Hai Au Lang Nuong
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.
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!)
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 ;)
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.
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):
And in the middle of our table is placed a big heavy charcoal grill filled with embers.
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…
…so you can roll your own goi cuon! (rice paper rolls)
To go with my meal, I make sure to order a Ca phe sua da (Vietnamese ice coffee)… sooo good.
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!
(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.
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