The Pho Edition (various locations around Newtown)

I really like soup + I have VFFS (Vietnamese food fixation syndrome) + it’s cold = I’ve been eating a lot of Pho lately. I decided to take Alvaro (and sometimes our housemate Neil) in a journey to discover the best pho in the neighbourhood. Here’s my report.

Remember Saigon

The beef pho is massive, has good flavour but also too many noodles and not that much meat.

Remember Saigon: Beef pho

Beef pho ($11.90)

Shop 4/80 Enmore Road
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8068 8618

Remember Saigon on Urbanspoon

Pho 236

The beef pho is very salty but tasty. We recently found out they put MSG in it, and also that I’m not sensitive to MSG. The soup has a decent amount of meat and lots of noodles, making it very filling. Takeaway service is normally pretty fast.

I’ve also tried the chicken noodle soup (Neil and I prefer it over the pho because it comes with veggies) and the laksa.

Pho 236: Accompaniments

Pho 236: Beef pho

Beef pho ($8.80)

Pho 236: Chicken noodle soup

Chicken noodle soup ($8.80)

Pho 88

Soups come in small and large, with the small size being large enough for a reasonably hungry person. We tried the beef and duck pho, both had a decent amount of meat and lots of noodles. The broth was salty but also sweet for our taste. Service was slow.

Pho 88: Garnish

Pho 88: Pho

Beef pho ($9.50, small)

Pho 88: Pho duck

Duck pho ($14.50, small)

343 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9519 4972

Pho 88 on Urbanspoon

Tre Viet

The beef pho was very average. Plus, the restaurant is big and service can get slow.

Tre Viet: Pho accompaniments

Tre Viet: Pho

Beef pho ($12.50)

152-154 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9516 5500

Tre Viet on Urbanspoon

Great Aunty Three

The beef pho is smallish (but also cheaper than most) and very good. One of my favourites. Good broth, quality meat, fresh sides.

Great Aunty Three: Pho

Great Aunty Three: Pho

Beef pho ($8)

115 Enmore Rd
Enmore NSW 2042
(02) 9519 2886
www.greatauntythree.com

Great Aunty Three on Urbanspoon

Rice Paper

The beef pho is nice, with a decent amount of good quality meat.

Rice Paper: Pho accompaniments

Rice Paper: Beef pho

Beef pho ($13)

131 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8065 7271
ricepaper131@gmail.com
www.rice-paper.com.au

Bar Pho

This is one of the hottest pop-up spots at the moment. After great success in Bondi Farmers Markets, they are now offering outstanding soup at my local (Eveleigh) markets every Saturday from 8am to 1pm, and are also popping-up in Surry Hills. They serve beef and vegetarian pho in 2 sizes. This is probably the best quality pho you will find in the market: flavourful broth, grass-fed beef, and no MSG. My favourite without a doubt. They also sell jars of Mumma’s Chilli oil (unfortunately made with vegetable oil).

Bar Pho

Bar Pho: Accompaniments

Bar Pho: Beef pho

Beef pho ($10 large, $6 small)

Bondi Farmers Market, Saturday 9am-1pm
Eveleigh Market, Saturday 8am-1pm
8 Hill Street Surry Hills NSW 2010, Friday/Saturday 4pm-8pm, Sunday 12pm-8pm
www.barpho.com.au
On Facebook

Review: Henley’s Wholefoods (Bondi Junction)

I’ve been wanting to try Henley’s Wholefoods since the first time I went to Paleo Cafe but every trip to Bondi Junction has been to try new dishes at Paleo Cafe. Eventually my sister and I decided it was about time to give Henley’s a shot.

The cafe is located in the same commercial building, but it’s easy to miss. You have to go down the stairs (towards the gym and sports supplement store) and you’ll find it.

Henley's Wholefoods: From stairs

Henley's Wholefoods: Outside

Henley’s philosophy is well-aligned with mine, and that’s why I didn’t mind travelling all the way there to support their business.

