A Taste of Vietnam

No idea what the deal was with that car – but it’s logo is awesome 😀

Now I only wish I actually did spend a day in Vietnam. Nay, I wish I had spend weeks there. Alas no, the actual country will have to wait for another time. The title refers to one particular outing on a particular Monday, where my friend and I went to Cabramatta and Bankstown in the West. Now I live in the south so why did I do this?

Please, you guys know the answer already right? I’ve had a Vietnamese food craving which had not been satisfied for some time, in part because the city has a dearth of great Vietnamese establishments and the same goes with the south.

If you want the best Vietnamese, there’s really no place like Cabra and Bankstown. There’s no coincidence – these two suburbs have Vietnamese people as one of the primary demographics, so it’s natural to assume such a conclusion.

Date Visited: 19/11/2012
Addresses: (Tan Viet) 100 John St Cabramatta, NSW 2166
(Banh Mi Bay Ngo) Shop 49, Old Town Plaza Bankstown, NSW 2200
(Cafe Nho) 64 Bankstown City Plaza Bankstown, NSW, 2200
(Pho An) 29 Greenfield Parade Bankstown, NSW

Go-to dish: all of them! 😀

Yes, I’m pretty crazy, considering I went incredibly out of my way just for the sake of eating, but think about that for another minute and ask yourself “is that so crazy?”

Your answer should still be a resounding “yes you fool.”

Oh well, it was either sampling the best examples of the cuisine I was craving for months, or staying at home doing something mundane like blogging…oh wait.

Our first stop was…parking. It was pretty difficult, as you’d imagine, to find parking on a weekday. We ended up settling for a place that was over half a kilometer away, but this was fine as it was an excuse to burn off an ever slightly greater proportion of the carbs I was sure to consume during the day. For I had three things in mind…

Tan Viet Restaurant

Tan Viet

You know where I’m going to go with this one – Tan Viet is reputed to have one of the best renditions of crispy-skinned chicken out there. Immediately, I was turned into an eager beaver.

Tan Viet Restaurant

I was kind of surprised at the Chinese at first, but then I forgot how culturally mixed Cabramatta is.

What I was more surprised at was the fact that there wasn’t a line queuing out from the place like there usually is. Lucky!

Tan Viet Restaurant

the noodle soup that accompanies the crispy chicken

The chicken is actually accompanied by noodles – either with or without soup. I decided to get the soup as…well…lubrication would be good when you’re eating dry chicken. Oh and, I just like noodle soup in general :3

Tan Viet Restaurant

Tan Viet’s famous crispy-skinned chicken

And here it is. It’s not a beautiful thing to look at, but it does look tasty. This is one of those kinds of dishes. Indeed this chicken is amazingly crispy. It’s seasoned a bit too lightly for my liking – you need this skin’s flavour to carry through to the chicken flesh underneath (which is obviously not nearly as flavoursome). That said, there is chilli sauce provided which does a pretty good job of making up for this slight flavour deficiency.

But really, texture is what it’s all about here – and there really isn’t chicken that’s quite as crispy. Asian KFCs may as well sell this alongside the 11 herbs and spices.

Tan Viet Restaurant

the soup-less version of the noodles

For kicks, le friend got the soupless version of the noodles because she’s a smart cookie. Naturally, water was required :3

Oh speaking of the noodle soup – it was your standard fare MSG-style clear noodle soup with egg noodles. Delicious enough to wolf down, but not something you remember particularly fondly. In other words, a good filler for the chicken.

7.5 Caesars out of 10

With this filling up my tummy, we move onto our next stop.

Banh Mi Bay Ngo

I was recommended this place specifically as it purportedly has some of the best bánh mì (Vietnamese rolls) in Sydney. I get hooked on this stuff so I was really looking forward to getting 3 or 4…except since I have other food plans I resisted and just got one. They ain’t gonna close down anytime soon! *touch wood*

Banh Mi Bay Ngo

mmmm all them fresh ingredients…

So far, looking pretty dandy!

