Vietnamese greatest street food hits in one place.
An off-shoot of a Bankstown eatery, Thy Cabramatta is what’s been missing in the area – a no-nonsense eatery that serves just about every favourite Vietnamese quick fix dishes. Noodlies, Sydney food blog takes a first look.
History has not been kind to previous businesses at this location, there have been two, relatively short-lived restaurants. Sure their food were acceptable. But this is Cabramatta; you have to be good or you’re gobbled up by the competition and spat out by fickle punters. Being a large, double-fronted establishment doesn’t help either; Cabra rents are famously steep.
you have to be good or you’re gobbled up by the competition and spat out by fickle punters.
Thy Vietnamese Eatery is no newbie, it’s already a fairly successful restaurant in Bankstown. Now they’ve come to Cabramatta town, just in time for Moon Festival. It’s barely three days old in Cabramatta.
The name says a lot about their realistic aspiration – neither cuisine or restaurant pretension – this is a no-nonsense, in-and-out eatery. Stark, functional furniture, plain surrounds except for a simple photo feature menu wall and bright neon lights are consistent with the positioning of Cabramatta’s newest eatery.
The menu is ambitious, just about every Viet single dish is there including their featured street food – banh cuon (below) and banh xeo. There’s pho, bun, chao, banh beo, bun rieu, in fact, just about everything on noodlies’ list of top 10 Vietnamese street food.
Banh cuon is a classic Vietnamese street food. Park your motorcycle and park your bum on a tiny plastic stool by the road and holler your order. It’s made-to-order, the impossibly thin sheets of rice noodles are cooked over a well oiled flat surface and covered for even cooking. The filling of mince pork and mushroom is added and rolled (cuon means rolled in Vietnamese).
Park your motorcycle and park your bum on a tiny plastic stool by the road and holler your order.
It’s laborious, fidgety work but the result should be clean, pristine white rolls containing dark brown filling. It’s served with mints, bean sprouts and pickled vegetables, cha lua (pork roll) and topped with fried onion.
Here, the banh cuon looks a little uneven, even lumpy, but you get a lot of rolls. There were no pickles and the banh cong – Vietnamese fried cake with shrimp and mung bean (watch the video recipe above), cut in two halves were relatively taste free, as well as prawn free. The fish sauce, which is a key component of this dish (and lots of other Vietnamese dishes) was fine, nicely balanced between fish saltines and sweetness – freshly cut chilli comes on the side for you to add to taste.
Bun mam is the sort of dish that you don’t see in too many eateries. The cloudy soup might look tame, even plain, but the reality is very different. That murkiness is due to fermented fish or shrimp – mam ca loc or mam tom respectively. If you think undiluted fish sauce is pungent, it’s nothing compared to the gut-wrenching funkiness of mam. There’s a lot of competing flavours with pork, seafood including prawn and fish fillet. The noodle (bun) is udon-sized vermicelli.
If you think undiluted fish sauce is pungent, it’s nothing compared to the gut-wrenching funkiness of mam.
Combat the concentrated sea flavours with side sprouts, greens and a squeeze of lemon. Chilli also helps to cut the taste. Here, the broth is sparing on the pungency and is on the sweet side, which is good news for novices. There are plenty of meat and seafood in the bowl to enjoy.
While it all sounds, potentially disgusting, for those who have graduated past pho and bun bo Hue, then bun mam might be an addictive nexus. Watch the bun mam video recipe below if you’re interested in whipping up a bowl at home.
Surrounded by the bewildering choice of classics, noodlies opts for a drink that’s not on many menus any more, soda chanh trung. Once a feature of most Vietnamese eateries, over time it seems to have disappeared. The drink is a mixture of soda water, lemon/lime, condensed milk or sugar, and fresh egg yolk. When mixed together it looks like the attractive drink below; sparkling, sweet and creamy. Trust me, it’s actually rather refreshing.
Prices are moderate with most dishes between $10.50 – $12.50. Service is fast and efficient, banh cuon took a little longer to arrive but as mentioned, it’s trickier than most to prepare.
Thy has a lot going for it, and it’s all around the huge range of Vietnamese street food dishes – one of the most extensive around. But with such a range, there’s bound to be hits and misses, or even just mediocre executions. The trick is to find out which is which.
Today’s dishes were in no way bad. They just didn’t soar to great heights. But that’s Thy. They don’t pretend to be anything else.
Thy Vietnamese Eatery
8/9-11 Hughes St, Cabramatta