Henley's Wholefoods: Statement

Everything at Henley’s is gluten-free (except the toast) and they have a tempting array of healthy sweet treats and breakfast-type stuff. They also have some ready-made salads if you’re in need of healthy takeaway.

Henley's Wholefoods: Sweets

On the beverage front, they sell Botanica cold-pressed juices and offer almond milk for the coffee. We ordered our long blacks before I remembered the almond milk (we’re so used to standard cafes!). Coffee was on the strong/sour side.

Henley's Wholefoods: Coffee

But we were there for brunch and that’s what we got. The green eggs: baby spinach-egg ribbon scramble, baked polenta, chorizo, avocado, red onion, cilantro and tomato salsa were nice but a lot different to what I was expecting. More like an airy egg muffin, if you wish. Flavours were pleasant but lacked salt and kick.

Henley's Wholefoods: Green eggs

Green eggs ($22)

The weekend special, an open omelette with lamb sausage, red onion, tomato chutney & Sonoma toast (ordered without the toast), was tastier IMO. The presentation was beautiful. The ingredients in both meals were high quality (for example, I could see they use organic eggs and not just plain free-range) and super fresh.

Henley's Wholefoods: Open omelette with lamb sausage

Open omelette, lamb sausage, red onion, and tomato chutney ($22)

Henley’s Wholefoods
9/310-330 Oxford Street
Bondi NSW 2022
(02) 9387 7733
On Facebook

Henley's Wholefoods on Urbanspoon

Review: Miss Chu Tuckshop (Sydney CBD)

My latest CBD Vietnamese feed was the famous Miss Chu tuckshop, in Regent Place (George Street). I haven’t been there in a million years, and so hadn’t noticed the cool décor they have in place.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Menu

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Menu

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Blackboard

Even the water glasses (and seating?) aim to transport you to Vietnam.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Water

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Seating

The usual condiments plus eco-friendly cutlery and serviettes are provided next to each table.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Condiments, cutlery

This place gets crazy busy so it’s best to come early. To increase efficiency they use the pre-printed form system; you tick your order, write down your name, pay and wait for your meal that comes out the appropriate window (except for the rice paper rolls, which are handed out by the cashier).

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Collection window

It was cold but I was excited to see they had green papaya salad in the menu. I asked if it came with any sort of meat but it didn’t, and was suggested to add salmon for $4. The salad was delicious and the girl at the cashier was right: the salmon went really well with it. I liked the fact that it came with cashews instead of peanuts.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Green papaya salad + salmon

Green papaya salad ($14) + salmon ($4)

Sebastian ordered the seared Atlantic salmon vermicelli salad, which was apparently as good as it looked.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Seared Atlantic salmon vermicelli salad

Seared Atlantic salmon vermicelli salad ($14)

Food was great but portions were on the smallish side. Sebastian suggested getting some rice paper rolls. I was a bit hesitant due to my recent realisation that I’m not really into rice paper rolls. But Miss Chu is the self-appointed “queen of the rice paper rolls” so it was fair to give them a shot. I was given permission to choose the flavour (anything except seafood): pork & pate. At $10 for 2 rolls I thought they’d better be good.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Pork & pate rice paper rolls

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Pork & pate rice paper rolls

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Pork & pate rice paper roll

Pork & page rice paper rolls ($10)

And you know what? They were great. Best rice paper rolls I’ve ever had. Plus, you can ask for fish sauce instead of the usual sauce for a gluten-free option.

Miss Chu Sydney CBD Tuckshop
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 0357
http://www.misschu.com.au/Locations/SydneyCBDTuckshop

Misschu CBD Tuckshop on Urbanspoon

Review: Level One Lounge (Hornsby RSL, Hornsby)

Now that my friends Ana and Rale are parents, their birthdays are no longer celebrated in Newtown with dinner and drinks (emphasis in the drinks). Now they prefer to be closer to home (up North), and I like it because it takes me out of my comfort zone. This year Ana’s first of multiple celebrations was a girls night out at Hornsby RSL’s Level One Lounge.

