My love for food is counteracted by my love for exercise. For me, it’s a win-win situation. I either have a huge feed and work it off the next day at the gym, or I train hard and reward myself with a meal. Going on 7 years with my gym membership, not ever have I forced myself to go and exercise. Put simply, if I didn’t want to go, I wouldn’t. I started off training once a week as my body wasn’t used to it and that’s how long I’d be sore for. Once I built my tolerance, it slowly increased to 3 days a week, at one point it was 7 days (crazy, I know) but it is now maintained at a good and healthy 4-5 days a week. I don’t only train at the gym, I partake in some sporting activities through work and sometimes even go on a run during my lunch breaks. Yep, bet you didn’t know that huh? :)
Enough yapping about me, and onto the good stuff. For a post-gym work out, the Boy and I decide to take his parents for some brunch on a gorgeous sun-filled Sunday. Fresh, simple and flavoursome is what we’re after and so we head to Phu Quoc, which is pretty much on the corner of John St and Hill St in Cabramatta.
I will have to advise that between us four, we all pretty much ordered the same thing and shared the food across the board. Sadly this is a one-item-off-the-menu blog post. I assure you though, it’s very much worth it.
DIY Banh Hoi Dac Biet $18
We order 2x DIY banh hoi dac biet (to share amongst 3 of us) and for the old man, he orders the same thing but in a bowl. On the plate (L to R) we have chao tom (grilled shrimp paste on a sugar cane stick), grilled beef, a large spring roll, nem chua (fermented raw pork with chilli and garlic), a side of pickled carrrots and a mound of steamed vermicelli topped with spring onions cooked in oil.
A basket full of fresh lettuce, mint, basil, slivers of cucumber and bean sprouts comes part of the DIY dish, as well as a stack of dry rice paper sheets (and warm water to soak it in) and a bowl of nuoc mam (vietnamese fish sauce) for dipping.
Everyone has different ways of making their perfect rice paper roll. This is how I do it:
- Grab hold of the rice paper roll and insert into the bowl of warm water at about a 45 degree angle, submerging half only. Slowly rotate the rice paper (making sure your fingers remain in the same position – the rice paper moves, not your fingers) until you’ve done a complete 360 degree turn (so that the whole rice paper has been softened)
- Quickly lay out on your plate as it is now ready to be loaded
- In the middle of the rice paper sheet, lay flat a small piece of lettuce as this becomes your building platform.
- Lay all/any/no vegetables down (don’t be too generous as you won’t be able to roll it up) and then top with piece of the vermicelli.
- Finish with your choice of meat
- Gently fold both sides in, that is, the edges closest to the filling (this is to secure everything when rolling)
- Now slowly roll up the rice paper using the longest side of the filling as your guide (you should be rolling it away from yourself)
The final rice paper roll should look something like this. I may not be the best ‘roller’ but credit goes to Mum for trying to teach me – she makes everything perfect and always the exact same size!
Phu Quoc provides fresh Vietnamese and Chinese food. The only dish I ever order from this place is the DIY rice paper rolls – they do it so very well. All meats are cooked to order (except for the nem chua) and taste absolutely delicious and all vegetables are extremely fresh and very clean. If you’ve finished your basket full of veggies, don’t be afraid to ask for more at no extra charge! The combination (‘dac biet’ also known as special) is way too much for me. I usually share with the Boy, but being the monster eater he is, he’ll need to order another dish.
I’ve been here many, many times now and have never been disappointed. There is a reason why it is one of my favourite places to eat and its the food, particularly that chao tom, that brings me back….. every time.
Shop 11, 117 Corner John St and Hill St
Cabramatta NSW 2166
Tel: +61 2 9724 2188