Tag Archives: Cheap eats

Pho An @ Bankstown Restaurant Review: ‘So Pho, So Good!’

What a way to spend a Monday evening!

After a whole day of house cleaning and re-organising my wardrobe, changing over the Winter clothes for the Spring, I was tired but pleased that I had used my day off very productively and managed to burn off some calories from working the vacuum – that I was ready for our ‘Food Safari’ adventures with Hubby in the evening with our fellow Food Safari hunters/organisers – Lambo and Maz.

Tonight was ‘Pho Night’ and Miss Maz, whose is from a Vietnamese background, has been telling me forever about this ‘best Pho place!’ and that I just had to go try it out. (A rave review from a Vietnamese native who has sampled Pho in Vietnam and also makes it So having our Monday evening set aside, Hubby and I was looking forward to this place where it was so highly spoken about ….especially from someone who knows and loves her Pho!

After several ‘adventurous’ incidents on route to Bankstown – we thank God that we made it there in one piece, as we were craving for a large hot bowl of Pho! :)

Parking was very handy as there was a large parking lot next door to ‘An Pho’ and later discover that whilst we did drive quite a long way to get there, to actually consume a bowl of Pho was probably the same amount of time to walk to and from the car park… VERY FAST! ( So just a hint readers: This place is not for you to dwell and hang around if you know what I mean – especially during the ‘peak’ lunch times! )

We had so much anticipation on eating here – as Lambo and Maz kept raving on how good it was and that this drive out on a Monday night was well worth every litre of petrol! ( Which I might add made Lambo do all sorts of crazy driving getting us there, such as making a right turn but ignoring the speeding on coming traffic – argh!)

As we turned onto the street where the restaurant was, I noticed a large building with a brightly lit restaurant which had a sign outside reading ‘ Pho An ~ So Far So Good’ I thought to myself ‘ How cheesy is that!’ to my amusement, that Maz exclaimed ‘ Oh thats where we are eating!’ ”Oh ~ ” I thought…. and giggled inside.

Upon entering, I noticed that there was two doors – ‘Entry’ on the left and ‘Exit’ on the right. ‘Wow ~ how organised’ I thought.

Next thing we knew, we were escorted to our table and had the waiter shadow behind us and from the corner of my eye, I saw that his PDA was ready and finger in hand – poised. He was ready.

Having already discussed in the car on our way over, we were organised and decided what we had wanted to eat. Maz said that they are fast and serving nothing much other than Pho ( pronounced ‘ Fur ‘ ) in it’s specialty and acclaimed ‘secret’ soup, ‘Traditional Northern Style Vietnamese special rice noodle soup’ we just had to decide whether I wanted the ‘small ‘ or ‘large’ size and which part of the ‘beef’ I had wanted in it…
I went for the ‘original’ which was just the rare beef which I liked to cook in the hot broth to keep the flavours and tenderness of the meat. My Hubby went for the ‘duc bit’ which contained ‘no duck’ but just the ‘special’ beef bits – such as: brisket, beef roll, flank and tripe. Very special indeed. He also of course added in his favourite Vietnamese cold drink/dessert : Three Colour Bean Sweet in a Parfait Glass with shaved ice. I personally love this drink too – always reminds me of happy childhood days, especially with the tri-coloured syrup over the ‘igloo-sque’ ice crush with the squiggly green chendol and red jelly swimming in the coconut milk. Happy times!

What was also renowned here at ‘An’ apart from their delcious and simply addictive soup (urban myths saids their secret ingredient is of a ‘herb’ of an addictive kind which Amesterdam would have approved….) but what I was also amused upon my visit was the efficiency of this place. Food and service is made at LIGHTNING speed – worthy of a good ‘F1′ pit stop for all you F1 fans out there..

After ordering and seeing our speedy waiter tap it all in his PDA, my Hubby turns to get the camera out of his bag and after only fiddling the aperture and settings, he turns back to find that his large bowl of ‘Duc Bit’ or known as ‘ Beef Combination’ noodles and all our orders has arrived steaming hot to the table! Amazing! This is why they are also called ‘ McPho !’ :)

Snapping our food quickly before our soup goes cold ( My pet hates: Luke warm coffee and luke warm soups – hence I wanted to dig in as soon as I can and dunk my rare beef straight below the steaming hot broth.)

Our slurping and silence was the indication how good the noodles were and the soup was – as advised I first taste the soup without adding the addition sauces to sample it as a ‘pho purist’. It was very flavoursome and hits the comfort spot square bang in the middle! *Sigh* Nothing like a bowl of Pho on a Monday night with friends…. and adding more of the hoisin and chilli sauce to adjust the taste of my soup with a squeeze of lime, I was in a ‘happy place’ ( Wondered if the ‘special happy herb’ had anything to do with this natural high….) ;)

Thanks also to Lamb, who suggested that I MUST try dipping the beef with the self made Sate sauce. It was just so sublime – the rich tang of the chilli with the mellowing chilli oil was just a perfect condiment with the slices of ‘just cooked’ beef. I was in love!
Best still – this stuff was on sale for about $3.00 a jar at the counter!

