Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Vietnamese meal in Bankstown

We did end up at a Vietnamese restaurant. Somehow I always do whenever I am in Australia. A lot of times, I go for the pho bo - the Vietnamese beef noodles. This time, Sam brought us to this shop for the goi cuon - the Vietnamese rice paper rolls.

The place he took us was Bun Bo Hue Gia Hoi, located on Chapel Road South in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown. It is about 15 minutes from Sam's place. Bankstown has a sizeable Asian population and a number of Vietnamese and Chinese eateries. Bun Bo Hue Gia Hoi is one of the smaller ones. It was brightly lit and appeared to be popular with the local folks.

Bun Bo Hue is the spicy Vietnamese beef noodle. And Gia Hoi must be the name of the shop. Since they put the 2 together, I guess this shop specialises in this spicy noodle. As we walked into the shop, I did noticed a number of people having it. Unfortunately none of us opted for it.

Sam ordered a large portion of goi cuon (Vietnamese rice paper rolls) for the 7 hungry stomachs. The ingredients for the rolls came in a large plate. There were a variety of meats - beef, chicken, fish cake, and I think there was pork as well. Some were weirdly red. There were also various vegetables - taugeh (bean sprouts), fresh basel, lettuce, carrot strips, mint leaves, etc. And generous portions of soft rice vermicelli or 'bun' in Vietnamese. And these were served with various types of sauces.

An unlimited amount of stiff rice papers were provided. They were accompanied with bowls of water.

We wetted the hard rice paper with the water. It was quite intriguing to see how the stiff rice paper became soft and malleable in a jiffy. I guess it takes some practice to wrap the ingredients into a decent roll. Amateurs like us had to be contented with this performance.

The goi cuon was okay - not a wow. The ingredients were plentiful but did not taste fantastic. Perhaps I did not use the right sauces. 

This was a plate of fried koay teow. There was generous amount of meat, fish cake, mushroom and vegetables. The koay teow, like those in Katoomba, were fat and thick. I guess for this type of frying, the thick koay teow are okay.

This plate of fried mee is definitely not okay. I think it was Alan who opted for it. The noodles were deep fried and turned out hard and wiry. The ingredients were pork and seafood. There was simply not enough gravy to soak in the noodles to make them soft and more edible. 

My choice, as always, was the beef noodles. I have never been to Vietnam - but someone in the course of the meal mentioned that the Vietnamese beef noodles in Australia are better than those in found in the native country; the reason being the much superior quality of beef in Australia. The bowl of noodles served to me was huge. For the first time ever, I could not finish the bowl. Perhaps it was because of the goi cuon I had. The taste of the noodles was okay. The soup was clear and sweet. But all in all, it definitely could not match the ones I tasted it Melbourne

Finally, this was a plate of crocodile meat that Leonard had. It was stir fried in a chilli sauce with onion and served with rice and salad. I sampled a piece of the meat. It was like a cross between chicken and pork. It was not bad - all lean, soft and tender. This was my first taste of crocodile. Talk about food exoticism. Asia is supposed to be the leader. Looks like Australia is not very far behind with kangaroo and crocodile and god knows what else.

It was a mediocre meal. The servings were large. I think this was a quantity rather than a quality sort of place. 

I definitely enjoyed the company more.

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