Old Thanh Huong, Marrickville

Old Thanh Huong

It has been a long time since we ventured back to Marrickville, a Sydney suburb in the inner west that is teaming with restaurants from Italian and Greek to Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian and casual pub fare.

It has been a few years between visits but on this Saturday afternoon, we are back at one of my all-time favourites, Old Thanh Huong on Illawarra road in the heart of Marrickville.

This restaurant has quite an extensive menu that covers most of the popular Vietnamese dishes but they also have a selection of well executed Chinese dishes too.

I used to enjoy coming here for just one dish – the pho dac biet or special beef rice noodles and my intentions will be no different today.

Dining room, Old Thanh Huong, Marrickville

Dining room, Old Thanh Huong, Marrickville

Since our last visit years ago, I notice the restaurant has gained a new coat of paint on the walls and the menus though not exactly looking new, are still new to me from what I can remember.

The restaurant is always crowded as I remember it to be where it is common to share a long table with other diners.

Sauces and condiments

Sauces and condiments

Decor is minimal but service at Old Thanh Huong is snappy because you come here to eat, sip your Chinese tea and go.

Once your orders are in, you can prepare your choice of dipping sauce from the tray of condiments and sauces on each table.

Deep fried spring rolls $4

Deep fried spring rolls $4

We start with some deep fried spring rolls that are nice and crispy although Mysaucepan and I both agree they are a long shot from what we believe to be the best deep fried spring rolls in Sydney.

To attain a level of greatness, the skin of a Chinese / Vietnamese deep fried spring roll need to be very crispy on the bite and there is a big difference between a crispy texture that shatters entirely into small crispy bits as opposed to one where the inner layers are still a little chewy.

Bun bo nam bo $10.50

Bun bo nam bo $10.50

Mysaucepan‘s perennial favourite is the bun bo nam bo. A light bowl of sweet savoury dressing is poured onto a bowl of rice vermicelli mixed with grilled pork, beef, julienne cucumber, bean sprouts, crunchy peanuts and mint leaves.

Not quite to my liking as I find this dish is undecided on being either a salad or a bowl of luke warm noodles with some tasty pieces of meat.

I find the mix of mint leaves, raw bean sprouts, peanuts and cucumber to be best re-concocted as a Vietnamese salad, so thanks but no thanks.

Pho essentials: Mint leaves, beansprouts, lemon and fresh red chillies

Pho essentials: Mint leaves, beansprouts, lemon and fresh red chillies

Pho is absolultely one of my favourite comfort foods because the broth is hearty, flavoursome and not too heavy.

The familiar sight of that plate of bean sprouts, mint leaves and a wedge of lemon will be something I will miss whenever I am away from Sydney for a while.

And for me, adding a good dose of fresh and fiery bird-eye chillies to XO chilli sauce with a squeeze of lemon juice is the ultimate dipping sauce for a piping hot bowl of pho. 

Pho dac biet or special beef pho $10.50

Pho dac biet or special beef pho $10.50

Check out this bowl of pho dac biet or special beef rice noodles!

Slices of raw beef, brisket, tripe, beef meat balls and soft beef tendons in a bowl of piping hot and clear beef flavoured broth garnished with diced shallots and coriander – definitely another dish I would be thinking about as my last if I was ever on death row.

The thin slices of soft and pinkish raw beef would slowly cook in the hot broth as you stir it, imparting even more flavour into the soup. I love the brisket for its slightly firmer and stringy texture while the tripe and beef meat balls is firm and crunchy. The tendons are soft and gelatinous, like chewing a piece of savoury lolli in your mouth!

Dipped into that savoury, sour, spicy sauce, every morsel is a blast of flavours in the mouth, not to mention the perfect device for activating your sweat glands.

Thank goodness for the box of tissues on each table because you will be constantly pulling tissues from the box as you go through this wonder bowl. Luckily, the air-conditioning in this restaurant is also quite effective on this sweltering summer day.

Pho dac biet or special beef pho $10.50

Pho dac biet or special beef pho $10.50

The rice noodles are silky soft and perhaps too easy to eat as I tuck right in.

I would rank this bowl of pho dac biet  here to be one of Sydney’s top 3 among such a depth of good Vietnamese restaurants in the city that serves pho. Times have also moved on as I remember this bowl of noodles to be $6.50 some years back.

This bowl of noodles is total comfort on a cold winter day and although Sydney is currently in the height of summer, I could care less as each mouthful brings me closer to heaven.

Old Thanh Huong, Marrickville

Old Thanh Huong, Marrickville

So dear readers, which is your favourite pho in Sydney?

Old Thanh Huong
356 Illawarra road
Marrickville, New South Wales

Tel: + 61 2 9558 0863

Business hours: Lunch and dinner Thursdays to Mondays. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Old Thanh Huong on Urbanspoon

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9 Responses to Old Thanh Huong, Marrickville

  1. That looks awesome! Season’s eatings my friend xo

  2. You see I love bun with a passion! Pho too but bun is my favourite :) PHD does a great pho.

  3. Hotly Spiced says:

    I’ve never eaten in Marrickville but this would be a good reason to head out there. What great looking spring rolls. I love pho too. Merry Christmas xx

  4. Norma Chang says:

    That bowl of Pho dac biet or special beef pho sure looks comforting, it is cold where I am, a bowl of that soup would be very welcomed indeed.

  5. The Pho looks amazing! Just what I need after all the heavy food I have been eating over the Christmas period. I will have to pin this.

  6. That pho looks so good, it’s making me stupendously hungry… must try to remember this place when I visit Sydney next. P.S. Happy festivities and happy eating!

  7. We eat pho once a week, or not, maybe 10 days! Such a simple light meal yet so good. It’s hard to find a good place with excellent broth though. This place looks nice – wish we live in the same area so you could review different places for me. :D

  8. Mmmm pho is amazing :) Although I must admit I do not eat it as much as I want to – I’ve really only tried it a handful of times!

  9. tigerfish says:

    I agree with Nami on finding a place that serves excellent broth for pho. The ones I have tried usually leaves me feeling thirsty for the rest of the entire day. :O Guess I have not tried hard enough to find THAT place and/or to cook it at home.

    Happy New Year to you and your family.

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