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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta

Lao food at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta

Sticky, sweet, salty and sour – it's like a candy shop for carnivores. 

If you’ve ever wondered what beef candy would taste like, quit daydreaming. Phounguen has beaten you to it. Their Lao dried beef or sin haeng ($10) – beef slices marinated in spices and then dried to a jerky – is deep fried so all the fatty bits get extra crispy before being tossed in a sticky syrup. Laos usually eat this with rice as part of a meal. We reckon you BYO and have ‘em with beer.

Lao dried beef at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta
Lao dried beef $10

Phounguen is camped on the other side of Cabramatta station, away from the main strip of restaurants. Things are quieter on this side, but that means parking is easier too. They do a mix of Lao and Thai dishes here – from green curry to pad thai to chicken feet salad. A photo menu makes ordering a cinch.

Lao pork sausages at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta
Lao pork sausage $10

The classic Lao pork sausage ($10) delivers on all fronts: zingy with lemongrass, kaffir lime and chilli, lusciously juicy and cooked so there’s a slight crisp to the skin.

BBQ marinated ox tongue at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta
BBQ marinated ox tongue $10

But what they’re really known for here is the ox tongue ($10). Forget everything you know. This oft-maligned offal is marinated and barbecued into some kind of unheard-of tender, smoky flavour punch.

Lao fried rice with pickled pork at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta
Lao fried rice with pickled pork $10

The décor is pretty basic but who cares when most dishes are ten bucks a pop? Join the rubble of families, locals and uni students and hoe into Lao-style fried rice ($10), a textural bonanza of crunchy rice bits mixed with hot pink pickled pork, scrambled egg, shallots, peanut and shredded coconut.

Deep fried marinated quail at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta
Deep fried marinated quail $17

Get your hands on a pile of deep fried marinated quail ($13/$17), dunking each piece in a lemon juice and pepper dipping sauce.

Lao raw minced beef salad at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta
Spiced minced beef salad (raw) $10

Go hard with the raw minced beef salad ($10), like a fish sauce version of steak tartare with bonus bible tripe.

Beef ball soup at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta
Beef ball soup $11

They do a treasure hunt of tripe in the soups too. The beef ball soup ($11) comes with a clear sweet stock, or get the tom yum beef combination ($11) for a spicy kick.

Lao green papaya salad at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta
Green papaya salad $10

Green papaya salad ($10) is a choose-your-own-adventure dilemma. Thai-style for bright and sweet? Or Lao-style, which is down and dirty with funky, salty fermented crab? You choose.

Lao fried rice, quail and sauage at Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta

Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant, Cabramatta


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Phounguen Lao and Thai Restaurant
148 Cabramatta Road, Cabramatta, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9727 2563

Open daily 12pm-9.30pm


This article appeared in the July 2015 issue of Time Out Sydney in my monthly Food & Drink column Eat This! [Read online

Read more of my Time Out Sydney reviews

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/29/2015 11:29:00 pm


8 Comments:

  • At 7/30/2015 7:59 am, Anonymous John | heneedsfood said…

    I went to Cabra earlier this year, intending on having lunch at this place. They weren't open, despite what their signage indicated. Now I'm even more disappointed after seeing all of this wonderful food!

     
  • At 7/30/2015 10:07 am, Blogger ista said…

    Oh, I want to cry over the ox tongue - it's so delicious when cooked with respect. Sadly I haven't been able to eat beef/lamb/goat for 5 years now.

     
  • At 7/31/2015 2:31 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    Wow, they seem to have some tasty meat dishes on offer here. Love the flavours as you described them...Now curious...!!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

     
  • At 7/31/2015 4:57 pm, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    I do like the sound of easy parking. I can't do tripe and I've written about why on my blog. And as for tongue - that's not on my list of favourites either but I do like the sound of how it's cooked at this restaurant. I'd definitely have the green papaya salad but Thai style. Sounds like there's lots of flavours to enjoy xx

     
  • At 7/31/2015 7:08 pm, Anonymous Padaek said…

    Yum! Looks like a great meal. A glass of iced Fanta would complement it well. I've noticed this on the other side also. Can't wait to visit it. So well priced. Good on you for choosing the funky salad! ��

     
  • At 8/02/2015 10:49 am, Blogger The Yum List said…

    "Sticky, sweet, salty and sour – it's like a candy shop for carnivores. " - great quote! I'm a big fan of young papaya salad - that would be my first order.

     
  • At 8/02/2015 10:49 am, Blogger The Yum List said…

    "Sticky, sweet, salty and sour – it's like a candy shop for carnivores. " - great quote! I'm a big fan of young papaya salad - that would be my first order.

     
  • At 8/28/2015 9:48 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Oh wow! This all looks delicious! Lao food is a cuisine I haven't explored yet, and it looks really good! That tongue! :)

     

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