There's no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants in Marrickville but with tonight's opening of Bau Truong's third restaurant, the foodie scene at this Inner West village has just gotten hotter!
Bau Truong's first two locations at Cabramatta and Canley Heights are favourites among the old and young, and it's pretty common to see queues stretch out the door at both these venues.
This third one isn't a replica of the first two successful restaurants at all. While still staying true to classic Vietnamese cuisine, this restaurant's fun and modern approach and focus on share plates takes it up a notch.
The two storey dining space is separated by an open staircase. The interior is overall dark with loud splashes of sky blue and bright yellow.
As it's the opening night event, we're served a predefined sequence of dishes. From tomorrow onwards, ordering will be as per normal. 'Bites' start from $8 and there's another menu for those wanting more substantial dishes - they range from $10 to $38.
We start with nem nuong cuon. These are bite-sized rice paper rolls, filled with vermicelli, lettuce, mint and perilla leaves, and topped with glistening Vietnamese meatballs.
Next is the muc nuong sot mam, gently chargrilled pieces of squid served with a chilli and prawn paste dipping sauce. It's tender, light and so flavoursome.
Following that, we have the mam chay, a spicy tofu dip served with fresh Thai basil and cucumber. I love love love this dish. It is silky soft yet rich and robust.
Update on 16/09/2011: As it turns out, I've just been informed that Bau Truong Marrickville is not yet licensed. Drinks were just available for family and friends at this opening night. They'll have a small wine list soon!
Oh, before I forget, this place is licensed. As you can see, Zen enjoyed his Vietnamese beer :)
Another exciting dish is the cua lot rang me, golden fried soft shell crab in a tamarind glaze. I love the sweet tangyness of the tamarind.
We also get a sampler of the suon non kho tieu which are pork ribs caramelised with pepper. The meat is so soft and tender!
I have always loved Bau Truong's colourful salads and this goi bo tai chanh is no exception. Succulent pieces of thinly sliced beef are tossed with a vibrant mix of herbs, onion, roast peanuts and fried shallots.
The com chien sate is a scrumptious fried rice, fragrant with Vietnamese sate (a chilli sauce typically made from garlic, shallots, lemongrass, peanut oil, fresh and dried chillis, fish sauce, sugar and salt).
The stand-out dish for me is this com chay xao tom, prawns stir-fried in a chilli basil sauce with crispy Vietnamese 'rice bubbles'. The rice bubbles are actually more like crackers, with an indulgent deep-fried crunch.
And we finish off with a bowl of canh bo rau muong cay, a spicy and sour beef and kang kong soup in a smoked-fish base. It's more sweet than spicy but leaves a beautiful lingering fragrance.
Like its sister restaurants, the number of dishes available at Bau Truong Marrickville heads into the three digit category. I so can't wait to try them all!
Bau Truong, Marrickville
185 Marrickville Road, Marrickville NSW
Phone: (02) 9569 4938
42 John Street, Cabramatta NSW
250 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights NSW
JENIUS & partner dined as guests of Bau Truong