Bahn mi tron sandwich

bahn mi
Yes I have just just returned from 3 weeks in the North Eastern reaches of Western Australia and yes I’ve got some stories to tell about fish and crocodiles and cooking on the coals of an open fire. Proper Crocodile Dundee shit. But that’s on hold for now. It’s a time thing. It’s not you it’s me. You know?

Besides, we had bahn mi for lunch today so I thought I could quickly tell you about that. That will be plenty easy, right?

We had a bit of cooked pork belly, prawns, some home made pate and a baguette all congregating in our kitchen. All at the same time.

Do you know what that means?

I will tell you what that means through a direct quote straight from the mouth of my 9 year old son, Obi.

“We should make bahn mi for lunch”.

Yes Obi, yes we should.

I understand that it’s not going to be too often the occasion that these ingredients just happen to be hanging out in the kitchen, like those robot lions, just waiting to form Voltron… or in this case, bahn mi tron. So it is totally feasible to go to the shop or the market or where ever it is you buy things to eat and purchase a little sliced roast pork, cooked prawns and a bit of pate… and you can get yourself a baguette while you’re there, ay.

Then you can put it all together pretty easily and let the memories of your Vietnam holiday come flooding back.
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The cucumber is best if it's sliced with the same type of hand held double mandoline thingy that is used all over the streets of Vietnam. This invention would've charged a few finger tips for sure...
The cucumber is best if it’s sliced with the same type of hand held double mandoline thingy that is used all over the streets of Vietnam. This invention would’ve charged a few finger tips for sure…
We had some left over roast pork belly which I crisped up in the pan
We had some left over roast pork belly which I crisped up in the pan
Getting crazy with all that pate and shit
Getting crazy with all that pate and shit

Can you see what I was so excited about?
Can you see what I was so excited about?

BAHN MI (per sandwich)

1 single serve baguette or a long baguette for 4 people (and then quadruple this recipe)
3 slices roasted pork of some description. Belly, shoulder, leg, neck… they all work well
3 medium cooked prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon pate
3-4 thin slices cucumber
A few sprigs each fresh coriander, mint and basil
A good splash of bahn mi dressing (recipe follows)

• Slice baguette open
• Spread pate over the inside of the baguette
• Layer pork, then prawns, then cucumber and then herbs in the baguette and then dress with a good splash of that bahn mi dressing
• Dear good lord that is some delicious shit, non?

BAHN MI DRESSING

3 tablespoons sambal oelek
1 tablespoon fish sauce
a splash light soy sauce
1 tablespoon chilli vinegar
(All available from your local friendly Asian super market)

• Mix it all together
• Remaining dressing will last for at least a couple of weeks. Use it to dress a chicken salad or toss through some noodles or just dip a carrot or an actual stick in it for some low-cal eating if that’s how you’re rolling

It got all smooshed up and doesn't look too crash hot but believe me this is some tasty shit
It got all smooshed up and doesn’t look too crash hot but believe me this is some tasty shit

Golden Brown Vietnamese Pork Spring Rolls

vietnamese pork spring rolls
Vietnamese spring rolls

There was something different to the spring rolls in Vietnam, something I wasn’t used to. They weren’t the same quintessential spring roll wrapper that I was used to experiencing in Australia. They were bubbly and super crisp and filled with delightful things that made my face smile upon consumption and they were available at every street corner and back alley food market. There would be an old lady with a small coal burner and a wok for deep frying and she would sit there and fry the day away, methodical and efficient like only a person that had been doing this for many years could be, but there was no long-service leave in sight for these patrons of the holy fried roll of goodness, they were doing what they knew and what they needed to do to survive, and doing it damn well. Damn well.

These are the sort of thing you might eat and have a bit of a Homer Simpson moment. That satisfied murmur and maybe just a little bit of dribble coming out of the side of your mouth, kinda like you are in the retirement home and losing control of your faculties.

That famous line from that one song “golden brown, texture like sun” had to have been written about these spring rolls. My argument is only enhanced as the song goes on to further describe pleasurable times, clearly spring roll happiness.

