Canley Crawl (Part II)

In case you missed it, part I can be read HERE.

We’re not done, not even close.

After a grand feast at Bau Truoung, we moved on to the next restaurant on our itinerary. Keep in mind that we were running a bit behind schedule and that we had barely begun to process our food.

This was going to be a tough day of trying to eat as much delicious food as possible.

….did I really just say that?

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Diem Hen (translation: meeting point) is one of the veteran restaurants on the Canley Heights strip. Its undergone quite a renovation since it first opened on the strip but the food has remained consistently excellent.

We had two dishes at Diem Hen…I know what you’re thinking ‘why do I sense dread coming from the normally jovial iFat?’

Why, I’ll explain right now my dear reader who has apparently undergone psychiatric training. Long story short: I was really full. I always watch shows like Masterchef and see the judges take tiny bites of the contestants’ dishes and smirk. What I didn’t understand was that they were pacing themselves as they knew how much food they would be consuming.

Me? I only have one pace and it’s Usain.

Sweet and Sour Fish Soup with a muderer's row of vegetables.
Sweet and Sour Fish Soup with a muderer’s row of vegetables.

Whoa.

I was explicitly told that it was a sweet and sour soup beforehand but I guess I wasn’t really paying attention.

I’m Chinese, so I immediately thought of this as a hot pot style dish. I was expecting savoury goodness from the soup as it absorbed the fishy flavour. I also expected to self combust shortly afterwards due to the amount of kilojoules in my system at this point.

Once again, I was wrong.

Close ups; no filter.
Close ups; no filter.

This soup was so fresh like a mix CD from the 90s.

It was incredibly fragrant as well. At one point; I said that it would make a great cologne. This was one of many fishy comments I would make during the day.

The mixture of fruit/vegetables was completely unprecedented; I thought the dominant number two was celery but I was told otherwise. What looks like celery is actually elephant ear stem and it provided a lot of the sour punch that the soup packed.

It was just so good and served as a pseudo palette cleanser for all of us.

Thank Aquaman it cleansed my palette as there was more seafood goodness to be had:

Caramelised fish in a clay pot
Caramelised fish in a clay pot

Kate (aka foodiesagenda) predicted that this would be her favourite dish of the day due to the mere mention of caramel.

Me? My pants were threatening to burst open and send the button holding my fly together into the pot.

I nibbled on a little bit and didn’t really taste the caramel. It had obviously been caramellised which gave it the rich flavour you see in the photo above but I guess you don’t really want uber sweet fish unless it’s a Little Mermaid situation in which she’s sacrificing her voice so she can live on the land with you.

Told you my analogies  were weird.

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Diem Hen on Urbanspoon

Let’s crawl to the next place…

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Located next to the legendary Tan Viet Noodle House, Huong Xua is not your average Vietnamese restaurant.

Unbeknownst to me, most Vietnamese restaurants specialise in Southern Vietnamese style cooking. Huong Xua is one of the few that specialices on dishes that are more popular in the northern parts of Vietnam

I was extremely excited to sample everything they had on offer, but there was something that had me frothing at the mouth like a dog when you offer it Smackos.

Pho.

It was time for pho.

But first, some other dishes (aka food that is not pho):

Spring rolls
Spring rolls

For food that wasn’t pho, this was extremely good.

Unlike most restaurants, Huong Xua decided to forego the classic egg pastry that adds more security to the filling and opting for a thinner pastry that enhanced the filling.

I loved this tactic, it was like the guy that realised thin crust pizza was the way to go. The pasty shouldn’t be the star of the show, the filling should be. However, this pastry was no slouch. It provided a loud crunch and was an awesome spring roll. I actually had two and I was already way beyond big boned at this point.

Chicken (aka not pho)
Chicken (aka not pho)

Based upon the notes I took on the day, this is about the point in which I was half conscious and considering a juice detox.

Here are the unedited notes I took on this chicken dish on the day:

“The chicken was.”

Damn it, past Isaac.

Fortunately, my memory is still up to par. The easy comparison is to contrast this to Hainanese chicken. However, the two are only similar in appearance. Hainanese style chicken tends to be oilier where as Huong Xua’s variety was considerably less so. There was no flavoured rice to accompany this plate of poultry and no ginger/shallot concoction either.

The chicken was slightly tough but hey, I’m not the type of guy who talks smack about chicken. Chicken’s gotten me through a lot of hard times.

Now, the moment Isaac has been waiting for.

PHOOOOOOO!
PHOOOOOOO!

This picture does not do it justice.

Check out Milkteaxx’s Instagram to gauge the sheer size of this bowl.

That is a bowl containing 500g of noodles, 500g of meat and 500g of screw the Atkins diet.

My editor is insisting I keep this post under 2,500 words so I’m going to try and be as concise as possible. This pho is the business, man. The broth has all the usual herbs and pork bones that are boiled over a prolonged period. However, they add a bit of celery to give it a completely different feel.

Oh and the beef?

They stir fry it before throwing it into the bowl. At first, this just confused me because everything that happens in the kitchen kind of does. Upon tasting it? I felt like Isaac Newton when the apple fell on his head, that’s funny because I’m named Isaac and I made a realisation.

Get 'em, Jeroxie!
Get ’em, Jeroxie!

Before I forget, that bowl of goodness can be yours for FREE!

….if you manage to finish it under 11 minutes.

The record is six minutes and five seconds.

You can read about the record holder on Noodlie’s blog HERE.

Did I try it?

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Nope, I didn’t.

Give me a year to train and I will get it done.

Pho real.

Huong Xua Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Here’s the TL; DR of part II of the Food Blogging Avengers:

– I’d deem her a little fishy if she refused to try the soup.

– Ditto if she didn’t try the caramelised fish.

– I’ve been dreaming about pho the past two nights.

– In fairness, I dream about pho quite often anyway

Part III will be live by the end of the week!

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