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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hai Au Lang Nuong, Canley Vale

Charcoal barbecue banana leaf fish and chicken at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale

You can smell it from a block away. It’s the smoky hiss of charcoal and the tantalising aroma of slowly barbecuing fish and chicken wrapped up in banana leaves. Every Aussie loves a barbie, but this is food by fire, Vietnamese-style. It all happens on the weekend, when Hai Au Lang Nuong starts up the massive barbecue that faces onto the street, giving passersby a bird's eye view of all the action.

Inside Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Inside Hai Au Lang Nuong, Canley Vale

This corner restaurant is hugely popular with locals, filled with Vietnamese families and big groups of friends. The decor is bright and lurid, a dizzying collection of mirrors, posters and giant TV screens playing Vietnamese pop videos. The shuttered windows are rolled open so you’re exposed to the street, an open-air experience that feels more Saigon than Sydney.

Charcoal chicken at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Oh!! Hot Chick 

Charcoal grilled chicken at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Ga Chay Bo Nuong Than charcoal grilled chicken $40 (Fri, Sat and Sun only)

The ga chay bo nuong than grilled chicken ($40 for a whole) is the big house specialty, an organic free range chook delivered fresh off the barbie. The skin is caramelised and a little charred; the flesh is mouthwateringly succulent and juicy.

If you close your eyes you get a faint hint of sweetness from the banana leaf wrapping. Dunk the chicken into the saucer of sweet chilli sauce and follow up with mouthfuls of the accompanying glutinous sticky rice.

Banana leaf chicken at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Wrapping chicken with banana leaves

Banana leaf charcoal fish and chicken at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Banana leaf fish and chicken over charcoal

It’s not often you find bo la lop nuong than ($25) in Sydney restaurants: little cigars of lemongrass and black pepper beef wrapped up in glossy betel leaves and then speared onto a skewer.

Bo La Lot betel leaf grilled beef at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Bo La Lop Nuong Than grilled beef with betel leaf $25 

The real magic happens when you cook these on the charcoal grill at your table, charring the leaves so they release their spicy fragrance.

Bo La Lot betel leaf grilled beef at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
 Cooking the beef skewers over charcoal

Bo La Lot betel leaf grilled beef at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Barbecued beef skewers in betel leaves

Marinated deer at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Marinated deer $25 

Marinated deer, crocodile, beef or ox tongue ($25 each) are just some of the DIY grill options on offer. Sear them well then make your own rice paper rolls, bundling them up with a bounty of vermicelli noodles, pickled vegetables and mint and perilla leaves.

Barbecue deer at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Cooking the deer on the grill

Vermicelli and salad at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Vermicelli and salad 

Lotus stem salad at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Goi Ngo Sen lotus stem salad $15 

Hai Au has all the Vietnamese classics like canh chua hot and sour soup ($15-$25) and bo tai chanh ($15) raw beef salad with lemon. But there are plenty of more interesting dishes, like a zingy lotus stem salad ($15) and clay pot stewed scampi ($18 for two) smothered in a heady seafood sauce.

Stewed scampi at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Tom Kho Tau stewed scampi with Hai Au secret signature sauce $18 

Bun Rieu crab and tomato noodle soup at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Bun Rieu crab and tomato noodle soup $10 

The bun rieu ($10) is on the lunch menu but they’ll serve it at dinner if you ask nicely. It’s a heart-warming tomato and crab soup with vermicelli noodles, bobbing with crab roe, cubes of pig's blood and curls of squid.

Crispy pork offal at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Doi Truong Chien Don crisp pork offal $15 

The adventurous should seek out the crispy duck tongues ($18) or the crisp pork offal ($15), fatty tubes of large intestine served with a spicy tomato sauce.

Extra crispy clay pot rice at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Extra crispy rice

The rice gets special treatment here too. Order the extra crispy version if you're happy to wait a little longer. You'll receive a crusty layer of rice, scooped from the bottom of a clay pot that is perfect for mopping up sauces.

Durian shakes and Vietnamese salads at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Durian shakes and Vietnamese salads 

Grilled purple sweet potato dessert at Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale
Kem Khoai Lan Nuong grilled purple sweet potato $8 (Fri, Sat and Sun only)

If you still have room, you can keep on carbing with grilled sweet potatoes, cooked on the barbecue. It's a starch-fest that's best shared, garnished with condensed milk and peanuts and served with ice cream on the side.

Dining room at Hai Au Lang Nuong, Canley Vale

Hai Au Lang Nuong Canley Vale height=

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Hai Au Lang Nuong on Urbanspoon

Hai Au Lang Nuong
2/48 Canley Vale Road, Canley Vale, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9724 9156

Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday 10am-10pm

This article appears in the June 2012 issue of Time Out Sydney in my monthly Food & Drink column Eat This! [Read online

More Time Out Sydney reviews:
Akash Pacific Cuisine, Liverpool (Fiji Indian cuisine) 
ATL Marantha, Kensington (Indonesian fried chicken with edible bones)
Balkan Oven, Rockdale (Macedonian burek)
Bamiyan, Five Dock (Afghani cuisine)
Battambang, Cabramatta (Deep fried pork intestines)
Cyprus Community Club Aphrodite Restaurant (Roast baby goat) 
Dos Senoritas, Gladesville (Mexican street-style tacos) 
Durban Dish, Baulkham Hills (South African cuisine)
Everest Kitchen, Marrickville (Nepali cuisine)
Good Kitchen, Hurstville (Hong Kong cafe)
Hijazi's Falafel, Arncliffe (Lebanese breakfast)

