Categories
Vietnamese

My Hao – Winston Hills NSW Restaurant Review

I don’t generally have much occasion to visit Winston Hills, but having had Lee Chef’s (amazing) pho no less than six times in the four months that we were locked down it was time to try something new.

The Beef Pho (Large – $15.50) was looking weak both visually and on paper, but turned out surprisingly good. Featuring only beef brisket, rare beef, and beef balls, My Hao’s only beef pho offering leaves out the tendon and tripe that round out a full featured Phở Đặc Biệt. The soup is clear and sweeter than I’m generally what I’m used to, and the “rare beef” is actually cooked almost all the way through by the time the bowl reaches the table. Despite theses subjective and objective shortcomings, I enjoyed this bowl a surprising amount. I think the strength of this bowl of pho really comes down to My Hao’s great use of brisket, which is fatty and moist, but doesn’t go a nanometre past the sweet spot into being too fatty. Not all bowls of pho need to be homogenous, and all things considered the only thing I would change about this pho would be to be a bit more generous with the basil.

This was not the best Pork Roll ($6.50) I’ve ever reviewed on this blog, but it probably looks the best. I can’t believe it’s taken me over 300 reviews (these get queued for ages and the posting order gets switched up, so while this meal was eaten in October 2021 the review could be posted any time into the future – or past? spooky) to realise that people would probably prefer to see a nicely cut cross-section of a sandwich than my haphazard interpretation of such made with my teeth and mouth. I recently found an anaesthetic colleague’s croissant-based Instagram, and the beauty of cut croissants and the lack of wedge-shaped teeth marks in her photos struck me. My Hao expertly served this less-than-expert banh mi cut into halves and on a plate, but I don’t really know how I can emulate this in my usual practice, unless I carry a knife with me at all times. It turns out that’s exactly what she does. I can’t wait to explain this to the cops.

Back to the actual pork roll, I felt that it lost points for being too salty and too sweet and too wet. The bread also happened to be a bit too crusty and a bit too hard, and the restaurant being a full featured restaurant rather than a bakery I wonder if their baguettes are made on site or elsewhere. I was shocked and offended when the only other diners in the restaurant ordered banh mis without pate, but looking at the amount of pate I got in mine I’m not sure it would’ve made much of a difference.

COMMENTS
I think that if I’m after the kind of pho that I know I like whilst living in the Parramatta area, Lee Chef still has my patronage I think that if I want to subject myself to some sweeter pho that is outside of my comfort zone I’d continue to explore the rest of Sydney rather than come back to My Hao. I don’t hate them. It just is what it is.

My Hao
1E Caroline Chisholm Dr, Winston Hills NSW 2153
(02) 9688 7631

Categories
Vietnamese

Mylan – Wollongong NSW Restaurant Review

I love a good pho, and within Wollongong’s surprising density of Vietnamese restaurants Mylan is said to be one of the best.

I took myself out for lunch for a Beef Special Pho ($17). The restaurant was sparsely populated and diners were well distanced from one another, likely owing to the only very recent reopening of NSW’s restaurants. Service was very fast, with the bowl delivered in well under five minutes.

$17 at Mylan buys you an extremely large bowl of pho, with a healthy mixture of rare beef, brisket, beef balls, and various kinds of tripe. The rare meat was tender, and the brisket was not too fatty. Unfortunately the beef balls did not taste as good or as complex as some other beef balls that I’ve had.

The soup came extra hot, which was great as it maintained its warmth throughout the course of the meal, despite having to transfer much of its heat to the bean sprouts and Thai basil that I added in. The broth itself is a bit lighter in taste than what I usually prefer, but this was made up for by the sate chilli sauce. I do wish that more bean sprouts would have been given for such a large bowl of noodles, but I suspect I was just too shy to ask.

Overall a pretty decent bowl.

Mylan
193 Keira St, Wollongong NSW 2500
(02) 4228 1588

Categories
Vietnamese

2 Foodies – Mount Pritchard NSW Restaurant Review

I was on my way back to Sydney from visiting my partner in Wollongong, I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, and my fuel light was flashing. I was driving through South West Sydney to reach my home, and the Speedway petrol station in Mount Pritchard and its attached Vietnamese restaurant fulfilled all of my pressing requirements in one go.

2 Foodies in Mount Pritchard is a very small restaurant operation, offering up only a couple of dining tables and a bar that faces a window with excellent views of the attached petrol station. What little they save on decor and rent seems to go right into their excellent tasting food, with a limited but focused menu of pho and banh mi, along with suitable halal options appropriate for its geographic location.

I had a beef pho with everything ($16), a medium sized bowl of rare beef, beef brisket, beef balls, beef omasum, and beef tendon in a delicious rich soup. All the proteinaceous components of this bowl were great, with tender beef, a well cooked brisket, and balls that actually taste better than those from the Asian grocer freezer aisle. Coming in at just fifty cents more than the rare beef, brisket, and beef ball version, I truly believe that the full pho experience is only gained with the addition of delicious random bovine parts. The broth, a perpetual stew of beef, bone marrow, and choice spices and herbs including star anise and shallot, is extremely rich, with a deep complex flavour that shines far ahead of many of its competitors. All of this is finished with a large topping of fresh onion and shallot, aromatics that release their flavour when covered by the piping hot broth.

