Categories
Bakery Vietnamese

PiPi’s Pork Rolls – Unanderra NSW Restaurant Review

I walked nine kilometers today on a quest for what’s been lauded by some as Wollongong’s best banh mi, at QP Bakery in Berkeley. It was only when I arrived at QP that I found that they, like any other self-respecting eighteenth century bakery, are a cash only establishment. Much to my dismay with only six dollars in coins in my pockets, their most basic pork roll started at $7. I re-embarked on my sad journey to my partner’s apartment to the dulcet tones of Josh Farkas and Adam Thomas and instead ate at one of the many hot bread shops I had passed along the way.

This crispy crackling component of this Crispy Pork Belly Roll ($9.50) wasn’t quite what I expected. While the majority of crackling pork belly rolls that I’ve experienced have had a semi-dry, semi-oily-wet crackling that is both crispy and chewy – similar to what you would get from a Hong Kong BBQ restaurant, the crackling at PiPi’s was more reminiscent of what you would get from a snack food packet. Though I have seen actual evidence on their Facebook page of them cooking their crackling themselves, the crunchy crispiness but also the dryness of their pork crackling actually led me to initially believe that it was store bought rather than made in-house. While I don’t profess to be expert enough to truly judge banh mi by their traditional standards, I suppose that it’s probably acceptable to have either kind of crackling in your pork roll.

Crackling aside, I think PiPi’s crispy pork belly roll is actually quite good. The pork belly itself was nice, soft, and moist. The salads provided were balanced, and sauce was applied in an appropriate and conservative manner. I’d probably have this roll again.

I have no serious hitting commentary about PiPi’s classic Vietnamese Pork Roll ($7.50), though I will note that their pate is a bit different to the usual pate that I seem to get at Sydney banh mi-eries. It had a stronger flavour than I’m used to, more akin to the pates you would get at your local supermarket than the lighter flavoured pates normally used. Aside from this, this banh mi was slightly over-soyed (or Maggied, as it were), though still perfectly edible and ultimately not too salty.

CONCLUSION
I just don’t know why there are places in the 21st century not offering card payments, but I’m glad that PiPi’s Pork Rolls isn’t one of them. Not a bad lunchtime option if you’re a local, but I wouldn’t drive to the Illawara for a banh mi.

A friendly driveway dog I met on my walk.

PiPi’s Pork Rolls
135 Princes Hwy, Unanderra NSW 2526
0450 909 109

Categories
Vietnamese

Saigon Senses – Wollongong NSW Restaurant Review

Following the advice of a somewhat fanatical online poster, and in the unfortunate situation of Viet’z Eatery not being open during the crucial Wednesday-Thursday period where I usually find myself in Wollongong I decided to try Saigon Senses’ alternative offering of Vietnamese food. While I visited in person, the current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in NSW meant that I had to take my food home to eat.

First up was this rather disappointing Cracking Pork Roll ($10.50). Whilst at first it appears unassuming and normal, this banh mi was way too salty for my liking. Your classic pork roll is a mix of umami proteins and a balance of fresh salads, however I felt that in this case even the salad components were too sauced. While I did enjoy the large quantity of pork as well as the addition of crunchy pork crackling, the fact that each and every bite had a strong and inescapable soy sauce flavour ruined the experience for me. That, and paying $10.50 for something you’d pay $8 for in Sydney, puts this particular roll into no re-match territory for me.

The spicy beef noodles ($11.50), unlike the crackling pork roll, was actually both cheap and good. This bowl featured thin round vermicelli, rare sliced beef, and spicy sour broth served separately. Saigon Senses is well set up for take-away, clear from the fact that the separately packaged soup and noodles fit perfectly into the disposable plastic bowl when recombined – thoughtfulness that not many restaurants exhibit. The rare beef was tender, cooked just a little by the hot soup. While I’m used to bun bo hue containing multiple types of meat, including beef brisket, rare beef, and cha lua (pork sausage), I’m reliably informed that it is also acceptable to just have rare beef slices by themselves. Regardless, this was a nice, tasty, and warming bowl that I can recommend to anyone.

Saigon Senses
Wollongong Central (opposite Coles) 200 Crown St, Wollongong NSW 2500
0481 368 009

Categories
Bakery Vietnamese

Marrickville Pork Roll – Marrickville NSW Banh Mi Review

Embattled Marrickville banh mi store is basically three Vietnamese women working in cramped quarters in the Up house. The recipient of frequent fines for food safety and cleanliness, Marrickville Pork Roll has been variously described as the best or second best pork rolls of the inner suburbs.

