Merrylands Sydney is a great place to visit. Sydney’s suburbs are the trips you can take while travel overseas is still out of the question.
Merrylands is about 40 minutes by rail west of central station. It’s an old suburb with a new face today. It was one of the earliest sites in Sydney where land grants were made. The first 100 acres was granted to Judge-Advocate Richard Atkins in 1793, who also received an additional grant of 145 acres in 1798.
Merrylands was Dharug land, occupied by the tribes of the Burramattagal. There is archaeological evidence along rivers and creeks here and strong evidence the tribes met for gatherings and initiation ceremonies. There was bartering as well as considerable clashes between the settlers and the Aboriginal inhabitants. The settlers eventually cleared all the bush eliminating native food sources driving out the Dharug people.
What’s happening in Merrylands now?
Merrylands has changed quite a lot in the last few years. Another generation of new Australians has arrived bringing food and culture predominately from Persia,(Iran) Syria and Afghanistan with little hints of Sierra Leone and Australiana thrown in. It’s a heady mix of cultures and it is just like doing a day trip to the other side of the world.
Here’s a little taste of what we experienced.
After arriving by train, we headed straight for Alshami restaurant for breakfast. It’s on the quiet side of the train station. The front doors are closed, but as we peer into the window a smiling man pulls open the doors and welcomes us in. The restaurant is covid style empty of tables but the beautiful fountain and the rocking Persian music get us dancing with excitement.
Seeing the large bags we have between us he asks if we have travelled from afar. Well, we have kind of travelled to another part of the world. The bags are to be filled with groceries and sweets and hopefully Lamb. Lamb is very cheap and good quality out here. After we order we ask for 3 chairs to sit outside in the sun to share our breakfast.
As a surprise, our new friends at the restaurant set up a private table for us in the stores area. Although they were permitted to have up to 10 diners, they hadn’t yet reorganised the restaurant. So, just in case other customers got ideas about dining in they popped us out the back. They also gave us a dish of crisp fried falafel with the creamiest tahini sauce I have eaten
After looking through the African store filled with colourful clothes and exotic foods, we cross to the other side of the railway. Merrylands road looks like any western Sydney suburban street, but its the gems along the way that make this so special.
Next stop is the Afghani bakery Green Wheat, owned by a Hazari family that bake traditional flatbreads (in very big pieces). They are cooking in huge tandoor ovens you can see from the counter. The breads themselves are quite dry textured, perfect for scooping up dips and stews.
Abla Coffee and Nuts
Abla Coffee and nuts (184) draw us in with their display of sweets and olives the counter is clean and expansive and they have one of our new favourite foods string halloumi. This is halloumi cheese in string form shredded and full of milky goodness eaten in a salad. It is believed to have originated in Armenia but can be found from Lebanon to Syria and in between..and we are well aware why. We load on up on olives, spices and sweets and love the friendly caring service in the spotlessly clean store. It’s hard to stop popping just one more interesting snack from the laden counter into my basket.
Kabul House Restaurant
A few shops up you will come across Kabul House Restaurant. We are hankering for some traditional Afghani “Dumplings”. There are all kinds of goodies here including smokey grilled kebabs and traditional rice dishes piled high with vegetables or lamb shanks. we are here to sample dumplings though, and although I think this restaurant is used to food trail visitors but the non attentive service is worth it when the Mantu dumplings arrive at our table. Filled with minced lamb, onion and spices they are pimped to beautiful creaminess with a coat of yoghurt sauce. Then they are dialed up with lentils (or yellow split peas) and a dusting of dried mint. The bread here is exceptional. It’s round flatbread that is fluffy and so good it is hard to pass up, and we didn’t cause we took the leftovers home! Cardomom tea is a popular choice here too.
Just a few doors up on the other side of the street is the place to head for Icecream. This Iranian dessert specialist has some interesting things to try if you are. Like Faloodeh, cold starchy noodles served in a semi-frozen rosewater syrup topped with saffron or sour cherry ice cream. I chose a less out there version with just Saffron ice cream. The colour is more prominent than the flavour from the saffron with a hint of rose water and stuffed with chunky pistachios. The texture is a little stretchy and the sweetness is quite muted so I loved it.
There is much more to see but, today but we just have enough time left to visit Pameer Market about a block down on the same side as Shiraz, it’s a kind of stop shop. Way down the back past the vegetables, shelf goods and cooking equipment is a butcher shop. Did I tell you that between Merrylands, Granville and Harris Park you can get THE best Lamb and Goat at amazing prices? Then let me repeat that claim.
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The butcher behind the counter was a lovely man who made us feel welcome. They will cut anything while you wait. The beef rib,at an astonishing price and the Lamb were both perfection.
There are many more places to visit along the main road (Merrylands Rd). Further down the road going away from the station you will find a whole lot more shops adjoining the Stockland mall.