I still crave these deep fried goodies… these magical golden rolls… these… well, you get the picture.

To fulfill my cravings I scoured the vast recipe base of the interweb super highway. After conducting a brief survey of at least two sites on said super highway and decided I had the knowledge I needed to go forth and make Vietnamese/Laos spring rolls and I must say I did plenty good. These were pretty much bang on except I didn’t have rice vermicelli so I used cabbage instead which was fine, but use a few handfuls of soaked dried rice vermicelli if you want the truly authentic result.

Oh and the difference? Well the difference with these little puppies (often not just a figure of speech in ‘nam) is indeed the wrapper. Instead of the spring roll wrapper I am used to seeing, they use rice paper, slightly moistened and then rolled as we would do for fresh rice paper rolls, but then someone chucked them in a wok full of hot oil and the revolution begun! Viva la revolution! Viva la Vietnamese spring roll!

I chopped the cabbage with this really cool shredding double-knife I picked up in Vietnam
I chopped the cabbage with this really cool shredding double-knife I picked up in Vietnam

Squeaky little wood ear fungus. I love the random texture of these
Squeaky little wood ear fungus. I love the random texture of these
My favourite - time to mixy mixy
My favourite – time to mixy mixy
Roll them up
Roll them up
Fry them up
Fry them up
I recommend draining rolls on kitchen towel
I recommend draining rolls on kitchen towel

Dip them in something that looks like this
Dip them in something that looks like this

VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS (serves 6 with other things, maybe a few peeps with beer, or even just me if the mood strikes)

500g pork mince
1 cup dried wood ear fungus, rehydrated, drained and sliced
4-5 spring onions (scallions), sliced
1 carrot, grated
2 large handfuls shredded cabbage
1 egg
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
20-25 sheets dried rice paper
Oil for frying
Chilli-lime-fish sauce to serve

• Once you have stopped being amused by the squeakiness of the wood ear fungus you can mix everything together. Maybe leave the rice paper sheets out as you will need them to wrap the spring rolls, also this will make you appear smart
• Heat enough oil to fry stuff. A deep fryer is great but the stove top does the trick fine too. 180C is good
• It’s a good idea to fry a small sausage of the filling so you can check the seasoning. Once you are happy with it you can start rolling them up
• Drop rice paper sheets into a bowl of hot water for 3-4 seconds. Remove from water and lay on bench
• Form a small amount of pork mix into a sausage about the 6-7cm long and place onto the rice paper sheet close to the front edge
• Roll the paper around the sausage, tucking the side flaps over as you get past half way
• Look a bit like shit? It probably will, and so will the next one. They’ll get better as you go – it’s all about practice
• Fry spring rolls in batches for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and delicious looking
• Eat with a dipping sauce made from fresh chilli, lime juice, fish sauce and a little sugar to balance it out
• Remember the good times in the streets of Vietnam

Still banging on about Vietnam… and a recipe for Pho

vietnamese pho noodle soup
One thing that is very noticeable in Vietnam is the hawkers… every densely populated area (which is in fact every square meter of ground in this country) has it’s hawkers and those hawkers will hit the streets in force and advance on the populace, both local and foreign, and will all try and convince you that they are selling exactly what you need; a book, CDs, donuts and other sweet coated fried bread products, cigarettes, cigarette lighters, wallets, hats, trinkets (I don’t even know what a trinket is, but it seems like something these people would sell), watches and other bits and pieces.

For the most part they are in fact selling nothing that you need, but they will not believe you when you tell them this, so you need to walk on (see “the cardinal rule when dealing with hawkers”).

The only hawkers that truly have something that you might want are the ones who are selling the donuts. Sweetened little balls and fingers (not actual body parts) of tasty fried bread goodness, these guys are doing you a favour. But, if you do in fact make a purchase from one of these vendors you are faced with another set of problems because you have in fact communicated and, dare I say, looked the hawker in the eye and in doing so, you have broken the cardinal rule when dealing with hawkers – if I may bring it to your attention – DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE OR LOOK AT HAWKERS.

