Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Nakkiah Lui. I’m a writer/actor and I live with my husband in the inner, inner west on the land of the Cadigal people of the Eora Nation.
What do you love about Sydney?
I grew up in western Sydney and I just love how sprawling and diverse Sydney can be. It’s a city that’s really on the nose but as someone who was never a fan of subtext, I adore that. To be super cliche, I love the harbour and the beaches and that there are so many swimming spots. My mother’s people are freshwater people but my father’s are Torres Strait; the need to be near water and saltwater is in my blood, and the water around Sydney can be so healing. Nothing beats going down to McIver’s Ladies Baths, rain, hail or shine.
Do you have a favourite restaurant in Sydney?
Ester. Honestly anywhere they give you food. But I love sitting at the bar, usually you can score a free treat.
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Where do you go for brunch or breakfast?
It’s a classic but Bills. Ever since I tried those corn fritters as a teen, I swear I get a bimonthly craving. Get there before your friend and take the lounge seat. Otherwise, if I’m staying west, Cornersmith in Annandale. Seat me anywhere that gives me pickles.
When you want to impress someone, where do you take them?
Sydney Theatre Company. I just love to walk down the old floorboards, with the photos from so many iconic plays (it doesn’t hurt that I can also point to my work up there). I always get such a sense of excitement walking down that corridor. Once you arrive at The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf, the view is just amazing. It’s such a lovely place to go sit and work. Also, get a drink at the bar, look over at the city and then go see a show.
It’s your birthday – how do you spend it?
Humble Bakery for breakfast, dinner at Hubert with lots of Martinis, pate and frites, then dancing and singing at karaoke in Chinatown (CEO is my fave).
Do you have any favourite shops?
Desordre is my absolute favourite boutique. I adore Gleebooks in Glebe. It’s so full and wonderful and always has something for everyone. Studio Alm in Woollahra for furniture and homewares. I die. I wish someone would lock me in there overnight so I can live my interior design fantasy.
What’s one of the city’s most underrated places?
Saga in Enmore. Those cakes are utterly divine. I don’t understand how they aren’t sold out immediately every single day. Also Blacktown Drive In. I love it when they play classics and older movies, especially old horrors.
Who makes Sydney a better place?
Laura Jones is my favourite artist and dear friend. Her work is gorgeous and reminds me of Sydney, and I think she really epitomises the new voice of Australian art. Romance Was Born are amazing too. I’m obsessed with [designers] Luke and Anna, who have really created their own community with their work. I am incredibly lucky because they designed my wedding dress. Also, I’m obsessed with my local florist Flowers on the Point, on Glebe Point Road. Also, and you’ll thank me for this, Van Dam Dry Cleaning in St Marys. He is the only person I trust to dry-clean my clothes. Honestly, it’s worth the drive.
Where do you go to get away from the city?
Millthorpe, near Orange, in the autumn or spring. Otherwise I go to the Southern Highlands in winter for wine, fires and food.
Is there an essential Sydney book, song, movie or TV show?
The book? Anything by Peter Polites. Song? Blak Matriarchy by Barkaa. The 1999 movie Two Hands, obviously, and the TV show would have to be Redfern Now.
“My Sydney” is a regular column discovering the places and spaces that captivate and entice Sydney’s well-known residents.