Sometimes all it takes is laying your eyes upon a picture. There we were, wandering about Inala Civic Centre looking for somewhere to park ourselves and have a bit of lunch. Distracted by the abundant produce at the numerous grocers that spill out into the central plaza, I looked up at CT Coffee & Restaurant and saw a photo of something I sort of recognised.
It wasn’t exactly the same as the bành can trung we enjoyed by the river in Hoi An four years ago, but they did look awfully similar. In Vietnam we tried it topped with a quail egg, deep-fried. Here in downtown Inala in Brisbane’s southern ‘burbs it’s topped with a small shrimp and probably cooked in a cast-iron mould.
Same same – a little different.
For those that are unfamiliar, think of bánh xèo. That oversized crispy pancake at your favourite Vietnamese restaurant. Same kind of batter, just cooked in something a fraction of the size. It’s crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and kinda relies on the provided nuoc cham for some additional flavour.
Here at CT Coffee & Restaurant you can also get your fill on multi-coloured and multi-flavoured bubble tea. Looks like the young kids around here are mad for the stuff, judging by the constant trickle of them dropping in for takeaways.
Not for us, though, as we were here for something a tad more substantial.
Typical Oz-Vietnamese decor, typical Oz-Vietnemese menu. Loads of food options spanning the likes of pho, rice and egg noodle dishes, meat-topped rice and stir-fry. They even do freshly-pressed sugarcane out the front.
The noodle soup with pork & prawn (10) is light, tasty and loaded with goodies, and my bún bò Hue (10) reminds me of how much I miss the real thing that I had on our last trip to Vietnam. The sourness was there – maybe not as much of the lemongrass flavour – there was a touch of spicy heat, and even some blood cake.
The com gà giòn (9), or crispy chicken with rice, is a decent option that’s easy to please. Some moulded rice, cucumber and pickled julienned carrot join in on the fun.
It may not look like a million dollars, but I am assured the beef stir-fry noodle (13.5) is ok in the flavour department, despite its blonde and lacquered appearance. It wasn’t long before that golden nest of crispy noodles transformed into sop from the glossy sauce, but maybe that’s what’s meant to happen.
Snapshots around Inala Civic Centre.