As much as you are a nice and decent human being and they are people too and you have your obligation to be kind to your fellow man and blah blah blah. Well you need to realise that these people are the lion and you are the antelope, and if you falter, even for a second, they will pounce on you, drag you to the ground and rip you to shreds, then more of their kind will come and squabble over your remains.

It is like opening your door to a gypsy; you only see one initially and think that’s going to be fine, next minute your house is over-run and you find yourself renting your own Toyota Camry from a small man with a decisive limp and an uncanny way with goats…

Legit as heck - pho getting served in the streets of Hanoi
Legit as heck – pho getting served in the streets of Hanoi

Another thing that is very easily noticeable is the love of pho.

Everywhere you go in this place there are piles of the freshest, tastiest rice noodles you have ever had the pleasure of placing in your face, just laying there, quietly dormant, patiently waiting for their ovation once swimming in the clear, mothers-milk of a stocky broth that will finally allow this dish to be known as pho.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, summer, winter, special occasion, regular midweek dinner or lonely Friday night in for one, this noodle soup is anytime food, comfort food, party food and food to be consumed from your girl friend’s body all in one.

If you are smart you will make this, or something very similar. If you are not smart you are probably sitting at the dinner table trying to eat soup with a knife and fork.

Carry on.

Charring the onions and ginger. A cake rack over a flame works a treat
Charring the onions and ginger. A cake rack over a flame works a treat

Spices about to get slapped around a bit
Spices about to get slapped around a bit
Clear and scum-free is the result you are looking for
Clear and scum-free is the result you are looking for
Herbs. Heaps of herbs
Herbs. Heaps of herbs
The beef version
The beef version
Herbs and sprouts and other shit that goes in your pho
Herbs and sprouts and other shit that goes in your pho

The chicken version
The chicken version

PHO –BEEF or CHICKEN. YOU CHOOSE (serves 6-8)

I feel that before you embark on this mission you should know that eating pho is a life style choice. Other things that, say, the Australian Prime Minister says are a lifestyle choice, may in fact not be a lifestyle choice at all and are indeed just more words that seem to fall effortlessly from his lips with the express purpose of embarrassing the Australian people.

FOR THE BROTH
2kg beef bones (or 4-5 chicken frames)
1kg brisket (or ½ chicken. You can freeze the other half for later, eat it for dinner tomorrow, or even make a double recipe of pho so you can feed the neighbourhood… I can’t believe I need to tell you this)
500g onions
1 thumbsized piece ginger (approx. 50g)
1 cinnamon stick
3 black cardamon pods
1 star anise
2 cloves
10 black peppercorns
1 stalk lemongrass, light part only, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Water

TO SERVE
500g dried rice noodles
1 bunch garlic chives, chopped
250g bean sprouts
4-5 spring onions, chopped
A large pile of picked fresh herbs (I used mint, basil, coriander and purple shiso)
Lime quarters
Some kind of fresh chilli or chilli condiment
Sweetened fish sauce

• Put the bones and meat in a large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and discard water
• Grill onions and ginger over an open flame for 5-10 minutes until nicely charred. Chop roughly
• Combine all broth ingredients in a clean pot (you could probably just clean the other pot out and use that…) and cover with approx. 4lt water
• Simmer broth for 2 hours or so, skimming a few times to remove scum from surface
• Strain through a fine sieve or muslin or even a clean chux, and return to heat. Remove meat and chop to serve (pick chicken from bones first if using)
• Check seasoning and adjust if necessary
• Soak rice noodles in hot (but not boiling) water for 2 minutes or until starting to soften. Drain
• In a wire basket/sieve, blanch bean sprouts in broth for 20 seconds
• Put it all on the table for people to help themselves to whatever
• Put “go to Vietnam” on your bucket list

Banh Mi… A sandwich, but an effing good sandwich to be sure

banh mi, food, vietnam, pork
I don’t even know where to start about the details of this little adventure, which was the first off Australian soil for this little family unit.

