The latest Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide was announced this week. And while it proves Canberra has no shortage of fine restaurants, I’d argue that we do cheap and cheerful pretty well too.
From bakeries to street food vendors, most Canberra shopping centres have heaps of inexpensive lunch options. I combined the two this week when I visited Saigon Southland Hot Bake in Mawson.
Saigon Southland Hot Bake is a Vietnamese bakery that sells banh mi, rice paper rolls and salad bowls, as well as most Australian bakery classics. The tiny shopfront is stuffed full of jam doughnuts, cronuts, chocolate eclairs, saigon rolls, fruit danishes and hot dogs. There’s even a small table in front of the display cabinet piled high with take-home biscuit packs.
While I like to think I keep tabs on all bakeries south of the lake (if only!), Saigon Southland Hot Bake wasn’t even on my radar until Monday afternoon. I don’t visit Mawson often, and it was this sign that grabbed my attention. The photography isn’t great, but bear with me:
I walked in and ordered a pork and pate roll for $6.50 right on the spot. I must be a marketer’s dream.
The shop was empty, so service was understandably fast. Although there were ready-made rolls in the window, the woman at the counter made mine fresh to order.
It took me a long time to develop a taste for pate, so I’ve only been eating banh mi for a few months. In my limited experience, however, this one was pretty good. It had heaps of cucumber, pickled carrot, coriander, pate and sweet dressing, plus pork pieces, cha lua (Vietnamese ham) and Vietnamese salami. As you’d expect from a bakery, the roll was fresh and crunchy in the right places.
I’ve paid almost $10 for a basic sandwich at some Canberra eateries. That makes $6.50 for a generous pork and pate roll excellent value.
I’ve also been told that Saigon Southland Hot Bake’s cronuts are up there with those from Ricardo’s in Jamison. I skipped the cronuts on this visit, but I’m curious to hear from readers who’ve tried them.
What: Saigon Southland Hot Bake
Where: 1 Heard Street Mawson (near Mediterranean Delights and the halal grocer)
Opening hours: 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 5pm Saturday and 8am to 4pm Sunday