Banh Xeo Bar is a Vietnamese eatery in the dining and retail precinct called The Cannery in Rosebery. There's plenty of Vietnamese classics with a twist from banh mi to pho but take a closer look and there are other dishes like half a pig's head or of course, as the name suggests, a range of banh xeo crispy pancakes.
"I can't think of another person that would come to eat a pig's head with me," says Monica to me. It's true, the similar way that we order is almost scary like two attention deficit disordered toddlers with a cash. We'll shout things like "This!" "What about this?" and "Want!". We both understand the want, nay NEED to order lots of things and what we don't eat, we'll inevitably take home (she's a chef at OzHarvest and we both hate waste) and find intriguing things to do with (or feed them to our hapless spouses).
Take the pig's head. Monica had seen it on the menu at Banh Xeo Bar and ordered ahead. She had even called them check on said head even though it appears on the menu because she knows that there's nothing worse than missing out on something that you have been looking forward to eating.
Our waitress who is very sweet tries to dissuade us from ordering too much because she knows that we have a pig's head coming (technically half a head). But we remain undeterred. Monica fends off a call from a used car salesman (really!) and lets me do the job of ordering. Which means that things will get a bit messy and random and based on things that sound interesting but make no sense to eat together.
Pork trotter, dried shrimp butter and lime $10.50
Like the pork trotters. I mean for goodness sakes you'd think we had enough pork already with the pig's head but Your Honour this is served with dried shrimp butter, coriander and lime. It is cooked until soft and then deep fried. It's bony sure, there's no elegant way of eating these and if you hate the boniness of chicken's feet you'd best stay away from these but oh that sauce!
Vietnamese Coffee $5.50 and Lime soda $6
Drinks are also ordered -a Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk for me and a limeade for Monica. I really prefer the limeade out of the two because it is so refreshing.
Beef Tongue and onion banh mi $16
Banh Mi is life. I am pretty sure I would order one as a last meal as I do love to sandwich. There's a choice of fillings and we go for the beef tongue which is thinly sliced and delicious with a lemongrass relish, salad and pate. It's so good that I finish my half only meaning to have two bites. The roll itself is super crispy and light and it doesn't feel like a heavy, carby sandwich.
Banh Xeo Pancake lemongrass chicken $24.50+$2
The Banh Xeo pancake comes in a variety of fillings and we figured we should order one as they're called Banh Xeo bar. For both of us it's fine but we've had better and more moreish ones. It is huge but needs a bit more seasoning or oomph. Also the chilli sauce is $2 extra which seems a bit much and isn't actually really needed.
1/2 roast pig's head, lettuce cups and condiments for 3-5 ppl $79.50
And then the half pig's head arrives. Now you'll need time for this as it takes around 40 minutes to cook. And it's really meant for 3-5 people which actually seems about the right amount given its size.
It comes out with corn cobettes with cos lettuce leaves, lemongrass relish, pickles, fish sauce, chilli sauce on slices of bread that have soaked up the pork fat. The meat is lusciously soft and the skin crispy crunchy and addictive. We fork some meat, add it to the lettuce leaf with the condiments and enjoy. And what we don't eat they happily package up for us.
Vanilla and rum panna cotta with ginger syrup $11
We both agreed that panna cotta is not our favourite dessert but this one has an Asian twist and we feel like ending on something sweet. It's wonderfully wobbly and doused in rum and candied ginger syrup that is actually very addictive. And soon I find myself eating spoon after spoon of this with the hot, sweet ginger slices. Perfect for after you've been eating pig's head!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like roasted pig's head? Do you tend to order random things that don't necessarily go together or are you more ordered?
This meal was independently paid for.
Banh Xeo Bar
The Cannery, 11/61-71 Mentmore Ave, Rosebery NSW 2018
Tuesday to Friday
Saturday 12–3:30pm, 5:30–9:30pm
Phone: 0401 526 100