12/117 John Street
Cabramatta NSW 2166
+61 2 9726 4583
Not wanting to limit our Sydney foodie adventures to the city and inner suburbs, Marty and I decided to take the train out to Cabramatta one morning. We wanted Vietnamese food – and lots of it.
The Bankstown line trip west can be long and on this occasion, it had its fair share of crazies so naturally, our appetites were massive by the time we hopped off the train at Cabra’. I was armed with a couple of restaurant recommendations from Julie and the first place I had my eye on was Pho Tau Bay, arguably the best phở restaurant in Cabramatta. Because I felt like phở that morning, I had my mind set on going there.
Unfortunately for me, Marty 1) felt like bún bò Huế and 2) didn’t feel like walking to the other end of John Street ‘just for phở’ when any of the 10 billion Vietnamese restaurants on the same street would have sufficed. In the end, we did settle on PTB only because they also served BBH as well as phở – but not before I copped a bit of flack from Marty for being ‘such a bloody foodie.’
Our beverage of choice that day was a Vietnamese iced white coffee – and naturally it came with a truckload of ice.
At PTB, phở is the obvious specialty and you can get them in three sizes: small ($9), medium ($10) and large ($12.50). The same deal goes with the other soup noodles on the menu such as BBH. You can probably also get rice or vermicelli dishes here too but noodle soups are pretty much the way to go.
Marty’s BBH didn’t look terribly fiery. In fact, it looked timid and well, bland. Luckily, this was simply a case of looks being deceiving for it was actually a very decent BBH. The broth was sweet as a result of simmering bones for a long period of time and the generous amount of lemongrass used, though a bit more heat would have raised the bar a significant notch. The broth also didn’t have the same depth as the ones served in places such as Dong Ba. Still, I’d tap it.
I’m not normally one for tendon but Marty is so I ordered this particular phở so I can palm my unwanted tendon pieces to Marty. Aren’t I lovely? As for the phở itself, I can see why PTB is often voted the best phở restaurant in Cabramatta, if not Sydney. The phở may have looked a lot darker than what I’m used to but in its murky waters hid such goodness and such tastiness (okay fine, probably MSG).
While Marty’s BBH lacked depth, my phở had plenty of it in addition to equal doses of sweetness and flavour. Wow.
I’ve never seen a phở restaurant offer Chinese dough sticks (‘because pho here is filling enough as it is,’ according to Marty) so I was surprised to see them on the menu here. Marty also said that eating dough sticks with phở is a common practice in Vietnam so again, I was surprised why more restaurants don’t offer them. While I would have been full on a medium-sized bowl of phở alone, I did like the novelty of eating the phở with torn-up bits of dough sticks.
We left PTB with satisfied tummies – yes, even Marty was happy (though that didn’t stop him from buying a pork roll on the way back to the train station later on). Cabramatta is a long way to travel for phở but I dare say that the trip is worth it if not for the delicious bowls of pho, then at least the colourful people you’ll meet along the way.