Okay, before I start off as I would with my regular reviews of a restaurant, I should point out that I do consider myself an expert on Vietnamese cuisine. That’s probably because I am Vietnamese myself and have grown up eating authentic and homemade food from my mum. Now although I did have prejudices against Vietnamese restaurants situated outside the Cabramatta region, I must say, this place totally blew my preconceived notions about all those Vietnamese restaurants out of the water!
Crispy savoury coconut and turmeric flavoured mini pancakes with prawn. From my experience, making this dish is quite difficult. People often aren’t able to nail the elements which make the dish great; crispiness of the pancake and the potency of the fish sauce. Chao ba manages to perfectly nail both elements whilst also beautifully presenting the pancakes. As someone who enjoys this on a regular basis at home, it’s safe to say that they’ve done an excellent job with this dish!
Banh Bot Loc
Vietnamese clear tapioca shrimp dumplings topped with crunchy fried shallots and chives. Although I’ve never had this dish prior to dining at Chao Ba, I could immediately tell that the elements used make this a stand out dish. The banh bot has a slippery yet well held together texture that allows you to slurp it with each bite sized portion. The shrimp wrapped inside goes very well with the fish sauce they provide. Eat this in one go instead of biting it into pieces to fully enjoy the dish.
Banh Beo Hue Imperial
Little steamed rice flour cakes topped with dried shrimp, pork crackling and moonbeam and chives. Again, another dish that I enjoy daily and have a lot of experience in judging. My pet peeve with most places that make this is that they do not provide enough moonbeam paste. Chao ba gives you a generous amount and that’s all that matters. For those of you that don’t know, it’s the the yellow paste that’s placed on top of the rice flour cakes that give it it’s soul and pure awesomeness. It’s a wonderful taste that words cannot simply describe!
Handmade traditional Vietnamese steamed rice noodle stuffed with pork mince and wood ear mushroom served with bean sprout fried shallot and Asian herbs. A nice dish to have as either a side or main, it’s one that also gives you a perplexing dining experience. Packed with both minced pork and wood ear mushroom, Banh Cuon is traditionally paired with the fish sauce to provide a combination of both sweet and savoury. The bean sprouts and cucumbers are a nice touch that allow the potent flavours to be wiped clean off the palette.
Com Chien Lap Xuong
Fried rice with Vietnamese pork sausage, baby peas, shredded omelette and fresh shallots. Although fried rice is a dish that most are familiar with, it may come as a shock to most of you who aren’t akin to Vietnamese cuisine in it’s most authentic form that most places often fail at making a decent fried rice. Being partially glazed with oil, garnished with fresh peas, shallots and tomato, Chao ba is the first restaurant that has made a decent fried rice to my liking (keeping in mind that I’ve dined at 90% of Vietnamese restaurants within Western Sydney). The Chinese sausages (Lap Xuong) are also a nice touch to give the dish extra oomph.
To conclude this review, I’m willing to say that Chao ba is one of, if not, the best Vietnamese restaurants that I’ve ever been to. This is in no way an exaggeration. It is indeed rare to find a restaurant that nails every dish it brings out, especially when you know that the dishes you ordered are dishes that require skill to make.
I’ll definitely be coming back for more!
5/409 Victoria Ave,
Chatswood, NSW 2067
Contributed by David, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys