French Vietnamese cuisine is not something you come across every day, but stylish eatery Chao Ba serves an extensive menu of these dishes and is conveniently located in Chatswood next to the library.
We dipped our toes into this different style of Vietnamese cooking with their Banh Bot Loc, a.k.a. clear tapioca shrimp dumplings which had a pleasantly chewy texture and were drizzled with a delicious fish sauce and topped with crunchy fried shallots and chives for an extra flavour hit. These morsels are smaller than your usual dumplings, but each bite is packed full of flavour and there’s plenty of these bite-sized goodies in the serving too.
Banh Bot Loc, $14.50
The standout dish was their Chao Tom Banh Hoi board which featured flavoursome grilled prawn cakes wrapped around sugar cane sticks, all served on a bed of vermicelli. The grilled prawn was quite addictive, particularly when dipped in the fish sauce mix on the side.
Chao Tom Banh Hoi, $22.50
The Banh Xeo also impressed, showcasing a traditional Vietnamese rice flour crepe that enveloped a mix of pork mince, prawn and bean sprouts. The generous serving size means that it’s best shared – particularly as the crepe gets very filling very quickly.
Banh Xeo, $17.50
We also tried their Pho Tai which had an satisfying, aromatic broth and slices of tender rare beef, but found that their broth wasn’t quite as fragrant or as layered in the flavours as some other places we have tried.
Pho Tai, $14.50
There are some interesting dishes on the menu at Chao Ba, which show off their French Vietnamese origins, putting subtle twists on traditional Vietnamese offerings that lift it into another level in most cases. There’s plenty more on the menu left to try and their convenient location means its easy to drop in for lunch while you do your shopping in Chatswood.