26 March 2024

Two Sisters on Wheels takes Canberra favourite to the coast

| Lucy Ridge
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Food van with Two Sisters branding

Two Sisters on Wheels is proving equally as popular at Barlings Beach as it is in Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra restaurant Two Sisters has joined the popular Canberra pilgrimage: it’s headed down the coast!

After nearly three decades of serving customers in the big city, owners – and sisters – Naya and Sisouk Rajbabdith have opened a food van, which is currently stationed at Barlings Beach Holiday Park in Tomakin, south of Batemans Bay.

Two Sisters first opened in Canberra in 1996 and soon expanded, with the Dickson location opening in 1998. Naly and Sisouk took the Laos and Thai recipes they’d learned from their mother and brought them to a Canberra audience.

Naly explained that it wasn’t always easy as the sisters were early pioneers of Laos and Thai cooking in Canberra.

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“When we first started it was very difficult. But we walked before we ran, and we know everyone now,” she told Region.

“Because we have been here nearly 30 years, many people know our food. Some people have been coming to us since the beginning.”

Recently, after a holiday to the South Coast, Naly’s husband suggested that the sisters could set something up in the area. They decided that a food van would be a good place to start.

In fact, they bought two vans so they could set one up in a long-term location and use the other one to travel around to various festivals, markets and events up and down the coast.

Food van with person inside.

Two Sisters on Wheels has a second van for catering and events. Photo: Supplied.

The menu from the Canberra restaurants needed to be adapted for the new space, as the van had limited facilities compared to a full commercial kitchen. Fortunately, Naly had decades of experience in knowing which dishes would be best.

“I selected our most popular dishes that I know will sell well because the van is smaller,” she explained.

“Otherwise the taste and everything is the same.”

Fans of Two Sisters’ food can expect to see their favourite laarb, chilli basil stir fry, pad Thai and massaman curry on the menu, as well as the sisters’ handmade spring rolls.

“We make them fresh everyday. Everything is homemade from scratch, we do it all ourselves.”

Two Sisters on Wheels Food van with chalkboard writing.

Two Sisters on Wheels during the bushfires down on the South Coast. Photo: Supplied.

Naly and Sisouk learned to cook in their hometown of Champassack, in Southern Laos. When they emigrated to Australia, they were eager to share the authentic flavours of Laos and Thai cooking with their new home.

Naly explained it was important to the sisters to showcase how fresh and healthy the food is, with lots of herbs and vegetables involved in the fragrant dishes: some from their own garden.

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She also says not much has changed in the 30 years they’ve been running Two Sisters, although Canberrans might be more adventurous in their eating habits now. They’ve always offered a range of spice levels and, in recent years, have made much of the menu gluten-free.

Food van with Two Sisters branding

Naly has adapted the Two Sisters’ menu for the new van. Photo: Supplied.

Naly and Sisouk see Two Sisters as an extension of their family business. Various cousins, kids, nieces and nephews can be found behind the counter at their restaurant and now the food van too. When asked if there are challenges in working so closely with family, Naly laughed.

“Sometimes we have different ways of doing things but in the end we both want the same thing,” she said. “My sister and I make a good team because we respect each other.”

Two Sisters on Wheels is located at Barlings Beach Holiday Park, 1939 George Bass Dr, Tomakin NSW. They are open for dinner from 4:30 pm daily (takeaway only) and can be booked for catering. Follow Two Sisters on Wheels on Facebook, or visit their website to view their menu or prebook your meal.

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Lydia Godding9:31 am 28 Mar 24

My partner and I had the pleasure of discovering Two Sisters on Wheels at Christmas 2023 at Barlings Beach. We were not disappointed, and went back a second time to share the wonderful preparations with our entire family. The flavours were amazing, and the food divine. Highly recommended as a MUST, if you are in the area.

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