DARLING HARBOUR DINING | A key spot for Vivid


Last year I felt underwhelmed by Vivid Sydney as I overlooked the light show at Circular Quay.

This year, however, was a different experience all together.

I came with expectations that reflected my experience from previous years, but to my surprise Darling Harbour offered more than I hoped for.

I think there were two reasons for this.

First, I wasn’t feeling irritated by crowds as we sat down for most of it up at the Harbourside Shopping Centre. There, we had front-row seats to the show.

Second, we were positioned in a key location that offered more than your typical light display or interactive sets.

The Darling Harbour show fused spectacular and upbeat fireworks with an eerie and breathtaking light display which captured Sydney’s sea life.

Our night began with dining at Zaaffran, a restaurant that specialises in authentic Indian cuisine.

The restaurant donned a stunning interior that emanated contemporary fine dining – think spacious and light with mirrors, marble and faint Indian-inspired patterns.

We were led outside to a casual balcony area, which provided a more balanced area for families and children.

I was glad to be seated where we were because of the sensational views that took in the harbour. And although it was cold, most people dressed for the weather and there were outdoor heaters.

I’ve got to say one of the aspects that made Vivid an unforgettable experience was the staff at Zaaffran.

They presented us with a regular menu with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. But there was also a menu specifically designed for Vivid.

The set Vivid menu entailed crispy humpty doo barra with crushed fennel seeds, curry leaf, red chilli and tamarinds, thakkali chutney with salad and masala chips and a bottle of kingfisher beer. Followed by a duo of kilfi and ice cream.

At first I was disappointed there was only one option for the Vivid menu because it included seafood – which I don’t eat. 

Furthermore, I didn’t think beer was the most versatile beverage.

However, upon asking staff if they could accommodate for allergies, they were able to work out an easy solution where they made a nut-free dish and swapped fish for chicken. Then they offered me a house wine instead of the beer.

The staff were polite with minimal wait time from ordering to being served.

The food was flavoursome. The chips were seasoned nicely and the chicken was marinated well. Unlike many other restaurants, the chef managed to make the chicken succulent.

My partner said the fish was also “incredibly tasty and soft”. Both dishes were slightly spicy, so it might not be suitable for someone who can’t tolerate spice or chilli.

The only thing that was average was the salad.

By the time we finished our main meal the fireworks display launched. It was probably the highlight of the evening as it lasted for about 10 minutes and we had prime seats as it unravelled in front of us.

After the fireworks, we were served dessert – ice-cream. Although it was a bit too cold for ice-cream, the rose and chocolate flavours complemented each other. However, the rose flavour wasn’t as tasty on its own.

As an avid ice-cream eater it was different to anything I’d tried before. And I would certainly return and eat it again.

We departed the restaurant shortly after to continue viewing the light display.

Overall, I’d say Vivid was well worth the trip. The Vivid menu at Zaaffran was good value for money and next year, I would return to the same spot.

  • Note: Journalist invited as a guest for review purposes.
  • Updated Monday June 11, 11.35am, 1.20pm.