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AN

Cuisine: Vietnamese

With “So pho so good” as its motto, An has few worries that things won’t stay just as good. It’s still one of the most popular places in Sydney to experience the iconic dish of Vietnam, a delicious noodle soup that is a meal in itself, traditionally eaten any time of day. And, despite the daily hordes that come, sit, slurp and go again, the spacious room remains quite fresh-looking if not exactly cosy. The service, too, is impersonal but unbelievably efficient — you’ll get your bowl of steaming pho $12.50–$13 a minute or less after ordering. Why is the pho so good? It’s all about the stock and the freshness of the herbs, chilli, lemon and bean sprouts you add to the broth that already contains your chosen protein (raw beef, chicken, egg or combos that include offal) and rice noodles. It is, after all, an assembly job.

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DONG BA

Cuisine: Vietnamese,Vietnamese

The tiled floor, Laminex tables and eccentric green light feature remain unchanged, as does the menu and reliable quality of the food. Only the prices have moved a tiny notch, with the most expensive item on the menu — braised sugar cane prawns with vermicelli — a whole $12. The main game, though, is bun bo hue $9, a spicy soup of fat rice noodles (bun) and rare beef (bo) as well as chunks of sausage, blood jelly and pork loaf. You add shredded purple cabbage, perilla leaf, Vietnamese mint and bean sprouts as well as lemon juice and chilli, dipping the meat into the house hoi sin sauce as you go. Other dishes Don Ba is known for are a delicious rice noodle soup with duck and bamboo $9 and crispy skin chicken with rice $9. Service is friendly, too. A bigger Dong Ba has now opened in the old My Thuan premises in John Street Cabramatta.

 

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GEBRAN LEBANESE CUISINE

Cuisine: Vietnamese,Vietnamese,Lebanese

A suitable venue for parties and celebrations, Gebran offers a choice of casual eating downstairs, a party atmosphere upstairs, dining and puffing on nagiles in the courtyard or booking the private dining room, which can hold 25 revellers. As always, if you’re a group, banquets are the easy way out: choose between the Deluxe $39 (minimum two) and the Royal $55 (minimum four), both offering a steady procession of dips, salads, pastries, pickles and meats that will keep you nibbling for hours. Of course, there’s an a la carte list of all the Lebanese classics to order individually, including seafood dishes such as the seafood mezza (deepfried whitebait with tarator sauce $16.50, garlic prawns $24, and barbecued prawn skewers $24.50) and a traditional samke harrah, fish fillet with tahini sauce $26. There’s bellydancing action on Friday and Saturday nights, too.

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MAZAYA

Cuisine: Vietnamese,Vietnamese,Lebanese,Egyptian

This restaurant’s main trade is its two-day marinated charcoal chicken, but — if you can ignore the takeaway shop feel — worth a look is the small, authentic Egyptian menu by chef Said Hassan, who has been cooking in Bankstown for more than 10 years. Best to get a selection of mains and dips and put it all together on the plate. The moza, braised lamb shank on rice $17, comes with thick, nutty tahini dip and a tomato sauce that you’ll want to spread over everything, including the grilled meat mixed plate $19 and charcoal shish taouk (chicken skewers) $16. Brave hearts might try the traditional kawarea, a bitter tomato-based beef ligament soup $17. For sweets, the Middle Eastern custard pudding mahalabia $3.50 is utterly devourable or ask for a slice of basboosa if it’s on.

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MY CANH

Cuisine: Vietnamese,Vietnamese,Lebanese,Egyptian,Vietnamese

With live seafood tanks and white-clothed, glass-topped tables, My Canh has more of a restaurant feel than its local compatriots. The menu is dauntingly long but look around and you’ll see happy families tucking into the steamboat feasts $28–$38 cooking tableside what’s in the fish tanks; or live mudcrab with a choice of seven different sauces, market price. If you peruse the massive menu you’ll find all the Viet staples as well as the more unusual options such as bo 7 mon, seven courses of beef — you’ll need four to get through all that, though the courses are listed and priced individually, from $9 for the humble beef congee to $21 for sliced beef cooked on a hotplate. That’s in addition to more than a dozen other beef mains among the 222 dishes in all. Ask for help if you need it.
 

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SUMMERLAND

Cuisine: Vietnamese,Vietnamese,Lebanese,Egyptian,Vietnamese,Lebanese

A typical Lebanese eatery set up for groups and big parties, two-generation family-owned Summerland, which got itself a style makeover a couple of years ago, has been feeding the hordes that flock here at the weekend for the great-value food and live entertainment, usually bellydancing or a singer. Though there is always the option to dine a la carte, most of the happy revellers at the white-clothed tables are having — indeed are encouraged to have — the banquet, which features the lauded house-baked bread fresh from the oven to accompany all the dips, aged cheese, falafels, salads, barbecued meats, chicken, sausage and kefte you could possible stuff in, finishing with an Arabic coffee and a sweet or some fruit $35. The addition of seafood brings it to $45.

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