Though delicious, one unfortunate pitfall of this broth is its extreme oiliness, with a very visible layer of oil atop the soup that made me compelled to add all of the one small wedge of lemon to try and cut it.

COMMENTS
I found joy today in an incredibly unlikely place. Not only was the pho at 2 Foodies some of the best I’ve had in Sydney, I was also able to fill up my tank with unleaded 98 for 15 cents/litre less than the six other petrol stations I drove past on the way there. While communication, cleanliness, and decor could be improved, I’m almost glad that they focus all of their energy on the quality of their food rather than this other distracting minutia. You will definitely find me visiting again.

2 Foodies
2/348 Elizabeth Dr, Mount Pritchard NSW 2170
(02) 8786 0189

Categories
Chinese Vietnamese

Pho Pasteur – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

Across the road from Parramatta’s Lee Chef is Pho Pasteur, a long-lived, almost 30-year old Vietnamese restaurant that’s since extended tendrils across Sydney.

We had the Large Special Beef Pho with extra meat ($20). The flavour of this pho was good, with a lighter tasting but still umami-packed soup, a mix of rare beef, beef tendon, beef rumen, and beef balls, and a garnish of freshly chopped shallot. Like the rest of the bowl, the serving of bean sprouts, Thai basil, and chillis was fresh and adequate. Though the flavour was good, we thought that the balance of meats did skew heavily towards the rare beef side, with our large bowl only featuring one solitary beef ball cut in half, even though we had optioned it out with extra meat. The bowl, overall, is almost matched punch-for-punch with its cross-street neighbour, but I think that given the filling imbalance I’d lean slightly towards Lee Chef’s.

Though a big fan of quail egg in meals like malatang, I’d never actually eaten quail the bird until this visit to Pho Pasteur. I had seen my parents order it occasionally at Chinese restaurants as a child, however I was always too spooked by the small size of the bird to eat them. To be honest, after trying the quail at Pho Pasteur I don’t think I really missed out on much. The two whole quails ($18) were deep fried, and quite salty, served with a zesty dipping sauce. Though the quail pieces might have looked juicy from certain angles, a quick flip around revealed that the opposite service was positively concave – these were lean birds indeed. It took quite a bit of t to harvest the meat from these quail, which didn’t really taste that different to duck or chicken. I don’t think I’d order this again – I’d go straight for the crispy skin chicken which is also on offer at Pho Pasteur – but this may very well be a comment on my personal preferences rather than the restaurant’s ability.

I was not a big fan of this eggplant and pork mince hot pot ($17). Though the taste and size of this hot pot was good, it was just filled to the brim with oil, making it very difficult for me to eat without hating myself. Rice is a necessary evil whilst eating this dish, but perhaps a course of orlistat or plasmapheresis would be better accompaniments.

VERDICT
Pho Pasteur’s offerings have a great deal of crossover with nearby Lee Chef’s. One of Pho Pasteur’s strengths is its actual printed menu, which features photos of many of their dishes, hence not leaving things up to the imagination as Lee Chef does. I think that ultimately both restaurants provide good quality Vietnamese and Chinese food, and the restaurant of choice will be up to whichever one is open at the time (Lee Chef is closed on Sunday nights, but open later on other days).

Pho Pasteur Parramatta
137 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 9635 0782

Categories
Chinese Vietnamese

Lee Chef – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

Lee Chef is your friendly neighbourhood ethnically ambiguous Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant. Open until 10PM, they have, on multiple occasions, patiently remained open as we slurped up our post-shift pho and eaten our fill of authentic Asian classics.

The fried chicken wings were great. They were lightly battered and freshly fried, seasoned with 椒盐 (jiao yan), which is a traditional Chinese salt and chilli pepper seasoning. Each wing was crispy on the outside but moist on the inside – perfectly executed.

The vegetarian spring rolls were not great – in fact they teetered on the edge of actively bad. They were brought out very quickly and didn’t really feel like they had been heated all the way through. The filling inside the spring rolls were lukewarm at best, and displayed a mushy texture. We didn’t end up finishing these spring rolls – they were simply calories for punishment.

The Combination Beef Pho was wholesome and authentic. All elements were good. The protein component consisted of rare beef, beef balls, tendon, and beef rum. The soup was full of umami flavours and not too sweet or salty – just right. The side of Thai basil and bean sprouts was not only adequate but generous. I am blessed to live near a restaurant that can deliver such consistently good pho, and I have ordered it as takeaway roughly 12 times in the last six months

I was less impressed by the Hainan Chicken Rice. I found the chicken too bland and tasteless and the rice a bit too hard, though I did appreciate the soup and the generous serving of chilli and ginger and shallot condiments. My partner was a much bigger fan of this dish than I was.

The combination bean curd hot pot was of quality and taste commensurate with its price. I do love myself a combination bean curd hot pot.

VERDICT
Quality neighbourhood eatery
Hits all the classics right in the bullseye
Wouldn’t travel for it, but will keep coming back again and again this year.
4/5

Lee Chef
1/140 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 8677 4425