 pm. The experience promises a fresh, wholesome meal, ready in less than an hour, prepared under the guidance of your Chaplaincy team. Grocery packs, filled with ingredients needed for the recipe of the day, are delivered to the Campus Living Village front desk for on-campus students to pick up.

If you live off campus, you are still welcome to join. The team will do their very best to get the ingredients to all interested students at their designated addresses. Students then join the zoom call or tune into Instagram live and cook alongside the Chaplaincy team. They follow a recipe and turn the fresh ingredients into a scrumptious meal.

At the front of this operation is Daniel Jantos, the Chaplaincy Coordinator at Western Sydney University. The Chaplaincy team offers a caring presence to all staff and students at the University; encouraging spirituality while prompting unity in all matters of faith, offering hospitality and creating community programs.

Daniel believes that, “Hospitality is the essence of the chaplaincy service’s purpose. You are welcome here, you belong here, we are in this together.”

Daniel tells me that Western Sydney University started the soup kitchen program approximately three years ago after a student leader suggested the campuses have food pantries for students to access. The Western Sydney University the webpage says the program launched at Campbelltown and due to its popularity it has since expanded to Hawkesbury, Bankstown, Kingswood, 1PSQ and also at Parramatta North [student residential] village every fortnight.

Daniel also mentions,“When COVID came along a lot of students were very saddened by the need for us to end the program – we decided to go online.” 

This is not the first program of its kind as several famous chefs have been using social media to share cooking classes with their fans. More recently, several small cafes and restaurants have also been participating in similar programs. Research conducted by the Australian Catholic University suggests that online platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, have positive impacts on feelings of connectedness.

Describing the experience, Daniel said,“It connects my kitchen to the kitchen of a whole lot of students and connects us in a way that means everyone is holding up their bowls to the camera to show off what they have made.”

Daniel admits the jump to the virtual kitchen was challenging and that he was a little resistant to the idea. However, he was surprised by how much of a community had been formed online.  Mr. Jantos explains that students from across Western Sydney are participating from Sutherland, Kensington to Campbelltown, and even out at Richmond. He gushes about the program’s support staff, Larissa Baker, Emily Liddell and Cheryl Jendrachowski, who have been working hard to get the groceries to people.

When asked about the challenges faced, Daniel joked about people’s chili tolerance. He tells students not to dump all the chili in and that it is only for those who absolutely love it hot. He says, “A student once dumped all their chili in the soup and said, ‘Whoops, that’s going to be a hot soup.’”

Daniel talks about these weekly events with so much conviction, noting that he feels overwhelmed by the amount of love and gratitude in the online space.  He tells me he feels the program offers students relief from isolation and loneliness and that’s what’s important during these trying times.

If you’re interested in joining the weekly cooking class register here. If you’re not a Western Sydney University Student, you can still watch all the fun on their Instagram wsustudentlife.

 

 

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Food Delivery services boosting during the Coronavirus period

While food delivery services are thriving during COVID-19, the story is different for local restaurants. ...

“They’re doing essential work to keep our communities moving as we fight the virus”

Sydney Manoush advertising they’re “now on Uber Eats” (Instagram)

 

 

 

 

 

Food delivery services are considered to be thriving during the Coronavirus period in Australia, facilitating to customers in self isolation. The rapid spread of the virus has had a drastic impact on the food industry, in particular local restaurants and cafes within Chipping Norton.

Considered an essential service, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi claims that the food delivery drivers are an essential to our community during this time.

“The most important thing we can do right now is support drivers,” says Ms Khosrowshahi.

“They’re doing essential work to keep our communities moving as we fight the virus, but with fewer trips happening they need more ways to earn,” she says.

As individuals are self-isolating in their own homes following the instructions of the NSW Government, local food businesses in Chipping Norton have slowed down due to a decrease in customers walking through the doors.

In late March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison lifted restrictions for restaurants, allowing some flexibility for them to continue generating an income.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing new restrictions. Source: ABC News

“Food courts in shopping centres will not allowed to continue,” PM Morrison says.

“Getting takeaway food from outlets can continue, because takeaway is able to be done,” continues Mr Morrison.

 

Although this may seem like a successful strategy for local restaurants, many don’t find it convenient.

Jehad Abdel-Malek, Founder of Sydney Manoush, shares how these food delivery services have put a financial strain on his business. Establishing Sydney Manoush in 2019,  Mr Abdel Malek has found that Uber Eats has become his main delivery service.

“With Uber in Sales, we’re probably doing anywhere between $1000 and up in sales. But then uber takes 35%, so the week that just went past, we paid $1100 just in one week to uber just in fees,” Mr Abdel-Malek shares.

“That’s why a lot of small businesses find it hard to use uber cause they’re killing themselves with all the fees they’re being charged,” continues Mr Abdel-Malek.

In the past week, the NSW government has recently announced that restrictions are beginning to ease for some businesses.

As of May 15th, 2020, restaurants and pubs are set to reopen for business. However, 10 patrons are permitted to be seated provided they adhere to the four-square metre policy, excluding staff.

At a recent press conference, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has reassured that she was hesitant about easing these restrictions. However, trusts that restaurants and pub owners will be responsible with the social distancing policy.

“The last thing you want to get the disease or spread the disease as you’re waiting in queue for a service or to purchase something,” says Premier Berejiklian.

However, many restaurants are still reluctant to open their doors for dinners as they struggle to make profit under the restrictions.