There are seven vegetarian places in little ol’ Cabramatta, either restaurants or vegetarian supplies shops – that’s a lot in one suburb. They all survive because many locals eat vegetarian on the full and half moon cycles; roughly each fortnight. Because of the competition, the food is not only good for you but tremendous effort goes into making them look and taste good. Many even make vegetarian versions of ‘meat’ dishes; noodlies, Sydney food blog is having two of those today at Loving Hut.
Bun man is a noodle dish that originates from Soc Trang, southern Vietnam. The noodles here are vermicelli based but are thick, round and spaghetti like, similar to what you’ll find in bun bo hue. In the ‘meat‘ version, the soup stock is incredibly complex, benefiting from bones, fish and mam tom – a purple fermented prawn paste that is super pungent. The result is a sweet and intensely salty soup that’s balanced with meat and lots of side vegetables and mints. I’m sketpical that the vegetarian version could capture even a quarter of that flavour.
But I’m wrong. Of course it’s not exactly mam tom reproduced, but there is a strong, fermented saltiness in the soup that you’d swear could only come from meat/fish. There’s even a tofu mock meat that has the texture and taste of fish fillet. Uncanny.
The bun cha goi translates a little easier as a vegetarian dish; here the spring rolls (cha gio) are filled with tofu and vegetables and the bi (think slivers of pork skin) is replaced with thin tofu cuts. It’s a relatively healthy dish in either version as most of the ingredients are bean sprouts, vegetables like carrots, cucumber and many variations of Vietnamese mints.
Loving Hut is quality vegetarian and it’s vegan. They’ve recently opened a branch in Canley Heights.
227 Cabramatta Rd, Cabramatta