I have wondered if I should try to describe to you my annoyingly deep seeded fear of flying. How when we hit a bit of turbulence I freak the fuck out and start looking around at other passengers only to notice they are all calmly sitting back sipping their cup of tea or cheep domestic sparkling wine, and reading their news papers. Mother fuckers. I am wrenching at that chair like an old diesel mechanic. Seriously, they would need the jaws of life to pry me from the seat in the case of decent turbulence. It would be true to say even the seatbelts would be fighting to put me on to ensure their safety in the case of emergency. I seriously think I need to drink more when I’m flying… Lot’s more…

Anyway, clearly we did arrive at our destination all safe and sound. First stop, Hanoi and the Old Quarter.

Banh mi. The photo may not look much chop, but the flavours... dear good lord
Banh mi. The photo may not look much chop, but the flavours… dear good lord

The Old Quarter is called the Old Quarter because that’s what they damn well wanted to call it. Cut these homies some slack, would you…

We stayed close to the Old Quarter as we had heard that this was the place to go for good cheap eats, and my friends, we were not disappointed.

On the first morning we woke up early and hit the streets. Not literally of course, as we had only just met these streets and they had done nothing to wrong us… yet. We saw power lines attached to trees. Like, rows of power lines attached to trees. It was like the city would be powerless if it didn’t have these trees. That was the first of many noticeable differences between Vietnam and Australia but, as I am not a cat loving Aunt trying to decide which nephew is my favourite, I’m going to move on for now and appreciate ‘nam as the individual and unique snow flake it is.

The boys and I sit and do this thing that is banh mi
The boys and I sit and do this thing that is banh mi

That first morning was when I saw my first banh mi stand. It was like I was a teenager again and I had swapped gazes with that pretty and heaps popular girl (whose name I can’t remember) at the school dance, the dance floor opened up like the red sea, and then she walked over to me and took my hand and we… um… that must’ve been someone else’s screwed up gym class dream there. Sorry about that. Back to the banh mi stand; I saw it from across the street and I knew it must be mine. I pushed my way through a crowd of scooters and small people with very dark and very straight hair, until I had finally reached my target. Now I pointed at the crusty roll the banh mi vendor held in her hand and, pausing momentarily to wipe the drool that was slowly making its way from my lips to my shirt front via way of my beard (not a good look no matter what country you are in. I enquired how much it would cost for my family and I to partake in the much anticipated porky baguette. My enquiry was received with nothing but a blank look followed by a smile. I asked again how much this would cost, this time using hand signals so as to help my cause… alas the gesturing did not bring me any closer to purchasing this holy fruit, but only made me seem like I was trying to signal a small aircraft to land on the foot path.

A nice pic of the first banh mi stand I ever visited. As you can see, we had a nice seat next to the garden...
A nice pic of the first banh mi stand I ever visited. As you can see, we had a nice seat next to the garden…

Still I battled (baffled) on.

After what seemed like an eternity (honestly, I’m sure it didn’t take us this long to finalise the purchase of our house) I had finally secured the purchase of our banh mi.

The lady at the banh mi stand beckoned us toward a small plastic chair – a chair that would be part of a young child’s play set – which was where we would sit to eat our banh mi. This arrangement was clearly more suited to the smaller people of Asian descent who were swarming the footpath around me, but on that child’s play set is indeed where we sat and ate our first banh mi.

My favourite breakfast consisted of banh mi and Vietnamese coffee. If you need a reason to get up in the morning it might be time for you to look at real estate in Vietnam
My favourite breakfast consisted of banh mi and Vietnamese coffee. If you need a reason to get up in the morning it might be time for you to look at real estate in Vietnam

Something happened to me that day as I consumed that sandwich. The whole experience affected me like I never ever dreamt of being effected by a sandwich. It was the smell of the town, mixed with the noise of the streets, mixed with us sitting on children’s décor, and of course the little coal fired oven-crisped baguette filled with a porky meatloaf, cucumber, herbs and chilli dressing.

Holy fuck balls is all I have to say about that.