As an RSL newbie I wasn’t sure what to expect with regard to food quality. The popular choice of the night was the platter with 3 small meals to share plus grilled flatbread for $20 (member price). Gluten-free options were clearly indicated in the menu. I asked if the bread could be substituted for something else but it couldn’t. I ordered my plate with sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, garlic and chilli mushrooms, and lemon calamari with garlic aioli. I figured the portions would be small (hence the bread to fill you up) so I ordered some mixed marinated olives as well. I was wrong! The servings were very generous and I struggled to almost finish all the food. I offered the bread to the other girls but they couldn’t even finish theirs. Everything was tasty, with the calamari being my favourite bit since it’s hard to find tender, crunchy, gluten-free calamari.

Level One Lounge: Sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, garlic and chilli mushrooms, lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli

Sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, garlic and chilli mushrooms, lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli ($20)

Level One Lounge: Mixed marinated olives

Mixed marinated olives ($4.50)

Other sharing dishes ordered that night included harissa prawns, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice, and slow roasted pork ribs in chipotle BBQ sauce. Everything looked fantastic and all servings were huge.

Level One Lounge: Lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice, harissa prawns

Lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice, harissa prawns ($20)

Level One Lounge: Sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice

Sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice ($20)

The only person who didn’t order a share platter had a flatbread pizza with marinated chicken, spinach, mushroom, semi-dried tomatoes and Camembert.

Level One Lounge: Marinated chicken, spinach, mushroom, semi-dried tomatoes and camembert flatbread pizza

Marinated chicken, spinach, mushroom, semi-dried tomatoes and Camembert flatbread pizza ($17.50)

Level One Lounge
Hornsby RSL
4 High Street
Hornsby NSW 2077
(02) 9477 7777
www.hornsbyrsl.com.au/dining-bars/level-one-lounge

Review: Rice Paper (Newtown) (2)

So everyone knows that I’m in the midst of a Vietnamese obsession at the moment. I would say my favourite Asian food is Japanese but I haven’t found really good Japanese food that doesn’t cost a fortune in Sydney yet. The second best for me is Vietnamese.

I’ve been to Rice Paper before (review here) but oddly enough I had never tried their pho. So I ordered one and let Alvaro choose another dish to share.

The soup was good, good flavour, perhaps not super rich but the beef ticked both boxes: quantity and quality.

Rice Paper: Pho accompaniments

Rice Paper: Beef pho

Beef pho ($13)

The Vietnamese chicken curry Alvaro ordered was very saucy (soupy, if you wish), nicely flavoured and very filling. Lots of chicken in there. It also had potato and sweet potato and Alvaro, like any Peruvian, ordered rice on the side. No wonder there are not many slender people there :)

Rice Paper: Chicken curry

Vietnamese chicken curry ($20)

Rice Paper
131 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8065 7271
ricepaper131@gmail.com
www.rice-paper.com.au

Product review: Kitz Living Foods

Nuts, seeds and other plant foods (grains, legumes, etc.) contain anti-nutrients that can keep our bodies from digesting them properly and absorbing minerals and other micro-nutrients (for a longer explanation read this article). Cooking, soaking, sprouting and fermenting are ways to reduce the anti-nutrient content of foods. Nuts and seeds that have been soaked (usually overnight) and then dried at a low temperature are commonly known as “activated”.

Kitz Living Foods offers activated nuts and seeds and snack products made with them that are free from: gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, eggs, soy, peanuts, sesame, fish, shellfish and cane sugar. They are raw and vegan (and paleo!) and made from mostly organic ingredients.

We’ve tried only a couple of their wide variety of products but enough to give us the feeling that all of them are top-notch quality. We were most impressed by the sweet snacks, which are the least sweet we’ve found in the market so far. They come in 150g re-sealable bags, cut in sensibly-sized portions. Listed below are the normal and member prices in the Go Vita shop I bought them from.

