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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills

12 hour roast pork crackling banh mi at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills

How do you make a banh mi even better? Add pork crackling, I say. They roast their pork belly low and slow at the new Great Aunty Three in Surry Hills, cooked overnight in temperature-controlled ovens and then cranked up in the morning so a layer of crackling bubbles up across the surface.

Buddha at service counter at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills
Service counter with a laughing Buddha

The Surry Hills outpost is the first step of expansion for the Enmore success story that is Great Aunty Three. It's all about fast and zingy Vietnamese classics: banh mi Vietnamese bread rolls, pho noodle soup, vermicelli salads and goi cuon rice paper rolls with Vietnamese coffees or fruit shakes on the side.

Owner Michael Le at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills
Owner Michael Le making banh mi

At the helm is Michael Le, a Vietnamese Australian who worked in the corporate sector for nearly ten years before following his heart and entering hospitality. His inspiration was his Grandma, a successful restaurateur in Can Tho, Vietnam who now works in Cabramatta, Sydney. He calls her bà ngoại, or maternal grandmother, but everyone else calls her Great Aunty Three.

Banh mi salad options at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills
Salad and herbs in the bain marie

Banh mi production line at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills
Banh mi production line

The Surry Hills store has been barely open a week but there's a genuine sense of energy in the air with a predominantly new team behind the counter. There's not a lot of seating here (currently six stools around a communal table) but they promise there'll be a little more installed soon. Michael will be heading up the store in Surry Hills while his wife, Mai will continue to look after the Enmore outlet.

Goi cuon rice paper rolls at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills
Goi cuon rice paper rolls $7.50
Tiger prawn, roast duck and chicken fillet with avocado

Prices are a step up from Enmore (where rents are cheaper), but the menu is still competitive with its Surry Hills neighbours. Goi cuon rice paper rolls are packed in ready-to-go boxes at $7.50 for three. There's a myriad of combinations but we tuck into tiger prawn, roast duck and chicken fillet. The skins are soft and sticky, packed tightly with noodles, lettuce and herbs. The sauce isn't the usual hoisin peanut mix, but lighter and sweeter in taste.

Self-serve water fountain at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills
Self-serve water fountain

Grilled lemongrass chicken fillet salad at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills
Grilled lemongrass chicken fillet salad $10

Cold vermicelli noodle salads are always a winner in summer. We go with the grilled lemongrass chicken, so juicy and succulent we almost fall off our stools when they tell us it's chicken breast. It's a rainbow of crunch, the slices of chicken curled up on a bed of cold vermicelli noodles with bits of lettuce, carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts, perilla leaves and mint. I wish the nuoc cham dressing had a bit more of a fish sauce punch but the roasted peanuts are fried shallots provide plenty of distraction.

Chopsticks and grilled lemongrass chicken fillet salad at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills

A medium sized bowl will set you back $10. They also do versions with roast crackling pork, grilled barramundi or faux chicken and lemongrass tofu for any vegetarians in the house.

12 hour roast crackling pork banh mi at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills
Pork banh mi: The Sydney $9
12 hour roast crackling pork with shredded apple slaw and house sauce

The classic pork banh mi is elevated with slices of 12 hour roast crackling pork. Admittedly $9 is a step up from most banh mi shops, but then so is this pork beauty. The long slow roast means that the pork fat has rendered its way throughout every crevice of meat resulting in flesh so soft and juicy you may just shed a tear. Add surprise shards of crackling throughout and you've got one helluva sandwich.

They're not afraid to break the banh mi rules either, if the soft shell crab, tiger prawn and barramundi fillet ("The Bondi") is any indication. They're mixing everything up here, with lemongrass chicken, roast duck, chorizo omelettes and vegetarian faux chicken options also up on the board.

Banh mi at Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills
Crusty banh mi

They do a pho beef noodle soup for an even ten bucks and the ubiquitous gua bao makes an appearance too. Everybody's favourite steamed lotus leaf bun comes sandwiched around soft slabs of pork belly or slices of roast crackling pork ($8 for two).

The coffee machine wasn't working when we visited, but they'll be cranking out Vietnamese coffee with or without condensed milk soon. You can also keep cool over summer with Vietnamese iced coffees, homemade lemonade or frappes in coconut and lime, mango or watermelon, lychee and jackfruit. Sweet.

Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills

Great Aunty Three on Urbanspoon

Great Aunty Three
92-94 Wentworth Avenue, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9281 8882

Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 11am-3pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Surry Hills - Spice I Am
Surry Hills - Surry Hills Eating House
Vietnamese - Pho Pasteur, Haymarket
23 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/26/2014 08:39:00 pm


  • At 11/26/2014 9:50 pm, Blogger vegeTARAian said…

    Yay, so thrilled they have veg options! Thanks for sharing Helen, I must go check it out

  • At 11/26/2014 9:54 pm, Anonymous Tania@ MyKitchen Stories said…

    Great they are growing. Everything looks so good.

  • At 11/26/2014 10:22 pm, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Saw it from the train this morning... great addition to the Surry Hills scene!

  • At 11/26/2014 10:37 pm, Anonymous kiki@mykikicake said…

    Sometimes wish I worked around Surry Hills, they definitely have the best lunch time food options. Would love to try one of the Banh Mi rolls!

  • At 11/27/2014 12:34 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    The beef pho was just $8 when I checked it out a couple of months ago and I found it pretty mediocre.

  • At 11/27/2014 4:35 am, Anonymous Padaek said…

    You got me at 12 hr roast crackling pork roll - wow - what an idea and can't wait to try it! The rolls/food looks great, and a real neat looking place too. Thanks! :)

  • At 11/27/2014 6:55 am, Anonymous Nagi@RecipeTin Eats said…

    Vietnamese Pork Roll......ah, the never ending mission to discover all the different variations and the "best" pork roll in Sydney! The 12 hour pork got me....I love that there are so many different spins on Pork Rolls. If you are ever all the way up here in the Norther Beaches, head to Mona Vale Bakery which is owned by a gorgeous Vietnamese couple and they make Pork Meatball Rolls. No it's not 100% authentic, but it is SO GOOD and the locals go mad for it! I love it! So this is going on my "must tries" list and I'm sending this email around to my family too (because our family dinners involved heated arguments about where to get the "best" ba minh, ramen, shanghai dumplings, BBQ pork etc etc.....)

  • At 11/27/2014 8:04 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    I did a double take when I looked out of the train as it exited the tunnel at Elizabeth Street. I thought I imagined it, but your post now confirms my sighting! Great to see these guys have expanded.

  • At 11/27/2014 10:53 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    There's definitely a market for higher priced banh mi (with crackling!), though I miss the days of my $2.50 pork rolls in Mascot...

  • At 11/27/2014 11:49 am, Blogger Jacq said…

    who would have thought you could improve on a classic banh mi... but then again pork crackling makes everything better!

  • At 11/27/2014 3:42 pm, Blogger Amanda said…

    I love pork crackling in banh mi! It's always my favourite when we make it at home so I'm glad they're finally selling it somewhere :)

  • At 11/27/2014 4:40 pm, Blogger Von said…

    Banh mi with pork crackling!! :O Definitely need to try this some time! $9 isn't half bad either for something that looks like a satisfying lunch. And I'm loving the sound of that alternate fillings too!

  • At 11/27/2014 9:26 pm, Anonymous Sashimiso said…

    Pork crackling in a bahn mi! love it!

  • At 11/27/2014 10:41 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    I seriously miss good banh mi! can't believe I can't find a good banh min in HK!

  • At 11/27/2014 10:56 pm, Anonymous Felicia @ Next Stop: Food said…

    PORK CRACKLING yummm! It's nice to hear that their chicken breast is succulent :)

  • At 11/27/2014 11:47 pm, Anonymous Rosa said…

    You've definitely got me interested in trying it. I've never travelled beyond Cabramatta for Vietnamese cuisine since I have my mother to cook all that I desire. But this 12hour crackled pork sounds something special.

  • At 11/28/2014 7:52 am, Anonymous Cindy (a foodie's joy) said…

    I have yet to check out the Enmore store and now I have the Surry Hills one on my list too. I like the sound of Banh mi with pork crackling! :)

  • At 11/28/2014 1:57 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    I could do with a lemongrass chicken salad instead of my usual tuna salad!

  • At 11/28/2014 9:19 pm, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    I do love these rolls. And Surry Hills has great restaurants and all are reasonably priced. This looks like another great offering to the Surry Hills scene. Love the sound of the slow-cooked but crispy pork belly xx

  • At 11/29/2014 3:01 pm, Blogger Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said…

    These rolls look so tasty, crusty and generously filled :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  • At 12/01/2014 9:05 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Yes yes YES to that crackling!!!

  • At 12/06/2014 6:47 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I can never turn down a good Vietnamese vermicelli salad!

  • At 12/07/2014 3:50 pm, Anonymous Amanda@ChewTown said…

    As Scott is such a huge lover of Banh mi, I'll have to take him!


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