Gia Dinh – Marrickville NSW Restaurant Review

The weirdest moment of our meal at Gia Dinh was when some guy came in and started giving the kid working there the third degree about where the photos on the wall came from (his mother’s hometown), which part of Vietnam that was specifically (he didn’t know), whether the body of water depicted was a natural river or a viaduct (he didn’t know), whether he had ridden a motorbike in Vietnam (the kid was like ten, but he made sure to tell him that he hadn’t lived until he’s ridden a motorbike in Vietnam), and then later on asked another kid (I presume the first child’s brother) if he had ever ridden a motorcycle in Vietnam (obviously not). He sat down, opened his laptop for about three minutes, and then left when his takeaway order was ready.

We started our meal with the Bánh Phồng Thịt Nướng ($10), a small entree of mildly sweet BBQ pork, crushed peanuts and spring onion oil served on top of a sliver of rice noodle on a prawn cracker. There was a lot to like about this dish, with a great interplay of different textures (the crunchy peanut, the prawn cracker) and flavours. If I had one point of improvement to suggest it would be the temperature. I felt that this whole thing could’ve been a bit warmer, but especially the rice noodle which was cold.

The Bò Lúc Lắc Xà Lách Xoong ($22), a shaking kind of beef cube allegedly in a pepper and butter glaze on a bed of watercress was next. While the beef was reasonably tender, I could not identify the watercress in this dish. My partner and I were both recognised within the state for our knowledge of agriculture as children, and this foundational knowledge, combined with our adept Googling skills through years of inpatient medical practice led us to believe that the greenery was indeed some kind of lettuce rather than watercress. Again I felt that the random mixture of warm and cold ingredients was harmful to the dish as a whole, though I understand that salads do exist.

Gia Dinh’s Bánh Xèo ($18) is perhaps what they’re best known for, but sadly did not quite live up to my expectations. While I thought the batter was extremely crispy and obviously freshly fried (we were their first customers of the day as they opened at 10AM), I found the filling to be a bit underwhelming. The prawns were on the smaller size and the pork was scarce, but I think the main thing was that it didn’t really have as much flavour on its own as I would’ve thought. The fish sauce was absolutely necessary for its enjoyment, and actually some of their chilli oil, which was a bit sweet and complex, went a long way as well. The online reviews denote Gia Dinh’s banh xeo as on the top tier of traditional reproductions, so it may honestly be my weak and uncivilised palate that cannot appreciate it, but at the end of the day I like what I like, and that’s what this blog is really all about.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: I liked the entree, but didn’t love the promised Sydney’s best banh xeo. Perhaps it is my horrible westernised palate (I did enjoy Banh Xeo Bar, take that how you will) but ultimately I just write this blog to remind myself more than anything about what I like and what I don’t like. Onto the next Vietnamese restaurant in Marrickville.

Gia Dinh
302 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 8387 0232

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