Sliced pork banh mi ($6). This banh mi is not faultable. The bread was fresh and soft. There was a good variety and quantity of both salads and meat. The pate was applied generously. This pork roll ticked all the boxes.

Crackling pork belly banh mi ($8). The review is essentially the same, with the change in meat. Great crispy texture. Lots of delicious pate. Can’t go wrong.

VERDICT

Overall I think Marrickville Pork Roll produces some pretty unfaultable banh mi. The problem is that banh mi has developed to so much of an art form that there are multiple equal-level competitors vying for first place.

I wouldn’t travel for this pork roll if there’s a suitable competitor nearby.

Marrickville Pork Roll
236 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204
0479 000 445

Categories
Bakery Vietnamese

Botany Hot Bread – Botany NSW Banh Mi Review

For most of this past year I’ve been waiting in the long lines outside Hong Ha for my banh mi fix. It’s only now that I’ve come to realise that there is an absolutely reasonable alternative with no waiting lines and closer to home.

While not necessarily true in my recent Eastern Suburbs experience, one of the key rules about growing up in Western Sydney was that the most legitimate pork rolls came from places with “HOT BREAD” in their name. It was felt that any proprietors with such little imagination were sure to have put all of their effort into perfecting their art. Botany Hot Bread, a takeaway only place with little frontage but significant bakery room in the back keeps the the HOT BREAD tradition alive. The greeting I received was warm and familiar, like an old friend even though I had never been to Botany Hot Bread before.

The selection is short and sweet – a range of housemade baked goods with all of the expected items like snail, croissants and danishes, a small pie warmer of housemade pies, and of course a separate refridgerated cart for the banh mi ingredients. I partook only in a pork roll and a chicken roll.

The pork roll (around $5) was very good and cheap. It had all the requisite meat and salad components in a soft bread roll. Absolutely no complaints here, and more or less the same quality as the more famous Hong Ha down the street.

The chicken roll (also around $5) I have a bit more bones to pick with. I found the chicken a bit too salty with too much soy sauce flavour. This would’ve been fine had the chicken been evenly distributed throughout the roll, but as you can see in the cross section shot all of the chicken was towards of the outside of the roll. This meant that alternating bites were either fresh and delicious salad or very salty chicken, and it was hard to mix the two into one mouthful. I’m not an expert hot bread man but I think this ingredient distribution problem could probably be improved through some sandwich engineering.

VERDICT

Yummy and worth a try – come here if you’re east of Mascot and you don’t want to wait.

Botany Hot Bread
1405 Botany Rd, Botany NSW 2019
(02) 9666 4257

Botany Hot Bread Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
Bakery Vietnamese

Ho’s Bakery & Cafe – Sydenham NSW Banh Mi Review

Installing Doordash for the first time and taking advantage of their first month’s free delivery gave me the opportunity to try foods from a whole different catchment. Ho’s Bakery and Cafe in Sydenham, while not available to me on UberEats or Deliveroo, was ripe for the picking on Doordash.

I really enjoyed all the rolls that Hos’ had to offer.

The bacon and egg roll ($6.50) was excellent. The crispy, salty bacon and the mellow egg complemented each other perfectly, and the bread was soft, unintrusive, and not too much. One of the better bacon and egg rolls I’ve had. I’ve literally ordered the bacon and egg roll multiple, multiple times. It’s just that good.

I don’t normally go for chicken rolls ( $7) but for Ho’s I made an exception. I enjoyed the roast chicken, and the slightly peppery sauce that was provided. It did feel a bit more wholesome than the sliced cold pork roll that I usually get. Many stars.

Ho’s pork roll ($6) was good and filling. In my honest opinion the quality rivals Hong Ha’s. I liked that the bread was soft and didn’t cut my mouth.

The fish burger ($6.50) let me down, however, which I guess is understandable as it is outside of their wheelhouse.

The pho ($14) is quite bad and I cannot recommend it.

What can I say? I really enjoyed the pork roll, chicken roll, and bacon and egg roll from Ho’s Bakery and Cafe. Their rolls are imbued with all round good quality and good taste. I would however stay away from the fish burger and far away from the pho.

5/5 with a caveat. Just stick with the basics.

Ho’s Bakery And Cafe
262 Unwins Bridge Rd, Sydenham NSW 2044
(02) 9517 2773