For those of you who know me well, you know that I visit my parents in Brisbane at least every two months. They moved there from Canberra (when I moved to Sydney) because, frankly, Canberra winters are just too cold for them.
So on one of these visits, my parents and I decided to find some of the best Vietnamese cuisine in Brisbane.
The suburb of Inala in South West Brisbane holds a very large population of Vietnamese, although recently there has been an increasing Sudanese and Pacific Islander population as well. The shopping centre is a little dusty and reminiscent of the bustling streets of Vietnam. It’s filled with Vietnamese supermarkets, fruit and vegetable shops and restaurants. There is even a medical centre with predominantly Vietnamese doctors, a Vietnamese travel agent and a legal practice within the complex.
So I imagined that the most authentic Vietnamese cuisine would be in one of the many restaurants and eateries at the Inala shopping centre. After a quick google search, we stumbled upon this blog post recommending the Tan Thanh Restaurant.
So off we went through a dark, humid alleyway with a pungent smell of fried food from the restaurant combined with fresh vegetables from a fruit and vegetable shop, past a store selling knock-off DVDs and arrived at the modest sliding doors of the restaurant.
The interior was spacious with plenty of seating at basic tables and chairs. It was fairly full and noisy with plenty of people from all races busily lapping up their pho with chopsticks and spoons. Our order was taken soon after we were seated and our food was delivered to our table quickly. The service was fast although a little brisk and abrupt. But I guess we weren’t going there for the service, just for the amazing, authentic food.
We started with deep vegetable fried spring rolls dipped into a spicy chilli sauce which was crispy, crunchy and delicious.
We also shared fresh spring rolls which were perfectly packed in with chicken, vegetables, lettuce and vermicelli noodles.
Dad and I shared a bowl of delicious beef pho which was comforting and filling as always.
Mum had the Vietnamese chicken curry which I thought was delicious but, of course, not as good as her Sri Lankan chicken curry.
The meal was satisfying, affordable, tasty and fresh. It was definitely one of the best Vietnamese meals I have had. It was very close to the food I experienced when I travelled to Vietnam in 2012.
After we finished, we wandered past the open area in the middle of the complex where Vietnamese men of all ages played some kind of game with a keen intensity (possibly like mah jong?). There’s always been group of men playing a game in the same area every time I have visited this shopping centre over the last 9 years. (I wonder if their wives know where they are!)
I highly recommend a visit to Inala next time you are in Brisbane for some authentic Vietnamese cuisine and an interesting cultural experience.