Posts Tagged ‘Vietnamese gems’

On tour: Canley Vale Progressive Lunch – part two

To recap, my friend M had invited me on a trial tour of Canley Vale, run by taste tours and the benevolent society. This is part two.

Waddling down the road, we then stopped at…
Henry Steamed Buns

We tasted some of the custard buns….

Henry Steam Buns custard

Amazing, bright yellow filling and very very egg-y in flavour. I have made these in the past, and I did cheat slightly with the addition of custard powder. My ones were lacking the fluffiness of the bun, because I tried to spread it across two many buns – they were more dumpling than bun.

Henry Steam Buns times two

We each got a packet of two buns, a giant one, and a smaller one. We were too full from lunch to sample our packs immediately.

The larger bun was a very tasty vegie bun. I saw water chestnut, corn, cabbage, peas and carrots. Very pleased to see the variety of veges in there – vego ones can sometimes be really disappointing.

I thought that the second one was supposed to be a pork bun and was initially disappointed when I opened it up and it looked like it was a red bean bun! I heated up the bun and was very surprised to find that it was actually pork!! The sauce was so red and the meat was so tightly packed in that it looked like red bean mixture. Amazing. I loved that there was lots of meat rather than too much gravy. The vege bun was pretty tasty as well.

This place was a little gem. Just make sure that if you are after a BBQ pork bun, you specify this.

Everyone else had wandered a bit further down the road, and we found them at the Passion Cafe.
Binh gave use a run down on how the green pandan flavoured ‘worms’ are made in the three colour drink.
Three colour drink

The tall glasses were then returned to the kitchen, to be divided up into smaller sample containers. We had, after all, finished lunch a mere 15 minutes beforehand.

Drinks at the Passion Cafe

A sampler of ‘tamarind iced drink’ was also distributed (on the right, above). This was indeed an interesting drink. Icy cold with sour tamarind, sweet palm sugar, roast peanuts and little pieces of crystalline ginger. Very refreshing.

I saw that little vietnamese coffee drippers were available, so before departing on my way, I ordered one to go. You take one sip, and it’s like: BLAM! The punch of serious caffeine, sugar and ice just whacks you about the head. Lucky I hadn’t yet had any coffee that day, or else I would have had trouble sleeping.

I might have to make a return visit to try their other options!

Before leaving the area, we went a little further up the road to visit Canley Heights. This place was buzzing with people, and we popped into a small grocery store off the main road to see what we could find.

I first spotted the greens, and some of which we had been discussing that day in the restaurant.

Canley Heights greens

From left to right we have: kang kong (ong choy, tong choy, water spinach or Ipomoea aquatica), Vietnamese Mint (Vietnamese Coriander, hot mint, or Persicaria_odorata), Rice Paddy Herb (or Limnophila aromatica). The first one I ate, the latter two I didn’t quite get around to eating the entire bunch, but I did strike some cuttings in a pot, and they are taking over. I asked the shop assistant what the vietnamese name for rice paddy herb was – she said that it was very long, but that it was used to make Tom Yum soup.

The dry goods that I found:

Canley Heights booty 1

A ginger tea in a bag that doesn’t contain any sugar, tamarind paste (seeds included), and roast rice powder – to save me from dry roasting and then hand grinding in a mortar and pestle when I want to make the thai salad dish larb. I really liked the tea to add a bit more oomph to a standard lemon and ginger tea, when I don’t have access to fresh ginger.

I enjoyed myself so much here, that I came back again a few days later to buy some more pork rolls.

Henry steam buns
Shop 3/17 canley vale road
0530-1700,daily

Passion cafe
15 Canley Vale road
0700-2200, daily

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On Tour: Canley Vale Progressive Lunch – Part One

My friend M had emailed me a deal I couldn’t refuse: A foodie tour of Canley Vale in the Fairfield council area for the bargain price of $30 instead of RRP $55.

SOLD!

Trackwork on the train line meant that I, who normally would need to change trains got to catch a direct one there: whilst other friends had to change trains twice.

Karma?

There were two reasons why this particular tour was so cheap:
1) it was being run as a trial with the aim of developing a full tour of the area
2) it was being sponsored by the council.

Hurray. After meeting our brightly t-shirted taste volunteers at the station we went across the road to the N.S.W Tien Hau Temple.

