Lush Bowl ‘n’ Roll – Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

Some say that Lush (Bowl ‘n’ Roll, nee Food Bar) is dressed as a restaurant but is really just a cafe, while in my opinion they are the complete opposite. Despite its tiny physical footprint and decor befitting a cafe, its extended opening hours and extensive menu of actual food betray its true nature.

This beast of a dish is the Bun Dau Mam Tom & Sea Food Version ($16.90). The intricacies of proportion are difficult to capture without something standardised like a banana for scale, but believe me when I tell you that this was not the amount of food I was expecting to get for $16.90. This plate had a huge variety of ingredients to be eaten individually as one likes or wrapped up in lettuce leaves, as confirmed with my Vietnamese social work friend. The flavour centre of the dish was really the fermented shrimp paste sauce, which was simply something I’ve never experienced before. This brown, almost purple sauce was so deep and rich in flavour, with such a strong shrimpiness, that quite literally only a tiny smattering was required to flavour each mouthful. I’m glad I chose to order this at a time when I was dining alone, as I’m sure that my girlfriend, seafood-averse as she is, would’ve hated this. The strong umami and seafood flavours in this tiny dish of sauce reminded me of a particular Food War based anime where the protagonist would make very fishy things with squids much to the chagrin of his colleagues.

Other elements of note in this dish were the soft and light rice noodle, which flavoured with a light touch of the sauce was very easy eating. The fried tofu was superb, somehow done in a way where it was warm all the way through while remaining soft, with the thinnest imaginable fried outer layer that didn’t negatively affect the soft texture at all. The pork hock was similary soft, warm and delicious. The fish cake and prawns were as imagined, and adding up all of these different proteins you can see that this is actually quite a generous serving. This is really something to try.

Like an absolute fool I thought that I would be safe in ordering this beef roll ($7.50) in addition to the gigantic bun dau mam tom discussed above. Luckily for me, the staff at Lush Food Bar knew me better than I knew myself, and straight up served this banh mi to me fully wrapped up and in a biodegradable plastic bag to take home. My normal go-to banh mi is either the classic cold cut pork or crackling roast pork, and this may very well be the first or second beef roll I’ve ever had. The sheer quality of it, even having survived a trip from Strathfield to the nearest quaternary hospital, a surveillance COVID swab, an hour of incidental teaching, and then a trip home was extra-ordinary. Unlike some rolls this one had the perfect degree of moistness, owing from the mixing of juices from the beef (something you don’t get with pork based rolls), the generous serving of Vietnamese mayonnaise, and pate. Really great.

I also hope you enjoy this photo, which was taken on my balcony after my realisation that most people probably don’t enjoy seeing the bitten, half-eaten rolls that I’ve been posting. I had to lock the cats away so that I could access the balcony safely, so it was really quite an effort.

We went back to Lush, now rebranded Lush Bowl ‘n’ Roll, in December 2022 after I crashed my car and was forced to take public transport, with my partner forced to pick me up from Strathfield station on the last leg of my journey home after nights. Because having to pay for my insurance excess as well as all the other associated costs of being in an accident without a car and without rental car coverage weren’t enough, we ate out.

I had the Lush Special Patties ($21.90), whilst my partner decided to stay in the car. It featured rolls of vermicelli with grilled betel leaf beef, grilled pork, BBQ pork, and sugar cane prawns, with a bit of herbs, cucumbers, and dipping sauce. It was really good, a great variety of different things, with the sugar cane prawn and the BBQ pork my favourite parts. My partner, once finally convinced to come downstairs and eat with me, also enjoyed every portion of this dish, and thoroughly. She could not, in her delirious state, stop talking about how every part of this dish was yummy, even the prawns, which she does not usually like.

My partner didn’t like the roasted pork roll ($8.90), but I didn’t have a problem with it. Her particular complaint was that the crispy pork skin wasn’t particularly crispy, but I think it was her fault for waiting for it to cool down, because it was actually served quite nice and warm. This wasn’t a particularly top tier roll, but it was certainly undeserving of her criticism.

My car is still out of action until at least early March (two and a half months for a repair, seriously AAMI comprehensive), which means that my partner is still picking me up from Strathfield after night shift whenever she can. We had yet another opportunity to have a yummy Vietnamese meal at Lush this past week.

We really enjoyed the special patties plate featured above, and thought we’d try the special combination vermicelli salad ($20.50) this time instead. Similar to the Lush special patties, this “salad” featured greenery, some spring rolls, grilled pork, and sugarcane prawn. No attempt was made in forming the vermicelli into a patty shape, but really the concept was essentially the same – we’re not sure if it really deserves being in a whole other section, especially as this “salad” had no more salad than the non-salad item. The loss of the betel leaf beef and BBQ pork we think was not worth the inclusion of the spring roll, which were either vegetarian or insufficiently meaty to result in enjoyment. All other things being essentially the same, I would rate the Lush special patties above this every time, for a dollar more.

The wagyu beef pho ($18.90) had a great soup flavour, plenty of bean sprouts and herb garnish, but was another example of where the label of “wagyu” doesn’t quite live up to expectations. Though I enjoyed this bowl overall (and indeed the broth was more rich and flavourful than many I’ve had in the past year), I didn’t feel that the rare beef was particularly tender – in fact less tender than most pho restaurants that have just regular beef. Cut and quality of meat matters just as much, if not more than the breed of cattle, and I wish I had gotten a special pho (not offered with wagyu) with regular beef instead. I’m sure that would have been even better.


Lush Bowl ‘n’ Roll (ex- Lush Food Bar)
11/23 The Boulevarde, Strathfield Plaza, Strathfield NSW 2135
(02) 9746 9905

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