Thursday, September 11, 2014

Xuan Banh Cuon, Sunshine by Big Fil

Prior to visiting Xuan Banh Cuon I’d never been to Sunshine before.  Footscray many times, and St Albans a handful of times, but the intermediate Sunshine never. So there were two good reasons for our early morning visit, to sample the generally hard to find Banh Cuon somewhere that specialised in them and to spread our wings and see what a new and unfamiliar part of Melbourne was about.

So what are banh cuon?  Well most about everyone who has been for yum cha would have tried the Cantonese version of steamed rice noodles, thin packets normally filled with either pork or prawns.  Imagine them much thinner and a bit stickier.  And change the accompanying sweet soy sauce for fish sauce.  For me the rice noodles themselves don’t contain much flavour but they provide an interesting contrasting texture to go with the crispy fried shallots served on top.  The rolls contain a small amount of filling (prawn, pork and mushroom I think) and are accompanied by a very nice pork loaf. 

We decided to go for the version with an accompanying shrimp hash brown, something I’ve tried in Thailand but not seen in a Vietnamese restaurant before (maybe I need to get out more).  It’s crispy, it’s crunchy and has a flavour that reminded me a little of pretzels, but I would have liked a couple more shrimp on top.

Second dish was a rice noodle soup, the bun rieu cua cha ca.  This is a slightly tangy vermicelli noodle soup with tofu, crab pattie and homemade fish cakes.  The slight tang comes from the tomato and it tastes very different to the more familiar (to me anyway) pho.  Nice broth though and I did like the homemade fish cakes touch.

We finished off with a serve of the spring rolls.  Again these are quite different to the more normal Chinese restaurant version.  The skin is more brittle, the flavours not as fresh but with good strength and depth.  I liked these a lot, Snooze who is generally not really a fan of fried food not so much.

In addition to the food, what I liked most about here was the friendly (family?) staff.  When you enter it looks like your typical western suburbs Vietnamese eatery, bright and light and clean.  However, service was cheerful and seemed genuinely concerned about whether we enjoyed our food, rather than just going through the motions.  Interesting food and somewhere that was just very comfortable to eat, it’s promise of less common Vietnamese dishes makes a return visit at some stage very likely.

Food – 8
Ambience – 7
Service – 8
Price – 7.5

232 Hampshire Road
Sunshine VIC 3020
Tel: (04) 2281 0075

Xuan Banh Cuon on Urbanspoon

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