My Lua occupies an interstitial space between towering office blocks. The all-day café is owned by Candice Anh Nguyet who immigrated from Vietnam sixteen years ago.
In 2013 she took over this formerly Greek-owned takeaway business that plied a trade in burgers and pasta dishes.
Commencing a long process of change that finally finished early this month, Nguyet has converted it to bring the authentic flavour of Vietnamese food from Saigon to Sydney.
Her concession to this location is keeping an Aussie-style coffee’n’toast brekky over the more usual Vietnamese soup and noodle breakfasts.
Arranged under a shelter, the outdoor tables are tucked into a nook that sees them largely protected from any wind tunnels howling down either Market Street or Kent Street.
From the array of overhead menu boards, or the colourful paper menus by the door, make your lunchtime selection from the list of bánh mì, phở, bún (noodle bowls), gỏi (salads), cơm (rice dishes) or gỏi cuốn (rice paper rolls). Keep your eyes peeled for combo. deals that allow you to mix and match, or simply make your own – everything here is fresh and affordable.
My BBQ Honey Soy Chicken Gỏi Cuốn ($5) was a better-than-average rice paper roll with crisp cucumber, fragrant mint, springy vermicelli, crunchy fried shallots and honey-soy chook.
Dragged through their tasty roasted peanut sauce, it was a lovely way to start my meal.
My Lua's thinly sliced, marinated and grilled pork is well-showcased in a Bao ($5.90); a soft white steamed bun that arrived in Vietnam with Cantonese immigrants.
With the weather being warm, Vietnamese Iced Coffee ($6.50) is the order of the day. After it drips through into the milky sweet layer below, stir well then pour it into the accompanying glass of ice for a cooling beverage that is robust without being inaccessible.
I finish with a steaming bowl of Phở ($13.90/regular). For an extra buck you can have your beef noodle soup with all types of beef.
It’s the best way to eat it, with toothsome beef balls, thinly sliced rare beef (I do prefer mine pinker), beef brisket slices, shin, and textural ribbons of tripe. My Lua make a very enjoyable broth with round spices that tickle your palate before the richness of bone broth comes in. It holds its own against the accompanying sauces – sriracha for heat and hoisin for sweetness and middle (throw in the lemon if you add too much).
Pulling out slippery flat rice noodles and slurping away happily, I resolve to visit My Lua again for another healthy, inexpensive, workday lunch.
1/1 Market Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9264 8535