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Best of Canberra Taste Off – Vietnamese

By Canfan - 18 September 2014 13

For the Best of Canberra Taste off this week I was forced to sample some local Vietnamese food. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – my life is pretty tough sometimes.

The main contender in this battle was undoubtedly Griffith Vietnamese Restaurant with Tu Do Vietnamese in O’Connor as the opposition.

Both were sampled as takeaways due to time commitments and well, kids. Both were ready in 15-20 minutes upon placing the order and both offered a 10% discount for cash payment on takeaway.

First up was Tu Do in O’Connor. We ordered the following:

vietnamese-best-off-a1-170914
Hu Tieu Xao Cai & Dau Hu – Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Vegetables and Bean Curd
Goi Cuon – Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Canh Ga Chien Bo – Pan Fried Chicken Wings
Ga Xao Xa Ot – Lemongrass and Chilli Chicken
Bo Sate – Sate Beef

The servings were good sizes meaning we didn’t really need two starters and would have been fine with a bit of rice instead of noodles for the two of us, but in the name of good tasting we forged ahead. The absolute king of this meal was the Vietnamese Spring Rolls. They were firm and tasty with a lovely combination of carrot and pork. Delicious! The other dishes were good (I can never manage to cook bean curd in any edible way so bow to anyone who can)- fresh and very flavoursome. The downside of the meal was the lemongrass and chilli chicken which although lovely for the first bite or two soon overtook the meal with chilli so that nothing else could be tasted. If you love your food hot, this is for you but don’t bother ordering anything than rice to go with it as you probably wont be able to taste it!

A couple of evenings later we sampled Griffith Vietnamese Restaurant and ordered the following:

vietnamese-best-off-c1-170914

Bun Xao Chay – Rice Vermicelli and Vegetables
Bo Sate – Beef Sate
Char Gio – Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Ga Nuong – Grilled Chicken Marinated in Lemongrass

We attempted to order as closely to the Tu Do meal as possible to ensure a fair comparison – although we skipped the chicken wings as our appetites couldn’t cope. The chicken was a very different dish, grilled without a sauce (which was no real surprise given the name). It was delicious and had a lovely subtle lemongrass flavour. The Spring Rolls were not a patch on those at Tu Do – thinner, more pastry than filling and a bit overcooked. The sate was tasty with a lovely light sauce. And the noodles were delicious (it never ceases to amaze me how professionals manage to get so much flavour into a humble noodle) and offered a lovely bed for the other dishes.

All in all I think we both (as in hubbie and I) rated the meal from Griffith Vietnamese the better of the two but it was close (the chilli had hampered our tasting somewhat). That being said, if we were ordering Vietnamese we would definitely go to Griffith Vietnamese again, but drop off at Tu Do for the Spring Rolls!

What’s Your opinion?


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13 Responses to
Best of Canberra Taste Off – Vietnamese
rubaiyat 10:37 pm 13 Sep 15

I used to not be a fan of any Canberra Vietnamese, having spent so much time in all the great Vietnamese in Cabramatta, Flemington, Regents Park, Cabra Vale, Bankstown and North Richmond, but today I’ve changed my mind.

I just had lunch today in the new Pho Phu Quoc restaurant in Dickson and we were really impressed. Different from the Sydney Vietnamese, but really great in their own right. Vietnamese food is tremendously varied, I’ve learnt not to expect the same food in every restaurant. If it is familiar it is usually not in a good way.

Pho Phu Quoc nailed every dish we tried, some I hadn’t seen before and they had a brilliant finale of dessert that left us with huge smiles on our faces as we walked out the door.

Now that I’ve lost two of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants in Sydney, not going back since they changed hands, I’d like for Pho Phu Quoc to just pick up on some of my all time love dishes like the Cambodian Pho in Flemington, and the Raw Beef and Lemon and Offal Pho that I used to have in Bankstown, and I’d be a very happy man.

btw When are we going to get some variety in style eg the vertical flame BBQs with the firey chilli sauces they have in Cabra Vale? Restaurants don’t have to all sing from the same song book. It’s OK to be different, sure the punters might be intimidated but this is not the Canberra of even 5 years ago let alone the 80’s.

LordPanda 12:48 pm 06 Jan 15

Having come back from the holidays and visiting places like Cabramatta, Canley Heights, and Sydney Chinatown, I’m struck by how average and unambitious the Vietnamese and Chinese food scene is here in Canberra.

Dickson MK’s, Can Tho, Phu Quoc, Pho Viet, Simply Pho, Griffith Vietnamese, Tu Do, and the likes would simply be steamrolled by the likes of Huong Xua, Bao Truong, Tuong Lai, Thanh Binh, Pho Minh, Tan Viet etc.

To be fair, part of the mediocrity of the restaurants in question here are caused by the relatively low Vietnamese population and patronage, the lack of competition, and customers that probably don’t know any better or are just happy to accept things the way they are. It’s always disappointing visiting these Vietnamese restaurants and seeing how Chinese-Takeaway-esque the menu is, no doubt to cater to their predominately western audience (which is understandable – you got to pay the bills). I’ve lost count at how many times I’ve had to explain what Bun Dac Biet is or the odd occasion when I’ve received a Com Tam with normal rice instead of broken rice.

