A lovely walk to Marrickville on a lazy Sunday afternoon, bravely passing the Henson Park Hotel without dropping in for a schooner, or six, Ricky would be ashamed of us.
The real estate agents are trying to tell us Marrickville is the next Paddington, it's a bit of a tough sell. I think Marrickville could have more in common with some of the groove-o-matic suburbs of Melbourne, perhaps the next Smith Street or Brunswick. There's grunge, old Greek folks, warehouses and a growing fringe culture.
Anti hepatitis C street art campaign on the railway bridge, Marrickville. Beware of those Hep C carrying ducks.
Our destination is Pho Hanoi Quan in Marrickville. Another of Marrickville's fine hole-in-the wall Vietnamese restaurants. This place has to have the cheeriest interior of any street food restaurant in Sydney. Lots of plants and kitschy ornaments. The staff are lovely. It's a nice place to eat.
Tea, chili and soup fixins.
Vietnamese pancake. A thin omelette-like crepe filled with pork, prawns and veggies. Light and healthy.
Miss Chicken's soup-of-the-month, bun ca cha. It has a lovely, fresh herby taste and a bit of a tom-yum twist.
Another new favourite soup: rice noodles with crab paste. The crab paste is textured like little crabby rissoles, I like to think of them as the Crabbie Patties from Spongebob Squarepants. The broth is fresh and full of herbs. This my friends, is a winner, a great alternative to pho.
Another winner is the stuffed fried chicken. Chicken wings with pork stuffing, this is a must try.
We notice the fish cakes are a similar shape to the lovely big catfish in the aquarium. All four dishes were around the $8 mark, this place is value plus. We walk out stuffed, grinning and carrying a doggie bag.
[BACK AGAIN SEPTEMBER 2013]
Marrickville has change a lot since we wrote this post. The hipsters are moving in with their beards, small bars and cafes. The Henson Park Hotel has closed and reopened again, it's been hipstered a bit but in a very god way. Most of the classic Marrickville Vietnamese hole-in-the wall joints have been renovated and lost their charm, but Pho Hanoi Quan is still wonderfully old school. May it remain so.
We come for our favourites, the crab and fish cake noodle soups - huge servings of good, fresh, simple food. These are $10.50 each now and worth more. We couldn't finish ours, and we're piggies. At the next table three slight tweenie girls shared one of these huge bowls between them. They scraped together $3-$4 each in coins and had a ladies lunch. How great is it that three thirteen year old girls share a noodle soup rather than KFC for lunch?
Pho Hanoi Quan retains it's groovy decor. We visited on a sunny spring Saturday afternoon. It was bliss sitting around listening to the staff chatter and laugh. It seemed like friends and family had gathered to help out with prep and made a good time of it.
Pho Ha Noi Quan is at 346B Illawarra Rd. It's across the railway from the main drag, opposite the Hellenic Bakery, which is highly recommended in the unlikely event you have any room left for sweeties.