When I was a youngster growing up in suburban Sydney, most local suburbs boasted a BBQ chook shop and a Cantonese restaurant, trotting out nearly ubiquitous Australian-Chinese. I also remember the Thai rollout – not least of which for the punny names, from Thai Riffic to Tongue Thaied – and now finally it appears the suburbs are getting Vietnamese.
Lilyfield is the next lucky recipient, with Cuong Nguyen and his wife Loan Dao extending upon the green expanses of Callan Park by setting up a bright green restaurant (with a wall-sized rice paddy) right across the road.
Emigrating from Vietnam to Sydney in the eighties, Cuong and Loan have always had a passion for cooking, working in restaurants in Hong Kong before arriving here. They love picking fresh produce from the markets, and it shows in the impeccable salad presented for you to wrap in rice paper with Sugar Cane Prawns ($18/2).
Keep the green theme going with a Green Cleanse ($6.00) juice from their take-away juice bar. With apple, mint, cucumber and lime, it’s healthy and refreshing, and a good match for the cuisine. As they’re not currently licensed, your only other option is bringing your own wine.
A well-dressed and crisp Lotus Salad ($17) makes a small amount of pork and prawns go a long way. As you tuck in, you’re filled with the impression that this is really the sort of food we’re all supposed to be eating.
If you’re hungry, Black Peppercorn Beef ($17.50) served over simple white rice, provides a simple yet satisfying serve of beef slices dotted with peppercorns broken up by sweet caramelised onions.
For a solo dinner, the Vermicelli Grilled Pork Combination ($15) gives you everything you want in one bowl, especially with the addition of crisp Spring Rolls ($3). Sharp pickled carrots cut against grilled pork set off by crushed peanuts, bean sprouts and yet more greens on a bed of cold vermicelli noodles.
This whole-meal-in-a-bowl is well priced for the area, and would be equally good at lunchtime; however I predict they’re most likely to win my daytime business with fresh green juices and a Hanoi Pork Roll ($5).
Little Hanoi City
491 Balmain Road, Lilyfield
Ph: (02) 8668 4756