Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sydney's Top 5 Best Vietnamese Restaurants

It's a big call, I know, but I am about to name Sydney's 5 best Vietnamese restaurants.
I realise that as soon as I do this I will be inundated with people saying "But what about..."
I concede that I have left some fantastic restaurants out, but I had to make a decision, and this is the outcome.
One of the unifying themes across all of these restaurants is that none of them are really very fancy places. I can normally tell how bad a restaurant is going to be by quickly assessing its decor. The more stylish and designed a restaurant, the worse its food. No exceptions.
My qualifications to make these judgements? I love food, and my partner and I eat out almost every night of the week - at least 3 or 4 of those nights being Vietnamese (as you'd expect).
So here goes: Sydney's 5 best Vietnamese restaurants (in no particular order). Get out there and start trying some of them:

Phuoc Loc Tho - Situated upstairs on a side street in Canley Heights, Phuoc Loc Tho is easy to miss. But it prepares Sydney's best 7 Delights of Beef, a traditional Vietnamese banquet-style meal that presents 7 quite different dishes based on - you guessed it - beef. The charming proprietor has had a couple of very good restaurants all over Sydney over the years, and we have been fans of them all. Perfectly prepared, fresh, Southern cuisine at its absolute best - you can't go wrong here. If you don't feel like indulging with the 7 Delights, try some of the fry-and-roll-yourself dishes, and the Vietnamese salads and fresh rolls here are really top notch. Oh, and they do excellent sinh to, the sweet fruit shakes made with custard apple or avocado - a perfect dessert.

Phuoc Loc Tho
1st Floor/233 Canley Vale Rd
Canley Heights NSW 2166
(02) 9723 0701

Pho Pasteur - Right in the sleaziest part of Chinatown (they have a sister restaurant in Bankstown), Pho Pasteur is one of the City's greatest treasures. It's never going to win any awards for service, but the pho here is among the best in Sydney, and the other fast and simple one-bowl dishes are all outstanding. It is incredibly crowded at lunch, but there is a quick turnaround of tables, so you won't have to wait for long. They stay open ytill 9, so it's a great (and cheap) after-work option. Apart from the pho, they also do a great bun cha gio (fried spring rolls served over noodles and salad) and a yummy bun nem nuong (barbecued meats served over noodles and salad).

Pho Pasteur
709 George St
Haymarket NSW 2000

Nhat Tan - probably the humblest looking restaurant on the list, Nhat Tan is a Marrickville institution, though mostly frequented by Vietnamese. Primarily a noodle place, Nhat Tan has excellent pho, but also serves up a range of noodle dishes, and does really good cha gio (fried spring rolls) and goi cuon (fresh spring rolls). A small menu, but everything perfectly done. Trendy inner-city types normally head to other restaurants in Marrickville, but those in the know rate Nhat Tan as the most authentic and original.

Nhat Tan
310 Illawarra Rd
Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 9558 9106

Hai Au - situated in Canley Vale, Hai Au started life as a tiny noodle shop close to the station. It got so that you could never get in, so delicious was the food, and so good its reputation. They moved onto much bigger premises down the road a few years ago, but on some nights you still can't get in. I have never had a bad meal at this place, and it is even starting to make a name for itself among the food reviewing elites. It charges a little more than other places nearby, but it can afford to, because the food is so consistently good. The staff are always happy and charming, though casual, and the food is served incredibly quickly. The canh chua (sour tamarind and fish soup), that staple of the Southern Vietnamese diet, is outstanding here - easily the best in the country. We also love the bo tiet bang - a delicous beef dish stir-fried with capsicum and pineapple and a wonderful sauce, and the suon rang muoi (salt and pepper pork ribs - very sinful, but irresistable!). The menu is full of amazing dishes, so get adventurous - try the bitter-melon salad if you're feeling really brave.

Hai Au Restaurant
48a Canley Vale Rd
Canley Vale NSW 2166

Bau Truong - right in the heart of downtown Cabramatta, Bau Truong is easily the best general (i.e. not specialising in a particular dish) Vietnamese restauant on the strip. The staff always speak English, and can be helpful if you don't know what to order. Consistently good, I like the way they serve the 7 Delights of beef - all on one platter to be shared by two people. Their bun dac biet (cold noodles served with everything) is absolutely delicious as well.

Bau Truong
42 John St
Cabramatta NSW 2166
(02) 9727 4492


  1. Bau Truong is the exception to your rule about decor. Both the Cabramatta one and the Canley Vale one have nice rooms, especially Canley Vale.

  2. Bau truong is expensive but always good flavours and variety!

  3. If you're looking for a medium-priced good quality one, I would recommend you DRAGON DEN in Darlinghurst,
    definitely worth a visit, you can't be disappointed, tasty like in Vietnam.

  4. Genesis Vietnamese in Epping is second to non. Fresh, tasty food and a smiling chef!

  5. ChoLon Vietnamese restaurant at Sydney Pitt Street, near corner of Liverpool st, they got nice fresh spring rolls, tasty chicken breast noodles! It is next 3 or 4 blocks from the Pitt & Liverpool st. 7-Eleven shop, very close to World square. Got a cute decoration, I like the foods, worth a visit!

  6. Cholon wow, love the spring rolls!
    Bay Tinh is good as well


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