In my never-ending quest for cheap and cheerful food, I have been meaning to go to Marrickville and taste good Vietnamese food for a while, but haven’t had the opportunity so far…. That was until our friend Brian, a die-hard foodie, Bourdain fan, decided to introduce us to one of his old time favourites: Old Thanh Huong, his second home away from home for many years now. He even calls the lady who manages it his “Marrickville Mum”: awww…!
We arrive with Brian, his partner Sandie and their baby girl on a Friday night and the place is buzzing with families, couples and people who come by themselves for a quick meal. Brian’s “second mum” finds us a table nonetheless and lets us peruse the gigantic menu, offering Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese dishes, with all types of meat, even Crocodile! There are so many options I don’t know what to choose, lucky Brian is there to guide us through the numerous dishes. We prefer sticking to the Vietnamese dishes and soon order a Pho soup, some Rice paper rolls (Prawn and Tofu), Salt & Pepper squid, Beef noodles, Vegetable stir-fry and Lemongrass and Chili Tofu.
The Rice paper rolls arrive first. Apparently the Chicken rolls are the best, but I could not resist the Prawn rolls and am still happy with my choice. I don’t think I could ever get tired of rolls, they are so fresh, crunchy and fragrant and you can eat them with without guilt: you can just feel they are good for you!
The Beef Pho is served soon after and for me is the highlight of the meal; the broth, to which we can add bean sprouts and more herbs, is light and flavoursome at the same time: I could just drink it on its own. I am always a bit wary of meat in soups, or boiled meat, as I think it is going to be chewy and hard, but that is not the case here and the raw pieces of beef cooking in the broth are very thinly sliced, tender and easy to eat. I decide that, after many years of Laksa worshipping, Pho is my new favourite soup!
The Salt & Pepper squid is an instant hit at our table: as soon as I eat a first piece, I can’t seem to be able to stop and have to restrain myself to leave some for the others! It is perfectly cooked, not too rubbery and nicely seasoned.
The Stir-fried rice noodles with beef (Char Kway Teow), another popular dish of the house, arrive together with the Vegetable stir-fry and Tofu with Chili and Lemongrass, but the damage is done and after a few bites I turn all my attention back to the Pho and the Squid!
Brian’s 16-month-old seems to enjoy the meal as much as we do and eats gladly everything her parents offer her, Squid, Beef, Rice paper rolls… it’s quite impressive to watch. At her age, I was so difficult my parents had to burn dried spaghetti on a candle to distract me so they could force-feed me! But Ruby seems to be following in her parents foodsteps: a real foodie in the making 🙂
As a whole a very enjoyable evening (and cheap, at $20 a head!), which marks the start of more exploration to be undertaken in Marrickville!
Old Thanh Huong
356 Illawarra Rd
Marrickville NSW 2204
Phone (02) 9558 0863