Cabramatta might be famed as the capital of Vietnamese cuisine in Sydney; but, other areas, including Parramatta, have also made their mark. Whether diners are looking to grab a rice paper roll on-the-go, or they'd rather sit down to a feast, sampling an array of classics, such as steaming pho and spicy goat curry, there's no shortage of possibilities. This guide covers eateries of all kinds, from an old-school, 21-year-old local favourite to a new restaurant that feels like a slice of Saigon.
When Mr and Mrs Pham, refugees from South Vietnam, fled to Australia in the 1970s, they didn't bring many belongings with them, but they did bring a dream. That dream was to share their passion for, and knowledge of, Vietnamese food with the locals. In 1992, they managed to realise it, when they opened their own restaurant, Pho Pasteur, in Parramatta. For more than 20 years now diners have been flocking here to sample the Phams' dishes, which include many from their home province of Tay Ninh and loads of vegan and vegetarian creations. Carnivores should try the house specialty: beef pho (noodle soup) with rare beef, brisket, meatballs, tendon and tripe.
137 Church Street; open daily, 10am-10pm; www.phopasteurparramatta.com
Opened in May 2017, Nang is a relative newcomer to Parramatta's restaurant scene, but has already won a loyal following. Pretty lanterns, wooden panelling and oversized pot plants create a cosy, authentic atmosphere - and the staff are always attentive. Among the dishes that hit the mark are green papaya salad, sprinkled with fresh mint; clay pot goat curry, made zesty with loads of lemongrass; shaking beef, wok-seared to perfection; and ideally crispy Vietnamese savoury pancake. At lunch, there's a $13.90 special, which includes beef pho or grilled pork vermicelli with a coffee (made Vietnamese style, with condensed milk) or soft drink.
41 Phillip Street; open Monday-Saturday, midday-3pm and 5pm-10pm.
The friendly family behind Vietastic hails from a tree-lined town in the Mekong Delta by the name of Tra Vinh. Every dish features fresh produce and sauces made from scratch on the premises. The summer rolls, with prawns or tofu, vermicelli, mint, bean sprouts and a particularly moreish peanut dipping sauce are the way to start. To follow, there's a range of mains, including pho, mi (egg noodles), laksas, stir fries and hot pots, all served in generous portions. Red and yellow walls add to the inviting feel, while floor-to-ceiling windows allow diners to look out onto Parramatta's colourful streets.
26/55 George Street; (02) 9633 9794; open Monday-Wednesday, 10am-7pm, Thursday-Friday, 10am-8:30pm, and Saturday, 11am-4pm.
Found 15 minutes drive southwest of the Parramatta CBD, within Sydney Olympic Park, this nifty little eatery offers a short but satisfying menu, covering baguettes, rice paper rolls and noodles only. Produce is of premium quality and tried-and-tested recipes are given creative twists. Highlights include char siu pork baguette with twice-cooked, honey-glazed pork neck; rice paper rolls with shiitake mushrooms and tofu; and ha doan pho with 300-day grain-fed wagyu beef, brisket, 12-hour broth, mint and bean sprouts. Come lunchtime, queues aren't unusual.
2 Dawn Fraser Avenue, Sydney Olympic Park; open Monday-Friday, 7am-4pm; www.lotusstory.com.au
Being a franchise, with branches all over Australia, Roll'd doesn't have the quirk or intimacy of the other restaurants on this list. However, for a light, healthy snack in Parramatta, it's a reliable option. The menu is based on classics, but they're often given an unusual touch, such as rice paper rolls with barramundi, com tam (broken rice) with spicy chicken curry and bun (noodle salad) with pork spring rolls. Service is fast, both for takeaway orders and for diners wanting to take a seat among the patterned tiles, hanging baskets and timber tables.
Shop 4071, Westfield, 158-175 Church St; open Sunday-Wednesday, 10am-8:30pm, and Thursday-Saturday, 10am-9pm; www.rolld.com.au
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Main image: Roll'd (Supplied)