Island Dreams Cafe, Lakemba (Christmas Islands cuisine)
Kambozza, Parramatta (Burmese cuisine)
La Paula, Fairfield (Chilean empanadas, lomitos and sweets)
Mario Tokyo Pizza, Strathfield (Bulgogi Korean pizza)
Misky Cravings, Fairfield (Peruvian cuisine)
Olka Polka Bakery & Deli, Campbelltown (Polish cheesecake and rye bread)
Rhinedorf German Restaurant, Beverly Hills (German pork knuckle)
Sea Sweet, Parramatta (Lebanese sweet kashta cheese burger)

Sizzling Fillo, Lidcombe (Filipino pork hock crackling)
Taipei Chef, Artarmon (Taiwanese smoked chicken)
Tehran, Granville (Persian cuisine)
Tuong Lai, Cabramatta (Vietnamese sugar cane prawns)
20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/21/2012 01:05:00 am


  • At 6/21/2012 8:59 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Now that's one incredible feast you had! I can almost smell the chicken just by looking at it. Damn, why can't Newtown have a place like this

  • At 6/21/2012 9:41 am, Anonymous SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) said…

    Why do places like this have to be so far away from the city??? That looks amazing... made me wish I was back in Vietnam, about to have nem lui for lunch. YUM!

  • At 6/21/2012 11:17 am, Anonymous Billy @ A Table For Two said…

    This is absolutely my kind of food! Last time i went to Canley Vale was to buy fish tanks and started an aquarium! LOL I think I have better reason to go back there now!

  • At 6/21/2012 12:52 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    Have been peagreen with envy as a dear friend leaving on one of Luke Nguyen's foodie tours to Vietnam in the next few days. Well, living near Picton, Canley Vale is not so far away and the food looks so delicious together with ability to choose deer, crocodile, tongue and other offal etc besides the more classical dishes. Marked for discovery :) !

  • At 6/21/2012 1:10 pm, Anonymous JasmyneTea said…

    I always seem to miss Canley Vale and go for the slightly closer Cabramatta restaurants. I don't know WHAT I'm thinking, because clearly I'm missing out!

  • At 6/21/2012 3:02 pm, Anonymous Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said…

    Oh Man! I wish this place wasn't so far away! That chicken looks absolutely mouth-watering!

  • At 6/21/2012 7:39 pm, Blogger TheHungryMonkee said…

    OMG I AM COMING TO EAT ALL THE FOOD! woo hoooooo!!! crispy offal!! oh yeah!! and Durian shakes YUMo!

  • At 6/21/2012 10:52 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love this place, it has the best Vietnamese BBQ food - although every time I go here I end up smelling ridiculously smoky...

  • At 6/22/2012 8:41 am, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    What a feast! I adore this place and I've only been once. I love how you can bbq your own meats to your own liking. Food here is seriously the epitome of vietnamese barbeque food.

  • At 6/22/2012 10:04 am, Anonymous Acy said…

    These are so mouth-watering! I put anything on the grill..healthier too

  • At 6/22/2012 5:22 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Wow - what a colourful feast!

  • At 6/23/2012 9:57 am, Anonymous Christina @ The Hungry Australian said…

    I want to eat everything in this post. My stomach is aching so bad - lucky you, Helen!

  • At 6/23/2012 2:01 pm, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    know that the crispy pork offal is pork offal makes me go hmmmm. But oh wow does it every look so good, dig in and don't think for me, I think :)

  • At 6/24/2012 8:46 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Wow this is on my wish list for when I make it to Sydney - love the use of the banana leaves on the BBQ.

  • At 6/25/2012 4:32 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    Love this place! My Vietnamese friend took me once and the chicken with the sticky rice and the beef wrapped in betel leaves were so good!

  • At 6/25/2012 6:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Seriously, I can't believe that this restaurant is in Australia. Amazing. I had to check the address - twice. I was in Vietnam once and the offerings weren't nearly as good as what I see here.
    You guys have it all in Oz.

  • At 6/26/2012 10:19 am, Blogger Anna (Morsels and Musings) said…

    I wish I had a car. And a license so I could drive it.

  • At 6/26/2012 6:23 pm, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    Whoahoho this place looks so cool! I love it when meat is cooked over charcoal :) a tad far but it sounds like it would be totally worth the trek!

  • At 6/28/2012 5:12 pm, Anonymous cath said…

    We read, we went, we ate, we also took away! Awesome char grilled chicken and fish. The sweet potato dessert sublime. Thank you!

  • At 7/07/2012 1:46 pm, Anonymous Lay said…

    I just ate here. 2 of us had - 1/2 bbq chicken, the scampi with special sauce, betel leaf wrapped beef, crispy pork offal, sticky rice and durian shake. I drove 40km to Canley Vale and it was so worth it!! I told the people there that I read abt this place from your website and they asked me to show them and they took a photo of it frm my iphone!! Hahaha i will come back again soon for more!!!! Thanks for sharing :) *burppppp*


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