Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville – Sydney

The front door slams shut and as we walk to the car and I breathe some warmth into my hands, I already know what I want for tea. I again desire the familiar taste of Vietnamese food tonight – something light, warm and comforting – so we drive to Marrickville – the inner west’s lil’ Vietnam. This time, I want to try something different – a different joint, and although we’ve been there before, the restaurant that comes to mind and gets agreeance is a little further up Illawarra Road – but well worth the extra yards. We couldn’t remember what it’s called but we follow our third nose and spot it – well lit up and with some activity inside – all good signs.

Pho Ha Noi Quan is a splendid and cosy/compact restaurant like no other. Within easy walking distance from the Marrickville train station and on a main/busy street, it maintains a continual flow of loyal/die-hard customers. When I say it’s a little further up Illawarra Road (compared to the Photown gang at least) – it’s a slight exaggeration, and once you’ve eaten here – believe me you’ll walk miles and fight wars to return.

Finding a parking spot on Illawarra Road is a test of luck/patience at the best of times, but we notice a car leaving (woohoo!) on the other side of the road – we quickly do a u-ie and luckily snag a spot about 50 meters away, with the back bumper of our car barely sticking out past the line. We quickly check ourselves out in the car mirror, exit and then enter Pho Ha Noi Quan.

We exchange greets/smiles with the waitress and she points us to our table – the table for three by the window – possibly the best table in the house, and under a bright light too – perfect for food photos. :) The windows are partially covered with laminated menus/food pics and other media, which is great for us because we like to eat with some privacy but still be able to peek through the gaps to see what action is happening outside if we choose to.

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Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville – Sydney #1
The intriguing brightly lit and colourful frontage – wait until you get/see inside.

We are given menus and complimentary tea – lovely. I spin my head around as humanly possible to view/scan the room and I smile at what makes this place so unique/special besides its amazing food. The restaurant is not shy with decorations/display objects, and everywhere I look, every possible space – there’s something wonderful to contemplate – either an artwork, object/figurine, poster/painting, jar of preserve, silk/artificial flower, bric-a-brac/antique, etc – you name it. This was right up my alley, and as a hoarder collector of stuff, I appreciated some of the fine objects they had on display. It reminded me of a Newtown antique shop (that serves food) or some much loved arty/grunge cafe/bar in the X.

We found this place through the recommendation of an artist/sculptor friend, and besides the food, I can see why he approves/likes it so. I noticed something that looks like a baby’s high chair in the corner, and thought ‘wow – interesting – they even have a high chair on display!’ I quickly came to my senses and realised that the high chair also serves a practical purpose for baby diners.

Hey, what’s going on in here? How do I tell what’s an artwork/decoration in here, and what’s not? Perhaps, the diners and waitstaff are all part of the installation/performance too? I guess everything in here serves a purpose – either to just look pretty/beautiful, protect the house, provide some light or simply exist. Some restaurants provide music and television screens to entertain their patrons – Pho Ha Noi Quan provides a collection of mixed media art – awesome.

I have not recently seen a place/restaurant like this, and monochrome/minimal/simple/clean lines/designs, etc are often favoured these days as they serve practical/some aesthetic purposes. I felt right at home here – sitting and absorbing/admiring the artworks, and enjoying the food/fragrance and commotion/drama going on in the room. There is hardly any vacant display shelf/wall space left but I did notice some spare wall space to my right and thought about asking the staff if they would be kind enough to hang up one of my paintings. Next time, I will do this.

About the food – we ordered well, and it tasted great – as expected – rich in deliciousness and freshness and generously served. We enjoyed our meal immensely and am happy to share our finding/experience with you, and look forward to returning to Pho Ha Noi Quan to try more of their awesome/delicious food and see if something new has made it on display in the gallery/museum room. :D

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Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville – Sydney #2
I spy with my little eye, something beginning with P:
a potterwoman (elderly) adding the final designs/brush strokes to her earthenware creations;
purple grapes, cup and saucer, flowers on a tissue box – the grapes are made of ceramics – plump and glistening in a basket with other perfect fruits;
pickled garlic cloves and chilies in a jar on display with the lid semi-opened – I wonder why? – perhaps the preservation pressure was just too much for it to contain?;
a pot of tea (jasmine?) – complimentary/on the house – I like;
petals – blooms everywhere – yellow, white, purple/mauve, orange too;
a paddle used by the gondolier to glide the embraced lovers to somewhere/anywhere;
people figurines/statues in a myriad of lifeforms – elders, potterwoman, fisherman, gondolier, lovers/passengers, buddha.
The restaurant is full of entertaining decorative objects – I couldn’t help but feel like we were in an antique shop or gallery/museum. Everywhere I look and almost every space, nook and cranny has something hiding/placed on display – a wonderful collection of treasures – fascinating and bizarre at once.

