When several foodie friends rave about a restaurant you absolutely must try, one that’s delicious, hospitable and reasonably priced, you have to go. So, after meaning to go for quite a while I finally got there. Non La is at the north eastern end of Surry Hills, between South Dowling and Bourke St. It’s clean, cosy and comfortable. The service is warm, polite and unobtrusive. Depending on who you get it might also be a little cheeky with a delicious smile, or wry with a professor’s intelligent grin.
But let’s get to the food, you must try the quail. I have never had such a perfectly seasoned bird. It was tender and succulent with a little crispness on the outside and a perfect mix of salt and pepper (and perhaps a secret ingredient or two) to make each bite crave the next. This place is not so formal that you can’t suck all the meat off the bones, in fact you must do so.
The pancake was more filling than expected, with some beautiful fresh mint and a sweet tangy dipping/drizzling sauce.
The Chicken salad was generous and beautifully balanced in flavour. Would make a perfect lunch dish but also refreshing for dinner.
The pork with vermicelli was really tasty.
I know there are a lot more dishes to try, so we’ll be back, and hopefully quite soon too.
Non La Vietnamese Restaurant
59 Fitzroy St, Surry Hills
(02) 9332 1050
For those who live near Marrickville you may already be familiar with the large number of Vietnamese restaurants on Illawarra Road. For those days when I just want something tasty and light that will fill me up but not leave me searching for a place to have a siesta afterwards, then Pho is what I crave. Pho is beef noodle soup that can come with different types of beef, thinly sliced raw beef that cooks in the hot broth or tender chunks of brisket, or any number of combinations but the one I order is the thinly sliced as there is something theatrical watching your lunch cook before your eyes.
The place I stumble across today is Hai Duong, at 304 Illawarra Rd. It is the busiest one in a strip of restaurants so I give it a go and grab a table. I order my soup which arrives a few minutes later with crisp bean sprouts, wedges of lemon, sprigs of thai basil, chilli paste and kecap manis on the side to adjust the soup to your own taste. The broth is aromatic, smelling of cloves, star anise and boiled meat.
The soup is satisfying and memeorable, I find myself back here a few days later. The broth is slightly different, but just as good. For $7.50 this meal is a bargain and at a dollar or two more than a sandwich is a tastier alternative.
N.B. If you live near Epping try Pho Sam on Oxford St, they are always busy but you can order ahead and get take away. They pack everything separately so the soup stays hot until you get back to the office or a nearby park.