Kitz chunks

Kitz chunks nutritional info

Kitz chunks ($12.30, $9.72 member price)

The banana, date & walnut chunks are made of Australian sunflower seeds, dates, organic bananas, walnuts, organic coconut, organic raw vanilla, and organic cinnamon. These had a bit of crunch but were more on the chewy side. Great flavour and pretty filling.

The naughty but nice chocolate chunks are made of dates, Australian sunflower seeds, cashews, organic coconut, organic fair trade raw cacao nibs, organic fair trade raw cacao, organic dark agave syrup, organic raw vanilla, organic cinnamon. I like these a bit better because they were crunchier and I really like chocolate.

The savoury crackers come in 100g bags and were a bit bland IMO. We tried the Italian herb & garlic crackers a while ago and the gourmet 4 seed crackers recently. They were both very crumbly (think them as a vehicle to put stuff on them, rather than spoon stuff with them) and, as I said, a bit on the bland side. For savoury snacks, I prefer Flats.

Kitz gourmet 4 seed crackers

Kitz gourmet 4 seed crackers

Kitz gourmet 4 seed crackers ($9.70, $7.66 member price)

Following yesterday’s post, I do consider these snacks to be processed foods but of the benign kind.

Kitz Living Foods
Tweed Heads NSW
(07) 5536 7983
www.kitzlivingfoods.com.au

Food for thought: Processed foods

I just came back from The Paleo Way, an event featuring Pete Evans and Nora Gedgaudas. I’ll be writing more about it in the near future but for the moment let me say it was really good to see 1000 people attend the event. IMO it doesn’t necessarily mean that paleo is going mainstream any time soon, but rather that more people are taking action to improve their health. Good stuff.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about today is processed foods. Are they evil? Are they “okay in moderation”? Well, it depends on what exactly you mean by “processed”. Most people will agree Doritos and Mars bars are processed foods but somehow think granola bars, breakfast cereal and Tip Top bread are not. Others, in the other end of the spectrum, will say that heating is processing, and thus a cooked steak is a processed food, as is a peeled carrot. I agree that everything you do to food is a level of processing but where to draw the line? Do we even have to draw a line?

I’ve been posting product reviews because I believe some processed foods are okay in certain circumstances, for example, when you don’t have time to cook or when carrying a container with a home-made stew is not practical. Abel James interviewed Dr Joel Fuhrman a few months ago (video here), who said paleo is wrong because it promotes the use of “processed oils” like coconut and olive oil. Then he went on to say that his diet promotes whole grains, etc. So his whole grains require less processing that extracting oil from a fatty fruit. Really?

I personally cook the majority of my meals with fresh produce and good quality meats, and when I eat out I prefer ordering dishes that have been cooked from scratch (as opposed to mass-produced), preferably from fresh ingredients. I am also comfortable with consuming minimally processed foods once in a while (shredded coconut, passata made out of 100% crushed tomatoes, tuna chunks in olive oil, olives in brine, seasoned and dried beef – i.e. jerky, etc.). In general, if the processing has taken a few steps and the ingredient list does not include other processed foods (refined sugar, seed oils, etc.) nor additives (preservatives, colourings, flavourings, etc.), I’m cool with calling that thing “food”.

Product review: Macro raw food bars

The good old Woolies has jumped into the bandwagon of raw food bars. My coach gave me one the other day and I was pleased to read the short ingredients list: dates (69%), nuts (18%) (almonds, cashews, walnuts), cocoa liquor, cocoa powder (plus peppermint oil in the chocolate & mint flavoured one). Yes, the dates are the first and most abundant ingredient but apart from the whack of (natural) sugar the bar is crap-free. They even use real nuts and not peanuts! Yay!

Macro raw bars

Macro raw food bars ($1.99)

As expected, the bars were chewy (and less crumbly than these) and quite sweet, but because they’re small they’re unlikely to send you on a food coma. I liked both flavours about the same.

