Some of us like to get pho’d up, some of us like to rice paper-roll with it. Whatever your style, there’s enough variety in Sydney Vietnamese cuisine to satisfy even the most fickle Goldilocks among us. Whether you’re after a soothing phở or a crunchy bánh mì, we’ve got your Sydney Vietnamese vital needs covered.
Here is our pick of Sydney's best Vietnamese restaurants you must try.
Carnivores, lemme hear you roar. If you’re an enthusiastic consumer of meats, Hai Au is for you—and everyone else, judging by how busy this place gets. Grilled chicken fans will revel in the succulent bird, charred to perfection, and enhanced with the subtle fragrance of the banana leaf wrapping. For beef with some green, the bò lá lớp offers up skewers of beef parcels, wrapped in peppery betel leaf, and charred at the table. Seek some relief from the meat with sides of rice paper, mint, and pineapple—or just wear your eating pants.
Phở is the dish of the day, here. Make that the only dish... ever. Pick from the 15 varieties of phở on the wall menus, order from tablet-wielding waitstaff, and your bowl of choice will arrive in 60 seconds. This is not a lie. Brave souls can venture into the offal-y depths of phở with tripe, cartilage, and chicken hearts, and hungry hippos can upgrade to the large bowl (warning: it’s massive). For peace of mind, and ease of slurp, you can purchase a protective bib.
You can’t get more old school than Phở Pasteur—in 20 years, both the menu and décor have barely changed at this Sydney restaurant. The origin of the restaurant name is a little long-winded. There’s a street in Saigon named after the French scientist Louis Pasteur, and Pasteur Street is home to a hub of restaurants serving phở, therefore: Phở Pasteur. So it’s a no-brainer to go with the phở tái—a steaming bowl of rice noodles in broth, topped with slices of raw beef and onion. There are Pasteurs in Parramatta and Chinatown, too, so you can get your phở fix whenever, wherever.
If you’re all phởd out, THY is the ideal place to branch out your Vietnamese taste buds. This Sydney Vietnamese restaurant is making a name for its speciality street food dishes—bánh xèo and bánh cuốn. The former is a crispy turmeric pancake, filled with beansprouts, prawns, and pork. The latter is less common on the Sydney-Vietnamese restaurant circuit—a plate of delicate, silky rice noodles are rolled up with pork mince and cloud ear mushrooms, and topped with fried shallots. Both dishes are champions of texture and appetites, and are best dunked or drizzled with delightfully pungent fish sauce.
Great Aunty Three
These fellas do one of Sydney's best bánh mì. At this tiny Enmore corner shop, the Vietnamese pork rolls are a little different to what you’ll find at your local hot bread store. Instead of traditional pig cold-cuts, bite into some roast pork and crackling with green apple, or roast duck with watercress. The combo of slow-cooked meats with cucumber, carrot, daikon, and paté is heaven in a roll. Some ground rules: grab plenty of napkins, always say yes to Sriracha, and pair with a fresh fruit shake. You’ve got a meal made.
Marrickville & Cabramatta
Kudos to the interior designers at this Sydney Vietnamese rerestaurantBau Truong is certainly on the prettier of the Vietnamese-restaurant-decor scale. The Marrickville outpost is all turquoise walls, red chopsticks, and white tablecloths, while the Cabramatta and Canley Vale haunts are more down-to-earth family affairs. The Cabramatta location is our pick for lesser-known south Vietnamese noodles soups. Bún mắm packs a pungent punch—vermicelli noodles and seafood float in a soup, flavoured with fermented anchovies. It’s strong, salty, and complex, and definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Pho Tau Bay
Phở aficionados say this is Sydney's best pho. Like so many Vietnamese restaurants in Sydney, Phở Tàu Bay is family-run, and has been that way for 20-odd years. The dining space is pretty standard—vinyl-covered chairs, napkins, condiments, and chopstick cylinders—but the steaming bowls of phở will have you coming back for more. The beefy broth is remarkably clear and well-balanced, and the seemingly endless supply of noodles will put you in a state of slurpy, slippery bliss. Unfortunately, like most good things in Sydney, you’ll have to line up, so hit up your phở craving outside peak hours.
Pho PHD Vietnamese
If your restaurant name implies you have a doctorate in phở, then you better make a darn cracking bowl of the stuff. And if you do a decent job at it, why not open two restaurants in the same suburb? Marrickville is lucky to have two Pho PHDs within walking distance of each other, serving up red bowls of phở bò. The beef is tender, the broth is clean, and not overloaded with shallots and onions. If you’re after something cooler, go for a vermicelli noodle salad, topped with a healthy abundance of bean sprouts, cucumber, and barbecued beef.
Newtown and Cabramatta
Well before his penchant for funky sneakers, chef Dan Hong’s original stomping ground was Sydney Vietnamese restaurant, Thanh Bình. His mother, Angie, owns and operates both the Newtown and Cabramatta restaurants, and Sydney should be pretty grateful for how well she trained the now-chef of Ms. G’s and El Loco. The bánh hỏi is a DIY rice paper roll kit, with mountains of rice paper sheets, salad, mint, steamed vermicelli noodles, and a choice of protein. The nem nuong—spicy pork balls—are highly recommended.
Tre Viet offers not only authentic Vietnamese cuisine, but also a menu packed with vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dishes that will not only soothe your guilty conscience but also taste delish. Try their vegetarian fried rice or stir-fried chilli and lemongrass tofu that’s oh-so-yum and basically a greenies dream come true. You’re welcome.
If you’re feeling a little lost in the Vietnamese cuisine world then Red Lantern is here to light your way. Focusing on aromatic and vibrant regional Vietnamese flavours paired with a French-colonial decor, this place is perfect is you want to class up your experience with pho like never before. Try their Ca Chien Xot Nuoc Dua; a pan-fried fish fillet dish with lemongrass-scented coconut milk, saw tooth coriander and chilli. To finish off the lavish night out, don’t forget to order dessert; we suggest the Chuoi Chien with banana fritters crumbed in coconut and white rice and served with a sweet palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce and vanilla bean ice cream.
Surry Hills, George Street & Chatswood
Old Saigon meets Sydney with Madame Nhu’s retro vibes and almost painfully good food. Their unique French-villa style eateries gives a nod to the old style of Vietnamese eating, with a focus on taste, quality and style. Step into one of these venues and see them bring sexiness back to pho or caramelise chicken to the max in their ga kho dishes. And when you leave don’t forget to thank Madame for having you ‘cause it’ll be bloody epic.
The interiors at So 9 are not what you’d expect from a Vietnamese restaurant with light timber features and a pastel palette that just makes you feel relaxed and ready to eat. But you still get that same experience of wandering the street markets of Han Noi with the various stations on display so you can watch as the masterful chefs prepare your food. The bánh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) is perfectly crispy, light and a delightful shade of yellow thanks to the turmeric in the pancake mix while the pho is a sure-fire way to keep you warm. Other standouts include the classic bánh mì thịt (pork roll) or try something a bit modern with the bánh mì xíu mại (meatballs).
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So 9 | Image credit: Federica Portentoso