Tag Archives: vietnamese

Is it “the best pho in town”?

“She was known for her taste and attitude… now you too, can get a taste of Madame Nhu”. This is the catch phrase of the casual eatery that sits on the corner of Campbell and Foster Street, just across from Bar H. I’m pretty sure the famous Madame Nhu would prefer her potential clientele didn’t take this jingle literally, given that cannibalism went out of fashion with Lord of the Flies. Bad jokes aside, the eating habits of island-bound ratbags and hungry city slickers collide when we hear the restaurant’s other selling point; “The best pho in town.”

The space is right at home in trendy Surry Hills

The space is right at home in trendy Surry Hills

The Vietnamese restaurant’s website boasts that its dining room will transport you to old Saigon, but we reckon it’s far too at home in Surry Hills’ backstreets. The space is trendy and hip, with retro blue stools, wooden shutters and a large mural of a guy pointing the barrel of a gun at unsuspecting pho-lovers. While accurate historical representation may not be Madame Nhu’s forte, the food it dishes up is pleasant. The Sichuan pepper squid, while small, is served with a generous amount of shallots and sliced chilli – making it the perfect beer snack.

Salt and pepper squid with sichuan pepper, shallot and chilli

Salt and pepper squid with sichuan pepper, shallot and chilli

 

The salads – grilled Saigon-style prawn papaya and Hoi An-style squid – are authentic, with tonnes of fresh herbs and a well-balanced dressing, however, a few more prawns and squid would have made the dish a lot more substantial. The pho, on the other hand, is slurpingly delicious… just as pho should be.  The best in town? We’ll let you decide.

Madame Nhu is great for a tasty and cheap work lunch or casual meal with friends.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Madame Nhu here

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Filed under Madame Nhu, Reviews, Surry Hills

A far cry from food court dining: Streets of Saigon

Please, don’t be perturbed by the location. Yes, it may be part of a food court but it isn’t just any food court. It is, in fact, the squeaky-clean, marble table-topped, ultra-mod Level Five Westfield Sydney food court.

Located in the far corner of the food court, near dumpling expert Din Tai Fung, Streets of Saigon is like a glammed-up street stall. While the colourful signage is fun, it is not the location or the restaurant’s aesthetic that wins us over – it is the food. Owner Tu Anh Nguyen said that after moving to Australia, she searched fruitlessly for a restaurant that served the simple flavours and street-style dishes of her home country. Nothing was worth writing home about. So, to fill this gap in the market, Tu Anh decided to open Streets of Saigon: “My passion is to bring the delicious street foods that I grew up with to Australia using traditional recipes and the freshest ingredients to retain the authenticity of true Vietnamese flavours – Streets of Saigon serves what I would serve to my family.”

Owner Tu Anh Nguyen at the launch of Streets of Saigon

Have you, like Tu Anh, tasted the real Vietnam? A piping hot bowl of Pho from a street stall in Hanoi? Or have you rolled your own rice paper rolls and slurped fresh sugar cane juice in Ho Chi Minh city? Streets of Saigon impresses with its steamed fresh rice paper rolls, salads and vermicelli – all served without MSG, gluten or any added preservatives.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Streets of Saigon here

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Filed under Reviews, Streets of Saigon, Sydney CBD

Restaurant Review: misschu underground

Misschu’s reputation as the Rice Paper Roll Queen has meant that after just two weeks of opening, misschu underground already has a queue of hungry office workers craving a Vietnamese fix.

Known as Nahji Chu, Nga Chu is the owner of the successful misschu brand. What started as a humble tuckshop in Darlinghurst’s Bourke Street has turned into an Australia-wide franchise with shops now in Sydney and Melbourne. Her controversial and colourful outbursts has meant that Nahji’s face is regularly featured in the Australian media but, what is most interesting is her incredible story of how she became the woman she is today. After escaping the Pathet Laos Regime in 1975, Nahji and her family spent four years in Thai refugee camps before settling in Australia. After studying film and media, a future in the hospitality industry was a natural progression for Nahji as the Chu family already owned several Vietnamese restaurants in Melbourne.

With the Darlinghurst misschu, Sydneysiders got the rice paper roll bug and so came misschu at the Opera Kitchen, in Exhibition Street in Melbourne, Bondi Beach and now, in Regent Place in the city.

The bar seating at misschu underground

The small, yet compact wooden hut that is misschu underground looks out of place in the squeaky clean surrounds of Regent Place. It’s like a glammed-up version of a hawker house, similar to the ones you would find in Asia, but for the notable lack of MSG and ninety percent humidity. White chalkboard signs direct customers to two windows to “order here” and “collect here”. Adorning the ‘hut’s’ exterior, miniature takeaway boxes hang from pegs and bamboo rice holders are slung over wooden awnings. White plastic shuttlecocks serve as light bulb holders and black and white abstract portraits of Nahji Chu feature on the walls. It’s quirky and fun, and just where I want to be on a chilly Monday.

Chilli prawn with Asian greens and black sticky rice

Feeling as though I’m back in primary school, I write my name at the top of the misschu form, tick the menu selections and then return it to the front office… er, I mean, “order here” window. This is the process at all misschu restaurants – fill out the form and then wait for your food – for both takeaway and inhouse. Scoring a seat at the restaurant’s bar, I notice Nahji Chu’s face staring back at me from the wall in front. All of a sudden I feel as though I’m back in Thailand, staring at photos of the King that are stuck on electricity poles and in every single restaurant and bar. It is nostalgic, in an eerie sort of way.

Despite the line, a yell from the waitress alerts me that my order has arrived. I scurry over to the “collect here” counter and retrieve my goods. The food is fresh and tasty, with plenty of variations on the menu. You can opt for rice and greens or vermicelli; duck, seafood or chicken; there’s salads or curries; rice paper rolls or dumplings. For Asian food lovers, misschu is a must. Oh, and if you’re iPhone’s low on battery, chargers hang from the walls, ready to refuel all your favourite gadgets.

Anna Lisle

Misschu Tuckshop @ Regent Place on Urbanspoon

Read more about misschu underground here

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Filed under misschu underground, Reviews, Sydney CBD