You see how there is a little cupboard below the meat... that's not a first aid cabinet, that's where they have a little coal oven type set up going on to het the rolls. Genius
You see how there is a little cupboard below the meat… that’s not a first aid cabinet, that’s where they have a little coal oven type set up going on to het the rolls. Genius

Every banh mi vendor has their own version of what can only be described as the National Sandwich of Vietnam, and every single one of these sandwiches we tried, how ever different from the last, was truly effing delicious. They could contain a selection or all of the following ingredients; BBQ pork, braised pork, pork sausage, pork meatloaf/terrine (these folks really love their pork and it is probably no secret that this is a contributing factor as to why I loved this country so much), pate, sometimes chicken, fried egg, cucumber, julienne carrot and radish, heaps of different herbs, mayo, fish sauce, braising juices and chilli paste/sauce on the crustiest of baguette – a parting gift from our old friends “the Frenchies” before they headed home in the 50’s. Très bon.

More bahn mi
More bahn mi

Prices ranged from 10,000dong (US$0.47 or AUS$0.60) for the most simple versions – maybe meat, a few herbs and a dressing – to 50,000dong (AUS$3.00 if you can’t do the math) for a more complex, multiple meats, possibly an egg, all the salads version, or the cheaper, simpler version but sitting in an actual restaurant not eating in the street…

This is something you do need to try before you move on from this earthly coil.

Banh mi are good.

Done.

Soz for all of the Asia talk that’s coming up and a recipe for Smoky Eggplant and Pork (kinda knicked from Morning Glory Restaurant, Hoi An)

smoky eggplant, pork, morning glory, vietnam, hoi an
As you may or may not know, Jennee and I have spent the last three weeks with our two boys, Seba and Obi, travelling around the Mid-North of Vietnam and Laos – get a bit of culture and a whole heap of good food into us, yeah?

Well, now we’re back and I feel I should semi-apologise for the talk of these countries that will ensue on this blog over the next while… but not really…

While we were travelling I wrote some stuff down in a small brown writing book that had off white pages and faint black lines to keep my writing neat. How clever of the journal making people. I carried my writing book and a black pen with me in a backpack. I wrote words about the things I saw, heard, touched, smelled and more importantly, ate.

It was an interesting experience to be doing the old pen on paper thing again full time for three weeks. Interesting and good. Really good. Although from time to time I ended up feeling like a student who was completing his away-from-school-journal that his nasty assed parents were making him write about his experience because he was missing school… a lot like what we did to our children, except we got work sheets from the school as well *insert absolutely sinister, deriving way to much pleasure from the children’s suffering, parent laugh here*.

As it seems like it may take me a day or two to properly decipher and amalgamate said journal, I shall get straight into the cooking side of things. The last few weeks have been easily the longest time I have spent out of the kitchen in the last 10-15 years purely because… well… let’s face it, there was soooo much really fucking good food, getting cooked on every street corner in Vietnam, all being sold at what can only be described as ridiculously low prices, like, eat some cracking food and get a beer for the same price as a coffee is going to be in Australia, that there was no way I was going to be cooking on this trip. No effing way.

Now is time for me to return to my rightful place at the stove and off load some of the pressure that has been building in my brain due to the sensory overload that was Vietnam and Laos.

This is an attempt (the first of many I am sure) at the reincarnation of a dish we ate at Morning Glory Restaurant (don’t worry, there’s a post all of its own coming for this little gem of a place… sexual innuendo included) in Hoi An. It was the tastiest little smoky eggplant number and, if you love the tasty of smoky charred eggplant as I do, then you will love this dish. Unless you don’t like pork, in which case you will not like this dish at all. You should leave the pork out. Yes, for those of you amongst us who are of the predisposition that does not for what ever reason believe in the consumption of pork, we here at foodisthebestshitever recommend you omit the pork from this dish.

Also, I have added a little rice to the pork mince in the recipe, which the more astute amongst you may notice is not in the pics. This is because as I was winging this recipe I neglected to look at the photos I had taken of the original dish at Morning Glory and realised later that the OG dish did indeed appear to have a little rice mixed through the pork mince. This little number was damn tasty but I think it was just missing the rice to help the pork stick together a little. Anyway, this shit is fully easy, tasty, good. Get on it!

