I had been looking forward to trying Great Aunty Three, and yesterday, with howling wind and rain outside and Mr Black sleeping off a big night, I took myself off for a little treat.
The space is small but not poky, with authentic Vietnamese plastic stools for squatting on, and a couple of beautiful brown leather armchairs for the less flexible. It has a lovely feel to it, as Michael (the owner) and his wife Mai are incredibly warm and friendly. (Their son, Ethan, is a total cutie too. I’m such a sucker for cute kids!) The menu is wonderfully simple: gourmet banh mi, rice paper (summer) rolls, and little cupcakes. To drink there’s tea, espresso, or – oh joy! – Vietnamese drip coffee! I had already had my caffeine fix for the day so this would have to wait till next time!
After purchasing a caramelised pork banh mi for the boy, and three types of summer roll for myself, I spied a pot of simmering pho behind the counter. It turns out my first visit had luckily coincided with the debut of their authentic pho made to Great Aunty Three’s original recipe… I even got to meet Great Aunty Three!
Michael brought my pho over with offerings of chilli and hoisin sauces. The pho was heady with fragrance from cloves, cinnamon bark and star anise. It also had a slight sweetness, more in the fragrance than in flavour, which went beautifully with a squeeze of the Saigon (very!) hot sauce.
I loved the pho, and thought the size was just right – unlike the ginormous bowls of pho served in Marrickville, which I can never finish alone! Lots of crunchy bean sprouts, finely sliced onion and chewy meatballs made it texturally interesting too. My only suggestion to Michael would be to also offer a piece of lemon alongside the chilli and hoisin sauces for those of us who like a little extra acidity.
The summer rolls were flavoursome, especially the duck, and while they could be rolled a little tighter they were still easy to eat. I also LOVED that they included my favourite herb, perilla, to give them that unmistakably Vietnamese flavour.
The banh mi was excellent as well. A super-soft white bread roll generously stuffed with pickles, herbs, cucumber and – wait for it – caramelised pork in coconut juice, one of my favourite dishes to make and eat! The wonderful texture and flavour of the pork brings all the ingredients together and ensures the banh mi is nicely moist.
I love this place! I look forward to going back to try the juices, Vietnamese drip coffee, and more pho 😉