As the year winds down, you might be preparing yourself to visit one of those special gates of hell known as a shopping centre. If Chatswood is your chosen spot to abandon all hope this year, consider starting your day with a fortifying lunch at Eat Fuh. You’ll find the attractive third outlet for Huang Nguyen’s former market stall business in The Mix at Chatswood Place.
It’s a medium density residential complex, where dining - which includes highly regarded neighbours, Chat Thai - doesn’t look like an afterthought. It’s even got parking, and a high likelihood of finding one on the street if you prefer to avoid the underground variety.
Dominated by a curved bank of windows, Eat Fuh is a pleasant place to dine.
It’s light-filled and airy, with gently moving woven baskets of real trailing plants dangling overhead.
Just like the restaurant name, designed to help Western diners pronounce the Vietnamese mainstay dish correctly, the menu has a welcoming-to-newcomers vibe. While pho is the mainstay of the operation, there’s also a range of noodle salads and other noodle soups, including a creamy laksa with enough creaminess to see you through winter.
From the short list of entrees, the Prawn and Pork Belly Papaya Salad ($14) is specific to this store, while the rest of the menu is almost the same as the Marrickville original and the Darlinghurst Eat Fuh that opened in November last year.
It calls for a Riesling, and the short but interesting wine list answers that call with the 2015 Sylvie Spielmann Riesling ($14/glass). While this lime and acid-focused Riesling, offset by chalky minerality, is great for the salad, for the rest of the meal I was more partial to the 2017 Domaine de Sermezy Morgon Beaujolais ($14).
The juicy red is a particularly good match to Beef in Betel Leaves ($10/5) or bò lá lốt. These little fingers of beef, rolled then grilled in betel leaves, are showered in nuts. They are an excellent way to kick off your Eat Fuh experience with a massive kapow of flavour.
With your appetite stimulated it’s finally soup time. My Fuh Noodle Soup ($15/regular) includes rare beef and the option of flank (take it, it’s good). You can add tendons, tripe or meat balls for an extra buck. Unusually here, the bowl arrives already adorned with fresh and crunchy bean sprouts and sharp Thai basil. Ignore all that and start with a big spoonful of broth.
The beef broth here is quite beautiful, dominated by bone without being oily, and undisturbed by too strident cinnamon or star anise. While it looks a little bit murky, I'm very happy with the balance, which even includes the faintest whisper of sweetness. Balance however is a day-to-day thing - only use the lemon if it happens to be too sweet.
The underlying, pristine white rice flour noodles have reasonable bite, and the beef retains pinkness in the folds, just the way I like it. The only thing I add are fresh loops of red chilli, because I like my soup with bite.
While my camera has lied and made it seem smaller, the Beef Stew Noodle Soup ($18) or bò kho, is an even more substantial proposition. Tasty hunks of lean beef and shin join tender carrot, radish, glassy thin noodles and plenty of ginger in a fruity and bright tomato-based broth flavoured with lemongrass, cinnamon and star anise. Everything in it is cooked well, but I prefer the elegant simplicity of the pho, particularly in these surroundings that inspire a sense of calm.
The Mix at Chatswood Place,
260 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood
Ph: (02) 8387 6326