Friday, 6 January 2012

vietnamese dreams

I'm going to come right out and say it: I like visiting Ikea. Yes, the hoards of screaming children and their tired looking parents dragging their limbs are somewhat offputting, but the upside to driving to Tempe is Marrickville and its many Vietnamese treasures.

Driving down Marrickville or Illawarra Road, you could be forgiven for thinking you'd been transported to somewhere in Hanoi, with its never ending variety of Asian grocers, butchers and eateries. Here are a couple you should know about:

PhD Vietnamese Restaurant

You don't need a degree in gastronomy to get why this is one of the most packed Pho houses on Illawarra Road. An old Marrickville favourite that's had a bit of a spit and polish, this establishment used to live a few doors down, under the name Pho Bac Hai Duong.

There's a comprehensive list of Vietnamese favourites including juicy sugarcane prawns, a respectable Vietnamese pancake (prawns, pork and squid, stuffed inside a crisp pancake with mung beans, mint and a little chilli) but the main event here for most is the Pho. Though it comes in various forms, beef, or any iteration of, is a clear winner with the crowd. The soup stock is a complete assault on the tastebuds - big, bold flavours for such a humble clear broth. The beef is served still pink, cooking in the soup as you eat it and though it looks relatively innocent, the regular size will be enough to conquer the most voracious appetite. All this for $9...not half bad.

Where: 308 Illawarra Road, Marrickville

Banh Mi Thit Vietnamese Pork Roll

Save for the bright red awning (and around lunchtime, the string of people lining up outside), you'd be forgiven for blinking and missing this hole in the wall. There's something to be said for a business knowing what their core function is and doing it well - that's Banh Mi Thit to a tee. There are several variations on the famous Vietnamese pork roll here, including one with tuna, another with BBQ pork and a chicken option, but the true star is the straight up pork roll, with chilli. A freshly baked Vietnamese roll, crusty on the outer, soft on the inner, spread with homemade pate and lard, topped with several different pork products (best not to know), shallots, coriander, pickles, chilli and soy. There's no seating, there'll be a queue, but who cares? It's $4 well spent time and time again. Tip: Pick up a few, and head to the park and enjoy them in the sunshine.

Where: 236a Illawarra Road, Marrickville


Ok, so this last entry isn't in Marrickville, but it's worthy of mention as a new venue worth checking out. Taking up residence nearby Newtown stalwart Thanh Binh (legends), this new kid on the block is going to put up a good fight for best Vietnamese feed in the neighbourhood. Slick interiors and friendly service are the precursor to fresh produce, authentic flavours and solid bang for your buck. The caramelised pork hot pot is a real winner and the savoury pancake is also worth a look in. The humid weather of late means the shredded green papaya salad with tangy chilli vinaigrette, coral prawns and crunchy peanuts is a definite pick, too. 

Where: 131 King Street, Newtown

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Isabel said...

I love this post! After visiting Vietnam I have been on the hunt for great Banh Mi in Sydney and now I know where to go! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Because I love back west, Cabramatta is the place to go to for me. I must admit, I haven't ventured anywhere else really. But I have heard marrickville does have a few good places and looks like you picked up on them :)