Grill the eggplant over an open flame so it gets all black and delicious looking
Grill the eggplant over an open flame so it gets all black and delicious looking

Get some rice cooking in a rice cooker. This shit is legit
Get some rice cooking in a rice cooker. This shit is legit
Eggplant peeled, cut and looking sweet
Eggplant peeled, cut and looking sweet
Porky goodness slapped on top
Porky goodness slapped on top

Garnished with the good stuff and ready to hit the table
Garnished with the good stuff and ready to hit the table

SMOKY EGGPLANT with PORK MINCE (serves 4 with sides)

500g pork mince
3 medium eggplant
1 large or 2 small onions, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon castor sugar
½ teaspoon ground pepper, black is what they use in ‘nam
A splash of stock or water
1 cup of cooked rice (you can use the stuff you’re going to serve it with)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Crisp eshallots* and sliced green chilli to garnish
Stir fried vegetables with garlic and steamed rice to serve

• Grill the eggplant on an open flame as you would for a babaganoush or something similar, except don’t quite cook it all the way through as you will finish the cooking process in the pan. Peel and cut into thumb-sized pieces
• Lay the eggplant pieces in a pan and set aside while you get the pork ready
• Heat oil and cook onions over med-high heat for two minutes or until starting to brown. Add fish sauce and garlic (I feel a knob of ginger, finely julienned, would also be a great addition right now) and cook out for another minute. Set aside
• In same pan stir fry pork mince over high heat until cooked. Season with black pepper. Stir through onion mix including all of the oil, and also stir through one cup of cooked rice… I hope you have some rice cooking**…
• Now to get it all together
• Dress eggplant with soy sauce, sugar and a splash of stock/water and the spoon pork mix over the top
• Cover and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until eggplant is fully cooked
• Check seasoning and add a little more soy sauce if necessary
• Garnish with a heap of chilli and crisp eshallots, and serve

*Crisp eshallots are available everywhere you look in Vietnam, or Asian grocery stores and probably even major supermarkets in whatever country you live in

**It is totally legit to use a rice cooker. I recommend using a rice cooker. Asians use rice cookers. In Asia it was not uncommon for us to wake to the sound of tens of thousands of rice cookers being simultaneously switched on around the city. True story. Get a rice cooker today.

The Round Eye Review… Hu Tieu Thanh Liem Vietnamese Restaurant, Mirrabooka

It’s kind of apt that our friend G-Money should be reviewing a Vietnamese restaurant today, as I myself am currently in that land of the small table settings in person. So let this be an introduction to what will surely be a month of talk about Vietnamese cuisine… – Grazza McFilthy Mouth

Hu Tieu Thanh Liem
73 Honeywell Blvd, Mirrabooka, WA 6061

Ok. Let’s address the elephant in the room.

Yes. This is the closest restaurant to my house.

Yes. I love this place. If it were legal, I would marry this place quicker than an insane Japanese man could marry his manga pillow.

Therefore…

(SPOILER ALERT : THIS REVIEW IS GETTING A HIGH SCORE.)

So by now you should of pieced together that I live in Mirrabooka, if you haven’t then I recommend more protein for lunch and less paint chips. Mirrabooka. That word can conjure many reactions in people, and rightly so as this area has a chequered past, but it is a lot better area nowadays and where there are cons, there are awesome pros too.

Cons: drug deals on the corner and occasional murders in the neighbouring suburbs. No biggy.

Pros: get a whole block of land for two goats and a hard boiled egg, and the multiculturalism.

