Hai Au has been consistently on my Best Restaurants in Cabramatta list.  We came back tonight because they have this new roast chicken which is done at the entrance to the restaurant (see above).  The chicken is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over an enormous flame (below).

The dish is served with sticky rice and is delicious, the chicken well cooked but moist and flavoursome from the marinate, smoke and banana leaf.

Of course we ordered other more traditional dishes like canh chua, Vietnamese sour soup.  Tonight’s version is with prawns but you can have it with fish or chicken.  The sweetness is driven by the meat stock and fish sauce and sourness from fresh pineapples, tomatoes and tamarind.  Together with the amazing amount of vegetables and mints including my favourite, ochre.  Canh chua  is probably my favourite Vietnamese home dish.

The other unique thing about Hai Au is that the rice is cooked in the container that it’s served in.  True rice connoisseurs know that the burnt rice at the bottom is delicious, it’s one craving that can not be produced by the relatively more sterile and efficient electric rice cooker.  It goes amazingly well with canh chua.

Speaking of traditional Vietnamese dishes, canh chua is almost invariably eaten with ca kho – caramelised fish.  The fish is cooked slowly in fish sauce mixture until it’s coloured.  Served with a lot of cracked pepper, it’s a perfect contrast to the sweet and sour soup.

Rounding off the traditional home style combination is goi – Vietnamese salad with prawn and pork.  This version is made with bamboo shoots – that’s the white tubular shape below.

Not a particular favourite of mine, but muc chien – fried calamari is not bad dipped with a salt, pepper lemon sauce on the side.

Bo tiet bang – the Vietnamese equivalent of sweet and sour pork is Walter’s favourite.

It’s full marks tonight, everything was just perfect.  And the Vietnamese decorations really does make you suspend disbelief and, for a fleeting moment or two, transport you to Vietnam.

Under 30/head for our group of six, with enough for two dogie bags, this Sydney food blog finds it hard not to like Hai Au.

I should also add efficient service and food comes out fresh and incredibly fast.

Hai Au Vietnamese Restaurant
48 Canley Vale Road
Canley Vale
02 9724 9156

Hai Au on Urbanspoon