Home to a City of Sydney library, complete with fully equipped Ideas Lab (both opening later this year), a specialised childcare centre, the next generation of Golden Century, XOPP (open from September), and of course, the Maker’s Dozen food hall, The Exchange is built for people—offering open civic spaces for all.

Meet the Makers

Step inside the ground floor of The Exchange, and you’ll meet the Maker’s Dozen. Here, in this sprawling contemporary market hall, some of Sydney’s most unique purveyors of all things edible and drinkable are doing what they do best—satisfying our appetites for the next generation in food. Walking through the Maker’s Dozen is a sensory overload—intentionally so. The pared back, contemporary interiors from architect Anthony Gill give way to a new stage for flavour. Sri Lanka, Japan, Vietnam, Italy, and Taiwan are all represented here in a crazy-good line-up. There’s bites born from imagination, land and sea. Sweet and savoury, large and small, the Dozen’s got you covered from early morning, right through to the evening hours. Here’s a taste.

Bubble and bloom

Ah, those hand-made tapioca pearls. Then flowers, wafts of flowers. It’s hard to determine where one sweet scent ends, and the other begins at Bubble Nini, your new purveyor of blooms and bubble tea. Like coffee is to Australia, bubble tea has fast become one of the most popular beverage trends amongst the youth generation throughout the world. And here, you’ll find some of the best. 25 flavours of tea in total, some of which will be sold exclusively in Darling Square. And trust us, the teas taste as good as they sound—It Takes Two to Mango, Strawberry Kisses, The Sun and Moon—we’re looking at you. But the emphasis here is as much on cute, as it is quality, and strictly, no preservatives.

A-bao-t time!

What started as a market stall at Bondi Farmers Market every Saturday is now a hybrid restaurant/bar serving exemplar Vietnamese and Japanese fare. At Mr Bao’s new flagship store right here in Darling Square, you’ll be noshing on soft, pillowy baos with impeccable fillings, and other dishes like impossible-to-say-no-to crackling pork belly with Asian slaw, and stuffed chicken wings, that taste as satisfying as they sound. Imagine more flavour than you can poke a Sriracha bottle at, then you’re only halfway there.

Could you Colombo?

If you’ve never been to Sri Lanka, there’s a big chance you’ve never had the pleasure of wrapping your chompers around their street food staple, the ‘hopper.’ Made with rice and coconut milk, they can be filled any way you like, and at Hopper Kade, you can choose from beef, chicken or vegetarian curry, with pickles and homemade tumeric slaw. Providing a considered twist on tradition, the hoppers here are made with red rice—a healthier alternative to white rice, that also offers a nuttier taste. For lunch you can’t go past a Kade Bowl or the very popular, stuffed roti wrap.

The greatest, unlikely duo 

Japan and Italy may be oceans apart, but they’re together on the plate at Pasta Wafu. From Kerby Craig (Ume Burger and Bar Ume), and Banksii Vermouth Bar and Bistro owners Hamish Ingham and sommelier Rebecca Lines, come dishes like Miso Fettuccine and Mentaiko Pasta that teleport you straight to umami land. When we spoke to the team behind the concept, they made a point that restaurants like Pasta Wafu have a strong place to stand in a city like Sydney—a place that’s receptive toward new ventures such as this, and in Rebecca’s words, “a melting pot of cultures in itself.” But why Darling Square specifically? Hamish indicates that the concept for The Exchange, and the architectural vision of Kengo Kuma was too compelling an offer to turn down. Can’t blame him!

Supersize my dreams

When former Hartsyard pastry chef Andy Bowdy opened Saga in Enmore in 2017, Sydney was gifted a whole new realm of willy-wonker wonder. Andy doesn’t do things by halves, or three-quarters really, and at Saga Lyte inside Maker’s Dozen, he’s pushing the boundaries of baked even further, with a menu of cakes, desserts, savouries and soft serves that feel like the stuff of dreams. Drawing from his own childhood nostalgia (and yours), expect a few delights that take you way, way, back to the rose-coloured days. Fittingly, ‘Saga’ translates to ‘a continuation of a story’—representing the next big thing for Bowdy, and a new level of indulgence for all of us. Get in early before those earthly delights sell out.

Brews, blends and Bucket Boys

For a city fond of a frothy, Bucket Boys have gone one step beyond the norm, to bring you some seriously thirst-quenching brews. This is a specialist beer store unlike anywhere else in Sydney. Serving the locally made, the international, even brews from the Bucket Boys themselves, expect some boundary-pushing, hoppity hopping pours and mind-altering blends (almost). If you’ve ever had a crazy idea about a new flavour to infuse beer with, chances are they’ve thought of it first. For the vino-buffs reading this, never fear— there’s also a great selection of new world and old world wines, from here and everywhere else, and cocktails on tap. Say hi to Clint and Jonathan next time you pop in for a sip at the bar, or to pick up that perfect accompaniment for whatever you’re cooking that evening.