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Published November 2nd 2016
Refreshing Vietnamese Food
Once the sun dips below the western horizon, it signals a cessation of activities in Sydney Olympic Park. Though an occasional vehicle or a waiting passenger is not an uncommon sight, things enter a slo-mo phase after office hours. Unlike Sydney CBD, any semblance of buzz in Olympic Park are courtesy of the last of the few restaurants that keep their lights on to cater to dinner apart from lunch. Looking like fireflies in a jungle, these eateries are a hit not only among the corporate class but also local residents. VN Fresh is one of these few open-till-late restaurants.
Located across Dawn Fraser Avenue, which is the primary hub for SOP restaurants and cafes, VN fresh is the only eatery on Murray Rose Avenue. Unassuming in its looks, the restaurant is green through and through hinting at the freshness of its food as claimed by its very name. Armed with appetite, I was set to test the green of its waters.
Free parking is available right outside the restaurant doors in the evening. But the lots are not as easily available during office hours. Given its location immediately outside the train station, beside the bus stop, VN Fresh is easily accessible by public transport. When we arrived, there were just two diners completely focused on their food - two hikers drawn to the glow of the jungle firefly. A lone waitress hovered over the counter. Seeing the scant number of customers, invisible question marks began forming in our minds. Still, since the restaurant thrived in SOP, it deserved some benefit of the doubt.
The menu was quite brief and precise given the place and especially the people it catered to, most of who belonged to the corporate sector. It consisted of two categories - breakfast & lunch separated from dinner. The breakfast section consisted mostly of an assortment of rolls while lunch included spring rolls, soups, salads and fried rice with the main courses. Dinner menu was comparatively elaborate with different vegetarian and non-vegetarian main courses and rice dishes. We quickly decided on our order.
A refreshing Lemonade was first served with our entrees - Vietnamese Spring Rolls and King Prawn Rice Paper Rolls. Did we like them? We absolutely loved them. The drink had the right dash of sweetness and tanginess to it. The rolls rocked in their excellent combination of herbs & prawns. The accompanying chilli and peanut sauces made them big winners.
Our main course included Chicken Noodle Soup, Steamed Rice, Duck Breast Marinated Shallots & Herbs, Braised Chicken Lemongrass & Chili, Egg Noodle Dry & Crispy Chicken, Stir Fried Chicken with Soft Egg Noodle and Vegetables. The soup was spot on and was a total hit with all of us. Chicken was soft and well cooked in each of the dishes. The crispy skin on the chicken was quite remarkable in the Dry Egg Noodle dish. The vegetables, particularly bok choy and carrots, accompanying the stir fried chicken added a lot of texture. But the ones that stood out were the smoky flavoured soft egg noodles and the duck with its taste enhanced by a special VN Fresh sauce. In overall freshness and flavour, the dishes hit all the right spots in the portal that soon curved into satisfied smiles on our faces.
Stir Fried Chicken with Soft Egg Noodles and Vegetables (Photo by Diana)
OTG Thai had left me believing, it was the best of Sydney Olympic Park. But VN Fresh's impressive Vietnamese cuisine makes it a tough competitor both in spice and price. As for its name, the restaurant stands true to its promise. For now, the VN Fresh customers are in very talented hands.