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``Never order fried rice in a Chinese restaurant,'' Patrick Young says.
``Why not?'' we chorus.
Because it uses leftovers, he explains. ``Why else do you think the last course at a Chinese wedding is always fried rice?''
Patrick is leading our small group on a Taste of Asia tour of Sydney's Chinatown. That means food, lots of it.
Pure Aussie, Patrick describes himself as ``stir-fry'', a reference to his Chinese/Vietnamese/Cambodian heritage, and it seems as the three-hour tour progresses that he knows everything worth knowing about Asian food.
We straggle around the corner, into what is more recognisably Chinatown, with its traditional gateways (paifang) at either end of Dixon St.
Although it has been here in Haymarket for more than a century, this is Sydney's third Chinatown. The first settlement was in the Rocks area, before it moved to the area around what is now Paddy's Market.
Then the 1920s saw its establishment in its present location at the southern end of the city's CBD.
As it's the tail end of the lunar new year, which celebrates the Year of the Dog, the area is full of red lanterns and improbably coloured dogs, one of which seems to have been modelled more on a kangaroo than a canine.
We pause to admire the skeleton of a tree sculpted into Golden Water Mouth by artist Lin Li. Incorporating the five elements of fire, water, gold, wood and earth, the design encourages positive energy and good fortune. The tree, a 200-year-old yellow box gum (Eucalyptus melliodora), was sourced by the artist from the town of Condobolin, about 450km from Sydney, where many Chinese settled during the 19th-century gold rush.
It's time to try more food, this time emperor's puffs. The Hong Kong-style buns are a specialty of the Emperor's Garden Cakes and Bakery in Hay St and understandably popular with their filling of sweet creamy custard.
Topotea sells high-end packaged tea, cups and teapots, and on Saturday mornings presents tea ceremonies at the Chinese Garden of Friendship in nearby Darling Harbour.
Above Topotea is the improbably named Sparrow's Mill Express, one of a number of eateries in the Sussex Centre. We sample the signature dish, Korean fried chicken, crispily fried and utterly delicious.
Still in Sussex St, Chinese Noodle King serves us bowls of noodles and one of my all-time favourites, fried dumplings. The tea has faded away and I ask for a glass of water. There's a long pause and I'm handed a pint tankard of tepid water, obviously straight from the kitchen tap.
I recall being told that the Chinese don't believe in ice-cold drinks so I happily drink my water, to much derision from my fellow gourmands.
The tour is almost over, Patrick pointing out other places that have good food and - on a more serious note - the tribute to war veterans of Chinese descent. It names the men and women who served in the Australian armed forces but whose contributions from the Boer War onwards went unrecognised until 2003, when the memorial on the corner of Dixon and Liverpool Sts was unveiled.
The big appeal is not just the flavours but the staff's ability to craft ice cream into lotus flower shapes. I opt for durian and the flower looks too perfect to eat but of course greed wins.
It's that kind of evening.