Local’s guide to the best of Pyrmont by Nicolas Chen Aiden Darling Harbour

Local’s guide to the best of Pyrmont by Nicolas Chen | Aiden Darling Harbour
Aiden Darling Harbour

Local’s guide to the best of Pyrmont by Nicolas Chen

After many years of working and living in and around Pyrmont, hotel owner Nicolas Chen is an expert on what’s worth seeing in this interesting part of Sydney. He shares his insider tips here.


Sydneysider Nicolas Chen has had a long association with Pyrmont, well before the 2022 opening of his compact hotel Aiden Darling Harbour, constructed in a 1930s building which his property developer father purchased back in 2005.  Today he spends most days in the inner city suburb of Sydney and is an expert local guide on what’s good in the hood.


“Inspirationally speaking, the way I see Pyrmont is that it’s the Brooklyn equivalent of New York or the Williamsburg equivalent of Manhattan,” says Nicolas. “Shiny, tall buildings rise out of the CBD, but just cross the bridge and you find yourself in a village with quaint sandstone houses, little shops and cafes in hidden laneways. There’s a lot to discover and explore in Pyrmont.”


Nicolas is passionate about knowing his neighbourhood – as are the rest of his hotel team – and spends plenty of time getting to know, and supporting, local businesses in the streets surrounding the hotel.


Read on to discover his top picks and insider tips to uncovering the shiniest gems of Pyrmont.


Best for breakfast

Quick Brown Fox and Social Brew

Quick Brown Fox

Social Brew

“I love Quick Brown Fox for its relaxed vibe and alfresco dining. It’s a great option if you want a selection of interesting dishes to choose from for breakfast or brunch.”

“Social Brew is also fantastic, with its sunny footpath tables and great quality breakfast.”


Nicolas’ hot tip:

“Quick Brown Fox sometimes has dinner pop ups – they’ve done a Mexican and a burger one recently – and keep an eye out for their specials. Also try their congee – my personal favourite.”

“At Social Brew, take your time with your coffee, sit in the sun and watch the world go by.”

Best for pub vibes


“Gallon is a first choice when it comes to a drink at a local pub. It’s a perfect spot for after-work drinks or if you’re catching up with a big group of mates.”

“Beyond Pyrmont, Baxter’s Inn and Old Mates Place are great speakeasies in the CBD with a nice atmosphere.”


Nicolas’ hot tip:

“Head through the front bar of Gallon and out into their hidden courtyard for a drink in a nice, relaxed alfresco setting.”

Best for casual dining

Kko kko

“Kko kko is my favourite for a casual dining experience. It’s an authentic representation of great Balinese cuisine.”


Nicolas’ hot tip? 

“Skip the cafe selection on the menu and head straight for their Balinese barbeque chicken sets.”

Best for seafood

Sydney Fish Market

Seafood Cooking School

“I love the hustle and bustle of the fish markets. There’s a huge variety of fresh local seafood available, making for a great shopping experience.”


Nicolas’ hot tip:

“Book a tour of the seafood auctions which take place early weekday mornings. Also the Seafood Cooking School is a worthwhile experience.”

Best for date nights


“Lumi is great for a fancy degustation experience, featuring an incredible fusion of Italian and Japanese cuisine. The food is extremely well executed and the restaurant is right by the water. Ideal spot if you’re looking for a romantic night out.”


Nicolas’ hot tip:

“Pair your dining experience with a walk around the wharves, both during the day and even after dinner on light summer nights.”

Best for a show

See a show at the Sydney Lyric Theatre

“The grand Lyric Theatre plays host to a range of musicals and performances throughout the year. It’s conveniently located close to the hotel, just a short stroll.”


Nicolas’ hot tip:

“Book a pre-theatre dinner at one of the great restaurants right next to the theatre. And grab a gelato at nearby Messina during intermission (and before and after). Because one ice cream is never enough.”

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