Tien Hau templeThis temple has been built in 1995 by Vietnamese refugees in the area as a tribute to the goddess Tien Hau (天后, Lim Mak Ngeo), who they felt had guaranteed then safe passage through the South China Seas. Our guide, Binh, remembers being one hungry small child in one of those boats, and how the first meal she had on land was the best tasting meal she’s ever had. Really a very sobering thought.

Tien Ha temple, canley vale

Binh also told us about the fortune telling/divining rituals, and how the temple was staffed entirely by volunteers – no full time monk here.

Next up: Canley Vale hot bread shop.

So I’ve been to a few of those places seeking the varieties of the banh mi – pork roll. Normally you get a choice of pork, chicken, salad.

Canley Vale bakery

Here the choices were: pork, BBQ pork, pork meatballs, fish cake, egg, omelet, tuna, plus almost any combination of the above. Binh described the process of making the mayonnaise, the pate and the hot pink pork sliced sausage. If you were keen, you could also buy your own 1kg tub of either mayo or pate at a very respectable $14/$16. The fish cake roll – with the tastebud scorching chilli was very delicious. If I didn’t know that I had lunch coming up, I would’ve bought another roll.

Each taster also got a can of grass jelly drink. I’m afraid I missed the spiel, I just remember that the grass jelly was a relative of the mint family. I have had this drink before. I like it when the grass jelly are big cubes of wobbliness, rather than tiny hard squares as in this can.

Bach Dang Vietnamese Restaurant
Whilst walking from parking her car to our meet up location, my friend M had wandered past a restaurant with the most amazing aroma wafting out from the kitchen. This place was a little bit fancier, what with padded chairs and carpet and all.

On the menu:
-Caramel Fish and soup (two dishes)
-Spring Rolls
-Bean Curd with butter and garlic
-Veg pancakes
-Campfire beef

Spring rolls:

Bach Dang: spring rolls

The spring rolls were flavoursome and tasty, and not your usual fare. I think I picked up taro, vermicelli noodles, black wood ear fungus in the mix. How unlike the standard chinese ‘spring roll’ contents of not much!

I was super excited when the vietnamese pancake banh xeo turned up.

Bach dang - veg pancake

Clap my hands happy. Clap. Clap. ‘Banh’ means cake, ‘Xeo’ means sizzling. This is one of my favourite dishes to order whenever I see it on the menu. This is the first time I have seen a vegetarian version – filled with lovely fat slices of tofu, mushrooms, bean sprouts. Utterly delicious.

Campfire beef before:
Bach Dang - campfire beef before

This is the dish just after it got brought to the table, and the methylated spirits was set alight. You then needed to ‘stir’ the dish (two soup spoons worked best), so that the onions and beef cooked throughout. We had two dishes of this on the table, and one worked, and one was a bit raw.

Campfire beef after:
Bach dang - campfire beef after

As you can see, it makes a right royal mess of the cooking bowl. You can kind of see why this is a special occasion dish, rather than an everyday one.

Butter and garlic tofu:
Bach dang - butter and garlic bean curd

I don’t know why this stuff was bright yellow, but the batter on the tofu was very thick, almost biscuit like. I cut the tougher sides off mine before eating the silken tofu insides. The crispy garlic and spring onion mix was very moreish. Like salt and pepper tofu, but extra yum.

Sour fish soup:
Bach Dang - fish soup
This is a traditional Vietnamese dish – an every day food. First, a silver perch is seared, and then poached in tamarind broth. This is flavoured with rice paddy herb and elephant ear stem. Normally it has pork added, but this one didn’t.

The soup was very sour! The rice paddy herb added citrus/cumin flavours, and the elephant ear stem added a spongy texture – but like tofu, it doesn’t have any flavour itself. I also picked up flavours of garlic, okra and tomato.

Caramel Fish:
Bach dang - caramel fish

By contrast, the caramel fish was very sweet, and you are supposed to eat this mixed through your rice. I ate this caramel fish first, and it tasted really sour. After a tasting of the sour soup, the caramel fish tasted really sweet!

Tien Hau Temple
124-128 Railway Parade, Canley Vale NSW 2166

Canley Vale Bakery
4/32-34 Canley Vale Road, Canley Vale NSW 2166

Bach Dang Vietnamese restaurant
Tue-fri: 1000-1430, 1700-2200
Sat-Sun: 1000-2200
46 canley vale road, Canley Vale NSW 2166
02-9727-9931