The Saigon place at the front of Woden Westfields is pretty decent and there was another establishment that was opposite Sammy’s but that got closed down and replaced by a Thai restaurant I believe. A shame because that restaurant made a decent Banh Xeo, Com Tam Dac Biet and Sam Bo Luong.

And don’t get me started on the Pork Rolls here in Canberra …

Antagonist 12:01 pm 20 Sep 14

Postalgeek said :

I mentioned Hoang Hau in Kingston for pho in another thread. Not promising that it will rock your world, but I got a taste for pho in Vietnam and like the one in Kingston. They also sell it at the Fyshwick markets but I prefer Kingston.

Challenge accepted!

rosscoact 5:50 am 20 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

dkNigs said :

On arriving back to Canberra from Vietnam, we had a craving for some delicious Vietnamese and went on the hunt. Apparently it doesn’t exist, the Pho we found was bland, and everything else Australianised like the photo’s above. Is there anywhere that serves authentic Vietnamese food here?

You cannot get a good Pho in Canberra. I have been trying to find a good one for years. Best you go to Sydney for good Pho.

The next best thing is Tom Yum, with the best coming from Ben Than (sp?) in the Hyperdome Food Court. Yeah – you read that right: Hyperdome food court does the best Tom Yum in Canberra.

Yep, got to agree. Simply Pho in Gunners used to be great but the broth was cloudy last time I went there so the flavours were a bit muddled. Might have been an off day but haven’t been back.

There’s an art to making great broth (and not killing people at the same time)

Sandman 11:31 pm 19 Sep 14

Leon said :

Will your stomachs cope with a visit to the Pho Phu Quoc, which is probably Dickson’s favourite Vietnamese?

In my limited experience the TuDo is excellent if you know which dishes to order, but rather hit-and-miss if you don’t.

I’ll second everything said here. We live in Dickson so Pho Phu Quoc is a natural choice for convenience, but that’s not the only reason we love it so much.

Postalgeek 7:15 pm 19 Sep 14

I mentioned Hoang Hau in Kingston for pho in another thread. Not promising that it will rock your world, but I got a taste for pho in Vietnam and like the one in Kingston. They also sell it at the Fyshwick markets but I prefer Kingston.

John Moulis 4:45 pm 19 Sep 14

Actually I like the Saigon Restaurant at Pearce Shops. Good food at reasonable prices, and not too confusing for someone used to prawn cutlets and chow mien at the local Chinese.

Antagonist 3:08 pm 19 Sep 14

dkNigs said :

On arriving back to Canberra from Vietnam, we had a craving for some delicious Vietnamese and went on the hunt. Apparently it doesn’t exist, the Pho we found was bland, and everything else Australianised like the photo’s above. Is there anywhere that serves authentic Vietnamese food here?

You cannot get a good Pho in Canberra. I have been trying to find a good one for years. Best you go to Sydney for good Pho.

The next best thing is Tom Yum, with the best coming from Ben Than (sp?) in the Hyperdome Food Court. Yeah – you read that right: Hyperdome food court does the best Tom Yum in Canberra.

dkNigs 1:47 pm 19 Sep 14

Postalgeek said :

dkNigs said :

On arriving back to Canberra from Vietnam, we had a craving for some delicious Vietnamese and went on the hunt. Apparently it doesn’t exist, the Pho we found was bland, and everything else Australianised like the photo’s above. Is there anywhere that serves authentic Vietnamese food here?

Where did you go for pho?

That one next to Café Garema, was like water flavoured soup. Nothing like Pho in Vietnam.

Postalgeek 12:40 pm 19 Sep 14

dkNigs said :

On arriving back to Canberra from Vietnam, we had a craving for some delicious Vietnamese and went on the hunt. Apparently it doesn’t exist, the Pho we found was bland, and everything else Australianised like the photo’s above. Is there anywhere that serves authentic Vietnamese food here?

Where did you go for pho?

Leon 5:43 pm 18 Sep 14

Will your stomachs cope with a visit to the Pho Phu Quoc, which is probably Dickson’s favourite Vietnamese?

In my limited experience the TuDo is excellent if you know which dishes to order, but rather hit-and-miss if you don’t.

dkNigs 5:16 pm 18 Sep 14

On arriving back to Canberra from Vietnam, we had a craving for some delicious Vietnamese and went on the hunt. Apparently it doesn’t exist, the Pho we found was bland, and everything else Australianised like the photo’s above. Is there anywhere that serves authentic Vietnamese food here?

Holden Caulfield 10:22 am 18 Sep 14

Nice. Both are winners in my experience.

My Tu Do favourite is the Mint Beef.

My Griffith favourites are the beef/chicken in mild coconut curry and beef/chicken with basil and chilli.

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