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
02 9724 9156
oh wow. looks absolutely awesome!!! i must visit. adding onto my wishlist now 🙂
That chicken looks amazing. Oh, I wish we had something like that here in Melbourne!
I have yet to try canh chua and ca kho – thanks for those tips. It's always good to see someone else's "spread" as I think I order oddly, based on taste rather than what traditionally goes with what. Of course that is fine but it is great to learn what goes with what best.
I heart muc rang moi, nom nom.
Hi Simon and Lauren, yep it's a great place, consistently good and very well run
oh dear, I was just that coincidentally. It wasn't fancy pansy but the food is def. yummy! I had Bun Bo Hue!
MUST GET KEN TO DRIVE ME DOWN =)
Highly recommended Dolly… like I said.. watch out for the flames!
Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article
Tried Canh Chua (fish)@ HAI NU for lunch 2day. Awesome flavour however too sweet for me and also very disappointed as I had a reaction to MSG ie extreme lethargy and racing heart. Not happy ;(