It’s kind of a joke around Sydney that unless you either live or work in Cabramatta, you don’t go to Cabramatta.
You see, Cabramatta has a gang problem. You don’t hear too much about it in the news these days but the undercurrent is still there. When we arrive at 7pm the main street of town is deserted and all the shops are locked tight with steel roller-doors. What’s is there is really really really good authentic Vietnamese food.
Back in January The Jacksons and The Williams (aka Neen, her hubby, Jay & I) had our first Dinner Club of 2012. We changed our rules this year (after two fun and disputably successful years of Dinner Club); making it about street-type food or cheap eats instead of the latest trendy restaurant.
January’s pick was mine; I opted to take us out to Cabramatta for some authentic Vietnamese at Phu Quoc.
If you google “best Vietnamese in Sydney” Phu Quoc is at the top of the list. Apparently the lunch crowd goes off with office workers but at night it’s mostly the locals that dine in.
Strings of paper lanterns hang from the roof, the tables are plastic with vases of silk flowers and the chairs are metal & vinyl, there is aircon and self-service drinks from the fridge. There is also a tabletop medley of condiments that include sauces of chilli, soy, oyster and fish sauce, a canister of chopsticks, forks & spoons and a box of tissues for serviettes.
We look at the menu, all in Vietnamese with some English explanations; there are almost 6 full pages and it’s very cheap. We get a bit carried away with the ordering (breaking one of our other rules for the year which is to stop ordering too much food!).
We order everything to share (except Jay’s Pho soup).
The Duck Salad (Goi Vit) is served with rice paper sheets (Banh trang) & nuoc cham dipping sauce; you make your own!
We’ve got so many rice paper rolls that we fill them with Chao Tom which is prawn meat cooked on a stick of sugar cane.
Jay’s Pho soup comes out in a steamy cloud of heady aromas; lemongrass, chilli, mint & meat. He spends the next 15 minutes quietly slurping away.
Jay & Neen order (well, I actually order it but don’t like it so Neen takes it off my hands!) this Green & White drink which is quite strange. It’s got grass jelly, red beans, tapioca balls & rice noodles. It’s like a coconut/bean/jelly dessert but you drink it. It’s definitely an acquired-taste for me, but they like it!
Ian orders the manliest of menu items; Flaming Campfire Beef which literally comes out on fire! You blow the flames out before eating it of course!
I’m not sure when this was ordered, but some Crispy Quail Wings arrive at the table. The boys chow down. Neen & I steer clear. They are cute little baby quails after all…
And then there’s the Bo Luc Lac which is Vietnamese Shaking Beef that comes served with this thick mushroomy sauce & onions served on lettuce and fresh tomatoes.
We eat as much as possible (we’re sure the cooks are laughing at how much food we ordered) and shamefully leave the rest on the plates.
If you like Vietnamese food, Phu Quoc is amazing. Fresh, tasty, quick, cheap. Amazing. Just don’t order too much!!! (FYI all of that food plus soft drinks was $80 total)
Phu Quoc | Cnr John & Hill Sts, Cabramatta NSW