Banh Mi Bay Ngo

I got my roll, and moved off to a café nearby to sit down and consume.

Banh Mi Bay Ngo

bánh mì thịt chả

Though I usually capitulate to the bánh mì gà nướng (chicken rolls), I decided to get the original classic – the roast pork version.

By the way, Vietnamese people – correct me if I’ve got the spelling wrong.

Maybe it’s the placebo effect or something but it really is the best I’ve had. Granted, put me under a blind test and I may not be able to tell with 100% certainty BUT there has definitely been no BETTER roll that’s for sure. This one is easily amongst the top I’ve had. Why?

Really, it’s the clarity of each ingredient in both texture and flavour. You could taste everything in there, from the acute punch of the shallots, to the tang of the pate, the crunch of the vegetables and the aroma and succulence of the pork. I’m making myself hungry again. Far out.

The only problem? Bread was exceedingly tough – I think it’s meant to be like this, but if it is then I have to say that’s the one part that doesn’t agree with the palate.

8.5 Caesars out of 10

Cafe Nho

I may as well speak of the café I was at. I’ve actually been here before to get an iced coffee (also based on a friend’s recommendation). They’re also known for their shakes.

Cafe Nho

Cafe Nho

mango smoothie…oh this was refreshing

As refreshing and delicious as a mango smoothie can be. It was sooooo thick though – hard to get through it with the puny straw! Was easier to eat it!

Cafe Nho

I…don’t even remember what this shake was. Jackfruit? Somebody help here… #fail

Cafe Nho

You know where I’m going with this – I haven’t had a good bowl of pho in YONKS. Seriously, before this time I don’t actually remember the last time I had it. Pho An Restaurant is supposedly amongst the best, and despite the fact that I already had a decent serving of chicken, a large serving of noodles and soup, and a pork roll – I still got myself pho.

Keep in mind, this was all within the space of a few hours. The stomach gets no rest – I’m really working it today.

Cafe Nho

Cafe Nho

classic beef pho mmmmm

Ahhhhhh the smell already gets me going. Aromatic, beefy soup with a smell only pho has. It’s droolworthy, despite the fact my stomach is already beginning to feel the previous meals coming through.

Cafe Nho

And there we go, pretty much the best pho I’ve had. It seems to be a combination of all the good qualities of various other pho I’ve had at other places, but leaving out all of the bad. The noodles are slippery and soft – perfect. The soup is not too salty and not too oily – I could drink buckets of it by itself. And the beef was just delectable – soft and tender, with nary a veiny or tough bit at all.

In the end, I couldn’t finish it – I did order their largest size, and the stomach could only take so much. But I didn’t leave much left – barely one soup spoonful. Yeah I’ll settle with 90% #bloated

So some friends have said that their homemade pho is better – give me a sample will you? 😀

8.5 Caesars out of 10

I’ve got to do something like this again.
Wouldn’t you?

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀

Tan Viet Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Bay Ngo cannot be found on Urbanspoon and they do not have their own site or a FB page.

Pho An on Urbanspoon

7 comments on “A Taste of Vietnam”

  1. Nikki Reply

    I think that mystery drink might be pennywort haha. And Bay Ngo, omg they make the best banh mi hands down. It’s my mum and dad’s favourite. And your spelling’s correct btw 🙂

    I haven’t been back to Pho An in years, not since they raised the prices to above $10 a bowl. It’s just ridiculous. And charging for takeaway? Whut in the whut?! It may be good but I’ll stick to good ol’ Cab pho.

    • Michael @ I'm Still Hungry Reply

      Pennywort! You are right! It triggered my memory – can’t be anything else. Glad to know I got the spellings right, I try not to offend with misspellings 🙂

      Yeah, Pho An is getting pretty expensive, I’m beginning to question it. Not to mention it may not be the best pho I’ve had anymore, especially at that price. Parents also went “wat” at the takeaway.

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