Another new Vietnamese restaurant in Cabramatta.
After a prolonged lull, a rash of new Vietnamese eateries are opening. Are they any good? Noodlies, Sydney food blog checks out a new contender.
For a while there, it seemed like new restaurants in Vietnamatta were anything but Vietnamese; Super Dish, Super Bowl (now closed), Albee’s Kitchen (now closed), a handful of sushi joints, and there’s also an influx of chain eateries.
The past six months have seen a series of new Vietnamese eateries open; Thy Vietnamese, Pho Thien Loi, Bo de Tam, Binh Dan, Destination Roll, Viet’s Absolute (above) to name a few. Add to that the relocation of Huong Xua and U.E. Noodles, the rebranding of Moochi to Bambou, and it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the seemingly prolific changes.
For a while there, it seemed like new restaurants in Vietnamatta were anything but Vietnamese.
Today, noodlies looks at one of these new contenders, Pho Thien Loi. It’s in the same block as the Cabramatta Inn just off the main John Street stretch. It’s located on the same location as Just Rice, a rice only concept that didn’t survive the highly competitive food scene in Cabramatta. Before that it was the site of the Cabramatta TAB. By putting pho in its name, the folks at Pho Thien Loi are bravely staking their reputation on this Vietnamese iconic soup dish in a town that is home to some of Sydney’s best, including the critics and bloggers’ darling, Pho Tau Bay. That’s not to say the menu is all pho, there’s a good selection of Vietnamese fast feeds like broken rice, egg noodles, vermicelli dishes and fresh rolls (goi cuon).
Viet fresh rolls A photo posted by Thang Ngo (@thangngo)
And speaking of goi cuon, lets just say, these little fresh rolls should go on your list of must-order if you’re frequenting Pho Thien Loi. Wrapped tightly and with decent servings of pork and halved prawns, what makes them different, and in my books utterly delicious, is the generous use of mints. Have a look at this image below and you’ll see what I mean (don’t get distracted by the rice dish… I’ll come to that later). This is a zestier version thanks to all those greens, so avoid if you like yours meaty, but I, for one think this makes for a great, moreish goi cuon.
I order the com tam (broken rice) with the lot. Broken rice used to be the only rice used for this dish, but over the years it’s been harder to get, as restaurants replace them with plain long grain rice. Check the menu carefully at your local Viet if you like this dish; if it says com then we’re talking about long grain white rice, if it’s com tam then we’re cooking with gas – the grains are, if you look carefully at the photo below, smaller and appear to be broken in half.
Everything about this dish screams authentic…
And by that I mean it’s just like you’d get in Vietnam including pickled carrots and radish, shiny pork chops, garlicky pork skin strips (bi) and eggy loaf (cha). Heavenly! It’s a shame my egg isn’t runny, that would have topped off a very satisfying com tam.
So we turn to Walter’s order of pho tai (cooked meat) below. The bowl looks simple, almost plain if it wasn’t for the sliced spring onions and coriander garnish. The soup is cloudy and tastes on the sweeter side with five spice very evident. It’s a perfectly good bowl, I would have preferred a little more pepper and fish sauce, but that’s easily remedied with the table condiments.
Pho tai A photo posted by Thang Ngo (@thangngo)
The service was helpful and homely; teething problems are evident, it took a little time for our table to be cleaned. Staff came a couple of times to take our order even though we’d already ordered and had handed our menu back. One of those times our fresh rolls were already on our table. But heck, I’d prefer to have them ask me repeatedly rather the opposite scenario of no one coming to take our order at all.
Pho Thien Loi has bravely launched itself, head first into uber-competitive Cabramatta. It’s not perfect, but the homely touches like serving traditional com tam and minty goi cuon has me wishing them well.
So ends another noodlies, Sydney food blog review – check out the new noodlies graphics below. Hopefully you’ll like it.
Love to hear what you think of the new graphics and this review!
Pho Thien Loi
178 Cabramatta Rd, Cabramatta