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Hai Au Lang Nuong

February 23, 2012

I was pretty spoiled for my birthday this year! Not only did I organise a beach birthday party, and a fancy dinner at Orto Trading Co (more on that later), on my actual birthday day – my family and I went out to Canley Vale to one of our favourite Vietnamese restaurants, Hai Au Lang Nuong.

Hai Au Lang Nuong

We mainly go here for the charcoal-cooked meats that you cook at your table. I love all sorts of cook-your-own restaurants. They’re so communal and fun, with the bonus of someone doing all the prep and cleaning up! Win!

Hai Au has two levels: a bustling, rough & ready downstairs level, and a much more spacious upstairs. On weekends they turn on the big charcoal grill in the open window, and tempt people in with the smell of chicken grilled in banana leaves. (A definite must order if you visit on a weekend!)

Hai Au Lang Nuong
Chicken being grilled in banana leaves

Hai Au Lang Nuong - Chicken

The menu is pretty massive, and it takes us a while to decide on a few different meat dishes and a few vegetarian ones. But as my mum begins to order, the waitress interrupts to tell us that the tofu dish we plan on ordering is “no good”! She says that Hai Au doesn’t do a very good version of that dish and we’re better off ordering something else. I find it so rare for someone to be so candid, but it’s also kind of nice right? My mum must have thought so too because we end up ordering far more than we intended, thanks to our waitress’ suggestions!! Perhaps that was her plan all along 😉

First up is the Goi bo chanh (Beef salad with lemon) one of our waitress’ suggestions:
Hai Au Lang Nuong
Goi Bo Tai Chanh – $15

Pretty glad we listened, because it’s delicious! The tender beef has been marinated in lemon and fish sauce and walks the balance between salty and sweet. It’s mixed with crunchy shredded cucumber and spanish onion. And you can eat it all piled on top of the prawn crackers it’s served on.

Hai Au Lang Nuong

There are a few types of Goi on the menu, not all of which I noticed are translated into English! In the menu there’s the “Bo Tai Khe” – Marinated sliced beef mixed with star fruit and herbs – but left untranslated is the “Bo Tai Chanh” (Beef salad with lemon) and “Bo Tai Me” (Beef salad with tamarind). So keep them in mind if you decide to order Goi.

Next up are the BBQ meats! We order the marinated venison and beef ($25 each):

Hai Au Lang Nuong

And in the middle of our table is placed a big heavy charcoal grill filled with embers.

Hai Au Lang Nuong
Hai Au Lang Nuong
Grillin timeeee

One of the things I love about Vietnamese cuisine is the abundance of fresh salads and herbs served with each dish. Hai Au is no different – each of the grill-your-own meat dishes come with plates of salad and rice paper…
Hai Au Lang Nuong

…so you can roll your own goi cuon! (rice paper rolls)

Hai Au Lang Nuong
Dipping rice paper

Hai Au Lang NuongHai Au Lang Nuong
Goi cuon before and after!

To go with my meal, I make sure to order a Ca phe sua da (Vietnamese ice coffee)… sooo good.

Hai Au Lang Nuong

Next is the grilled chicken from outside! We order half a chicken with sticky rice
Hai Au Lang Nuong
Chicken grilled in banana leaf

The chicken is so tender and just falls off the bone. And I really love the fragrance of the banana leaf. Make sure you order it with the plain sticky rice too!

Hai Au Lang Nuong
Veggies with oyster mushrooms was a nice respite from all the meat!

and the Seafood hotpot was ok but nothing to write home about:
Hai Au Lang Nuong

(See what I mean by overordering haha)

Lucky last was the Ca kho (caramelised braised fish) – and definitely one of the highlights of the night.

Hai Au Lang Nuong

The fish is caramelised and slow cooked in the clay pot…. and is brought to the table bubbling away. It is sweet and salty and completely tender. So nice! It’s really good to eat with rice with spoonfuls of the sauce mixed in.

By now I am totally completely full, and we actually have to take away most of the Ca kho! (no problem… food like that is always good to eat as leftovers anyway! And it just made the next day’s dinner extra delicious!)

All in all, a mighty satisfying feed, for less than $30 per person!

Hai Au Lang Nuong
48 Canley Vale Rd
Canley Vale, NSW

Hai Au on Urbanspoon

20 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2012 6:17 pm

    That all looks so tasty…and incredible value, yum! Fantastic photos as always 🙂

    • February 28, 2012 10:38 pm

      Thanks so much! Yes… it’s awesome value – the servings are pretty large too!

  2. February 23, 2012 8:35 pm

    Yumm! I love the concept of DIY with both the meat and the rolls! Need to check it out soon!

    • February 28, 2012 10:40 pm

      I love DIY food! Which is funny because I am usually so lazy when cooking at home hehe. As long as someone else can clean up I guess!

  3. Tina @ bitemeshowme permalink
    February 24, 2012 7:08 am

    I live so local yet I don’t understand why I’ve not even tried this. I’ve heard great things about it. It honestly can’t go wrong when you cook your own meat and roll up rice paper rolls yourself. At lest this way you know what’s being put into your food! Happy belated birthday xo

    • February 28, 2012 10:41 pm

      Oh you must! Especially if you live close – it’s such a trek for us, it’s reserved for special occasions hehe. I guess you already have so many awesome food options there though! Too many to choose from 🙂

  4. February 24, 2012 10:19 am

    Wow, that’s an epically fantastic birthday dinner! Everything looks great, and that fish looks so delicious. Happy birthday too.

  5. February 24, 2012 1:54 pm

    What an awesome dinner!! Happy belated bday 😀

  6. February 24, 2012 4:46 pm

    Definitely one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Canley Vale / Canley Heights.

    I posed with that ox statue (in front of the restaurant) once.

    • February 28, 2012 10:42 pm

      I look forward to the Johnny eating tour of Cabra!!

      Also I want to see that photo

  7. February 24, 2012 5:26 pm

    A Vietnamese friend took me here once and I had no idea what I was eating but it was delicious! And I remember staring at the rotating chickens when we left being saddened by the fact that I was too full to try it but it turns out I did have it with the sticky rice lol

    • February 28, 2012 10:43 pm

      Haha that is so like me sometimes! My mum just orders a bunch of food.

      Hehehe glad to help!! Mm… wouldn’t mind some more of the chicken now

  8. February 24, 2012 9:33 pm

    I love HAI AU. But those neighbours smelling BBQ chicken all night might not agree!

  9. February 25, 2012 10:09 pm

    Oh wow hope you had an amazing time! Everything here looks insanely good. I just showed me friend this page and we’re penning it in.

    • February 28, 2012 10:44 pm

      Thanks!! It was really good 🙂 Hope you guys enjoy it! Let me know how it goes!

  10. February 25, 2012 10:41 pm

    I love restaurants where you can cook yourself, it’s fun, and as you said, they prep and clean up after you. Win win situation, happy birthday.

    • February 28, 2012 10:44 pm

      Thanks Sara! Yes I love DIY restaurants too… all the fun with none of the boring part!

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