Lets focus on the multiculturalism. Any evening around dinner time you can stick your head out the front door, and smell the amazing aroma of 2 or 3 different continents cooking up some delicious shit. Just in my cul-de-sac alone we have Filipinos, Vietnamese, Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Western folk all cooking up a storm. I really would like to push for a food fair down at the park, if it weren’t for the terrible, terrible risk of being sold weed at a food fair. This multiculturalism is responsible for a local mecca called Honeywell Shops. Oh my god Honeywell Shops. A dodgy roller shuttered hole of a shopping centre at night becomes a vibrant display of fresh produce, meat, seafood, spices and food during the day. For me it’s food prep heaven, but I’m not a shopping centre reviewer and no doubt by now a few of you are thinking “When is this nut job getting on about the food?” Right about now i say.

Hu Tieu Thanh Liem, or as the wife and I call it – Vietnamizzle (we don’t know how you pronounce it), and yes I am about to say it, is the best suburban Vietnamese in Perth. I can here some of you gasp as there is some good competition, especially around the corner at Marangaroo shops, which is great and I will get to them in later reviews. Vietnamizzle encompasses everything I think Vietnamese food should be. Spicy, sour, sweet, salty, bitter flavours that are bold but well balanced and smack bang full of uber fresh produce. Always some of the freshest produce you’ll ever be served. Lets face it, the Vietnamese are hard working bastards and churn out some amazing stuff. At Vietnamizzle most dishes will be served with a mountain of fresh basil, mint, chilli and bean sprouts. And if you get takeaway expect to have a shopping bag full of these accompanying your order. Have I mentioned I love this place?

The wife, like she regularly does went for The Pho. Not A pho. This is THE pho. The award winning pho. Now I know saying this is “The pho” that steam is coming out of a few of my friends and readers ears. “But my place does the best pho” just blasted through their lips. Like dim sum, pho is different for everyone, but for me, some Sunday Times award, a food website I can’t recall award, and most definitely for my wife, this is the best. A bowl of Raw Beef Hofan Soup (Pho Tai) will set you back a whopping $10. That’s right $10 for a bowl of heaven. Thinly sliced raw beef that just gets that rare steak look as it swims above a bed of thick, plump rice noodles and in a broth that is too far along the mind blowing scale to even start comparing to something. A hell of a lot goes into pho broth, and my brain can’t even fathom breaking it down into what I think is in there. I prefer to just eat it and be amazed. Served with a side of fresh cut chilli, lemon, bean sprouts, and mint, this is a dish that’s more of an experience than a meal.

I have pretty much eaten this whole menu, but also pictured here is another favourite the Bánh xèo ($12) or as we order it “Vietnamese Pancake.” A perfect blend of rice flour, pork, prawns, bean sprouts and chives that are all fried in a coconut oil. This is a great starter and will serve four people as an entrée. Served with another mountain of herbs and fresh vegetables, it is a dish that is best eaten served up in a lettuce leaf with the herbs (similar to san choy bau) and topped with a drizzle of the sweet, spicy & sour sauce that accompanies it. I must warn that the prawns do come with the shell still on but they are perfectly cooked and the shell adds a nice crunch to the dish. A must have if you come here.

I went for the Bun Bi Cha Gio Thit Nuong ($13), which equates to in english as rice vermicelli with shredded pork, grilled pork and a fried spring roll. I love my pork, Vietnamizzle love their pork, so no surprise here – I love this dish. Have I mentioned I love this place? The noodles here are always done so well, they are no match for Noodle Forum, but still very good. Always loose, never stuck together and perfectly cooked. The seasoned pork has that crispy texture you expect of some grilled pig, but is also packed with this immensely satisfying smokey flavour. Cover all this with the accompanying sauce and you have a fantastic feed. This is a tasty simple dish, and is especially good for those who are a bit cautious with asian food.

Other favourite dishes here are: salt and pepper squid, spicy beef salad, stuffed chicken wings, lemongrass & chilli beef, Vietnamese rolls, rice net paste dishes, wontons,….i could go on and on.

By now you definitely think I am biased, possibly endorsed, but it really is a suburban gem and incredible value for money. Our total dinner bill was $35, add $1 corkage per person, yes it is BYO anything alcoholic, and BINGO….winner winner tasty, cheap Vietnamese dinner.

I love this place.

4.5 mispronounced dishes out of 5

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