Overall, the Pho An experience which I could say was enjoyed with a smile and a tummy full of noodles. It was indeed well worth the drive and God forbid an addiction to An’s … for it is a LONG drive from the North to here!

Tips:
Sharing is not allowed at this joint – ( no pun intended) but as we discussed it would be possible to share a large bowl of Pho between friends, you will find that this will cost you an extra $3.00 for a bowl. Unless of course you are super close with your friends and family and do it cheap communal style… or just avoid being cheap and get your own bowl! ;)

Free parking lot next door – plenty during the time when we were there on a Monday night. Not too sure if it is during the day!

This delicious 'Pho An Sate' did wonders to my Pho and taste buds..... Soooo tasty! Reminds me of the 'hawker styled' chilli sate served at Macau/HK eateries. So good!

This delicious 'Pho An Sate' did wonders to my Pho and taste buds..... Soooo tasty! Reminds me of the 'hawker styled' chilli sate served at Macau/HK eateries. So good!

The entry, arranged with 'exit' and 'entry' for precision logistic flow.... Guess this is handy during the mad peak lunch feeding frenzy....

The entry, arranged with 'exit' and 'entry' for precision logistic flow.... Guess this is handy during the mad peak lunch feeding frenzy....

Almost at Formula 1 driving precision - the kitchen and drink bars are prepared for a split second 'order to table' service at lightning speed....

Almost at Formula 1 driving precision - the kitchen and drink bars are prepared for a split second 'order to table' service at lightning speed....

The array of 'cheng do' ( green jelly) and iced bean drinks with tri-coloured drinks all prepared and ready to go....Service is at neck breaking speed here!

The array of 'cheng do' ( green jelly) and iced bean drinks with tri-coloured drinks all prepared and ready to go....Service is at neck breaking speed here!

The two different sizes ~ $13.50 for the large or 50c less for the small.... I thought it was better deal to get the large, even if you don't finish it. My Hubby cleaned up the large bowl in less than 10 mins!

The two different sizes ~ $13.50 for the large or 50c less for the small.... I thought it was better deal to get the large, even if you don't finish it. My Hubby cleaned up the large bowl in less than 10 mins!

Hot, brothy, coriander and loaded with tender thin slices of beef, swimming in a jumble of silky white rice noodles...... Slurpin' silky goodness!

Hot, brothy, coriander and loaded with tender thin slices of beef, swimming in a jumble of silky white rice noodles...... Slurpin' silky goodness!

Pho An Sate

Pho An entry

Pho An 4

Pho An 1

Pho An Restaurant
27 Greenfield Parade
Bankstown, 2200
Website: http://www.anrestaurant.com.au
Telephone
02 97967826

Ching Yip Coffee Lounge Review: Hong Kong style cafe food in the heart of Sydney.

Love kitsch?

Love ‘old-skool’ H.K diners that seemed to have froze in time back in the late 80′s?

Then this awesome ‘hide-away’ cafe serving some authentic Hong Kong ‘fast food cafe’ style food is the place to be!

This funky little cafe sprung back into my mind as I was reading one of my favourite blogs ‘Grab Your Fork’ when it mentioned about this cafe I had forgotten temporarily. As I read the review, I was immediately transported back to my high school daze, as though it was  like an old MTV replaying in my head… I remembered those ‘cool’ days, rocking out my ripped Levi 501′s, Hound Dog t-shirt and Stussy skater shoes – when my besties and I would catch the L90 bus out from Dee Why and venture out to the City and make a day of it. I would of course also show them around Chinatown – and how I would introduce them to the retro HK food at ‘Ching Yip’ or better known as ‘Tim Tim’ in Cantonese ( meaning: ‘Sweet Sweet’) Sweet! :) Those were the days…. and revisiting this cafe was almost like stepping back 10 years into time -as nothing looked like it has changed much. Same was the neon pink lettering sign that gives the whole entry a soft and retro glow,same are ‘tacky’ plastic flowers for decor and best yet is the cylinder cake fridge which does not display any cakes – but an ‘artistically’ arrangement of lemons. ( I assume they ran out of space in the kitchen and could kill two birds with a stone by combining storage vs. art) With such a large amount of lemons stacked up – one can only assume these are gathered and used for the very popular HK cafe style drinks which always asks for slices of lemons: ceylon red tea, hot lemon coke and ever popular ‘lemon water’ ( Yes. Basically it is boiling water with a slice of lemon and you add the packet of white sugar…delightful!)

Ching Yip Lemon Tea

Infamous lemon display work of art...

Infamous lemon display work of art...

Now onto the food.