Review: Nguyen on Erskine (Sydney CBD)

Another Vietnamese lunch in the CBD! Is it getting boring? I hope not, because I’m really enjoying it! This time Sebastian and I went to a small sort-of-hidden but packed-full restaurant opposite Per Kilo. This place is called Nguyen on Erskine and although I hadn’t noticed before I remembered reading about it. Turns out that Simon had already reviewed it a couple of years ago and I had entered a comment! Go figure.

Nguyen on Erskine

Nguyen on Erskine

I liked the fact that the menu is stuck on the wall outside of the restaurant. Makes it easy to decided whether to step in or not.

Nguyen on Erskine: Menu

There’s canteen-style hot food but we decided to go with something fresh(er).

Nguyen on Erskine: Hot food

Hot food

The flat rice noodles tossed with garden vegetables and eggs in tamarind sauce with roast duck were okay, I guess. Sebastian thought they were pretty bland despite the extra chilli on top, I thought they tasted like standard Chinese takeaway.

Nguyen on Erskine: Flat rice noodles tossed with garden vegetables and eggs in tamarind sauce with roast duck

Flat rice noodles tossed with garden vegetables and eggs in tamarind sauce with roast duck ($11)

The beef pho wasn’t that much better. Same story here, the broth didn’t feel particularly rich and the beef was of dubious quality.

Nguyen on Erskine: Pho

Nguyen on Erskine: Pho accompaniments

Beef pho ($9)

Nguyen on Erskine
52A Erskine St
Sydney NSW 2000

Nguyen On Erskine on Urbanspoon

Review: Great Aunty Three (Enmore)

Finally got to give this popular Vietnamese joint a go! I had heard so many good things and I tried several times, but unfortunately I was always late (they close after lunch). The place was packed (it is tiny) and there were people waiting in queue to order (mostly take-away) but people come and go so we could get seats.

Great Aunty Three

As per usual, all the fresh ingredients are right there, ready for easy assembly of the meals (particularly the very popular banh mi).

Great Aunty Three

The menu is short and sweet and contains the magic words “gluten free”.

Great Aunty Three: Menu

Great Aunty Three: Menu

Great Aunty Three: Menu

I’d heard and read many great things about this place. I wanted to try a bit of everything so I ordered roast duck rice paper rolls to start our meal. They were nice but I wasn’t extremely impressed. I’ve come to the conclusion that rice paper rolls are just not my thing.

Great Aunty Three: Roast duck rice paper rolls

Roast duck rice paper rolls ($2.80 each)

I liked the vermicelli noodle salad with roast crackling pork much much better. (Warning: although it says “gluten free” in the menu, they still add a fried spring roll on top.) The salad was fresh, had heaps of meat (and crackling!) and the flavours were well-balanced. I’d definitely order it again.

Great Aunty Three: Vermicelli noodle salad with roast crackling pork

Vermicelli noodle salad with roast crackling pork ($8)

Since Thang from Noodlies recommended Great Aunty Three’s pho as one of the best in Sydney, we had to try it. Again, I’m not an expert, but it was one of my favourites so far. Good broth, quality meat, fresh sides.

Great Aunty Three: Pho

Great Aunty Three: Pho

Beef pho ($8)

Alvaro was still hungry so he ordered a vermicelli noodle salad with lemongrass grilled pork. It was nice but I liked the other one better (crackling!).

Great Aunty Three: Vermicelli noodle salad with lemongrass grilled pork

Vermicelli noodle salad with lemongrass grilled pork ($8)

Alvaro also ordered a coconut & lime fruit shake, which was actually a frappe. It was delicious (more as a dessert than a drink IMO).

Great Aunty Three: Coconut & lime fruit shake

Coconut & lime fruit shake ($6)

Great Aunty Three
115 Enmore Rd
Enmore NSW 2042
(02) 9519 2886
www.greatauntythree.com

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