I’d heard great things about this place from friends, and had always intended to go. But as soon I saw that it had taken over the number one spot on Eatability’s Top Ten for Value – from Jasmin’s, no less – I had to take Mr Black on a spontaneous magical mystery dinner date.
We didn’t book, but as it was a Tuesday night we got a table straightaway – although we saw a few people arrive later who had to wait a few minutes for a table. The ambience was lovely, simple but not crammed in, quiet and clean. Service was prompt and to the point.
I chose a Sauvignon Blanc to take with us, as apparently Vietnamese needs a not-too-dry white. This Montana Sauvignon Blanc was nice, it went really well with the meal, especially the peppery pork chop.
I ordered a few random things for us to try, of which the first to arrive were the spring rolls. They were delicious! Hot, crisp and not too oily, we wrapped them in mint and lettuce leaves and dipped them in a perfectly balanced nuoc mam cham.
Next came our beef salad. The beef was tender, sprinkled with crushed peanuts, and the salad crispy and fresh with the perfect amount of aniseed-y Vietnamese mint and basil. And I love scooping it all up in the prawn crackers! My only criticism would be that I found it a little too sweet for my taste, probably due to an unfortunate big glob of sweet chilli in it. I remedied this by adding the leftover sauce from the spring rolls to balance the sweet with more salt/sour.
Of course, we had to get the classic pho to try, with medium-rare beef. I have to say, I haven’t enjoyed pho like this since Vietnam. Warm, scented broth, slippery noodles and crunchy cool bean sprouts.
The last dish to arrive was the combination broken rice, with peppery pork chop, fried egg and pork cake. It was a lovely dish, but more of a meal-in-itself as opposed to a tasting dish to share. The fried egg was tasty tasty tasty! Fish sauce perhaps?
Overall, we were very happy and will be back again soon – especially as the meal was only $34 for us both! Four dishes was probably more than we needed and we could’ve filled up for about $13-14 each. Not as cheap as New Shanghai Dumplings but pretty close!
Pho Bac Hai Duong
304 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville NSW
Open for lunch and dinner 7 days
Cash only, BYO