The food is awesome. Nothing spectacular but in every way, comforting in the sense that it appeals to my ‘Hong Kong cafe style food’ liking. It is non pretentious, it is not fancy but just tasty and ‘sloppy’ food. Sloppy, not in the way it is bad – but just how HK cafe style food IS good for and I love that. The Hubby’s order was a ‘Baked Pork Chop Rice’ This is the ‘safe option’ at most Chinese cafes – as it really should be a ‘no fail’ ( Or at least that is how you can test the cafe’s quality and authenticity) So in this case…. ‘Sloppy’ tomato sauce covered rice with all the ‘kitsch’ goodness of the slightly ‘baked/burnt’ marks over the sauce which covers a huge piece of fried pork cutlet that is flavour-somed yet tender and somehow a perfect compliment with the frozen peas and corn fried rice underneath. Genius!

Ching Yip Pork Chop Rice Ching Yip Cafe Soup Ching Yip Cafe 2

This is accompanied by the ‘Daily Soup’ which both The Hubby and I get with our meals. What I also love is the ‘Soup Of The Day’ that accompanies the dinner sets and makes the meal out in this cafe so homely. Tonight the soup is a Chinese styled broth made with generous amount of lean pork and pork bones and some ‘unidentified vegetables’ which was lovely with bites of soft pearly barley for texture. The colour is a bit dull, but this is the kind of soup that taste better than it looks. I love how something as simple as the ‘Daily soup’ can be comforting to me -growing up in a Chinese house hold and visiting my Grandma’s place, being offered a bowl of ‘home made soup’ as you come home from school or from visits to Grandma’s place – soup is like a ‘warm hug’ and that is so nourishing. :)

Although the soup at Ching Yip is nothing as ‘sweet’ or as nourishing as the way my Grandma and my Mum makes her soup – the bowl I was served on this rainy evening, warmed me up none the less.

My friends, a lovely couple from my church who came to dinner with The Hubby and I ordered some stirred fried noodles with lean pork strips and pickled cabbage and ‘Special Set Menu Of The Day: Chicken with special sauce on rice + daily soup. This was the same as what I ordered.

Ching Yip Noodles Ching Yip Chicken rice Ching Yip Chicken 2 Ching Yip Cafe 4

The stirred fried noodles with lean pork and pickled cabbage looked delicious as it arrived promptly to the table. It was indeed ‘ sloppy’ and the sauce glistened with the generous portion of chubby egg noodles scattered with pieces of pork. From the ‘MMmmmmm~!’ coming from Mrs P – she gave the smile of approval and ate the dish happily.

Mr. D’s and I ordered the same ‘Set Menu Of The Day’ and the Chicken with special sauce came out quick and fast.

Our crispy skinned 1/4  chicken with a good cover of a ‘mysterious’ brown sauce was served on a bed of fluffy white rice. The size was very generous and I was thinking I would not be able to finish – yet I dig in and curious to know what the ‘brown sauce’ was. ( We guessed it was most likely chicken gravy seasoned with the ‘Maggi’ sauce)  The taste was definitely as I expected – similar to something I would have eaten at Hong Kong’s most popular chain cafe franchise ‘Cafe de Coral’ ( Hubby and my favourite cheap eat’s in HK on a budget)

Mr. D loved his ‘brown sauce’ so much – he inquired for more from the kitchen. Calling out to the ‘party of waitresses’ standing by chatting, they happily gave us a full bowl of sauce – The Hubby thought he would be as ‘charming’ as people are in HK – addressing the lovely waitresses as ‘ Excuse me pretty lady!’ *cringe* but somehow a bit of flattery went along way, as the sauce we were given was in a large soup bowl, which I jokingly said to Mr. D ‘ I think they are expecting you to drink it like soup with a spoon!’ :)

Ching Yip Sauce

Overall – my re-visit to ‘Ching Yip Coffee Lounge’ was very pleasant and even had Mr. D and Mrs. P wishing to come back again soon to sample more of their kitsch menu offerings. Already we are happy to try out the cheap $6.00 breakfasts of toasts with a bowl of soupy macaroni and choice of hot or iced cold Ovaltine. This is VERY H.K and we all love it!

With our tummies full and smiles all round from our ‘HK cafe’ experience – both from the decent food at a very decent price ( $20 for Hubby and my meal and I think we even got change for it…) Our band of waitresses bid us farewell ( how polite!) and as we take our last glance at the lemon cabinet with a few jokes… we get in the elevator time machine and transport ourselves back to 2009.

For a visit back in time ~ be sure to give this cheesy H.K cafe a visit. ( Sense of humour and an appreciation of ‘sloppy’ HK style food required)

Enjoy!


CHING YIP COFFEE LOUNGE       
L2, DIXON HOUSE, 413 SUSSEX ST, CHINATOWN

Opening

7 DAYS, 9.00AM-8.30PM
P:9281 1591

(No bookings required ~ spontaneous rock up is best!)

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