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Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville – Sydney #3
There’s even a lizard eyeing you from the ceiling. Update: We returned to Pho Ha Noi Qua on 03/07/14 for another meal (although I forgot to ask them about hanging up my painting) and realised that it’s actually a mini crocodile or alligator on the ceiling, not a lizard, and the thing to its right is a bird, perhaps a robin.

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Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville – Sydney #4
We pay over there – where? Just over there in front of that massive ‘oh-my-god’ look at the size of that gourd/tubular thing hanging from the ceiling! The food here is quite magnificent – generous/large serves/portions with delicious/moreish flavours – and the service here is quick and efficient with little time to fuss about, if you know what I mean. The food is excellent and the price is cheap, and they appear constantly busy on a Wednesday night with a continual flow of people in and out, both sit-down diners and takeaway pick-ups, so they have a tight/tried and tested effective/successful system going on here.

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Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville – Sydney #5
#11 Fried noodle with seafood
Whoa!!! Easy there tiger and watch out for the hot steam on the camera lens – don’t get too excited now.

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Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville – Sydney #6
#11 Fried noodle with seafood
A-ha!! Now, that’s better – a huge square plate of hot/steamy/glistening seafood stir-fry with classic vegetables and perfectly cooked/seasoned flat noodles. So tasty and with the freshest ingredients! It was a generous serve but based on the flavours and quality/freshness of ingredients – it was easily devoured/demolished to completion without any complaints.

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Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville – Sydney #7
#120 Combination pork congee
A huge bowl of tinted combination pork rice congee crowned with a pretty mix of fresh, fragrant Asian herbs, including mint, spring onion and purple perilla. The blend of freshly chopped aromatic herbs and comforting stewed/brewed congee and porcine flavours was intoxicatingly inviting/comforting. Submerged are generous pieces/slices of pigs stomach – fresh, firm and chewy meaty offal/intestines, and house-made Vietnamese blood pork sausages in thick natural casing – I was in meaty/offal paradise. Because of my pescetarian partner, I enjoyed this ample bowl all by myself which was just grand, but I admittedly could not finish it and took the rest home.

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Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville – Sydney #8
#120 Combination pork congee
Here you can see the perfect congee consistency coloured by the pork blood sausage perhaps and other fine seasoning. A rich and meaty dish that had me fixated as I continually spooned mouthfuls to my awaiting maw. Offaly rich and generous – its highly recommend for all congee/offal/meat lovers. I added teaspoons of the mild house chili oil and a couple of drops of light fish sauce to each of my serving bowls for my personalised touch/palate [and because I can]. A lovely/comforting warm dish for the current cold weather or those with a slight cold/sniffle.

Name: Pho Ha Noi Quan
Address: 346B Illawarra Road, Marrickville, Sydney, NSW, 2204
Phone: (02) 9559 1637
Pho Ha Noi Quan on Urbanspoon
Pros

  • Delicious Vietnamese food – well-priced, generous serve, fresh and tasty ingredients
  • Extensive menu
  • Some unusual dishes on the menu, eg – combination pork congee for meat/offal lovers – recommended! :D
  • Complimentary tea
  • Fast and efficient service
  • Charming gallery/antique store interior

Cons

  • Located a little further up Illawarra Road, from Marrickville Road (but well worth the trip)

Comments

    • 2

      says

      Hi ChopinandMysaucepan,

      I thought about having pho this time but I also want to expand my experience with Vietnamese food and the thought of pork congee was just too enticing. I’ve had the special beef here before and yes, it’s awesomely delicious too. :)

    • 8

      says

      Hi Mademoiselle Mange à Sydney! Thank you for your comment. The congee certainly hit the spot. If you enjoy Vietnamese food – pho, banh mi, etc – then the ‘Ville is calling for you. Have a great time! :D

    • 12

      says

      Hi Julie! Both fried noodle and congee were great dishes and are perfect for this cold weather. Looking forward to expanding my experience/knowledge of Vietnamese food and trying other delights on their menu. Many thanks! :D

    • 14

      says

      Hi Sally! Thank you very much for your visit and comment. Definitely a great/interesting place for delicious Vietnamese food. Flavoursome, generous and well-priced too. Can’t wait to go back. Best wishes! :D

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