Banh Xeo Bar in Rosebery is a mixed-race family affair. Helmed by Benjamin Sinfield and Tanio Ho, the restaurant serves up Vietnamese inspired dishes with a dash of Western flare. This sense of co-operation is also seen in the staffing at the restaurant – with front of house being run by Caucasians and the kitchen run by Asians.
We were initially skeptical about this hip looking bar with a clientele of mostly Eastern Suburbs types (although we ourselves are technically Eastern Suburb locals at this point) and $15 banh mis, but quickly settled in to an authentic and tasty meal.
The Vietnamese iced coffee ($5.50) was really good! It was not too sweet.
We started with the crispy pork trotter in salt and vinegar butter ($12.50). This dish consisted of two deep fried pork trotters in a butter sauce with a slice of lemon. The pork was very deep friend and crispy, and the internal fats were nice and rendered. The meat itself was very oily, and I thought that the lemon was absolutely necessary to cut through the fat a bit. The butter was a bit of a superfluous addon to such an already heavy and oily dish. Overall a recommendation.
Our first main was the Banh Xeo with roast berkshire pork ($26.50). This was the first time I’ve ever had Banh Xeo, and I didn’t quite know what to expect. The egg pancake was fried to a very good warm and cripsy level. The filling inside, with pork and bean sprouts, had varying textures that amused the tongue, with a good umami flavour. The banh xeo was served with lettuce wraps and BXB’s marinated carrots and pickles, which when eaten together were able to provide multiple levels and types of crunch, crispiness, umami, and cut through the fat. This was an absolutely delicious dish.
The Combination Special Bun Bo Hue – beef flank, beef tongue, and pig head nugget noodle soup ($22.50) was a delight. We optioned it with 2 additional eggplant croquetas (on the plate in the photo), to be described separately.. I really like all the different types of meat in this soup – and also that despite being in the Eastern suburbs they didn’t shy away from serving things like beef tongue and pig head. I loved the varied textures of the meat, and also the high meat and vegetable content of the soup – there was never really a boring spoonful. A special mention goes out to the pig head nuggets, which were just delicious parcels of meatiness and fatiness that added a whole different dimension to the beef tongue and flank. The soup itself unfortunately doesn’t make it into my top soups, as my personal feeling was that it had too strong a soy flavour for my liking, but I recognise that this probably just a personal preference – I enjoyed the The Combination Special Bun Bo Hue more with the supplied lemon squeezed in. The lemongrass and chilli condiment, allegedly made by Ho’s mum, was good however didn’t find much use in this dish.
The eggplant croquetas (2 for $5) were enjoyed by my partner but not me. They were very smooth inside, and the form is made purely by the fried exterior, which I guess is a technical achievement. I think I’m a little bit allergic to eggplant.
Overall I can really recommend Banh Xeo Bar in Rosbery. It manages to straddle the line between authentic Asian cuisine and the rice paper rolls and banh mi that are more easily palatable to the South East Sydney populace. There really is something for everyone, to post gym yoga mums to two hardened deep-Asian diners.
Banh Xeo Bar
11/61-71 Mentmore Ave, Rosebery NSW 2018
(02) 8542 5259