On Illawarra Road--one of the main shopping streets--Asian groceries, Greek bakeries, bubble tea cafes and Vietnamese restaurants jostle one other for over five blocks.
We only had eyes for one thing though: Good pho. We were hungry. And we needed it now.
Lead by my expert companions, we headed into Nhat Tan, a longtime favourite and recommended for their hearty and flavoursome broth.
Like most Vietnamese restaurants, Nhat Tan's decor is simple and functional. Easy-wipe formica tables, excessive use of mirrors and a DIY cutlery and condiment pit-stop on every table.
Pho bo $6.00
Beef noodle soup
Pho dac biet $8.00
Combination beef noodle soup
Pho condiments of bean sprouts, lemon wedges and Vietnamese basil.
Lotus seed and date drink $2.50
The great thing about ordering pho is that it almost always arrives within three minutes of you ordering. One can imagine the chef instantly dumping a ladle of cooked noodles in a bowl, topping it with sliced meats and ladling spoonfuls of hot simmering beef broth from a giant pot on the stove.
Once the steaming bowl is placed before you, the idea is to quickly dunk a wadful of bean sprouts into your bowl, scatter generously with a handful (or three, in my case) of refreshing basil leaves, and squirt the whole concoction with lemon juice.
Prod the colourful tower until it plunges into the soup, season with fresh chillies, chilli sauce or hoi sin sauce as desired, and then slurp your way to pho away heaven.
The broth here was pleasingly tasty: rich with meaty flavours, but clear and reviving. The pho dac biet was the usual orgy of beef balls, beef slices and random bits of tripe and tendons. The noodles were soft and slippery, the onions thin wafers of tangy sweetness.
The lotus seed drink was also refreshing although a tad sweet for my liking. Lotus seeds and chopped red dates were topped with ice shavings, and the liquid tasted strongly of honey (although the waitress denied that any honey was used).
Nhat Tan has about twenty items on the menu including hu tieu (thin noodle soup), fried noodles and various rice dishes with beef, pork and chicken.
It's relaxed but friendly, and as we watched Vietnamese television whilst Marrickville shoppers passed us by, the shoulders relaxed and the stomach sighed with exhausted content.
310 Illawarra Road, Marrickville
Tel: 02 9558 4309
Open 7 days 9am-9pm.
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6/23/2005 11:00:00 pm